Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Carpenter, Wall, Rapada

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Angels have outrighted right-hander David Carpenter to Triple-A Salt Lake, according to the team’s transactions page. The 26-year-old Carpenter, not to be confused with the Atlanta setup man of the same name, fired three scoreless innings this season in his lone appearance with the Halos. He’s struggled in a pair of prior stints — including a 39 2/3 inning tryout in 2012 — and owns a 5.23 career ERA in 43 frames. Carpenter was designated for assignment over the weekend.
  • Right-hander Josh Wall has been outrighted to Triple-A by the Pirates, according to Pittsburgh’s transactions page. The 27-year-old Wall was designated for assignment on July 31 and has appeared in one big league game this season, though it came with the Angels, not the Pirates. Wall yielded six runs in one inning with Anaheim and was subsequently claimed off waivers by the Bucs. He’s been very good in 22 1/3 Triple-A innings with Pittsburgh this season, notching a 3.22 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just nine walks.
  • The Orioles have released southpaw Clay Rapada to create roster space at Triple-A Norfolk for the newly-signed Joe Saunders, the club’s top affiliate announced on Twitter. Rapada has yet to earn a substantial stretch of time on a big league roster since his excellent 2012 season, when he posted a 2.82 ERA over 38 1/3 innings for the Yankees (8.9 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9). This year, over 38 1/3 frames (that’s a coincidence, not a typo) at the Triple-A level, Rapada has allowed 5.63 earned per nine.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Stanton, Yankees, Pirates

The Red Sox decided to sell last week after it became clear the odds were against them contending, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes in a long piece on the team’s deadline moves. “No matter how we think the team should be playing or could play over the last 60 games or so, the math was against us,” says Sox GM Ben Cherington. “And if we’re really serious about building another team and trying to become as good as we can as quickly as we can, well, what do we need to find out the rest of the way to do that?” Abraham adds that the Red Sox discussed potential trades with 26 of the 29 other teams, ultimately dealing Jon Lester, John Lackey, Stephen Drew and Andrew Miller. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • One player the Red Sox didn’t discuss was Giancarlo Stanton, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. The Marlins were bidders for Jon Lester, but they offered a collection of prospects, and the Red Sox did not attempt to pry Stanton away. Of course, from the Marlins’ perspective, dealing an established star like Stanton might have defeated the purpose of trading for another established star in Lester, particularly since Lester is eligible for free agency after the season.
  • When Esmil Rogers entered the game for the Yankees Sunday, he became the team’s 29th pitcher this season, a franchise record, as Katie Sharp of It’s About The Money tweets. That group includes injury cases (Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda etc.), barely used relievers (Bruce Billings, Chris Leroux, Wade LeBlanc, Jim Miller, Cesar Cabral, Jeff Francis) and even former infielder Dean Anna.
  • The Pirates sat out of the trade deadline for the second straight year, but the trading season isn’t over, notes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Bucs made two waiver trades in 2013, acquiring outfielder Marlon Byrd, backup catcher John Buck, and first baseman Justin Morneau. After a quiet July trade deadline in 2014, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Pirates dip into the waiver trade market again.
  • Pedro Alvarez has lost his job as the Pirates’ starter at third base, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Bucs aren’t likely to move him to a different position (probably first base) until after the season, however. The Pirates acquired infielder Jayson Nix Sunday as an additional option at third, although Josh Harrison will likely receive most of the available playing time there.
  • Major League Baseball should consider moving the non-waiver trade deadline to some point in August, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The presence of the second Wild Card causes many teams to consider themselves contenders in late July, leading to few sellers on trade market. Athletics GM Billy Beane says that he approves of the current July 31 deadline but adds that there haven’t been many sellers in recent years. Giants GM Brian Sabean, meanwhile, believes the deadline should be changed.
  • Players who appear likely to clear waivers and become candidates for August trades include Josh Willingham of the Twins, Alex Rios of the Rangers and Carlos Quentin of the Padres, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. That could mean there could be a reasonable market for teams looking for outfielders, especially if Marlon Byrd of the Phillies and Drew Stubbs of the Rockies also clear. John Danks of the White Sox and Scott Feldman of the Astros (who pitched a complete game today) are among the starting pitchers likely to clear.
  • The Dodgers and Brewers had the most interest in Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit, Heyman tweets, noting that Benoit is unlikely to clear waivers.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Pirates Sign Jayson Nix

The Pirates announced that they have signed outfielder Jayson Nix.  The veteran is expected to be active for today’s game against the Diamondbacks.  To make room for Nix, the Bucs designated Dean Anna for assignment.

Nix signed with Tampa Bay in January as a non-roster player before being shipped to the Phillies in March for cash.  The Phillies went on to outright Nix in May, allowing him to return to the Rays, who released him late last week from their Triple-A affiliate.  Nix, who turns 32 later this month, was originally drafted 44th overall by the Rockies in 2001 and he’s suited up for six different franchises over his seven years in the majors.

The Pirates claimed Anna, 27, off waivers from the Yankees in July after he was DFA’d.  He hasn’t set the world on fire this season but he’s only a year removed from being a Pacific Coast League All-Star and leading the PCL in batting average while producing a .331/.410/.482 line in 132 games for the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate



July Trade Recap: NL Central

After covering the AL Central, AL East and NL East in our look back at the July trade market, let’s turn the spotlight on the NL Central:

Brewers

Cardinals

Cubs

Pirates

  • None

Reds

Synopsis

With four teams over .500 and only 5.5 games separating first place from fourth place after Friday’s games, it wasn’t hard to imagine that the NL Central would see a lot of action heading into the trade deadline.  While a few major arms came and went from the division, however, the action was a bit muted overall thanks to inactivity from two of those contending teams.

The Pirates didn’t swing a single deal in July despite being connected to many of the major pitching names known to be available.  David Price, Jon Lester, Lackey, Ian Kennedy, A.J. Burnett…all of these upper-tier starters were linked to the Bucs in trade rumors over the summer yet none ended up wearing the black-and-gold.  Pittsburgh likewise came up short in finding a left-handed reliever to help reinforce the bullpen.  While the Pirates had a pretty quiet July, however, it’s too early to say that they won’t still add to their roster — they didn’t make any major moves in July 2013 either yet picked up Marlon Byrd, John Buck and Justin Morneau before the August 31st deadline.  The Pirates’ payroll limitations will keep from them going for any of the more expensive names that might pop up on the waiver wire this month, yet it wouldn’t be surprising to see them add another useful piece or two.

A minor deal involving Jair Jurrjens notwithstanding, the Reds also didn’t do anything in July, and they’re another team that could be more active in August simply because they might not know if they’re contenders yet.  Cincinnati is 55-54 despite major injuries to several key players (i.e. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips) and a brutal 2-10 slide following the All-Star break.  It seemed like the Reds themselves were on the fence about being buyers or sellers given that they checked in on Bonifacio and Alex Rios yet were also listening to offers for Mat Latos and Ryan Ludwick.  Like with Pittsburgh, a lack of available payroll space played a role in Cincinnati’s inaction, so moving Latos or Ludwick could’ve been ways of freeing up salary and (in Latos’ case) trading a big chip to help elsewhere on the Major League roster than than add prospects.

With a rotation that lacks a true ace but is otherwise quite solid from one to five, the Brewers’ rumored interest in the likes of Price and Lackey seemed more like due diligence rather than a genuine desire to make a big splash.  The division leaders were known to be looking for relief help but overall, Milwaukee didn’t have many roster holes that were in drastic need of an upgrade.  In Parra, the Brew Crew adds a very solid fourth outfielder who can play all three OF positions can provide above-average or better defense at any of them, and while he’s slumped at the plate this year, Parra has been a useful hitter in a platoon role.  Khris Davis left Friday’s game with a calf injury, so it’s possible Parra could quickly take on a bigger role.

It’s hard to believe that pitching was the Cardinals’ deadline focus given their seemingly inexhaustible supply of talented minor league arms, yet St. Louis was involved in talks for Price, Lester and Jake Peavy before eventually making the division’s two biggest acquisitions in Lackey and Masterson.  The Cardinal clubhouse might not be pleased about some of the players lost, yet the two veteran arms could provide needed help to a rotation that has been thinned by injuries and ineffectiveness.

In acquiring these pitchers, the Cards didn’t give up anyone who was providing any value to the 2014 squad.  After contributing heavily to last year’s pennant winners, Kelly (0.2 fWAR) and Craig (-0.6 fWAR) became expendable this season, especially on a team with so many young replacements in the minors.  Ramsey would be a top-three prospect on many clubs, yet since the Cardinals have a plethora of young outfield talent, they felt comfortable in sending him to Cleveland for Masterson.

Lackey should provide good value for this season and next, especially given that he’s under contract for only a league minimum salary in 2015.  Masterson is a free agent this winter and has been bothered by a bad knee, a drop in fastball velocity and control issues this season, yet his peripheral numbers indicate that his 5.51 ERA should be around a run and a half lower.  You could think that Masterson, an extreme ground ball pitcher, will improve in St. Louis simply because he’s going from the league’s worst defensive team to its best in terms of defensive runs saved.

The Cubs are the only NL Central team not still in the playoff hunt, and they continued their rebuilding effort in four deals that added even more young talent to an already-impressive farm system.  One trade involved adding an established big leaguer in Doubront, as perhaps a reunion with Theo Epstein will help get his career back on track after a tough season in Boston.

The other three trades saw the Cubs move veterans who had little value to a non-contender.  Russell drew a lot of attention from several teams and the Cubs packaged the southpaw and Bonifacio for switch-hitting catcher Caratini, the Braves’ second round pick in 2013.  Defensive specialist Barney was moved in a lower-level deal (he had already been designated for assignment by the Cubs) for a lottery ticket in Martinez, a 20-year-old with a live arm in Class A.

After over a year of rumors, the Cubs finally pulled the trigger on trading Samardzija, sending both the Shark and Jason Hammel to Oakland for a major prospect package.  Addison Russell gives the Cubs yet another young blue-chip middle infielder, and his acquisition has already generated rumors that the Cubs’ next step could be trading Starlin Castro for another established big league talent to upgrade the outfield or rotation in the offseason.  While Russell was the headliner of that trade, McKinney is also ranked ninth amongst Cubs prospects according to MLB.com’s midseason rankings, and Straily was considered a top-85 prospect by Baseball Prospectus before the 2013 season.

There were some whispers that the Cubs could use their prospect depth to make a deal for Price, yet that would’ve been a puzzling move for a team that isn’t planning to win now.  For where the Cubs are in their rebuilding process, it’s hard to see their July moves as anything less than a big win for the Cubs front office, turning four short-term veterans in Hammel, Bonifacio (both under contract only through 2014), Samardzija and Russell (through 2015) into four promising young players who combine for over two decades’ worth of controllable years.  Some more moves could be coming in August, as outfielders Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Sweeney would all likely not have much trouble passing through waivers.


NL Central Notes: Lackey, Brewers, Huntington

Here’s what’s happening around the NL Central…

  • John Lackey told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch) that he will honor his contract and pitch in 2015 despite the fact that he’ll only earn a minimum salary.  The fact that Lackey was traded to the contending Cardinals played a factor in his decision: “Obviously, it was case by case.  It would have been a harder decision other places, for sure, but this is definitely somewhere I wanted to be, and I’m excited about it.”
  • The Brewers checked in on such names as the PadresJoaquin Benoit, the RockiesLaTroy Hawkins and the DiamondbacksAddison Reed and Brad Ziegler yet came up short in their hunt for a right-handed reliever, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter link).  Earlier today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Crew were one of the finalists to obtain a notable lefty reliever in Andrew Miller.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington discussed his team’s lack of trade activity, telling reporters (including MLB.com’s Tom Singer) that “we identified potential fits, wanted to add and worked hard to. At the end of the day, we weren’t able to push anything across the line….It was interesting, in that the majority of impact players went for Major League talent instead of teams trying to grab the best prospects they can, as has been the case in recent years.”  Since Pittsburgh was connected to Jon Lester and David Price, Singer speculates that Huntington was perhaps willing to move young prospects for these aces but couldn’t outbid the A’s and Tigers’ respective offers, both of which included established players.

Pirates Claim Angel Sanchez; Designate Wall

The Pirates claimed righty Angel Sanchez off waivers from the White Sox, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.  Nightengale adds that the Bucs designated righty Josh Wall for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Sanchez.

The Rays claimed Sanchez off waivers from the Marlins in June, and then the White Sox claimed him earlier this month.  The 24-year-old has a 6.57 ERA, 5.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 0.71 HR/9 in 89 innings at Double-A and High-A this year.  Baseball America ranked him 16th among Marlins prospects prior to the season, noting a live 92-95 mile per hour fastball.  The Marlins had acquired him from the Dodgers last July as part of the Ricky Nolasco trade.

Wall, 27, was also sent to the Marlins in the Nolasco deal last summer.  He was claimed off waivers by the Angels in October, then claimed by the Pirates in May.  He has a 3.55 ERA, 9.0 K/9, and 3.8 BB/9 in 33 Triple-A relief innings this year.


Rays May Be Engineering Three-Team David Price Trade

2:42pm: A three-team deal involving Price could well be in the works, with Price being the only piece moving from Tampa, tweets Topkin.

2:36pm: Lefty Enny Romero is under consideration in Tampa’s discussions, tweets Rosenthal, though precisely in what manner still unclear.

2:31pm: A three-team mix could be in the offing, according to reports. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that there were discussions of such a deal involving Price and the Tigers and Mariners. And Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that a three-team arrangement is under discussion now.

2:14pm: The Tigers appear to be the front-runner on Price at the moment, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.

2:13pm: The Yankees are unlikely to get Price, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

2:04pm: The Yankees are also involved in discussions, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

1:33pm: The Cardinals may also still be involved on Price, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). His source indicates that the Cards, along with the Tigers and Mariners, are the final possible suitors.

1:28pm: The Rays are nearing a deal involving Price, tweets ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark. Where, however, remains unclear.

1:14pm: Drew Smyly would likely need to be part of a package to land Price, tweets Morosi.

1:11pm: The Dodgers are “not back in” on Price, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com.

1:02pm: The Pirates have also been discussing Price, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. In discussions with the Dodgers, prospect Joc Pederson is in play, adds Rosenthal.

12:52pm: The Tigers have discussed Price with the Rays today, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links).

12:47pm: The Dodgers and Mariners are the leading contenders to acquire Price, if he is dealt, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.

12:45pm: The Rays are “definitely moving” ace David Price, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

While Price has long been a subject of trade speculation, it seemed less and less likely he would be moved as Tampa reeled off an extensive winning streak. But in spite of the club’s solid play, it remains largely on the fringes of contention at this point.


Cubs Moving Closer To Bonifacio Trade

TODAY, 12:04am: Also in on Bonifacio as of this morning were the Pirates, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

11:13am: There is plenty of action on Bonifacio, who is being pursued currently by the Orioles, Giants, and Mariners, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

Bonifacio is a backup option for the Mariners, along with Chris Denorfia, tweets Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Seattle prefers to add Alex Rios or Ben Zobrist.

YESTERDAY, 8:12pm: It does not appear that the Giants are going to acquire Bonifacio, according to a tweet from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

6:42pm: The Royals are not yet close to adding Bonifacio, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.

5:48pm: The O’s are not in on Bonifacio, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, who hears that the versatile fielder could be returning to Kansas City. Needless to say, that would be an interesting turn of events: Bonifacio finished well last year with Kansas City, was tendered a contract, agreed to a salary to avoid arbitration, and was then released before the start of the season.

5:14pm: At present, the Giants, Orioles, and Reds are all in play for Bonifacio, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

4:50pm: Bonifacio has been told to be prepared for a deal today, tweets Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

4:42pm: Bonifacio is indeed not in the lineup, with manager Rick Renteria saying it was “prudent” to hold him out, according to Rogers (Twitter link).

2:50pm: The Cubs are getting close to trading Bonifacio, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Levine tweets that Bonifacio is not in tonight’s lineup, which could obviously signal that a deal is nigh. Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the Giants have been scouting Bonifacio all week, but the asking price for the impending free agent is said to be high.

2:32pm: The Orioles are Giants are considering Cubs utility man Emilio Bonifacio as a trade option, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney.  Bruce Levine of 670 The Score adds the Royals, Mariners, and Reds as three more potential suitors (All Twitter links).

Bonifacio, 29, is hitting .279/.318/.373 in 298 plate appearances for the Cubs.  The switch-hitter is raking against lefties in this year’s limited sample.  He’s mainly played center field and second base for the Cubs.  Bonifacio is eligible for free agency after the season.


John Lackey Rumors: Thursday

Yesterday we learned there’s a “very good chance” that the Red Sox will trade right-hander John Lackey in advance of this afternoon’s non-waiver trade deadline. The Royals, Indians, and Dodgers have been linked to the right-hander, while the Angels and Brewers are reportedly not pursuing him. The Marlins were also linked to Lackey, though reports on the likelihood of that deal vary from “zero chance” to the two sides still discussing potential deals. Here’s the latest Lackey buzz as the deadline looms…

Earlier Updates

  • The Pirates were known to have interest in Jon Lester before he was traded to Oakland, but prior to that trade today Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe said the Bucs were in on Lackey as well.  Cafardo also weighed in on previous interest from San Francisco, writing, “The Giants, who acquired [Jake] Peavy last weekend, were also in the hunt for another arm, and Lackey was also mentioned.”

Latest On Royals’ Pitching Search

We took a look yesterday at the Royals’ search for an outfielder. Kansas City has also been mentioned alongside several starting pitchers in recent days, including A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, and John Lackey. (MLBTR links.) Here’s the latest:

  • The Royals have asked the Rockies about Jorge De La Rosa, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.  De La Rosa spent a few years with Kansas City before they dealt him to Colorado to complete the Ramon Ramirez deal in 2008.  Earlier this month, Rockies owner Dick Monfort told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post the team aimed to do everything they can to keep De La Rosa, who is eligible for free agency after the season.
  • The Royals are talking with the Phillies about A.J. Burnett, but nothing is close, tweets Rosenthal. With bats in scarce supply, Kansas City is still exploring the pitching market, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star adds on Twitter.

Yesterday’s Updates

  • The Royals are in on Ian Kennedy of the Padres, along with the Pirates and Marlins (and still others), tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of course, as Rosenthal notes, it is not clear that San Diego will deal away Kennedy.
  • Boston is looking for power pitching in return for Lackey, but K.C. places a high value on its young arms, tweets McCullough.
  • The Royals have indeed inquired on Colon, but got the sense that New York did not intend to move him, tweets McCullough.
  • The Phillies have had recent discussions with the Royals about Burnett as well as Antonio Bastardo, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. As for Colon, his market is not developing with any clubs, let alone the Royals, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • As of earlier this morning, the Royals were unwilling to meet the Red Sox‘ asking price on Lackey, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Kansas City remains interested if the price comes down, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
  • While the team is looking into adding a starter (and/or an outfielder or reliever), McCullough tweets, GM Dayton Moore says he is still counting on internal production to drive results.