The Pirates announced Friday that they’ve designated right-hander Trevor Williams and infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna for assignment. That pair of moves allows the team to select infielder Rodolfo Castro and righty Max Kranick to the 40-man roster, protecting both from the Rule 5 Draft.
Williams has been a regular in the Pittsburgh rotation over the past three seasons and enjoyed a strong 2018 campaign, pitching to a 3.11 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 170 2/3 innings. Outside of a few strong starts early in 2020, however, it’s been mostly downhill for the 28-year-old. Over the past two seasons he’s turned in a combined 5.60 ERA and 5.45 FIP in 201 innings. With a projected salary north of $3MM, the Pirates clearly weren’t interested in tendering him a contract for the 2021 season.
The Pirates surely gauged trade interest in Williams before taking the step to designate him for assignment, so it seems unlikely another club will make a move to acquire him now. It’s possible a team could place a waiver claim, but it’s every bit as likely that he’ll simply pass through waivers, at which point he has the service time needed to become a free agent. He’d make for an affordable reclamation project for teams in search of rotation help, and the fact that he still has three years of control remaining via the arbitration process only boosts his appeal if he does indeed reach the market.
Osuna, 27, enjoyed a solid season at the plate in 2019 when he hit .264/.310/.456 with 10 big flies in 285 trips to the plate, but his 82 plate appearances in 2020 resulted in a disastrous .205/.244/.397 output. It’s clear that Osuna possesses some right-handed pop, but his career .241/.280/.430 batting line also shines a light on some severe on-base deficiencies. Osuna has experience at all four corner spots, so perhaps another team will look at him as a bench possibility if he clears waivers. He was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to make a bit more than $1MM in 2021.