Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
Shoppach, 33, didn't appear in a major league game for the Pirates after being signed to a minor league deal earlier this month. Pittsburgh was the catcher's third team this year, as he began the season with the Mariners but was released in June after hitting .196/.293/.346 in 35 games. He then signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in early July, but opted out of the deal without reappearing in the big leagues.
Shoppach has a career .224/.312/.413 line in parts of nine major league seasons. Though he's never made good on the promise of his 2008 season with the Indians, when he hit .261/.348/.517 with 21 homers, he may still be an effective option against lefties, as he's slashed .261/.355/.501 against them for his career.
Here are a handful of odds and ends from this afternoon's trade between the Mets and Pirates, in which the Bucs received outfielder Marlon Byrd, catcher John Buck and cash in return for second base prospect Dilson Herrera and a PTBNL.
- In addition to putting in a waiver claim on Byrd, the Pirates also claimed Buck before the trade, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes (on Twitter).
- The player to be named the Mets are set to receive will be a "solid" one, and that could make an already-strong trade even better for New York, says ESPN's Keith Law (Insider-only). But Law also calls the trade a "truly all-in move" from the Pirates' perspective, noting that Byrd represents an enormous upgrade over the Bucs' right fielders, who have been dreadful this year.
- Byrd is "a good get" for the Pirates, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. Sullivan notes that, based on what we knew entering the season, it would have been strange to learn that the Pirates were still looking for upgrades in late August, and just as strange that the aging Marlon Byrd would constitute an upgrade.
- In Herrera, the Mets may be getting an "offensive-oriented second baseman," Matt Eddy of Baseball America writes. Eddy also notes that Herrera could hit for decent power to go with a good on-base percentage, and that appears likely to stick at second base.
- They may have just traded him, but the Mets may have interest in pursuing Byrd again when he becomes a free agent this winter, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes (on Twitter).
- Martino also tweets that the Mets are unlikely to make any more trades this month.
The Pirates have designated utilityman Russ Canzler for assignment, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter). The team also placed pitcher Kyle McPherson on the 60-day DL. The two moves clear space on the Pirates' 40-man for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, who they acquired from the Mets earlier today.
The Pirates acquired Canzler from the Orioles for Tim Alderson last month, presumably to provide depth at first base, third base and corner outfield. He hit .195/.282/.244 in 142 plate appearances for the Bucs' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. Canzler has had cups of coffee with the Rays (in 2011) and the Indians (in 2012).
4:45pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that multiple teams are inquiring on Morneau. He notes that the Orioles are still seeking a DH, though he stops short of stating that Baltimore is interested in Morneau, specifically.
4:41pm: Apparently not content to stand pat after acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets earlier today, Pirates GM Neal Huntington is now eyeing Twins first baseman Justin Morneau once again, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He adds that the Yankees, another team once linked to Morneau, aren't currently pursuing the Canadian slugger.
The Bucs were said to have interest in Morneau prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but a dreadful slump from the 2006 AL MVP coupled with a hefty amount of money remaining on his $14MM salary deterred interested parties from striking a deal. Now, Morneau is owed roughly $2.6MM through season's end and has seen his bat come back to life in August, hitting .270/.318/.550 with seven homers and seven doubles on the month.
Heyman also adds that there are indications that the Twins would include some cash in a potential trade to improve the return. The Pirates showed a willingness to deal respectable prospects in today's Byrd/Buck trade, dealing Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later to the Mets. Herrera ranked as the team's No. 11 prospect per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo on his midseason Top 20, and Mayo also ranked him as the ninth-best second base prospect in all of baseball.
With Starling Marte currently on the disabled list, the Pirates could use both Byrd and Garrett Jones in the outfield to accommodate Morneau at first base, Heyman points out. As Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted earlier today, it will be at least two weeks before Marte can even swing a bat, so that arrangement could work out for several weeks.
In a second tweet, Sanserino adds that the Pirates have been skeptical that the Twins would actually part with Morneau, but they are indeed interested if the price is right. Because Morneau has already cleared waivers, Morneau is free to be traded to any team, but he must be on a new team prior to Sept. 1 to be eligible for postseason play.
The waiver trade deadline is one week away, meaning that teams have to work fast if they want to make an out-of-house upgrade for their playoff roster. Will there be a flurry of moves to close out August? “I doubt it,” one National League General Manager told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “There’s a lot more blocking going on this year.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Yankees increased Hiroki Kuroda’s salary from $10MM in 2011 to $15MM in 2012 and Cafardo wonders aloud if they'll have to tack on another $5MM to keep him in 2014. One Yankees official said they need to do whatever they can to make that happen, as the right-hander, even at 39, would still be the best starting pitcher on the open market. Kuroda has pondered retirement but a sizable deal like that could keep him in place.
- Baseball people would be surprised if the Mariners replace Jack Zduriencik with one year remaining on his contract. The feeling is the M's have some good young talent on the way and if Zduriencik can retain Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, and Mike Morse, he has a chance to really make some progress. Zduriencik raised some eyebrows when he held on to that trio this summer, but he believes he can re-sign a couple or all three.
- It doesn’t appear that the Reds will have the finances to sign Shin-Soo Choo for the long term and the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs, and Red Sox could all have interest. Industry sources told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com last week that the Cubs are expected to make a run at Choo. The outfielder ranks No. 5 on Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- Speaking of the Reds, Bronson Arroyo probably won't be back with the club and a National League team like the Cardinals, Mets, or Braves would probably suit him. Cafardo also notes that Cubs president Theo Epstein has an affinity for Arroyo.
- Agent Scott Boras would like to see clients Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury re-sign with the Red Sox long term. Naturally, he expects a vibrant market for both players.
- A.J. Burnett could be a candidate to stay in with the Pirates, even though he's hinted about retirement. If he goes elsewhere, it's hard to see him getting a long-term deal, but the Blue Jays could try to bring him back for the short term.
Ryan Braun today issued his first public statements since he accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. The Brewers slugger issued one statement specifically to fans and another to the baseball world in general (both links to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The latter statement outlined the circumstances of Braun's PED usage, some of the reasoning behind his public claims of playing clean and apologized to several parties, including Major League Baseball officials, the Brewers organization, his teammates, Dino Laurenzi Jr. (the urine test collector Braun disparaged in the appeal of his initial suspension in the 2011-12 offseason), baseball fans and any supporters who believed in his innocence. The statement includes this passage:
"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central...
- The Cardinals are in need of pitching reinforcements and GM John Mozeliak is pessimistic that such help could be found on the trade or waiver market. Mozeliak told reporters (including Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that "trying to get help from the outside is going to be difficult for multiple reasons. Right now this team is going to have to find a way to do it from within."
- The Pirates have been patient with Pedro Alvarez's development and the young slugger has at least delivered in the power department, CBS Sports' Scott Miller writes. Alvarez has a .233/.296/.482 line with a league-leading 154 strikeouts in 477 PA, but his 31 homers is tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead.
- Javier Baez is having a huge minor league season but it seems unlikely that the Cubs will call up the star shortstop when rosters expand in September. Manager Dale Sveum praised Baez's season but he told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that while the front office has the final say on Baez's future, “I don’t see it happening.” Baez, the ninth overall pick of the 2011 draft, was rated as the 16th-best prospect in the sport by both Baseball America and MLB.com's preseason prospect rankings and has hit a combined .286/.348/.581 with 33 homers, 100 RBI and 19 steals in 531 PA at high-A ball and Double-A this year. Since Baez is only 20 and hasn't hit Triple-A yet, it makes sense that the Cubs aren't yet willing to start his service clock.
- With Jonathan Broxton out for the season, the Reds make a lot of sense as a suitor for Rafael Betancourt, The Denver Post's Troy Renck opines (Twitter link). The Rockies put Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today. The veteran closer is owed roughly $785K for the remainder of the season and has a $4.25MM club option for 2014. Renck notes that the Rockies plan to exercise Betancourt's option, and they'll explore bringing him back in 2014 even if he leaves on a waiver deal for the remainder of this season.
- Rickie Weeks' future, international signings, pitching development, the Braun controversy and other Brewers-related topics are all addressed by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an online chat with readers.
- In NL Central news from earlier today, we learned that the Cubs plan to go after Shin-Soo Choo in free agency during the offseason.
Last December, prior to suffering a broken right (non-throwing) arm, Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract with the Pirates. After his injury, the two sides worked out a new contract that guaranteed Liriano just $1MM in 2013 but contained $3.75MM worth of incentives and a vesting option that could be worth either $5MM, $6MM or $8MM, depending on time spent on the DL with the right arm injury.
Liriano's 2014 option officially vested when the left-hander reached 90 days not spent on the DL due to the right arm injury. He is currently guaranteed a $5MM salary for 2014, but that figure will jump to $6MM once he reaches 120 games not spent on the DL with his right arm injury. It has currently been 103 days since his activation, meaning his 2014 salary will jump by $1MM on Saturday, Sept. 7.
As far as this season is concerned, MLBTR has also learned Liriano's 2013 bonus structure, which is as follows:
- 60 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
- 75 days not on DL with right arm injury: $250K
- 90 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 120 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 135 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
- 150 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
- 165 days not on DL with right arm injury: $125K
- 180 days not on DL with right arm injury: $750K
It's not quite as simple as that would seem, though. These bonuses are not standard roster bonuses that are awarded for being on the 25-man roster for a certain number of days, but rather bonuses relative to Liriano's health and ability to help the club. Because of that, it's possible that Liriano could make the case that he was ready to return to the club sooner than he did, which could entitle him to additional bonuses.
Liriano's minor league rehab stint lasted five starts, which could impact his earnings. He missed the season's first 41 days due to his right arm injury, which means that he will max out at 142 days on the 25-man roster. The eight days that separate that mark from the 150-day cutoff carry significant financial implications. Not only would they earn Liriano an additional $750K in 2013, they would also boost the value of his vesting option to its maximum level of $8MM next season. That $8MM salary would come with an additional $500K worth of incentives, which MLBTR has also learned:
- $150K for 180 innings pitched in 2014
- $200K for 190 innings pitched in 2014
- $150K for 200 innings pitched in 2014
Should Liriano's option vest for only $6MM, those incentives still remain in the contract, and he would be able to earn an additional $2MM based on his number of starts made. In that instance, MLBTR has learned that he would receive $400K for reaching five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 starts in 2014.
In either scenario, the maximum that Liriano could earn next year would be $8.5MM. As far as this year's bonuses are concerned, he's already pocketed an additional $1.25MM. He currently stands to receive an additional $750K on Sept. 7 and $125K more on Sept. 22.
In the end, Liriano has proven to be perhaps the biggest bargain of the 2012-13 offseason, regardless of what his salary ends up being. His 2.53 ERA (2.66 FIP, 2.99 xFIP), 9.4 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 52.7 percent ground-ball rate in 121 innings this season are statistics worthy of a true "ace" label, but his contract paid him less than pitchers like Joe Blanton and Brandon McCarthy.
Let's take a quick trip around the National League ...
- The Nationals acquired David DeJesus from the Cubs yesterday, only to place him promptly on waivers, leading to speculation about the team's intentions. Whatever the Nats do, the Cubs are likely only to receive "a nominal amount of cash" back in the deal, reports ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine (via Twitter).
- Osceola County has decided not to go forward with Washington's planned $98MM spring training complex in Kissimmee, Florida, leaving the club looking for other options. Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com has all the details on the team's prospects for a new spring home. For now, he says, the organization is content to continue working out of Space Coast Stadium in Viera.
- With the Nats visiting Wrigley to take on the Cubs, president and GM Mike Rizzo talked to Levine about the work of the Chicago front office. The Chicago native credited president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer with being "so aggressive in the international market place." He explained that the new international spending rules "have put the small-market teams on a comparable level with the richer clubs," creating "a true scouting system" in which "the teams with the better scouts will get the better players." Rizzo analogized the Cubs' efforts to the Nationals' own aggressive, scouting-based spending before the team emerged last season.
- Recent call-up Andrew Lambo of the Pirates has new representation, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. The 25-year-old outfielder has chosen Beverly Hills Sports Council to replace his previous agency, Wasserman Media Group. As always, you can reference MLBTR's Agency Database to keep tabs on players' representation.
- One of the keys to the Bucs' successes this year -- low-priced off-season acquisition Francisco Liriano -- has excelled due to changes in his delivery that have improved his fastball command, explains Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Liriano's 2014 option appears likely to vest, and Pittsburgh will surely not complain about returning him to their rotation.
Here are Sunday's minor moves from around MLB:
- The Astros will sign first baseman Japhet Amador and outfielder Leonardo Heras from Diablos Rojos in the Mexican League, according to a team press release. The 26-year-old Amador, who is listed at 6'4" and 315 pounds, was hitting .368/.419/.693 with 36 home runs in 449 plate appearances. Heras, 23, was hitting .310/.398/.519. The amounts of their bonuses are unclear.
- Ryan Roberts has cleared waivers and has accepted the Rays' outright assignment to Triple-A Durham, tweets the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Smith. Roberts was designated for assignment Thursday after hitting .247/.295/.377 with five home runs in 173 plate appearances for Tampa Bay.
- The Pirates have acquired right-hander Doug Mathis from the Marlins for a player to be named later or cash, tweets Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mathis, who has spent the entire season at Triple-A New Orleans, will be assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Mathis, who last appeared in a MLB game in 2010 with the Rangers, has posted a 3.85 ERA, 6.7 K/9, and 4.2 BB/9 over 114 2/3 innings with the Zephyrs covering 24 games (21 starts).
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
The Pirates' failure to sign Mark Appel with the eighth overall selection in the 2012 draft created a ripple effect where the Mets passed on free agent Michael Bourn and eventually gave playing time to rookie Juan Lagares, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As compensation for not coming to terms with Appel, the Pirates were awarded the ninth overall pick in this past June's draft, knocking the Mets' choice (11th) out of the protected Top Ten. This was an important considersation for the Mets in deciding to not bid on Bourn, explains Sherman, who cites this as a pefect example of "sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make." Here's news from other NL teams who aren't neccessarily going to follow that old adage:
- Ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (via Bowden on Twitter) he wants to continue managing and is open to all opportunities, including the Nationals.
- In that same interview (also from a Bowden tweet), Manuel says the Phillies' plan is to "reload," not "rebuild," needing regular players to fill holes, including adding a starter, and redoing the bullpen.
- Speaking of the Phillies, little has changed with the radio silence regarding their agreement with Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, who reported earlier this month the two sides have hit a snag in finalizing their six-year, $48MM deal.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, they will have a better idea at the end of today when Brian Wilson will be activated. GM Ned Colletti was a guest of Bowden and Duquette on MLB Network Radio and said the call should be made in "another day or two" (as quoted by Gurnick's colleague, Andrew Simon). Colletti also explained he signed Wilson because he only cost money, not prospects, and there's a familiarity with him from his days as the Giants' closer. "We think it's a very low-risk, high-reward situation," said Colletti. "He wanted to be here. He has a home in L.A. Rivalry and all that aside -- we all know what that's all about -- he wanted to restart his career and we're going to give him that opportunity here in the near future."
- Four years and $60MM is the guess as to the asking price of Reds centerfielder Shin-Soo Choo in free agency this winter, tweets the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay. Choo placed fifth in MLBTR's most recent 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Pirates have scouted Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu in three recent international tournaments and will be on hand for his expected September showcase, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We like him," GM Neal Huntington said. "It will be interesting to see where the bidding goes." That bidding could exceed $60MM.