The Pirates and Diamondbacks announced a deal sending utilityman Josh VanMeter to Pittsburgh for minor league pitcher Listher Sosa. To clear space on the 40-man roster, Pittsburgh designated outfielder Jared Oliva for assignment.
Arizona had designated VanMeter for assignment over the weekend. The 27-year-old is out of minor league option years, meaning the D-Backs had to keep him on the active roster all season or bump him from the 40-man. The Arizona front office evidently determined they weren’t prepared to carry him in the majors.
The Bucs will have to keep VanMeter in the bigs themselves. That they parted with a minor leaguer, rather than waiting to try to grab him off waivers, indicates he’s at least likely to break camp with the MLB team. Pittsburgh would’ve been third in waiver priority based on their finish near the bottom of last year’s standings. (The Pirates had the league’s fourth-worst record, but the D-Backs were one of the teams below them). Rather than risk another team trading for VanMeter or the Orioles/Rangers grabbing him on waivers, the Bucs decided to relinquish a young pitcher to add him.
VanMeter adds a left-handed, multi-positional bat to the mix for skipper Derek Shelton. He has appeared in each of the past three seasons with the Reds and D-Backs, tallying 649 plate appearances. The former fifth-round pick has a career .212/.300/.364 slash line, offense that checks in 25 percentage points below average by measure of wRC+. It was a similar story last season, when VanMeter hit .212/.297/.354 in a personal-high 310 trips to the dish with Arizona.
Those results aren’t great, but VanMeter has shown some promising traits that caught the attention of the Bucs front office. He’s walked in an above-average 10.6% of his plate appearances. Last season, he only chased 21.1% of pitches outside the strike zone, the tenth-lowest mark among the 262 hitters with 300+ trips. That’s partially attributable to an overall patience at the plate — he also has one of the lower swing rates on pitches in the zone — but that selectivity has allowed VanMeter to work plenty of deep counts. He also has slightly above-average career marks in hard contact rate and average exit velocity, pairing his measured approach with some raw power.
VanMeter isn’t regarded as a great defender anywhere, but he’s got plenty of experience at each of first, second and third base and in left field. Ke’Bryan Hayes and Yoshi Tsutsugo are going to play most days in the respective corner infield spots, but the Bucs don’t have obvious answers at the keystone or in left. VanMeter will presumably start off as a bench bat, but there should be a chance to earn more at-bats on a rebuilding Pittsburgh team if his performance warrants.
Oliva had been one of the candidates to see some time in left field, but his future in the organization is now in question. Ranked among the back half of the Bucs top 30 prospects by Baseball America in each of the past three seasons, the University of Arizona product looked like he may develop into a fourth or fifth outfield type. He posted strong offensive numbers with gaudy stolen base totals up through Double-A in 2019, but he’s coming a tough campaign.
The right-handed hitter appeared in 64 games and tallied 249 plate appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis last season. He posted a .249/.321/.364 line in a fairly hitter-friendly setting, and he didn’t produce in a 20-game big league look in July. The Bucs will now have a week to trade Oliva or place him on outright waivers. Given that he’s only 26 years old and still has a couple option years remaining, it’s not out of the question another club takes a flier.
Sosa, meanwhile, is a 20-year-old righty who spent last season in the Florida Complex League. The Bucs signed him for $150K out of the Dominican Republic during the 2018-19 international signing period. The 6’4″ hurler posted a 4.31 ERA in 31 1/3 innings last season, striking out 25% of opponents against a tiny 3.8% walk rate.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
That’s a weird move. ¯\_(⊙︿⊙)_/¯
The Baseball Fan (Doesn’t like the Cubs)
Not really, pirates could always use some depth. Or maybe this is their opening day starter, I can’t really tell at this point.
Castillo can play infield. Tucker Park infield outfield. Not lacking depth. My guess is they don’t want to start the clock on Castillo and or they like this guy better than Chavis.
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Dream- Nice to see your posts.
What do you think about starting Tucker at short and Chavis at second for the first 50 games?
I think that they need to find out if they can play before the multitude of middle infielders comes forth.
Is Alford going to survive the final cut,and,if so,should he?
Do you think that Hayes is going to be higher than a 265 hitter with 14 home runs a year?
I like the Vogelbach signing as he is listed at 270 pounds and I always loved to stand next to those guys for people to ask “ Who is the slim guy?”
Fever Pitch Guy
If the dude tries to steal second base, everyone will be screaming at the opposing catcher “Hurry, the VanMeter is running!”.
Weird move for sure. They already have a surplus of “VanMeter” type players in Park, R. Castro, Marcano, Newman, Tucker,etc…..
@miggywrld That’s what I thought when I read it too.
In America VanMeter can go yard.
He’s a cheap add for a cheap team.
Well that’ll move the meter for sure.
They’ll use him in the OF, when they trade Reynolds to the Padres, for pennies on the dollar!!!
I looked at the Pirates Deth chart and realized that Heath Hembree was one of their top late inning relievers and that Jose Quintana was essentially their ace. I have no words.
Do you actually follow anyone except the Brewers? If you had an inkling about other teams, you’d know that Bednar is the closer, backed by Stratton. Neither are bad players. Hembree?? He’s a piece and no one is sure what role he’ll play at this point. If you have no words, then don’t make stuff up. No doubt that they’re bad….no surprise there.
I’m not a Brewers fan man. I was referring to the late inning relief corps mix. Hembree is essentially third on that depth chart according to ESPN.
You shouldn’t use ESPN as a source. We’re smarter than that around here.
Pirates taking a measured approach.
This is a pretty big move actually for a team like the Pirates. I bet the guy mashes about 30 bombs with a .300 OBP and they trade him in the off season for another rookie level pitcher like Listher Sosa.
Dudes hitting 35 dingers this year for sure
Nice bargain bin addition.
This one I don’t get. I can only figure he’ll just take the roster spot of someone like Castillo, Park or Chavis, all of whom are WAY more interesting. Not to mention all the other middle infielders they have in the upper levels.
Chavis is no better option than VanMeter at this point in Chavis career. The difference between Chavis and Van Meter is, Chavis has a very small name for himself. As for Park and Castillo, the jury is still out on those guys. Park can surprise people if he has Tsutsuga type year. He has the potential at least. As for Castillo, I fear he is a Tucker/Newman type of guy. He’s definitely not Vinny Castilla type. Either way, this season will be like last year, give guys looks and find lightening in a bottle. VanMeter, Castillo, Park, and Chavis will all get looks and all or at least 3 of them will be released. Tsutsuga may even come back to earth and hit a pedestrian .210 and OBP of 600 with a dozen HRs in 500 ABs. Who knows who the Bucs finish with this year or any wasted money. Only thing I am looking forward to is watching some young kids making it to the majors this year. At least 8 guys I can see making it this year. Mason Martin and O’Neil Cruz are for starters come May. Then Gonzales and Swaggerty soon after. At least a half a dozen pitchers cycle through the minors and majors by June. It’s going to be the vocal point of where the system is at and if Cherington work has paid off.
I wouldn’t be too happy about Swaggerty he can’t stay on the field lol.
Why not just include Oliva in the deal?
40-man roster restrictions. The D-Backs obviously feel Oliva (a 25-year-old who really hasn’t done anything) isn’t worth the spot. I doubt any other team does. My guess is the Bics get to keep Oliva after he clears waivers.
Ain’t this the guy who hit the walk off home run in game 162 that cost the Diamondbacks the #1 overall pick?
John Rocker fan club
It is, and the DBacks get payback on him by shipping him off to the Pirates. That’ll teach him to cost the Dbacks the top pick.
Typical Pirate move,will now send another prospect to minors.Will not ever attend a game and give my monies to this owner,everybody on here complains but will still attend games and continue to feed his wallet
He makes far more off TV revenue than ticket sales. Stop blaming the 8500 people who attend the games.
VanMeter’s Agent: “Hey Josh, I got you traded to a team who will give you a bunch of playing time!”
Josh VanMeter: “Oh Great! Thanks Mr. Agent man!! So happy to get off this crappy, never goin’ nowhere D-Backs squad! Tell me, who’s the lucky team?”
Agent: “It’s the Pittsburgh Pirates!”
JVM: “You’re FIRED!!!”
Van Meter’s a whole lot of nothin’, but so is Oliva. Not sure why Ben C. would sacrifice a young pitcher just to change. But I’ve got faith he knows something. I thought they’d DFA Oliva anyway; they need a spot to add a backup catcher on the 40. But to replace Oliva with Van Meter? SMH.
I don’t really get why they traded someone for him either. Is he that much of an upgrade that it’s worth giving something up for? Especially when he’s also out of options, at least Oliva can be optioned
It’s even weirder considering that they were 3rd in line on waivers. They traded away someone to cut 2 spots for a lateral move they can’t option. Bizarre move.
It’s a damn shame they decided not to start the season with Cruz at SS.
Would have been nice but come on, 30 something abs above AA
Mookie Betts came straight out of AA to the Red Sox. Most teams’ true talent is in their AA teams anyways. They tend to move pitchers up to AAA before debuting, but really good position players make the jump from AA to the majors.
The issue with Cruz is not his lack of at bats in AAA, it’s his lack of defense in AA. He committed way too many errors in AA last season which would get even worse if he were added to the Pirates roster out of camp. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cruz play a lot of LF in AAA so his glove won’t hurt them should they call him up. I highly doubt he becomes a starting SS in the majors; he’s too big and he makes too many errors. Let him play the OF and focus on his real skill; destroying the ball at the plate.
My guess is they need another player who can play LF as Alford is a total bust. He’s 1 for 13 with 9 strikeouts this spring. He may be the next DFA candidate. Allen is raking this spring and looks like the real deal. He has earned a starting OF job. Castillo has earned a roster spot as well. He should probably start at 2B and let Newman and Cruz fight it out for the starting SS job.
Cruz is a defensive liability. Some of you guys just don’t see the defensive concern of Cruz at SS. I am glad you and others aren’t running the Pirates. You’d play anyone and everyone while running the team into the ground
@piratefan1981 You do realize the Pirates have been hot garbage FOR YEARS and have no clear direction yet?
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Can’t fix stupid-With all due respect,you are aptly named.
How can anyone say that the Pirates and BC do not have a plan?
It is beyond comprehension to say so.
Unless you were just jesting.
Or unless you are just a troll.
@ PiratesFan – I deserved that bashing. I just read my post again and saw that I had typed Cruz, instead of Tucker, with regard to battling it out at short. I have been posting for months about how Cruz should be playing OF for the Bucs for years to come. I would like to see Castillo, Tucker and Newman in the middle infield, along with the better of Park/Chavis. Sorry for the error which deservedly got your blood boiling, When Peguero and Gonzales come up, there will be some tough decisions to make. But, let me be clear, I DO NOT see Cruz as the Bucs future SS.
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Budget- Don’t be too tough on yourself.
Few of these posters admit errors.Wait until you are 68 and you will find that these things become more commonplace!
@budgetball okay. A lot of so called Pirates fans or even baseball fans think Cruz deserves to play at the major league level. I am sorry if I was being too critical. I thought you may have been one of those trolls that love to displace any decision on the Pirates. I still think by may, Mason Martin and Cruz will be playing at PNC Park. Then a month or so, Gonzales, Swaggerty, and a few pitching prospects follow. It will be interesting to see how far up the ladder Preister and Henry Davis go this year. If they manage to hit AAA before the seasons end, you can’t help to be excited for next year
@Mendoza Line – Thanks. BTW, I’m in my age 63 season now. I’ve been a Bucs fan for nearly as long as you. My Dad took me to my first game in 1971, but I was a fan by 1970. The 1970’s were a great time to be a Bucs/Steelers fan, weren’t they? Even in that 20-year period where the Bucs didn’t make the playoffs, they had lots of great players and normally had 70+ win totals. I enjoyed watching the likes of Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Jason Bay, Kevin Young, and on, and on. My brother and I are going to the home opener on 4/12 and staying for the 2nd game on 4/13. Can’t wait. Let’s Go Bucs!
@ PiratesFan – Thanks. I’m not a troll. I live, eat, sleep, breathe and bleed black and gold, same as you. I enjoy your posts, along with Mendoza Line’s posts. Both clearly long time Bucs fans.
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Budget- You’re a young whippersnapper!
Pittsburgh truly was the “City of Champions” in the 1970’s.
I live near Philadelphia so I do not get back much but I still root for Pittsburgh teams even after 44 years away.
Have a great time with your brother and treasure the moments.
Thanks Bob. Makes sense ; did watch him rake in college. I hope he catches on someplace.
We won’t see Cruz until July,if not later because Ben will have an excuse of why not.This organization is simply a joke,a manager who was 3rd or 4th on the list and after this gig,will never manage again,a GM that just continues to lie to the fan base and an owner who keeps laughing at all of you who keep putting more money in his wallet,keep attending games folks,it won’t change until people stop attending.
I despise Nutting, but to say BC hasn’t done a good job since being hired is hogwash
How is BC lying to the fan base? Unlike Huntington who every off-season said we are “retooling”, he’s been very open about rebuilding and the fact that he’s going to acquire good prospects via the draft and trades, which is exactly what he’s done so far. He’s taken this farm system from lower middle of the pack to top 3 in MLB. Say what you want about Nutting, but BC will have this team contending within the next 3 years with all of the young talent he’s acquired.
I’d like to see what Shelton can do once he has a team with potential to contend, hard to judge when he doesn’t have all that much to work with yet.
You should stay to woodworking, I dot see a future in baseball management in your future.
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Terry- He’s just a troll.
Mendoza Line 215
It is an article on the Pirates.Basically a minor league deal.
But the trolls keep rolling along.
They can’t help themselves.
Pirates send tip prospect O’Neil Cruz to Triple A and then trade for Josh Van Meter? This is why they are terrible. A career .212 hitter. Amazing!
He had 30 something at bats above AA. Come on
Keeping him in triple A for a few weeks will give them an entire extra year of control over him. New CBA didn’t completely overhaul service time.
In a year where we aren’t contending, I am more than okay with keeping him down there until May to get another year of him
Yep they need to keep him down as service time manipulation. I don’t care about his lack of at bats, he’s clearly ready to play major league ball. They know that, but they have to feed some bs so the real reason can stay taboo.
Cherrington was hired to follow the company line,trade away all good players who will cost money and yes,he has acquired alot of good,young talent but the Pirates will mess most of them up.
He was VP of the Blue Jays before the Pirates hired him. Why would he leave Toronto just to “follow the company line”?
Cherrington can name his own ticket if he wanted a new job. He wasn’t brought here to trade players, he’s here to improve the team which he slowly is doing.
Newman, Tucker, Park, Chavis, Castillo, Marcano, Castro, Peguero, Cruz, Gonzales, Bae, and now VanMeter. I’m probably forgetting some. These are the middle infielders in the upper level of the Bucs farm system or already on the Bucs’ major league club. All of these guys are in line to be promoted to the bigs not later than 2024; several in 2022 0r 2023. It will be interesting to see what BC does with all of these guys. One dozen guys competing for 3 or 4 spots in the next two seasons. Fun days ahead,
Bryan Reynolds roster replacement when they trade him
I don’t hate the deal myself. Could see van meter working out. Oliva was never going to be anything. He will just be a depth guy at indy after this anyways off the 40 man. Sosa too far away to care about him. FWIW another move will be coming as the bucs are at full capacity and only one catcher is on the 40 man. Alford back to his striking out ways this spring, but he had a big 2 months to end the season last year. Not sure it really matters anyways
What do you guys think about the 65.5 win total for the pirates? That’s up a few games from last year. The division is bad. You should see a few of young guys at some point. I think they can be around 70 wins. They made a few good sneaky pickups in the offseason too. Hayes wrist shouldn’t be a problem. I kind of liked everything they did except the stallings trade
I don’t quite see 70 wins or 65 for that matter. Rotation is a HUGE concern and the bullpen isn’t even close to being one of the better pens in the league. I am comfortable with saying 52 wins this year. If they get more than that, a lot of things went right.
If they win 52, Shelton should be fired. They should be way over 52. Last year it was 59.5/60 and they won 61. Aside from stallings to Perez, it doesn’t seem like they got worse anywhere. Throw in the arrival of some prospects and almost half the games against mediocre teams, avoiding 100 losses seems pretty likely
I personally think they could overtake the Cubs.
Maybe even reds. Reasonably I would be happy with 70 wins though
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Buc- I say 67-95.
At least they got a decent pitcher for Stallings.I was surprised that they traded him as he was an important player for them,
I was hoping that they would gain ten more games and show definite improvement
I think that the rotation could be sneaky good but everything has to break right.
The whole key of course is to see improvement from all of the young players and the positions become more defined.
I wasn’t expecting so much for stallings. He was an important voice in the clubhouse and for the pitching staff. Seemed dumb to dump him for a mediocre return just because he didn’t fit the timeline. Ultimately, it probably hurts the present more than the future. If they trade Reynolds, especially sooner rather than later, that might cause them to lose 100. Otherwise, I’d say the window is probably 63-73 wins. I’m going to 70, a few games higher
With the surplus of infielders we have, this makes no sense to me.
Is there a need for another .200 hitter on this team?
Only reason I can think of is that there is a trade in the works?
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Panj-The only thing that I can say is that it does not seem to make much sense up front but maybe BC sees something in him that gives him promise.
After all,that is his job.
In any event it is such a small transaction that almost certainly few will remember it a year from now.