The Pirates announced that they have signed right-handed reliever Trey Haley to a one-year, Major League Contract on Thursday.
Haley, 25, has spent his entire career in the Indians organization since being selected by Cleveland in the second round of the 2008 draft. The Texas native rated among Baseball America’s Top 30 Indians prospects from 2008-13, ranging from No. 14 to No. 28 and at times earning the distinction of having the best-rated fastball and the best-rated curveball in Cleveland’s minor league system. Control problems have long plagued Haley, but he’s never had an issue missing bats, as he’s averaged about a strikeout per inning in his minor league career. This past season, Haley reached the Triple-A level for the first time and posted a strong 2.45 ERA with 9.8 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9 in 55 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.
Haley will land on the Pirates’ 40-man roster and compete for a job this spring despite never having thrown an inning in the Majors. While the signing will come as a surprise to some, these types of deals — Major League contracts for career minor leaguers — happen a few times each offseason. This winter, we’ve already seen left-hander Buddy Baumann (Padres), right-hander Cesar Vargas (Padres) and right-hander Andury Acevedo (Cubs) land Major League deals despite having no prior Major League experience. (Right-hander Tony Barnette, too, landed a big league deal with the Rangers despite zero MLB innings, although he’s been pitching very successfully in Japan in recent years.)
The Pirates’ 40-man roster is currently full, so they’ll have to make a corresponding move in order to complete Haley’s signing. The team has yet to announce that transaction, however.