Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
WEDNESDAY: Zagurski has elected free agency, MLBTR has learned. His dominant numbers at Triple-A Indianapolis this season should lead to some interest from other clubs. In 21 innings, Zagurski pitched to a 2.14 ERA with 37 strikeouts (15.9 K/9) and nine walks (3.9 BB/9). He allowed only 15 hits in those 21 frames as well.
TUESDAY: After being designated for assignment by the Pirates on Saturday, Mike Zagurski cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. The left-hander will decide whether to elect free agency tomorrow.
The 30-year-old made six appearances for Pittsburgh this year, allowing ten runs with eight walks and five strikeouts. Zagurski was signed to a minor-league deal by the Pirates in the offseason after posting a 5.54 ERA in 37 and 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2012.
Back in late May, the Yankees called the Bucs to inquire on Zagurski's availability but were turned down.
TUESDAY: McGuire received $2.369MM from the Pirates, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (on Twitter), so the Pirates saved about $200K.
MONDAY: The Pirates have agreed to a deal with first round draft pick Reese McGuire, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. According to Mark Zender, McGuire's high school coach, McGuire is on his way to Pittsburgh in order to take his physical and will officially sign tomorrow. The contract is believed to be worth close to the assigned slot value (via Baseball America) for the 14th overall pick, which is just under $2.57MM. McGuire is advised by Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson of Sosnick Cobbe Sports.
McGuire, a left-handed hitting catcher, was rated as the draft's 10th-best prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball America, and was rated 19th by ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). The Kentwood High School product drew praise for his throwing arm, defensive skills and overall game-calling abilities behind the plate. While his hitting is still somewhat unpolished, BA notes that "even if he doesn't reach his offensive ceiling, McGuire's defense will allow him to be a big league backup, but if he hits he has all-star potential."
Once McGuire's deal is finalized, he will be the 16th of 33 first rounders to sign. One of the unsigned is Austin Meadows, the Pirates' other first round selection -- the Bucs received the ninth overall pick as compensation for failing to sign Mark Appel following the 2012 draft.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his team has no intention of releasing struggling reliever Carlos Marmol and eating the rest of his $9.8MM salary, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs," says Sveum. "But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." Marmol allowed four runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Mets 4-3 on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Cubs' bullpen has struggled this season, but in the aftermath of this summer's trading season, the team's rotation could end up being just as weak, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Last season, the Cubs performed poorly down the stretch after the departures of two productive starters in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. This year, Wittenmyer says, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could be those pitchers' 2013 equivalents.
- Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled Saturday, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Carlos Zambrano won't be replacing Pettibone right away, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. "Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind," says Amaro. "I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind." Zambrano has an out clause July 1. He allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, striking out five and walking four. His fastball did not exceed 88 MPH.
- Speaking of Amaro, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues that "the bad has outweighed the good" in Amaro's stint as GM, and that it's unclear whether Amaro is the right person for the job. Amaro's signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Hunter Pence rank among his worst moves, Brookover says.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says James McDonald's future with the team could be in jeopardy, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price writes in a pair of tweets. "As the clock ticks we’ll have to make a determination as to where James best fits in this group, on this club, or does he fit," says Huntington. "That’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald." McDonald, once viewed as a potential franchise building block after promising seasons in 2010 and 2011 and a great first half in 2012, has fallen out of favor after collapsing down the stretch last year and posting a 5.76 ERA with 20 walks in six 2013 starts. He has also struggled in his rehab starts since landing on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort.
- If the Blue Jays had already acquired Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins, they wouldn't have signed Maicer Izturis, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues. Izturis signed a three-year, $10MM deal in November, and the Jays acquired Reyes and Bonifacio days later. Izturis has hit .222/.258/.308 this season.
SUNDAY, 12:06pm: Taylor will get a bonus of $750K, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter). It's an under-slot deal for the left-hander as the suggested value of the No. 51 pick is just over $1.065MM.
FRIDAY, 5:56pm: The Pirates announced the signings of five more picks from their 2013 draft class, including second round pick (51st overall) Blake Taylor. Terms of the deal weren't announced, though the assigned value of Taylor's draft slot is a little over $1.065MM (hat tip to Baseball America for the list of slot values). Taylor is advised by Paragon Sports International.
A product of Dana Hills High School in Dana Point, California, Taylor is a 6'3", 220-pound left-handed pitcher described by MLB.com as needing to develop a changeup in order to succeed at the Major League level. That said, Taylor's curveball "has the chance to be an above-average breaking pitch" and he has touched the mid 90's with his fastball, throwing it "with ease" in the low 90's on a regular basis.
Taylor was ranked as the 40th-best prospect of this year's draft class by ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription needed) and was also ranked 55th by Baseball America and ranked 61st by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
Now that the draft is over, teams are focusing more on bolstering their rotations with one more piece, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. No one more aggressive in the pursuit of pitching than Orioles GM Dan Duquette who knows that one veteran starter could make all the difference. While they're anxious to improve their starting five, it doesn't sound as if the O's will be in the mix for someone like Cliff Lee. “We’re looking for a starter and a reliever,” said Duquette. “We’d like to solidify our pitching all around because that’s the name of the game, really. We have to look at everything. Don’t think we’re going to be in the market for a big-money pitcher, but there seem to be some guys out there that we might focus on and see where it takes us.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Astros will craft a game plan early this week for how to approach their veteran assets. Teams are already calling about Bud Norris, who has a cheap $3MM salary, but won't be cheap to acquire. The Orioles, Giants, and Pirates have kicked around the idea of acquiring Norris, but one National League exec says there will be about a dozen teams interested before all is said and done.
- It seems like a no-brainer for the A’s to pick up Coco Crisp's 2014 option for $7.5MM, but he'll be in demand if they don’t. Even though he's 33-years-old, there aren’t many top center fielder/leadoff hitter types out there. Jacoby Ellsbury will be the No. 1 guy in that department, but , one American League special assignment scout said Crisp might be a better low-cost option because “he can do everything Ellsbury can do. Neither of them have an arm, but Coco is still fast, a very good outfielder, and can still be a game-changer.”
- The Phillies believe there are at least three teams — Red Sox, Tigers, and Cardinals — that may have some interest in Jonathan Papelbon at the trade deadline and the Phillies are scouting those teams with a potential deal in mind. General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that he’s not ready to “blow up” the Phillies, but a Papelbon trade could help retool the club.
- Teams continue to nudge Javier Vazquez into coming back to pitch, but the right-hander seems to be content with staying with his family, according to a source familiar with Vazquez’s thinking.
- The Red Sox can trade Stephen Drew now that June 15th has come and gone, and they would have no problem finding a taker given the lack of shortstops around baseball. However, Boston firmly believes that Drew is their guy. One National League GM doesn't quite understand their infatuation with the shortstop. “They’re either trying to justify the $9.5MM they paid him, or they’re not sold on [Jose] Iglesias, who could start for 29 other teams.”
- If the White Sox decide to finally bolster their farm system, they could get some helpful prospects back by moving right-hander Jesse Crain. The reliever is becoming a top name on wish lists around baseball.
- While many baseball people remain focused on Giancarlo Stanton’s availability in a deal, 25-year-old Logan Morrison is now healthy and has returned to the lineup. The Marlins first baseman/outfielder is a big lefthanded hitter who will be monitored closely by scouts over the next month.
We'll keep track here of notable signings from the second and third day of the amateur draft (slot information courtesy of Baseball America)...
- The White Sox announced in a press release that they have reached agreement with 27 of the team's 40 draft picks, including all of the club's first eleven selections. MLBTR previously covered the team's signing of its first five picks (click for details): Tim Anderson; Tyler Danish; Jacob May; Andrew Mitchell; and Thaddius Lowry.
- Fifth-rounder Trae Arbet has signed with the Pirates for a well-above-slot bonus of $425k, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. The high-school shortstop, who profiles as an athletic defender and baserunner, was drafted with the 149th overall choice, which carries a $321,400 slot value.
- The Rockies have agreed to terms with southpaw Sam Moll, the club's third-round choice, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweeted last night. The hurler from Memphis is small in stature but possesses a powerful left arm that allows him to reach the mid-90's with his fastball. While financial terms are not yet available, his draft slot (77) carries a $713,900 bonus recommendation.
- The Yankees have signed fifth-round choice David Palladino for an above-slot sum of $371k, tweets Callis. Palladino, a towering righty who had been committed to LSU, will receive about $93k over the recommended bonus for the 164th overall selection.
The Pirates have designated left-hander Mike Zagurski for assignment, the team announced via press release. In a corresponding move, the team selected the contract of righty Brandon Cumpton and announced that he will make his MLB debut this afternoon against the Dodgers.
Zagurski, 30, made six appearances and threw six innings for Pittsburgh this year, struggling to a 15.00 ERA and surrendering a troubling eight free passes in the process. He was signed to a minor-league deal by the Pirates in the offseason after posting a 5.54 ERA in 37 1/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2012.
Cumpton is a 24-year-old who had been working in Triple-A Indianapolis. He made ten starts, posting a 3.31 ERA in 65 1/3 innings and putting up 6.8 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9. Cumpton appeared at number 25 on Baseball America's pre-season ranking of Pirates prospects.
Here are Thursday's notable signings from Day 2 and Day 3 of the draft (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America) ...
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with Scottsdale Community College lefty Stephen Tarpley, the team's third-round choice, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (via Twitter). Tarpley, who reportedly touches 95 with his fastball, was signed for just $500 under the recommended $525,500 bonus for the 98th overall choice.
- Third-round draft choice Brandon Dixon has signed with the Dodgers for the slot recommendation of $566,500, tweets Callis. The University of Arizona third baseman could become a corner outfielder, according to Callis, and is noted for his power potential.
- The Dodgers have signed fourth-round choice Cody Bellinger, a high-school first baseman, for $700k, tweets Callis. Los Angeles pried Bellinger away from the University of Oregon with the largest over-slot signing to date (by percentage), nearly doubling the recommended $409k bonus. Bellinger is being advised by the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
- The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with their fourth round pick, left-handed high-schooler Evan Smith, according to Callis (on Twitter). Smith, who stands at 6'5", has reportedly touched 93 with his fastball. $96.1k
- Cody Dickson, a "projectable" left-hander out of Sam Houston State, will sign with the Pirates for $375k, Callis says on Twitter. The fourth-round pick's bonus falls $54,200 under the slot recommendation.
- The Reds have signed fourth-rounder Ben Lively for $350k, Callis tweets. The righty mixes four pitches, including a 90-93 MPH heater. His signing bonus comes in at a modest $17.9k under slot.
- The Rockies inked fifth-rounder Blake Shouse for $353,900, his exact slot allocation, according to a Callis tweet. Per Callis, the two-way player sits in the low-to-mid 90's with his fastball and also features a hard curve.
- Third round pick Patrick Murphy signed with the Blue Jays for $500K, Callis tweets. The Arizona high school right-hander missed the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. In the past, he has displayed a 93 mph fastball and solid curveball. Murphy is advised by Jonathan Pridie of Sosnick Cobbe.
- The Yankees signed third-rounder Michael O'Neill for $501K, according to Callis (via Twitter). The Michigan outfielder is quick and could wind up in center field.
- Rangers fourth-round pick Isaiah Kiner-Falefa signed for $202K, per Callis (on Twitter). The Hawaiian high school shortstop is a solid defender with a contact-oriented approach. He signed for nearly $184K under slot.
- Catcher/right-hander Tanner Murphy, a fourth-round pick of the Braves, agreed to a $250K bonus to forego his commitment to Southern Illinois, Callis tweets. Murphy has power in his bat and a strong throwing arm behind the dish, and he's also been clocked at 92 mph on the mound. He signed for a healthy $125K below slot.
- The Angels have signed third-round pick Kenyan Middleton for a bonus of $450K, tweets Callis. Middleton is a two-sport athlete out of junior college in Oregon who touches 95 mph with his fastball and features a tight slider as well. He signed $91K under slot.
- The Rays have signed fifth-round selection Johnny Field for a bonus of $250K, Callis reports (on Twitter). Field, an outfielder out of the University of Arizona, will convert to second base and provides most of his value with his bat. He signed for nearly $45K under slot.
The Pirates have unconditionally released veteran right-hander Jose Contreras, the team announced via press release. The 41-year-old signed with the Bucs this offseason after working back from Tommy John surgery.
Contreras struggled to get big league hitters out upon arriving in Pittsburgh. He surrendered five runs in just five innings, allowing seven hits and six walks. For his career, Contreras logged over 1100 big league innings, most of them as a starter. The Cuban had a solid 2010 campaign for the Phillies after converting to the bullpen, but has yet to throw more than 14 innings in a season since that time.
Here's today's rundown of notable Day 2 and Day 3 draft picks to sign (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America's list of assigned pick values)...
- The Indians announced, via Twitter, that they have signed four draft picks, including right-hander Trevor Frank, who served as the closer for the UC Riverside this season.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis tweets that the Padres fourth-rounder Mason Smith received a $415K bonus. Smith signed slightly under the assigned pick value of $433K. The high school outfielder from Idaho was committed to Utah and projects to have a plus bat with average power. MLB.com's Corey Brock first reported the Smith signing, as noted below.
- Pirates ninth-rounder Chad Kuhl signed for the full slot value of $145K, tweets Callis, who adds that the Delaware right-hander generates a lot of ground-balls with his sinker.
- The Yankees have signed fourth-rounder Tyler Wade to a deal worth $371K, according to Callis (on Twitter). The high school shortstop's bonus matches the assigned value of his pick. Callis writes that Wade boasts plus speed and a plus arm with a line-drive bat.
- Callis tweets that the Mariners signed third-round pick Tyler O'Neill to an above-slot $650K bonus (assigned value was $631K). O'Neill, a prep catcher from Canada, has drawn comparisons to Brett Lawrie because of his bat and power. He's likely to end up in the outfield.
- The Diamondbacks have signed third-round pick and first baseman/outfielder Daniel Palka for $550K, Callis tweets. Arizona secured the Georgia Tech product under slot, as the assigned pick value for the No. 88 slot was $603K. Palka has big power and a strong arm that could profile in right field, Callis adds.
- The Reds went over slot to sign their fifth-round pick, according to Callis (Twitter link), inking prep shortstop Cory Thompson for $367K (slot was $275K). Callis adds that Thompson is a solid runner with a good glove and some pop in his bat, but he also has a fastball in the low 90s.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets that the Padres have signed 20 draft picks, including Hofstra right-hander Bryan Verbitsky (No. 86 overall), high school center fielder Mason Smith (No. 118) San Francisco right-hander Adam Cimber (No. 268) and UNC right-hander Justin Livengood (No. 298). The slot values for those picks are $621K, $433K, $146K and $134K, respectively.
- Two of those 20 picks that Brock mentions are Memphis lefty Erik Schoenrock (11th round) and junior college lefty Payton Baskette, tweets Callis. Each pick signed for an even $100K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.