The Pirates have released right-hander Thomas Hatch, as reflected on the MLB.com transaction log. A Korean-language report from IS Plus suggested Hatch had received interest from teams in both NPB and the KBO and is likely to sign with the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan. Hatch had occupied a spot on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster. His release will drop that tally to 36.
Pittsburgh snagged Hatch off waivers from the Blue Jays in early August. The 29-year-old occupied a depth role down the stretch, logging 22 2/3 innings over 12 appearances. He posted a 4.03 ERA despite a modest 17% strikeout rate. Paired with six MLB appearances for the Jays earlier in the season, Hatch tossed 28 2/3 innings of 4.26 ERA ball — his largest big league workload to date.
Originally a third-round pick of the Cubs in 2016, Hatch landed with the Jays at the ’19 deadline in a trade that sent veteran reliever David Phelps to Chicago. The Oklahoma State product debuted in the majors the following year and saw some big league action in each of the past four seasons. He has allowed 4.96 earned runs per nine in 69 career innings.
Hatch would have been out of minor league option years going into 2024. He’d likely have had a tenuous hold on a bullpen spot in Pittsburgh and could well have found himself on outright waivers at some point over the offseason. Instead, he should lock in a guaranteed salary — quite likely one north of the $740K MLB minimum — and could position himself for other major league opportunities in future offseasons. Hatch throws in the mid 90s and owns a reasonable 4.49 ERA over parts of three Triple-A campaigns, making him an attractive target for evaluators in Japan and Korea.