The Pirates have made a host of changes to their scouting and front office staff, Bill Brink of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports. Steve Williams, a major league scout since 1988, will be their new director of pro scouting. Junior Vizcaino, formerly of the Red Sox, will replace the recently-discharged Rene Gayo as Pittsburgh’s director of Latin America scouting. Assistant GM Greg Smith will now work under the title “Special Assistant to the GM”, though it’s not quite clear what the change in his role will actually be. Pitching coordinator Justin Meccage will now join the coaching staff as assistant pitching coach. In addition, pro scout Sean McNally has been named Special Assistant to the GM, John Birbeck and Matt Taylor have been made scouting assistants, and Joe Douglas and Justin Newman have been named quantitative analysts. While these moves seem to be mostly routine shuffling, it’s worth noting that very few first-round picks of the Pirates have lived up to their billing over the past 12 years.
More details from around the NL Central…
- In other Pirates news, closer Felipe Rivero has dropped agent Scott Boras. He’ll now be represented by Magnus Sports, according to Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rivero enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, posting a 1.67 ERA and 3.50 WPA across 75 1/3 innings thanks in part to a 10.51 K/9 and a 52.9% ground ball rate. Although he enjoyed a bit of BABIP and home run luck, his 3.03 xFIP is still a solid mark. The left-hander compiled 21 saves after taking over as Pittsburgh’s closer halfway through the season, and is arbitration-eligible for the first time next offseason. He should be in line for a significant raise if he can perform close to his 2017 numbers. Bloom notes that Magnus Sports also represents some other closers, including Aroldis Chapman of the Yankees and Raisel Iglesias of the Reds.
- Speaking of Iglesias, the right-hander has officially decided not to opt into arbitration, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. It seemed highly unlikely that Iglesias would choose to do so this season, considering his contract will pay him $4.5MM next season, while MLBTR’s arbitration model projected him for a $2.8MM salary. Nevertheless, Iglesias’ statement ends any speculation that he would opt into the process during this offseason (though he’ll have another opportunity next year). For the 2017 season, Iglesias finished 15th among relievers in total innings pitched (75), 22nd in ERA (2.49), 13th in saves (28), and tied for 13th in strikeouts (92).