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Travis Snider Rumors
With the move, Pittsburgh brings back a player that it dealt just last winter. Snider had a breakout 2014 campaign with the Pirates, slashing .264/.338/.438. But he struggled in his time with Baltimore, hitting a disappointing .237/.318/.341 in his 236 turns at bat.
Snider’s strong work last year earned him a $2.1MM arbitration salary, though the O’s will remain on the hook for that tab (less the pro-rated portion of the league minimum salary for whatever time Snider spends in the big leagues). He comes with an additional season of control via arbitration.
TODAY: Snider says that he is “talking with multiple teams, including the Pirates,” Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Twitter. The free agent added that he “hope[s] to have a decision made soon.”
YESTERDAY: On his radio show this morning, Pirates GM Neal Huntington confirmed that he has reached out to Travis Snider‘s camp and that there is some interest in a deal, Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan tweets. Snider, of course, was with the Pirates from 2012 through 2014 before an offseason trade sent him to Baltimore.
Snider, 27, was designated for assignment by the Orioles earlier this month and was ultimately released on Saturday. The Orioles acquired Snider as they sought to mix and match pieces to fill in for the departed Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. There was never much hope of fully replicating their collective production, but the O’s have nevertheless largely been disappointed by their Opening Day corner outfield platoon, leading the team to add Gerardo Parra last month.
The 2014 season looked like something of a breakout for Snider as he slashed .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs, seemingly making good on his former top-prospect ratings. But, he was not able to carry that forward in Baltimore, as his current .659 OPS attests.
Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league.
- The Orioles have announced that they’re released outfielder Travis Snider, who they designated for assignment last week. When the O’s acquired Snider from the Pirates for a pair of pitching prospects last winter, there was hope that he would provide a bit of left-handed power. He was mostly a disappointment in Baltimore, however, batting .237/.318/.341. He has another year of team control remaining after this one, but his $2.1MM 2015 salary likely made a waiver claim an unattractive proposition.
It had seemed that Snider was on his way out with the acquisition of Gerardo Parra, but the club ultimately decided instead to part with Chris Parmelee. Snider did not hang on for much longer, though, ultimately ceding his spot on the ballclub to Lake, who was acquired in return for Tommy Hunter.
Snider came over from the Pirates this winter as Baltimore sought to mix and match pieces to fill in for the departed Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. There was never much hope of fully replicating their collective production, but the O’s have nevertheless largely been disappointed by their Opening Day corner outfield platoon, leading the team to add Parra.
For Snider, still just 27, the 2014 season looked like something of a breakout, as he slashed .264/.338/.438 with 13 home runs, seemingly making good on his former top-prospect ratings. But he was not able to carry that forward in Baltimore, as his current .659 OPS attests.
5:19pm: The Orioles have announced that they’ve actually designated Chris Parmelee, not Snider, to clear space for Parra. Parmelee, a lefty-hitting outfielder and first baseman, was hitting .216/.255/.433 in 102 plate appearances with the O’s. The Orioles signed him to a minor league deal last winter, and he hit well in 265 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk before being promoted in mid-June. Since then, his good power but low batting average and on-base percentage have been consistent with his performances over parts of four previous seasons with Minnesota.
Snider, 27, had been hitting .239/.318/.344 in 233 plate appearances since arriving in a trade last winter. He was coming off a good season in a part-time role in Pittsburgh last season, but didn’t provide enough offense in Baltimore, particularly given that he’s purely a corner outfielder. The hot-hitting Parra, who also bats lefty, made Snider mostly superfluous. He’s making $2.1MM in his second season of arbitration eligibility, and the Orioles will be responsible for most or all of that amount unless he’s claimed.
Cardinals starter John Lackey remains interested in re-working his contract for this season, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lackey, of course, is set to make the league minimum salary this season due to an unusual clause in the contract he signed with the Red Sox several years ago. Lackey says he would “love to hear something from the Cardinals. I’d listen to any offers. The ball is in their court.” Last month, however, GM John Mozeliak explained why any new arrangement is unlikely. The Cardinals have no reason to restructure Lackey’s contract without adding a year or more of additional control, and the 36-year-old Lackey will likely want to explore free agency after the season. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Pirates appreciate outfielder Travis Snider‘s work with them in the past several seasons, Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. The Bucs faced Snider’s new team, the Orioles, in Spring Training action earlier this week. “The last three months of the season, this guy performed very, very well for us at a time it was critically needed,” says Bucs manager Clint Hurdle. “Just well-liked, well-appreciated.” The Pirates traded Snider this offseason partly to clear space in right field for the younger Gregory Polanco (and also partly because going with Andrew Lambo or someone else on their bench gives them more flexibility than did Snider, who was out of options). “I didn’t take it personally,” says Snider. “I understand the potential of Gregory Polanco.”
- Outfielder Shane Robinson has an April 2 opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. He would be paid $550K at the big-league level this season. The longtime Cardinal hit .304/.380/.398 in 216 plate appearances with Triple-A Memphis last season and has had a good track record of getting on base at the Triple-A level in the past several years. He can also play all three outfield positions. Robinson has never really caught on in the big leagues, though, hitting .231/.303/.308 in parts of five seasons.
Here are the highlights of Pirates GM Neal Huntington’s long conversation today with Ken Laird and Guy Junker of TribLIVE Radio (podcast link):
- The Pirates traded Travis Snider to the Orioles in part because they didn’t envision a likely role for him beyond 2015, Huntington says. Also, because Snider was out of options, removing him from their roster gives them more flexibility.
- In the past, the Bucs had gotten great results with down-on-their-luck pitchers like Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, but they found those types of pitchers difficult to acquire this offseason, because they now require “$10MM to $12MM to $14MM annually” to sign. Huntington is presumably referring to pitchers like Brett Anderson and Justin Masterson, who looked, heading into the offseason, like they might be good fits for the Pirates. Instead, the Bucs went way under the radar to sign Radhames Liz (who’s pitched in the minors, in Korea, and in the Dominican Winter League in recent years) to a one-year, $1MM big-league deal.
- The development of the free-agent pitching market this winter demonstrates another reason the Pirates traded Snider, Huntington says — they acquired two pitchers in that deal, Stephen Tarpley and Steven Brault, who could one day be big-league starters.
- Huntington speaks of the challenges of making decisions based on input from various voices within his front office and scouting staff. “I’m the first to realize that I don’t have the best evaluation skills within our organization,” he says. “I don’t necessarily always have to see it with my own eyes. It helps when I see what they’re seeing, and if I don’t see what they’re seeing, I can ask questions.”
The Pirates have acquired lefty Steven Brault from the Orioles, the Pirates announced. He will serve as the player to be named later from this January’s Travis Snider deal, joining another young lefty — Stephen Tarpley — to make up the final package for Pittsburgh.
Brault, 22, was floated as a possible name to change hands at the time of the deal, and will indeed be on the move. The southpaw has worked primarily as a starter, reaching the High-A level at the tail end of 2014. He spent most of the year in the Sally League, compiling a 3.05 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9.
Prospect watchers generally saw Brault as something like the twentieth-best prospect in the O’s system. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs explains that the southpaw will need to find consistent arm speed to reach the bigs as a back-of-the-rotation starter
Before a dinner event at the Orioles’ A-ball affiliate in Aberdeen this evening, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) about both his own tumultuous offseason and some other hot stove topics. Here are some of the highlights…
- Duquette doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations for players, and that same logic led to his lack of comment about the rumors connecting him to the Blue Jays president’s job, and the discussions between the Jays and Orioles about a possible trade to free him from his Baltimore contract. “You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that’s the way it goes,” Duquette said. “It’s a part of the business. If there’s trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don’t talk about those publicly, because you never know what’s going to come to fruition and what’s not.”
- Despite the Toronto situation, Duquette described his Orioles offseason work as “business as usual” and said he didn’t feel it necessary to reiterate his commitment to O’s upper management. “I’ve always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability,” Duquette said. “That’s a habit. We’re going to have another good ballclub this year. I’m confident of that.”
- The O’s have offered Nolan Reimold a contract, Duquette said, though he noted that the outfielder is also receiving interest from other teams. The Indians are known to be one of the clubs linked to Reimold this winter.
- Duquette said he is still looking to add a right-handed bullpen arm.
- The Orioles’ recent acquisition of Travis Snider gives the club added depth both offensively and defensively, Duquette said, and he thinks Snider’s bat is a good fit for Camden Yards. Duquette and Pirates GM Neal Huntington had originally discussed a Snider deal during the Winter Meetings, though talks were only rekindled a few weeks ago. “I had stayed in touch with Neal because we were still looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available,” Duquette said.
8:23pm: Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), that the player to be named later will be “similar” to Tarpley. It seems worth noting, then, that Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier tonight that fellow Class-A left-hander Steven Brault was a possible name that could exchange hands.
7:32pm: It’s been a quiet offseason for the Orioles in terms of outfield additions, but the team announced today that it has struck a deal to acquire Travis Snider from the Pirates in exchange for Class-A left-hander Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.
Snider, who turns 27 next week, represents the first outfield addition to an Orioles club that has already lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz this offseason (though the team did also re-sign Delmon Young). Where he fits into the overall picture for the Orioles is a bit less clear, as the team already has a pair of left-handed hitting corner outfielders in Alejandro De Aza and David Lough. However, Lough doesn’t have the same offensive ceiling as Snider and may be considered more of a fourth outfield option for the Orioles follwing this trade.
Snider, formerly a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, has not lived up to that billing nor his lofty draft status (14th overall in 2006), but he enjoyed a strong season at the plate in 2014 with Pittsburgh. After a slow start, Snider recovered to slash .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances. Specifically, Snider was excellent after the All-Star break, hitting .288/.356/.524 in 188 plate appearances.
The Pirates and Snider have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary for 2015, thereby avoiding arbitration. Snider will be arb-eligible again next winter for the final time before hitting the free agent market in the 2016-17 offseason.
As for the Orioles, they’ll acquire a 21-year-old former third-round pick (98th overall in 2013) in the form of Tarpley. The Arizona native spent 2014 with short-season Class-A Aberdeen, working to a 3.68 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 66 innings of work (12 starts, one relief appearance). Tarpley recently ranked 14th on MLB.com’s list of Top 20 Orioles prospects and last winter ranked 21st on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 Orioles prospects. BA noted that Tarpley has the stuff to start, with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 96 at times in addition to a curveball and changeup. He previously had a slider in his arsenal as well, though the Orioles opted to scrap that pitch so he could focus on his change, per BA. MLB.com praised him as an arm with upside, touting not only solid curveball and a changeup that shows potential, but also his pitchability and size.
Even more recently, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Tarpley ninth among Orioles’ prospects, noting that one scout labeled his curveball as a 70 (on the 20-80 scale), but Tarpley is inconsistent due to both inconsistent mechanics and some maturity/makeup issues, though he looks to be coming around on that front.
Beyond that, however, are the implications for the Pirates’ 2015 roster. With Snider out of the picture, a path is likely cleared for top prospect Gregory Polanco to receive everyday at-bats in right field. Polanco got off to a blistering start in 2014 but quickly cooled and eventually lost time to Snider in the second half. The Pirates will surely hope that Polanco’s 2015 batting line will more closely resemble his .328/.390/.504 batting line from Triple-A than his .235/.307/.343 Major League triple-slash.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports then reported that an agreement had been reached, and Tarpley was headed to Pittsburgh (Twitter link). Connolly added (on Twitter) that a PTBNL would be in the deal as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.