JULY 24, 12:59pm: There isn’t anything close on deal for a relief arm, Rosenthal now tweets. While Pittsburgh does want to bolster its pen, there are “multiple options in play.”
7:15am: The Pirates are not working on a trade for any of the Diamondbacks’ relievers at this time, a source tells Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Brad Ziegler is one name with the D-Backs that’s been said to be receiving interest, while Addison Reed and Oliver Perez are believed to be available as well. However, it appears the Pirates are looking elsewhere at this time.
JULY 23: Hours after acquiring Aramis Ramirez, the Pirates are working on a second trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that the target of the current trade is believed to be a relief pitcher, though no specific name or team has been reported at this time.
Adding a relief pitcher would serve to strengthen an area of strength for the Pirates, who already rank third in the Majors with a collective 2.50 ERA from their bullpen. Of course, Pittsburgh’s 3.45 FIP and 3.56 xFIP from the bullpen rank 13th and 10th, respectively, and the Pirates likely know that their current group of relievers could be overachieving.
To this point, the Pirates have been most prominently connected to infield upgrades, back-of-the-rotation arms and possibly outfield upgrades. The bullpen hasn’t been rumored to be a focus for Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, though from a speculative standpoint, the Bucs could stand to potentially upgrade in a few spots. Antonio Bastardo’s overall numbers are underwhelming, although he’s at least held opposing lefties in check. Still, an improved second lefty could be an area of focus. Rob Scahill’s 2.08 ERA is strong, but it’s more than a full run and a half lower than his 3.87 FIP and 3.73 xFIP. Rookie Deolis Guerra has been sharp in his debut, but he’s hardly a battle-tested arm, so perhaps the Pirates prefer to deepen their bullpen by adding more experience to the mix.
The Brewers and A’s have both begun to sell pieces, and both have relief arms available. Oakland’s Tyler Clippard is expected by many to be moved prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, while the Brewers are likely open to moving both Francisco Rodriguez and lefty Neal Cotts.