The Pirates announced Thursday that they’ve placed right-hander Keone Kela and infielder Colin Moran on the injured list. Kela heads to the 10-day IL with forearm tightness, while Moran is on the 7-day concussion list. Both moves are retroactive to Aug. 24. Righty Nick Mears and infielder Will Craig were recalled in a pair of corresponding moves.
The IL placement for Kela substantially hampers the team’s ability to extract a meaningful return in a trade for the righty, who’d been the Pirates’ most obvious trade chip prior to Monday’s deadline. He can technically still be traded even while on the IL, but he won’t be eligible for activation until a few days after Monday’s trade deadline has passed. Considering that Kela is a free agent at season’s end, however, the Bucs could still try to move him for whatever they’re able to get.
Kela, 27, has been limited to just two innings in 2020 due to a positive Covid-19 test that caused him to miss all of Summer Camp and the forearm issue that prompted him to be lifted from last Friday’s relief outing. His fastball sat at 96.5 mph in his three outings this year — right in line with his career average — but that doesn’t guarantee the issue he’s facing to be minor. Kela has a strong track record dating back to his 2015 debut, but he’s obviously a wild card for the remainder of the year.
Moran himself could conceivably been a trade candidate on the heels of a huge start to the season. The former No. 6 overall pick is out to a .259/.326/.531 start with six homers and four doubles through 89 plate appearances. Moran’s 93.4 mph average exit velocity (per Statcast) is up more than five miles per hour from the 88.2 mph mark he logged in his first two years with Pittsburgh, and his 48.3 percent hard-hit rate absolutely dwarfs the 34.6 percent mark he posted in 2018-19. He’s controllable for three years beyond 2020, however, so a move involving him carries less urgency and wasn’t necessarily likely (as it was with Kela).