Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Brock, Worley, Indians, Collins

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the trade in which the Cubs sent Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio and two other players in a six-player deal, Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue notes. This was, of course, one of the worst trades in baseball history. Yellon explains that the Cubs were motivated in part by their poor start in 1964. They had finished 82-80 in 1963 for their first winning season in more than a decade, and they were hoping to make another run at contention. They also clearly didn’t realize that Brock, who was already almost 25, would become half the player he did, and they also didn’t anticipate that Broglio would begin having elbow problems almost immediately. Yellon notes that many writers at the time praised the Cubs for the trade. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Pirates will add Vance Worley to their 40-man roster in time for him to start on Sunday, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Pirates acquired Worley from the Twins in a depth move in March, but since then he’s demonstrated stellar control at Triple-A Indianapolis (with just four walks in 46 innings), and the Pirates have dealt with injuries to Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, as well as the departure of Wandy Rodriguez. Worley’s start will be his first in the big leagues since last May 22, after which he had a 7.21 ERA with 4.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 48 2/3 innings for Minnesota.
  • The Indians have struggled defensively this season, but it might be difficult for them to trade for defensive help, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. The problem is that many of their worst defensive players, such as Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall, are important to their offense. (A more straightforward path to improvement, of course, would be for Swisher and Santana to hit more.)
  • The Mets have told manager Terry Collins his job is safe even though the Mets are 30-37, Newsday’s Anthony Rieber reports. The Mets signed Collins to a two-year extension in the offseason, and the Mets like Collins’ upbeat tone despite the team’s struggles. “One of the things we’ve tried to do here is create an atmosphere where guys understand what it is to play at this level,” says Collins. “The game sometimes isn’t friendly. But they’ve got to go out and keep doing their jobs, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Pirates To Sign Supplemental 2nd Rounder Trey Supak

The Pirates have agreed to sign supplemental second round choice Trey Supak for a $1MM bonus, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com reported yesterday that the sides had agreed to terms. The compensation round B pick with which Supak was taken (73rd overall) comes with a $772K allotment.

The Texas high-school righty drew a wide range of opinion. ESPN.com’s Keith Law rated Supak as the 30th-best prospect available through the draft, citing the quality of his delivery, while Baseball America had him down at 99th. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis landed in the middle, ranking him the 62nd-best prospect. They say that he has good offerings but is most attractive for his projectability.

Pittsburgh has now signed both of its second-round choices after agreeing with Mitch Keller yesterday. Together, the pair has gone for $341.2K over slot. While Pittsburgh did save about $125.5K on first-rounder Cole Tucker, it looks like the club will have to come up with additional savings elsewhere to avoid paying a penalty.

Draft Signings: Orioles, Angels, Cousino, Ockimey, More

Here are the day’s draft signings, with slot bonus information by way of Baseball America:

  • MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets that Connaughton, Baltimore’s third-rounder, signed for the slot value of $428,100. Callis and his colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Connaughton 112th prior to the draft and praised his 95 mph fastball.
  • The Orioles have announced the signing each of the first three players selected by the club: lefty Brian Gonzalez (3rd round, 90th overall, $594.2K allocation), righty Pat Connaughton (4th round, 121st overall, $428.1K allocation), and righty David Hess (5th round, 151st overall, $320.5K allocation). Actual bonuses have not yet been reported. Of course, Baltimore gave up the rights to its original first three choices by signing two qualifying offer free agents and dealing away the club’s compensation round A choice.
  • The Angels have signed 14 of the team’s selections to undisclosed bonuses, reports Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times. Among the players signed are junior righty Jeremy Rhoades (4th round, 119th overall, $436.5K allocation) and JuCo righty Jake Jewell (fifth round, 149th overall, $326.8K allocation).
  • Austin Cousino, the third-round selection of the Mariners, has agreed to terms, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). The University of Kentucky outfielder was taken at 80th overall, which comes with a $693.2K bonus allocation, though financial terms are not yet known.Baseball America and MLB.com valued Cousino in the sixth-round range.
  • Fifth-rounder Josh Ockimey has agreed to a $450K bonus with the Red Sox, tweets Cotillo. That represents a $167.2K overage against the slot value of the 164th overall choice. Ockimey is a high school first baseman from Pennsylvania.

Earlier Updates

  • The Dodgers have agreed to an at-slot, $534.4K bonus with third-round choice John Richy, tweets MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. Richy, a junior righty from UNLV, was listed as Baseball America’s 203rd-best available player entering the draft.
  • The Braves have also inked their third-round pick, Max Povse, to a below-slot $425K bonus, Mayo reports on Twitter. That delivers $89.2K in savings against the 102nd pick’s allotted bonus value. Baseball America rated the UNC-Greensboro righty at 142nd on its list of the top 500 draft prospects.
  • Sixth-round pick Max George has been added by the Rockies with a well-above-slot $620K bonus, tweets Mayo. His slot value was just $259.2K. The Colorado high school shortstop, who did not appear on the draft boards of any major analysts, had been committed to Oregon State. That overage will account for a decent chunk of the team’s savings from signing first-rounder Kyle Freeland to a below-slot deal.
  • Brewers third-rounder Cy Sneed has agreed to an under-slot $400K bonus, tweets Mayo. That represents a $241.8K savings against the 85th overall slot’s assigned value. Sneed, a junior righty from Dallas Baptist, checked in at 158th on Baseball America’s rankings.
  • The Marlins have agreed to terms with third-round choice Brian Anderson at the below-slot mark of $600K, tweets Callis. Anderson’s 76th overall slot comes with a $737.2K allotment, meaning that Miami will save about $137.2K while adding a player that Baseball America listed as the 69th best available.
  • Fourth-round choice Taylor Gushue will land a full-slot, $388.8K bonus with the Pirates, Callis reports on Twitter. Both Baseball America and MLB.com saw the University of Florida backstop as landing just outside the top 100 draft prospects.
  • Milton Ramos, who reportedly agreed with the Mets yesterday, will receive a $750K bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). That represents a $98.3K overage against the slot assessment for the 84th overall pick. Helping to make up for that, the club has also added fifth-round choice Josh Prevost with a $100K bonus that will save $239.6K against the pick’s slot value, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.

Pirates To Sign Second-Rounder Mitch Keller

TODAY: Keller will receive a $1MM bonus, tweets MLB.com’s Jim Callis. That means that Pittsburgh will have to account for a $113.2K overage, which is less than the team saved in signing first-rounder Cole Tucker.

YESTERDAY: Second-round draft selection Mitch Keller tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register that he’s agreed to terms with the Pirates and will travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow and sign a contract on Friday. The assigned pick value for the No. 64 overall selection is $886,800, according to Baseball America.

Keller, a high school right-hander out of Cedar Rapids, Ia. and North Carolina commit, ranked 65th among draft prospects according to ESPN’s Keith Law, 69th according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and 76th according to Baseball America. According to those scouting reports, Keller’s stock rose this spring as his fastball added some velocity, and he now sits in the low 90s, touching 94-95 mph on occasion. He also has a curveball that’s better at present than his changeup. Law notes that he has a real chance to have two plus pitches (his fastball and curve), giving him a floor of a high-leverage reliever and the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.

Keller tells Birch that the decision between signing and attending UNC was difficult, but he feels he made the right choice and that beginning his pro career is a “dream come true.” Birch writes that Keller finished his final season at Xavier High School — the same school that produced big league outfielder Ryan Sweeney — with a 1.72 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.

The Pirates have the ability to above slot to sign Keller, if necessary, due to the fact that first-round pick Cole Tucker signed for about $125K below slot, agreeing to a $1.8MM bonus on Monday. Keller’s older brother, Jon, is a right-handed pitcher in the Orioles’ system.

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Martin, Mills, Cubs, Marmol

The Pirates announced today that Francisco Liriano has been placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Liriano joins ace Gerrit Cole on the market and gives Pittsburgh’s rotation a very different look than it had at the end of the 2013 season when that duo was teaming up with A.J. Burnett to shut down opposing lineups. ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke with officials from several other teams who expect the Bucs to try to trade for a starter with Cole and Liriano now on the shelf (Twitter link).

Here’s a bit more on the Pirates and the rest of the NL Central…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Joe Starkey of 93.7 The Fan and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team’s level of interest in re-signing Russell Martin is “very high” (Twitter link). Of course, that doesn’t mean the Pirates will be able to afford Martin, who is coming off a strong season and hitting .269/.409/.394 in 30 games this year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Brewers lefty Brad Mills can opt out of his minor league deal on Sunday and is having a strong season at Triple-A. Mills has pitched to a 1.57 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 69 innings of work. Rosenthal wonders if the veteran 29-year-old could be of interest to teams looking for a starter.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer spoke with David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link) and said it’s “likely and definitely possible” that the team will spend on veteran players in free agency this offseason. Said Hoyer: “We need to add veterans to the kids that are coming.”
  • Earlier today, the Reds placed Carlos Marmol on the minor league restricted list after he left the team without permission. MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo spoke with Marmol’s agent, Paul Kinzer, about the move (All Twitter links). Said Kinzer: “He decided to take a break and just focus on getting back on track. He’s still healthy and should still be in his prime. His velocity was still in the mid-90′s. I don’t believe the Reds want to release him. He wants to get his confidence back and take a break mentally.”

Pirates Promote Gregory Polanco

June 10: The Pirates have officially announced Polanco’s promotion via press release.

June 9: The Pirates have announced that Polanco will be called up prior to tomorrow’s game. A roster opening will be created with Neil Walker going to the 15-day DL after undergoing an appendectomy this evening.

Polanco also tweeted the news from his personal Twitter account. If he is activated tomorrow, Polanco could reach 111 days of MLB service this year, which would make him an unlikely Super Two candidate down the line.

June 4, 7:17pm: A Pirates official says that Polanco will not be called up Friday, specifying that sources saying otherwise are incorrect, according to Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan (via Twitter; hat tip to Biertempfel).

6:20pm: Two high-ranking club officials say there are no plans to promote Polanco for Friday, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (via Twitter).

5:46pm: The Pirates will make the much-anticipated promotion of top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco in time to activate him for Friday’s game, reports Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also reports that Polanco is set to join the Pirates on Friday, via Twitter.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Yankees

Polanco, 22, entered the season as a consensus top-25 prospect league-wide — if not better. Baseball America pushed the toolsy Dominican into the top ten, while ESPN.com’s Keith Law and MLB.com both rated him inside of the top 15. Of course, that was before Polanco went on a rampage in his first real stint Triple-A this year, putting up a .351/.410/.547 line with 6 home runs and 14 steals and leading Law to move him up to the 3rd overall slot among current prospects.

Polanco is far from a bat-first prospect. Indeed, Law says that he features plus-plus defense at the center field position and gets a 70 grade on the basepaths. That is especially notable given that Polanco checks in at a robust 6’4 tall and 220 pounds.

Of course, Polanco is not likely to get a chance to play center in Pittsburgh, which already features a solid defender in Andrew McCutchen at that spot. Instead, like fellow outstanding youngster Starling Marte, he figures to slot in as one of the best corner outfield defenders in the game, combining with McCutchen for perhaps the game’s most exciting trio. The hope is that Polanco can provide an immediate upgrade in right for a team that has received precisely replacement-level production from the spot this year, even taking into account the unexpected outburst from Josh Harrison.

The call-up brings to an end the somewhat controversial stretch of time that Polanco spent at the highest minor league level this year. Many called for an earlier promotion, citing the Bucs’ struggles in right field and the fact that Pittsburgh reportedly offered Polanco a seven-year, $25MM contract extension before he even suited up for the big club. While it would be foolish to deny that Super Two considerations played a role, of course, it is worth bearing in mind that Polanco had taken all of nine plate appearances at the Triple-A level prior to this season, and had only posted a .762 OPS through 286 trips to the plate at Double-A.

Assuming that Polanco is officially added to the active MLB roster on Friday, he would stand to accumulate as many as 115 days of service this year. That is not likely to put him line for Super Two status, which has required anywhere from 2.122 to 2.146 days of service in recent years.

Pittsburgh stands to control Polanco through the 2020 season, and will likely not have to go through arbitration with him until 2018. The rest of the above-mentioned outfielders are controlled long-term as well: McCutchen has had his salary guaranteed through 2017 with a club option for another year, while Marte is under contract through 2019 with two more team options to follow. Given the team’s already-aggressive stance with regard to Polanco, and successful negotiations with his outfield mates, it would not be surprising to see the team look for another chance at a deal in the future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NL Notes: Polanco, Sellers, CarGo, Cuddyer, Matzek, Draft

The rise of Pirates call-up Gregory Polanco from a virtually unknown international signee to a top prospect has been quite rare in recent history, writes Alex Speier in an ESPN Insider piece. Slowly but surely, the 22-year-old tightened his skills to match his raw tools, and his now-obvious upside emerged.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • While Polanco is undoubtedly an exciting addition for the Pirates, the team should nevertheless be prepared to sell over the summer, opines Paul Swydan of ESPN.com (Insider link). Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano are among the pieces that the team could consider moving, he says. Meanwhile, the Mets and Padres are other NL clubs that Swydan says should look to move pieces.
  • While Swydan does not discuss their situation, the Phillies also seem like possible sellers, though it is hard to know the club’s thinking. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com discusses the trade-worthiness of several of the team’s possible deadline chips.
  • The Mets‘ struggles this year are bad enough that they have shifted the team’s seemingly promising trajectory, writes Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. The team’s key cog, third baseman David Wright, says that he remains committed to the Mets and has no desire to be dealt. (Of course, that seems a rather unlikely outcome regardless.) “I knew that when I signed my extension, I knew that things were not going to be easy,” he said. “If I wanted the easy way out, I would have signed somewhere else. The challenge of it, the loyalty to the organization, the direction I think we’re going, yes, we’ve gone through some rough stretches … but that is the process.”
  • The Rockies, who dropped their ninth of ten games tonight, are now dealing with another spate of bad injury news. In addition to placing recent top prospect call-up Eddie Butler on the 15-day DL after his first big league start, the team learned today that it will be without two key veterans for some time. Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will undergo exploratory surgery on the left index finger that has bothered him this year, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post (via Twitter). And right fielder Michael Cuddyer has suffered a fracture of the glenoid socket in his right shoulder, which will keep him out for at least six to eight weeks, as Cody Ulm of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Now well off the pace in the NL West, the Rockies would need a quick turnaround to position themselves as contenders as the trade deadline approaches.
  • In need of arms, the Rockies will call up 23-year-old lefty Tyler Matzek to start on Wednesday against the Braves, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports on Twitter. Once a top-25 prospect league-wide and the 11th overall choice in the 2009 draft, Matzek has climbed through the minors even as his prospect shine has dimmed somewhat. After opening the year rated 12th among Colorado prospects by Baseball America, which noted that struggles with consistency and command could push him to the bullpen, Matzek has worked to a 4.05 ERA in his first 66 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. More importantly, perhaps, he has worked to a career-best 4.2 BB/9 at Colorado Springs while also racking up 8.2 K/9.
  • ESPN.com’s Keith Law has posted his round-up (Insider link) of the draft haul from National League clubs. He says that the Diamondbacks brought back an impressive haul across the board, and casts some doubt on some of the Cubs‘ early-round selections while noting that the team went after high-upside arms further down.

Pirates To Sign Cole Tucker

The Pirates are in agreement with first-round pick Cole Tucker on a below-slot $1.8MM signing bonus, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (Twitter link). The value of that No. 24 slot, as reported by Baseball America, was $1.9255MM.

Tucker was a surprise first-round selection for many, as he’d been ranked 64th by ESPN’s Keith Law, 67th by Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of MLB.com and 84th by Baseball America. The Arizona prep shortstop is a switch-hitter that is better from the left side of the dish but has good bat speed and an ability to hit the ball the other way from both sides, writes Law. BA praised his strong arm and plus speed out of the box, while MLB.com said he has the ability to stick at shortstop and projection in his bat.

Tucker had been committed to Arizona but will instead begin his pro career. He is the first infield bat that the Pirates have selected in the first round since drafting Pedro Alvarez second overall back in 2008.

Latest On The First Base Trade Market

First basemen who “are available” to be traded include the Yankees’ Kelly Johnson, the Phillies’ John Mayberry Jr., the Nationals’ Tyler Moore and the Pirates’ Gaby Sanchez, sources tell Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.  Johnson and Sanchez are new additions to the rumor mill, while Mayberry and Moore have both been recently cited as possible trade chips.

The quartet is cited in the context of Mitch Moreland‘s season-ending ankle surgery, leaving the Rangers dealing with yet another major injury.  Despite losing a host of notable players to the DL, Texas is still just 2.5 games behind Seattle for the last AL wild card slot, and could still be looking to make additions down the stretch.  Texas had previously had exploratory talks with the Nationals about Moore, though MLB.com’s Bill Ladson noted those talks weren’t serious.

Johnson has played 23 games at first for the Yankees this season, though he has spent the large majority of his career as a second baseman (plus some time at third and in left field).  Despite Yangervis Solarte‘s emergence, the Yankees’ infield depth is still thin, so it would be somewhat surprising to see New York move a versatile player like Johnson elsewhere.  Johnson is still owed roughly $1.845MM from the one-year, $3MM deal he signed with the Yankees last winter.

Sanchez was the subject of some trade rumors last year, though he remained with the Bucs as the right-handed hitting half of a first base platoon.  While he has a solid .255/.303/.510 slash line with five homers in 109 PA this year, Sanchez has made almost twice as many plate appearances against righties as he has against lefties since the Pirates have faced an unusually large amount of right-handed starters; Pittsburgh hitters as a whole have made only 366 PA against lefties in 2014, by far the lowest in the majors.  Sanchez has a career .903 OPS against southpaws against just a .700 OPS against righties, so he could certainly provide a contender with a useful part-time or bench bat.

Rangers first basemen have combined for -0.9 fWAR this season, and five other teams (the Twins, Astros, Indians, Royals and Mariners) have also received sub-replacement level production from their first basemen.

NL Notes: Cole, Roark, Phillies

Pirates ace Gerrit Cole has landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue, but the team doesn’t believe the shoulder has any structural damage, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. That could be great news for the Bucs, who will need Cole if they hope to make noise in the playoff race this summer. The injury, which came to light almost three years to the day after Cole was selected first overall in the 2011 draft, is a reminder of the uncertainty of drafting pitchers in a season that’s been full of such reminders. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The career trajectory of Tanner Roark of the Nationals is perhaps a more pleasant story about the uncertainty of pitching — the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore describes Roark as “a potential rotation piece that fell out of the sky.” The Rangers drafted Roark in the 25th round in 2008, then shipped him to Washington with another minor-leaguer for Cristian Guzman in 2010. Even in 2013, the Nationals used him as a reliever in Triple-A. But he pitched brilliantly down the stretch for the Nats in 2013 and has been nearly as good this season, posting a 2.91 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 as a key part of Washington’s rotation.
  • Chase Utley of the Phillies tops the list of the best bats who might be available in trade this summer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s unclear whether the Phillies will commit to trading veterans, but even if they do, some of them (like Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee) would be difficult to trade anyway. Utley, who is signed to a reasonable contract and is still very productive, is a different story. Utley has the right to veto any trade, however, since he has 10-and-5 rights, and the Phillies have shown no interest in trading Utley.