Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

Pittsburgh Pirates trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Pirates Release Ernesto Frieri

The Pirates have released right-hander Ernesto Frieri, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports.  Frieri had been designated for assignment and then outrighted to Triple-A by the Bucs in August.

The release puts an exclamation point on a nightmare season for Frieri, who posted a 7.34 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.43 K/BB rate over 41 2/3 innings with the Pirates and Angels.  He hurt himself with the long ball by allowing 11 homers this season, though the advanced metrics suggest that Frieri’s 7.34 ERA involved some poor luck — ERA predictors such as xFIP (3.69) and SIERA (2.97) indicate that Frieri was victimized by a .330 BABIP and a very low 60.9% strand rate.

The Angels removed Frieri from his closer’s job and then traded him to the Bucs for Jason Grilli in a swap of struggling ninth-inning men.  While Grilli has thrived in Los Angeles, Frieri couldn’t get on track in Pittsburgh and saw him get demoted to the minors.  The righty posted a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts and four walks in seven innings at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Frieri was a dominant bullpen force with the Padres and Angels from 2009-12, posting a 2.32 ERA in 162 2/3 IP in that stretch and earning 23 saves after he came to Anaheim in May 2012.  While his ERA jumped to 3.80 in 2013, his 37 saves and prior performance earned him a $3.8MM contract for 2014 in his first year of arbitration eligibility.  (Frieri is still controllable through 2016.)  His rough season all but guaranteed that he would be non-tendered by the Bucs this winter, though Frieri’s past success will very likely earn him a look from a few interested clubs.


Minor Moves: Martinez, McGuiness, Abreu, Rodriguez

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

Earlier updates:

  • The Mets will add outfielder Bobby Abreu to their 40-man roster tomorrow when his contract is officially purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The move fills the remaining spot on the team’s 40-man roster. This will be the 40-year-old’s second stint with the Mets this year as he was designated for assignment in August after posting a .238/.331/.336 line in 142 plate appearances. Ten days later, he inked a minor league deal to remain with the organization. 
  • The Rangers have announced they have purchased the contract of infielder Guilder Rodriguez from Double-A Frisco. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club placed Yu Darvish on the 60-day disabled list. Rodriguez holds the distinction for playing the most minor league games of any current player (1,095) without MLB experience. The 31-year-old, profiled by Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest, has a slash of .260/.340/.290 in 384 plate appearances for Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock this season while playing all four infield positions, as well as both corner outfield spots.  
  • There are currently five players residing in DFA limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker: Michael Kohn (Angels), Chris Dwyer and Blake Wood (Royals), and Matt Hague and Darin Mastroianni (Blue Jays).

Quick Hits: Nix, Astros, Buehrle, Uehara

Every small-market team dreams of building a rotation of young, controllable arms, and Peter Gammons (in his latest piece for Gammons Daily) feels the Indians have done just that in Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer.  Salazar was signed as an undrafted high schooler and the other three were acquired in trades, giving the Tribe an enviable collection of pitchers for both their wild card push this season and to stay in contention for years to come.

Here’s some more from around the game as we head into the weekend…

  • The Astros have made little progress in negotiations with draft pick Jacob Nix and the situation between the two sides seems likely to proceed to a hearing, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The MLBPA filed a grievance on Nix’s behalf after Houston withdrew an offer to the fifth-rounder that had seemingly been agreed-upon.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow hasn’t decided whether to make his managerial search candidates known to the public, he tells Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Mark Buehrle‘s future with the Blue Jays is discussed by several Sportsnet writers and broadcasters.  Buehrle will earn $19MM in 2015, his last year under contract, and the feeling amongst the panel is that the Jays could explore trading the veteran in order to free up payroll space.  While Buehrle still has value on the mound and as a mentor to Toronto’s young starters, that might not be worth the $19MM piece he takes out of what could be a limited Jays budget.
  • Koji Uehara will be temporarily replaced by Edward Mujica as the Red Sox closer, manager John Farrell told reporters today (including MLB.com’s Steven Petrella).  Uehara has slumped badly over his last few outings, indicating to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that GM Ben Cherington may have erred in not dealing Uehara at the trade deadline.  Uehara is a free agent this winter and, at the very least, his struggles have eliminated any chance of the Sox extending him a qualifying offer.
  • Right-hander John Holdzkom began his season in independent ball and now may end it on the Pirates‘ Major League roster.  Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at Holdzkom’s seven-year journey through the minors that finally led to his Major League debut last Tuesday.


Pirates Designate Chris McGuiness

The Pirates have designated first baseman Chris McGuiness for assignment, the club announced.  The move creates a 40-man roster spot for right-hander John Holdzkom, whose contract was selected last night.

McGuiness was originally acquired by the Bucs from the Rangers last December in exchange for righty Miles Mikolas.  He didn’t see any action at the big league level for Pittsburgh this season and hit .264/.358/.412 with nine homers in 489 PA for Triple-A Indianapolis.  Originally drafted in the 13th round of the 2009 draft by the Red Sox, McGuiness has an .801 OPS over 2438 career PA in the minors.  The 26-year-old made his Major League debut in June 2013, appearing in 10 games with Texas.

McGuiness joins Mike Carp (Rangers), Bruce Chen (Royals), Rich Hill (Yankees) and Sergio Santos (Blue Jays) in DFA limbo, according to MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Quick Hits: Orioles, Athletics, Brewers, Pirates

The Orioles made two trades last night, adding infielder Kelly Johnson and outfielder Alejandro De Aza, and any trade involving big-leaguers has an effect on not only a team’s 25-man roster, but its clubhouse. Via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, manager Buck Showalter provides an interesting look into how trades affect players who aren’t being dealt. Showalter says, for example, that following the acquisition of De Aza, he spoke to Delmon Young and other players about what the trade meant for them. “It’s unknown that drives players crazy and you want them to understand things,” says Showalter. “I had a real good idea what they were going to say. They’re usually pretty short conversations, but you have them nonetheless.” Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • The Athletics‘ trade for Adam Dunn might not have been needed had they not traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox in the Jon Lester deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines. Oakland’s offense has struggled since the trade, and while Cespedes’ departure isn’t entirely to blame (there have been slumps and injuries throughout the Athletics lineup), it hasn’t helped.
  • In the wake of the Brewers‘ acquisition of Jonathan Broxton today, Rosenthal notes (via Twitter) that Milwaukee also went after David Price last month. Talks with the Rays did not progress very far, however, because the Brewers were unwilling to give up top young pitcher Jimmy Nelson.
  • The Pirates appear unlikely to make any trades today, David Manel of Bucs Dugout writes. “It’s been a lower percentage of successful claims than ever before,” says GM Neal Huntington. “You expect the American League guys not to make it through the American League. But there have been some guys in the National League that have been claimed before they’ve gotten to us, which has been a bit of a surprise.”

NL Notes: Pirates, Phillies, Marlins

Throughout the Pirates organization, the first base position has become the home of players who have struggled at other positions, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Of course, it’s not unusual for players at more demanding defensive positions to have to move to first base, but what’s distinctive about the Pirates’ case is the precise reasons players are moving to first. At the big league level, Pedro Alvarez is moving across the diamond because of inexplicable problems making routine throws to first. And in the minors, Stetson Allie moved to first (with a stop at third base) after flaming out as a pitcher, while catcher Tony Sanchez has experimented with the position after troubles throwing out basestealers. The Pirates’ future at first base, though, might belong to another prospect, Josh Bell, who’s learning the position for a more straightforward reason — with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco set to man the Pirates’ outfield for the next several years, there might not be room for Bell there. Here’s more from the National League.


East Notes: Castillo, Herrera, Gillick

New Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo will make his minor league debut tomorrow, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. Castillo, who has not played in an official game since 2012, will debut in the Gulf Coast League. The minor league season is, of course, almost at an end — the GCL Red Sox have a three-game series against the Yankees in the GCL finals. Britton notes that Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket are both also headed to their league playoffs, so Castillo could soon head to one of those affiliates, possibly making his way to the Majors later this year. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Second baseman Dilson Herrera made his big-league debut with the Mets last night and went 0-for-3 with an error. “To be honest, it was a little bit of nerves going into the first inning, but after that it was fine,” said Herrera, via MetsBlog. “I felt good the rest of the night.” Herrera has made great strides since the Mets acquired him from the Pirates with Vic Black in the Marlon Byrd trade last year, and after a half-season breakout at Double-A Binghamton, he now looks like a top prospect. The Pirates paid heavily for Byrd, but he did hit .318/.357/.486 down the stretch for them, also hitting a homer in the Bucs’ win in the Wild Card game against the Reds.
  • Highly regarded former big-league GM Pat Gillick is now the Phillies‘ interim team president as David Montgomery takes a medical leave of absence, but GM Ruben Amaro says team operations will be “status quo,” Jake Kaplan of the Daily News writes. Gillick was the Phillies’ GM when they won the World Series in 2008, but Amaro says Gillick’s current duties will only be temporary.

Minor Moves: Wilking Rodriguez, Tommy Field

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Not long after inking him to a minor league deal, the Yankees have released righty Wilking Rodriguez, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Rodriguez, 24, had solid minor league numbers with the Royals, but was set loose when the club acquired Josh Willingham and needed a 40-man spot. He did not make an appearance in the New York system.
  • Days after being designated for assignment by the Pirates, infielder Tommy Field has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to the International League transactions page. Field was claimed by Pittsburgh from the Angles on August 10. On the year, he owns a .286/.357/.428 slash over 387 Triple-A plate appearances.

Royals Claim Jayson Nix From Pirates

The Royals have claimed infielder Jayson Nix off waivers from the Pirates, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Nix was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on Monday.

Nix, 31, has bounced around a good deal this year, and will now join his fourth organization on the season. He brings plenty of positional versatility to the table, though his lifetime .214/.284/.347 triple-slash does not give much reason for significant expectations. On the year, Nix has slashed .133/.188/.173 in 82 big league plate appearances.

Kansas City will look to make use of Nix as a part of its September roster expansion plan, as McCullough tweets that the team may not even activate him until after the end of the month.


Pirates Designate Jayson Nix For Assignment

The Pirates announced that they have designated infielder Jayson Nix for assignment in order to clear roster space for Jose Tabata.

The 31-year-old Nix appeared in 16 games for the Pirates this season but totaled just 39 plate appearances and batted just .111/.158/.111. In 82 combined plate appearances between the Pirates and Phillies, he’s batted .133/.188/.173. While those numbers aren’t exactly enticing, Nix does have a 12-homer and a 14-homer season under his belt, and he’s posted double-digit stolen base totals twice as well.

Overall, Nix is a lifetime .214/.284/.347 hitter in 1456 Major League plate appearances between the Rockies, White Sox, Indians, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays, Phillies and Pirates. He has experience at second base, shortstop, third base and both outfield corners, though his outfield work has been fairly limited.

Tabata’s recall was first reported earlier today along with the news that the Pirates will briefly demote top prospect Gregory Polanco to Triple-A. Polanco is expected to rejoin the team on Sept. 1 when rosters expand and will, of course, still be eligible for postseason play. He’s in the midst of a woeful 1-for-30 slump, however, whereas Tabata has been swinging well at Triple-A Indianapolis of late, hitting .349/.404/.422 over his past 22 games.