The Pirates announced this morning that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Todd Frazier, designated outfielder Dustin Fowler for assignment, placed righty Chad Kuhl on the 10-day injured list and recalled right-hander Geoff Hartlieb. Kuhl is dealing with right shoulder discomfort, and a timeline for his return was not provided.
Frazier, 35, inked a minor league deal with the Bucs over the winter and had a productive Spring Training, slashing .250/.343/.643 with three homers and a pair of doubles in 34 trips to the plate. He’s coming off a rough 45-game showing between the Rangers and Mets last season (.236/.302/.382) but was a productive hitter with the Mets as recently as 2019.
Frazier gives the Pirates some additional cover at third base in the wake of Ke’Bryan Hayes’ setback in his recovery from a wrist injury. He also gives manager Derek Shelton a right-handed platoon partner for Colin Moran, a career .236/.287/.361 hitter versus southpaws, at first base.
Fowler’s DFA comes just one day after the Pirates designated fellow center fielder Anthony Alford for assignment. The Bucs had hoped that between the pair of former top 100 prospects, they’d be able to unearth a late bloomer, but Pittsburgh center fielders have combined for an awful .170/.245/.261 output thus far in 2021 (including seven hitless plate appearances from Wilmer Difo in center).
The Pirates claimed Rule 5 pick Ka’ai Tom from the Athletics yesterday in conjunction with Alford’s DFA, and it now seems that he’ll have a clearer path to playing time in center. Left fielder Bryan Reynolds can also slide over to center if the Pirates choose, with Phillip Evans moving to left field and Frazier manning third base. Pittsburgh’s stance to this point has been that they prefer Reynolds in left field, but the departure of Fowler and Alford has obviously changed the equation. Prospect Jared Oliva may eventually get a look as well, but the Pirates’ announced an Oliva injury alongside their announcement of Hayes’ setback this morning; Oliva will miss around four weeks with a left oblique strain.
Turning to the 28-year-old Kuhl, he drew the Opening Day start for the Pirates this season but hasn’t looked right through his first four trips to the mound. He’s regained some life on his fastball after experiencing a post-Tommy-John dip in 2020, but Kuhl has also walked more batters (16) than he’s struck out (14) through his first 15 2/3 frames. He’s sitting on a 6.32 ERA at the moment and hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his four starts.
Kuhl is only controlled through the 2022 season, so with a return to health and a similar performance to his 2016-18 form — 4.37 ERA, 20.4 percent strikeout rate, 9.2 percent walk rate — he could be marketed as a trade asset for clubs seeking affordable arms to stabilize the rotation. He drew interest from a few clubs, including the Blue Jays, last summer. He’ll first need to get past this latest injury and string together some productive starts for that scenario to come together, though.
The Baseball Fan (Doesn’t like the Cubs)
Why didn’t they do this before, Frazier would easily be their 4 hitter and can play 1st base moving Moran to outfield and DFA Dustin Fowler.
Moran to the outfield? Clearly you’ve never seen him play, he has no movement, he has to play 1B.
Moran in the outfield? Might as well put up some kid straight out of college. They’d probably have better range than Moran in the OF.
Evans will be in LF and Reynolds will be in CF and Frazier at 3b Moran has been doing well as the clean up hitter. Frazier most likely will slot in at #5
The Baseball Fan (Doesn’t like the Cubs)
This folks, is why the NL needs the DH rule.
BAN THE DH!
Beer league starts soon! This is hardball just say NO!
Definitely Moran in center.
I’d pay to see that, lol.
Wow, so would I, lol. Moran has the range of my dining room table, he’d be “fantastic” in center.
….Fraizer…Todd Fraizer in left too. Then move the right fielder in for a defensive shift.
Yeah moran doesn’t have the wheels to play outfield. If it is hit right at him hes not all that bad though. other wise though T. Frazier is probably worth a few wins in the line up.. just gota find a place for him if you want those w’s.
I think its more of let Todd hit while you can.. see if he can get some trade value.
Ghost of past pirates
Moran doesnt play outfield. Go back to troll school
Frazier stinks. But at least Pirate broadcasters can fill dead air talking about him winning the Little League World Series.
It’s all dead air when Joe Block is doing the radio broadcast.
Feel a bit sorry for Fowler as he looked to have more of a plan than Alford at the plate. Maybe BC is thinking by DFA-ing them both at the same time, at least one will pass through waivers and be a decent defensive depth piece in CF at AAA?
Fowler had an opportunity on a team dishing out them left and right. The simple fact is that he cannot hit or even recognize a curve or turn around a major league fastball. Maybe someone else more desperate will give him a chance……oh, wait. Never mind.
Easy now…. all I said was Fowler looked to have more of a plan than Alford (with less Spring Training).
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Fowler got claimed, but would be shocked if Alford isn’t at Indy to start the AAA season in May.
Another over hyped Yankees prospect . Although if he never had that injury who knows what would’ve happened. But his plate approach and lack of walks approach was an issue even before that
Lee Mazzilli for HOF
Or maybe solve the mystery to why the Mets traded for him last year. Had zero need for him, prime years are in the past and cost 1.5 million.
Who wouldn’t want the “Todd-father!”
Todd Helton retired years ago.
This wrist issue with Hayes could lead to a long line of injuries to the same wrist. It’s ironic he slid onto the base using the hand that did not have a brace on it
This will be Todd Frazier’s tryout/audition for his 3rd trip back to the NY Mets.
Too bad for Fowler, this may be the end of the line.
I find it encouraging that the Bucs FO are reacting to Hayes’ potential long term wrist injury with a ‘play the best players and see what happens’ attitude.
I don’t expect the club to be buyers at the deadline, but as long as they’re close to .500 in an awful division, may as well let things play out rather than tank for the sake of tanking.
Wouldn’t mind seeing Alford and/or Fowler make it through waivers, both could do with some regular AAA playing time to get their confidence back, and who knows maybe they can help down the road. In the meantime, why not stick Tom in CF and see what happens?
May lead to that. I see Reynolds in CF and Evans in LF for the time being.
that’s the likely outcome
The “Todd Father” is good clubhouse guy for a young team.
As long as they’re paying him the league minimum. Otherwise they could save the money and just buy a bunch of leadership books on Amazon for the players. Or just have them watch YouTube clips of how Frazier “plays the game” instead of wasting the money.
But it’s probably the league minimum.
Todd Frazier has a lifetime OPS+ higher than DJLM and he costs a lot less than the Disc Jockey Lay Meow and his team even has a better record. However, such things don’t last very long.
Who moves into the buc rotation now? Like to Underwood get a chance.
Are you referring to Duane Underwood Jr??? He’s an RP and was not able to handle that… what makes you think he could possibly start!
Underwood was primarily a starter in the minors, it’s not as though he doesn’t know how to do it, and he’s looked good so far this year. He wouldn’t be the candidate for the rotation now, but it’s not ridiculous to suggest he could be down the road.
He has looked good to me so far. Good breaking ball. He throws strikes.
Adam Frazier can also play LF so the Pirates have options for covering LF while moving Reynolds to CF. It seems they really don’t want Reynolds in CF but if that is the case they should have done a better job filling the gaping hole they left there trading Starling Marte away two years ago
Should not have traded Marte if they had no one in the minors to take his place or did not want to spend some of the money saved for a decent center fielder.
Once they traded away Meadows they had no outfield depth.
A lot of teams are having trouble filling CF these days. The Pirates are a pure rebuilding team so they don’t need Marte (who isn’t that great a CFr anyway). It’s a shame, this organization looked as if it was headed towards a great run a few years ago but ownership sat on its hands and everything fell apart.
They were gonna lose Marte to FA after this year. He has been spending time on the IL since his days in Pgh. On the IL now. Deal that Cherington made for Marte looks very promising so far. They were not going compete this year and have some young OF in the system that are not ready yet. I have no problem because Cherington looks to have a plan to rebuild the club.
Reynolds is in centerfield today by the way
Looking very much like a Left Fielder!
I can’t see this lasting.
He played a several games the prior 2 years in CF and did not look out of place.
Looking forward to Tom getting some lengthy playing time. Always underrated but always seemed to be uptrending in Cleveland’s system.
Great to hear he’s back in the show. Good guy.