The Giants have announced that the Pirates have been awarded Giants reliever George Kontos on a waiver claim. The Giants evidently placed Kontos on revocable waivers, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets, then gave him up without receiving anything in return. To clear space for Kontos and the newly acquired Sean Rodriguez, the Pirates have designated reliever Jhan Marinez and outfielder Danny Ortiz for assignment.
For the Giants, the move clears a 25-man spot for Chris Stratton, who is set to pitch against the Diamondbacks today, and a more permanent spot in the bullpen for Matt Cain. It also clears a 40-man spot for Pablo Sandoval, who the team recently promoted.
That the Giants would essentially give Kontos away still rates as something of a surprise, since he’s been effective this season. The 32-year-old righty has posted a 3.83 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 47.9 GB%. While Kontos’ exact profile has shifted from year to year (he had a K/9 of just 5.9 last season, for example), he’s been effective since joining the Giants early in the 2012 season and has a 3.05 career ERA, albeit with peripherals that are somewhat less impressive than that.
Kontos will help bolster a Pirates bullpen that has rated as about average this season and that effectively swapped Tony Watson for Joaquin Benoit at the trade deadline. If Kontos performs well for the Pirates, they can keep him beyond this season — he makes just $1.75MM this year, and is not eligible for free agency until after 2019.
The 28-year-old Marinez arrived in Pittsburgh via a waiver claim from the Brewers in May. He posted a 3.18 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 34 innings in the Pirates’ bullpen and has a career 50.7 GB%. He’s struggled with walks in the past, but with his mid-90s fastball and ground-ball-heavy profile, he could attract interest on the waiver wire yet again.
The 27-year-old Ortiz has spent the bulk of the 2017 season with Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .259/.291/.450 over 342 plate appearances while playing all three outfield spots. The Twins product also collected his first 13 big-league plate appearances this season.