The Pirates have traded left-hander Nik Turley to the Athletics in exchange for cash, per an announcement from the A’s. Pittsburgh designated Turley for assignment earlier this week upon claiming outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. from Detroit.
Turley, 31, tossed 21 2/3 innings with the Pirates this past season but struggled to keep runs off the board and to limit free passes. Between that Pirates stint and a similarly brief look with the Twins back in 2017, the southpaw carries a career 7.78 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 19 walks in 39 1/3 frames.
Unsightly as those numbers may be, Turley has elite spin rates on his curveball and particularly on his four-seam fastball, which checked in at an average of 94.5 mph in 2020. He’s also posted strong numbers in the upper minors. His 2017 minor league output with the Twins was particularly encouraging, as he worked to a 2.05 ERA with a superlative 124-to-29 K/BB ratio in 92 innings. Turley struck out a whopping 34.5 percent of hitters he faced between Double-A and Triple-A that season while walking just 8.1 percent of his opponents.
Turley hasn’t pitched in the minors since that 2017 showing, however. An 80-game PED suspension wiped out the first half his 2018 season after the Pirates claimed him from the Twins, and he was immediately placed on the 60-day injured list upon being activated thanks to an elbow strain he sustained while ramping up toward the end of his suspension window. He ultimately required Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2019 campaign as well.
Turley is out of minor league options, so if he survives the winter on Oakland’s 40-man roster, he’ll have to break camp with the club or else again be exposed to waivers. He’ll give the A’s another lefty to pair with Jake Diekman, who could be the favorite for ninth-inning work now that Liam Hendriks has departed for the White Sox in free agency.