Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors
Today's notable draft signings...
- The Pirates signed third round pick JaCoby Jones for $612K, tweets Jim Callis of Baseball America. That's exactly slot for the Boras Corporation advisee. A speedy second baseman out of Louisiana State, BA ranked Jones as the 75th best draft prospect and noted that he's said to prefer the outfield.
- The Twins signed second round draft pick Ryan Eades, tweets director of baseball communications and player relations Dustin Morse. Eades received the slotted amount of $1,294,100, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. Eades, a righty out of Louisiana State, ranked 37th on the Baseball America 500. He's advised by the Boras Corporation. The Twins have two unsigned picks from the first ten rounds: Indiana righty Aaron Slegers from the fifth round, and his teammate Dustin DeMuth from the eighth.
- The Athletics agreed to terms with second-round draft pick Dillon Overton yesterday, reported the Associated Press. The Oklahoma lefty, chosen 63rd overall, signed for $400K according to Jim Callis of Baseball America. That's well under the slot value of $885,600 for the Jonathan Gray teammate, which makes sense given the report from Yahoo's Jeff Passan that Overton will have Tommy John surgery within the next two weeks. Overton is advised by The Legacy Agency. With the signing, the A's have inked their top 13 picks according to BA. They had a bonus pool of $6,036,800 for the top ten, and spent 93% of it at $5,619,100. Savings on Overton and going cheap on their ninth and tenth-round picks enabled the A's to go over slot on fifth rounder Bobby Wahl and seventh rounder Dustin Driver.
- Seven first-round draft picks remain unsigned in advance of the July 12th deadline: Kris Bryant of the Cubs, Colin Moran of the Marlins, Austin Meadows of the Pirates, Phil Bickford of the Blue Jays, Hunter Renfroe of the Padres, Ryne Stanek of the Rays, and Aaron Judge of the Yankees. The Marlins hope to have a deal worked out with Moran "sooner rather than later," a source with knowledge of the negotiations tells Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
The initial version of this post said that JaCoby Jones signed for under slot; our apologies for the error.
Yesterday the Cubs finally parted ways with embattled former closer Carlos Marmol, and they also cut ties with Ian Stewart after his harsh Twitter outburst against the team earlier this month. Here's more out of the NL Central...
- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington wouldn't say whether or not Gerrit Cole is on an innings limit for his rookie season when asked by Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Huntington did hint, however, that the Pirates try to prepare their minor leaguers to "log innings without the media attention that some have gotten," which seems to be an allusion to Stephen Strasburg's case last season.
- The Brewers will promote Johnny Hellweg to replace the injured Alfredo Figaro, reports MLB.com's Kevin Massoth. The 24-year-old right-hander will be the second player from last summer's Zack Greinke trade with the Angels to appear for the Brewers (the other, of course, being Jean Segura). Hellweg, the Crew's No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, had a 2.82 ERA but a meager 1.14 K/BB ratio in 76 2/3 Triple-A innings.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Marmol had become a distraction, and it was time to move on. Hoyer had been trying to deal Marmol since last August (Twitter link).
- Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald notes (on Twitter) that it's likely the Cubs will simply release Marmol, as they're unlikely to be able to find any takers in a trade.
- Hoyer also told Muskat that he or president Theo Epstein has been in contact with every other GM in the game over the past four to five days as they prepare for the trade deadline rush (Twitter link).
The upcoming crop of free agent starters has been rife with injuries this season. While Matt Garza and Josh Johnson look to have returned from the DL healthy and very effective since our last look-in on injured hurlers, others haven't been so fortunate yet. Here's an update on some hurlers whose stock is suffering due to injuries...
- Roy Halladay told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that he's feeling good and has been tossing from 60 feet for the past few days. The Phils are hopeful that Halladay, who underwent shoulder surgery in May, will pitch again this season, but that might not happen until late August, if it happens at all. The 36-year-old could end posting his lowest innings total since 2000 as a 23-year-old -- the year prior to his breakout as one of baseball's most dominant forces.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports that Jason Vargas will undergo surgery to alleviate a blood clot in his left armpit. The procedure will shut down Vargas entirely for two weeks, and he might not be back on a Major League mound until the end of July. Vargas averages nearly 6 2/3 innings per start, so those five weeks could cost him between 40 and 50 innings of work. The injury couldn't come at a worse time, as Vargas is in the midst of his best season, and his durability is one of his greatest assets. Beyond that, the loss of one of their best starters this season could place the Halos in a deeper hole and push them toward selling at this year's deadline.
- Dan Haren hit the disabled list this weekend with a vague shoulder injury. Manager Davey Johnson told MLB.com's Bill Ladson the soreness has kept Haren from getting loose prior to his past couple of outings. Haren sounded irritated by his placement on the DL, according to Ladson, and noted any soreness he's feeling is nothing he hasn't pitched through before. Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington tweets that Haren's MRI came back clean and he received a cortisone shot yesterday. Haren's ERA is a bloated 6.15, and he is tied for the Major League lead in homers allowed.
- As of this Sunday, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted that A.J. Burnett has yet to throw off a mound since being placed on the disabled list by the Pirates. Burnett is in the midst of one of the finest seasons of his career, but has no timetable for his return. His bout with free agency this offseason figured to be an intriguing one anyhow, as he's stated publicly that he would likely only return to the Pirates or retire. A serious DL stint could make him question a return even more.
The five NL Central clubs' possible trade deadline moves are highlighted by Grantland's Jonah Keri in his weekly MLB power rankings. The Cubs have several trade chips to sell while the Brewers may move some relievers at the deadline but wait until the offseason to decide if they're going to truly rebuild, Keri writes. The Pirates have made deadline additions in each of the past two seasons and have a few clear needs now, though Keri says the current team is good enough to get just a minor upgrade or maybe even stand pat. The Reds and Cardinals both need bullpen help, with Keri noting that the Cards are deep enough that they can get by with Pete Kozma at shortstop.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Cubs are close to parting ways with Ian Stewart, sources tell CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, with "the resolution allowing him to move to another organization is expected to come within a couple of days." The move seemed inevitable after Stewart was suspended by the team after he criticized the Cubs organization in a Twitter rant. Heyman wasn't sure if any financial concessions are involved in the move though since Stewart's deal is guaranteed, he isn't obligated to give back any of the approximately $1MM remaining on his 2013 contract.
- Gerrit Cole may get sent down to Triple-A once A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez return to the Pirates rotation, GM Neal Huntington hinted during his Sunday radio program (passed on by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Since Cole and Jeff Locke are the only Bucs starters with minor league options remaining, Huntington said “there's a business component to it, as far as keeping our depth....if we need another starter (due to injury) later, it may make sense to send Gerrit back so we have a sixth quality starter.” While Huntington said that Cole's possible Super Two status won't be a factor in the team's decision, a demotion would guarantee that Cole doesn't receive another year of arbitration eligibility.
- Yasiel Puig's instant stardom has raised expectations for the Cubs' own Cuban prospect Jorge Soler, though CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney outlines how the Cubs are taking a more measured approached to Soler's development.
- MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch also expects the Cardinals to get some bullpen help before the trade deadline, though it's likely to be a smaller-name reliever than Jonathan Papelbon, who isn't a fit in St. Louis for several reasons. Langosch also covers a few other Cards topics as part of this reader mailbag piece.
Here are today's notable draft notes and non-first-round signings (all slot info courtesy of Baseball America)...
- After getting fourth-rounder Mason Katz to sign for just $95k (well below his $405,100 slot), the Cardinals were able to ink eleventh-round prep arm Steven Farinaro to a $750k deal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold reported yesterday. As Goold explains, the Cards expect to exceed their $6.91MM spending limit by less than five percent, thus avoiding the substantial penalties (forfeited future picks) that attach at that point.
- The Reds have locked up second-round choice K.J. Franklin for $675k, which is more than $150k below the slot recommendation, according to a tweet from Baseball America's Jim Callis. The high-school third baseman was a surprise second-rounder given his 232nd overall rank by BA.
- The Pirates have agreed to a well-above-slot deal with eighth-round pick Neil Kozikowski, tweets Callis. The high-school righty, who has a projectable 6'3" frame, will receive $425k.
Ricky Nolasco would not mind pitching for the Giants, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don’t think anybody would be disappointed to come to San Francisco. I like everything about this place: mound size, good place to pitch, crowd is great and a great team. What’s not to like?" Meanwhile, the Marlins are laying the groundwork for a Nolasco trade, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. "They don't screw around," a source tells Rodriguez. "The second they get the deal they like they'll do it." In 15 starts this year, Nolasco has a 3.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Pirates "need" the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, ESPN.com's David Schoenfield argues. Schoenfield points out that the Pirates rank last in the National League in OPS at right field (with Travis Snider's disappointing season thus far being the main reason why). Also, the Pirates have a strong farm system with the sorts of prospects that could well tempt the Marlins. Schoenfield suggests that the Pirates could deal Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco, both Top 100 prospects, along with catcher Tony Sanchez and an additional pitching prospect. That would still leave the Bucs with a good crop of young players that would include Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte, Alen Hanson, Josh Bell and their 2013 draft class, but it would be a high price, as one would expect. Stanton isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, so the Pirates would be receiving a huge, and immediate, upgrade for the next several years. But the Bucs' financial situation makes their farm system a crucial part of any success they might have, so the penalty for missing on such a huge trade would be very high.
- The Yankees will be looking for hitters at the trade deadline, but one problem is that the uncertain timing of the returns of the Yankees' many injured hitters makes it difficult to know which positions they should aim to upgrade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Also, the Yanks would still like to keep their payroll under $189MM in 2014, which could make it tricky to trade for players signed beyond 2013.
- Manny Ramirez is still looking for an opportunity with a Major League club, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com tweets. Ramirez is also looking for a chance to play in Japan. Ramirez, 41, played briefly for the Rays in 2011, and appeared in 17 games for the Athletics' Triple-A Sacramento affiliate in 2012.
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.