Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 19 Jul 2018 17:45:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Pirates Notes: Meadows, Cervelli, Deadline https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-notes-meadows-cervelli-deadline.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-notes-meadows-cervelli-deadline.html#comments Mon, 16 Jul 2018 15:30:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127557 The Pirates announced yesterday that they’ve optioned outfielder Austin Meadows to Triple-A Indianapolis. Long one of the game’s top prospects, Meadows posted solid but unspectacular numbers in Indianapolis this season before breaking into the Majors on an otherworldly tear. Through his first 83 plate appearances, Meadows hit .346/.373/.654 with five homers, five doubles and two triples. But, he went on to slash just .247/.291/.288 in his next 79 PAs and had been largely relegated to a bench role when he was finally optioned. General manager Neal Huntington told reporters (link via MLB.com’s Adam Berry) that the move to send Meadows down to the minors “probably happened two or three days later than ideally it would have,” but the team wanted to preserve its outfield depth and flexibility with a doubleheader on Saturday this weekend. “It’s in his best interest and our best interest to continue to grow and develop,” said Huntington of Meadows, who seems certain to factor into the team’s plans at the big league level once again at some point this season.

More on the Buccos…

  • Francisco Cervelli hit the 7-day concussion DL for the fourth time in the past two seasons this past weekend, and there’s no indication as to when he’ll return just yet, writes Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But while Cervelli recently worked out at first base and impressed manager Clint Hurdle with his instincts and athleticism there, the organization isn’t yet considering a move from behind the plate for Cervelli. Huntington stressed that, first and foremost, the immediate concern is getting Cervelli the best medical care he can as he battles through his current post-concussive symptoms. “There is concern that multiple concussions, where do we go long-term, but I’m not at that point where we need to or want to have those discussions just yet,” said Huntington. Cervelli, as Bloom notes, suggested earlier this season that he’d consider retirement if injuries ever forced him out from behind the plate.
  • The Pirates’ 7-1 performance over the past week has put pressure on Huntington and the rest of the front office as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, writes Tim Benz of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Huntington spoke candidly last weekend when discussing the team’s situation, noting that with their record, the Pirates weren’t in position where a run of .500 ball would change their outlook. A sweep of the Brewers and a move to within five and a half games of a Wild Card spot, however, could at least move the Bucs from a definite seller to a team in “wait and see” mode as the deadline draws nearer. Huntington acknowledged as much, stating that the Pirates “need to do more” despite an excellent week of play. Indeed, the Pirates are still just 48-49 and nine games back in the NL Central, but their recent winning streak at least has the potential to alter their deadline approach.
Latest On Francisco Cervelli https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/nl-central-notes-cardinals-girardi-cubs-darvish-cervelli-villar.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/nl-central-notes-cardinals-girardi-cubs-darvish-cervelli-villar.html#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2018 18:07:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127450 The Cardinals’ players are now “on notice” after the team fired manager Mike Matheny on Saturday, Mark Saxon of The Athletic tweets. If the Cardinals (47-46) don’t turn things around during the coming weeks under interim manager Mike Shildt, there may be “sweeping changes” to their roster, per Saxon. St. Louis’ front office, for its part, “has pined for years to be a seller and stock up for the future,” Saxon writes. With the All-Star break on the doorstep and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline soon to follow, the Cardinals won’t have a lot of time to reverse course on the field in the next couple weeks, though they’re only four games out of a wild-card spot.

  • Since Matheny’s ouster, former Yankees and Marlins skipper Joe Girardi has come up frequently as a speculative fit for St. Louis. The Cardinals will indeed consider Girardi, who already has a “good rapport” with president John Mozeliak and is thought of highly by the organization, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. It’s unknown whether Girardi will want to get back into managing after a long, successful run in New York, however. Girardi was unwilling to comment on St. Louis’ managerial situation when Joel Sherman of the New York Post contacted him.
  • Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish, out since late May with triceps tendinitis, told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com and other reporters Saturday that he’s hopeful he’ll be able resume throwing off a mound next weekend. However, there’s still no timetable for Darvish’s return to the Cubs’ rotation. With Darvish unavailable (and having struggled before his injury) and Tyler Chatwood in the throes of a rough year, the Cubs are looking for pitching as July 31 nears, according to general manager Jed Hoyer. “No matter what happens [with Darvish], we’re going to be trying to acquire pitching and try to acquire depth,” Hoyer said. “That’s our focus no matter what.”
  • Head injuries have been an all-too-common occurrence for Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, whom concussion issues forced to the disabled list on Saturday for the fourth time since last June. It doesn’t appear his playing days are in peril right now, though. Asked Saturday if Cervelli’s career could be in jeopardy, Pirates director of sports medicine Tom Tomczyk said (via Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic): “A good question. We have the head of neurology (at Allegheny Health System) leading the direction and advising our internal team of doctors … and that recommendation hasn’t been relayed to him as of yet.” One way the Pirates could make Cervelli’s life easier is by giving him some playing time elsewhere on the field, and they are considering using him at first base on occasion, Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette relays.
  • The Brewers announced that they’ve placed second baseman Jonathan Villar on the 10-day DL with a right thumb injury and recalled outfielder Brett Phillips from Triple-A. It’s not known how much time Villar will miss, but it’s the latest disappointing development for a player who has experienced a marked drop-off since a great 2016. Villar has bounced back since a disastrous 2017 to some extent, though he has still batted a subpar .261/.315/.377 with six home runs and 14 steals in 279 plate appearances. The 27-year-old has been a key part of a generally weak middle infield, an area Milwaukee may bolster with a trade for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado. [UPDATE: An MRI revealed that Villar had just a sprained thumb and no structural damage, Brewers manager Craig Counsell told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other reporters.]
Francisco Cervelli Returns To Concussion DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/nl-injury-notes-d-backs-cards-cervelli-mets-cespedes.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/nl-injury-notes-d-backs-cards-cervelli-mets-cespedes.html#comments Sat, 14 Jul 2018 17:12:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127357
  • Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli is headed to the seven-day concussion DL for the second time in less than a month, the team announced. Pittsburgh recalled backstop Jacob Stallings to take the place of Cervelli, who’s dealing with post-concussive symptoms. This continues a long history of head injuries for Cervelli and marks the fourth time since June 2017 that he has gone on the concussion DL. Although good health has been all too rare for Cervelli, the 32-year-old has been one of the majors’ best catchers in 2018 when he has taken the field.
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    Chad Kuhl Shut Down Four Weeks https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/james-paxton-back-injury-mariners-julio-urias-throwing-dodgers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/james-paxton-back-injury-mariners-julio-urias-throwing-dodgers.html#comments Fri, 13 Jul 2018 15:01:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127260
  • Pirates righty Chad Kuhl will be shut down from throwing entirely until Aug. 8, writes Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At that point, he’ll be reevaluated and, if all goes well, begin throwing from flat ground. There’s no definite timetable on Kuhl’s return from the current forearm injury that has him on the shelf, though Bloom notes that Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk doesn’t expect that Kuhl will ultimately require any type of surgical procedure to correct the issue. The 25-year-old Kuhl had pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate through 14 starts before he was rocked for 10 runs across two starts (six innings). He exited that final start early due to the forearm issue and was subsequently placed on the DL.
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    Dodgers Looking Into Multiple Potential Infield Targets https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dodgers-looking-into-multiple-potential-infield-targets.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dodgers-looking-into-multiple-potential-infield-targets.html#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2018 01:38:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127034 The Dodgers are widely rumored to be a major suitor for Orioles star Manny Machado. But they are also looking at multiple other possibilities for improving their lineup, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

    Per the report, the Los Angeles organization has not only “stepped up” its efforts to boost its infield mix, but has inquired into at least three specific options beyond Machado. Passan links the Dodgers to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, the Twins’ Brian Dozier, and the Mets’ Asdrubal Cabrera. And Josh Harrison of the Pirates is also of some interest, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link). (He also notes that the Dodgers are interested in some of Minnesota’s veteran relievers.)

    The precise interest level in each of those players isn’t clear. Needless to say, the Dodgers are not limiting themselves to a single option — or, really, even a single type of player. While Machado has spent his entire career on the left side of the infield, the other players now reportedly in the mix could fit in at second base.

    Indeed, both Gennett and Dozier have more or less exclusively played at second in the majors. Though the latter did break in as a shortstop, he hasn’t lined up there since 2012. Cabrera has more extensive time at short and third, while Harrison has also played all over. Gennett swings from the left side, Dozier and Harrison the right. Cabrera is a switch-hitter. Both Dozier and Cabrera will be free agents after the season, while Gennett and Harrison can be controlled for one and two additional years, respectively.

    This slate of candidates includes quite a lot of MLB experience, of course. All are relatively low-strikeout, contact-oriented hitters. Gennett and Cabrera have outproduced the others offensively this year, but there are other things for the L.A. brass to consider. Dozier has an excellent track record, a history of second-half productivity, and an explanation (.247 BABIP) for some of his woes. Harrison is surely the least-accomplished hitter of the bunch, but adds more value on the bases and in the field.

    All things considered, it’s not strictly evident just what the Dodgers are most interested in finding beyond adding a player they like to their infield mix. The team has not received much from Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley, but those two have combined to take the lion’s share of time at second. Adding Machado might well mean bumping Chris Taylor to the other side of the bag, or to the outfield. If that fails, a different addition intended to address second base more directly could instead be pursued.

    Of course, it’s somewhat debatable whether this is even an area the Dodgers really ought to be focused, even with Corey Seager gone for the year. Forsythe and Utley haven’t been great, true, but the entire rest of the lineup (excepting backup catcher Austin Barnes) has been excellent. Ensuring there’s a place for Max Muncy’s bat to play is perhaps the more pressing need. Most recently, he has slotted in at second, though perhaps that’s not the club’s ultimate preference. In any event, it seems the L.A. front office is interested not only in maximizing depth, but also in guarding against any downturns in its potent lineup.

    Neal Huntington On Pirates' Deadline Plans https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/quick-hits-rays-eovaldi-ramos-nats-pirates-reds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/quick-hits-rays-eovaldi-ramos-nats-pirates-reds.html#comments Sun, 08 Jul 2018 21:52:31 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126956
  • With the Pirates having fallen to 41-48 since a good start to the season, “the optimism has turned to realism,” general manager Neal Huntington told reporters Sunday (via Jerry Dipaola of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review). Huntington went on to explain that he projected the Pirates would win 78 to 82 games this year, but he was hopeful they’d exceed expectations. Instead, with the deadline looming and Pittsburgh nine games out of a playoff spot, the team looks like a seller in the making. Huntington will make a decision on the club’s direction in the coming days, it seems, as he noted that “this is one of those weeks where 4-4 doesn’t do us a lot of good. We need to make up some ground in a short period of time and we need to show we can continue to do that.”
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    Pirates Reinstate Michael Feliz From DL, Select Alex McRae https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-notes-bryant-correa-dyson-joyce-feliz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-notes-bryant-correa-dyson-joyce-feliz.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 21:09:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126815
  • The Pirates reinstated right-hander Michael Feliz from the 10-day DL and also selected the contract of righty Alex McRae from Triple-A Indianapolis, as per a team press release.  Righty Dovydas Neverauskas and southpaw Josh Smoker were demoted to Triple-A in corresponding moves.  Feliz missed about two weeks due to right shoulder inflammation and will try to turn around a season that has seen him post a 5.51 ERA over his first 32 2/3 innings for the Bucs.  McRae, a 10th-round pick for the Pirates in the 2014 draft, will get his first taste of Major League action after posting a 4.61 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and 2.05 K/BB rate over 84 innings for Indianapolis this season.
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    Pirates Fail To Reach Agreement With 36th Overall Pick Gunnar Hoglund https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-fail-to-reach-agreement-with-36th-overall-pick-gunnar-hoglund.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-fail-to-reach-agreement-with-36th-overall-pick-gunnar-hoglund.html#comments Fri, 06 Jul 2018 23:35:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126732 The Pirates failed to line up with competitive balance Round A selection Gunnar Hoglund, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reported on Twitter. This afternoon (5pm CST) represented the deadline to complete deals with drafted players.

    Hoglund, a right-handed pitcher from Florida, didn’t crack the top fifty of any draft prospect rankings, topping out at #55 on the Fangraphs board. While he’s not credited with an electric arsenal of pitches, Hogulund is valued for his pinpoint control and increasingly impressive radar gun readings.

    The Pittsburgh organization clearly liked Hoglund quite a bit, as it took him with the 36th overall pick. But the Bucs were not able to convince him to join the organization, meaning they’ll instead receive the 37th selection in next year’s draft. Hoglund, meanwhile, is headed to the University of Mississippi.

    Royals Claim Enny Romero https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/royals-claim-enny-romero-waivers-pirates.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/royals-claim-enny-romero-waivers-pirates.html#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2018 23:45:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126646 The Royals announced that they’ve claimed left-hander Enny Romero off waivers from the Pirates. Right-hander Blaine Boyer was transferred from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Romero.

    The 27-year-old Romero opened the season with the Nationals but was designated for assignment after just two innings of work. The Pirates plucked him off waivers but tried to designate him a second time just weeks later, but it turned out that Romero had an impingement in his left shoulder that resulted in him being placed on the disabled list. Upon sufficiently rehabbing the injury, Romero was activated and subsequently designated for assignment.

    Romero was among the harder-throwing lefty relievers in the league for the Nationals last season but saw his average fastball velocity drop from 98 mph in 2017 to 95.1 mph in 2018. That, granted, came in a small sample of six innings, but Romero’s velocity was never at this low of a point throughout the 2017 season. To this point in the year, he’s yielded five runs on a dozen hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.

    The 2017 season was a solid one for Romero, however, as he worked to a 3.56 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.13 HR/9 and a 39 percent ground-ball rate through 55 2/3 innings of relief. In 142 career innings at the MLB level, Romero has a 4.69 ERA with plenty of missed bats (9.7 K/9) but far too many walks (4.6 BB/9). Unlike many lefty relievers, Romero has been more effective against right-handed batters (.240/.325/.379) than he has against left-handed batters (.312/.392/.463).

    Romero entered the season with just over two years of Major League service time, so if he can turn things around in Kansas City, he’ll be a controllable bullpen piece for the Royals through the 2021 season. He’d be eligible for arbitration this winter. Romero is out of minor league options, however, so he’ll need to hold down a spot on the big league roster or else clear waivers before he can be sent to Triple-A.

    Updates On Cervelli, Kuhl https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/central-notes-twins-shaw-cervelli-kuhl-chisox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/central-notes-twins-shaw-cervelli-kuhl-chisox.html#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2018 00:50:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126573
  • Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomcyzk updated some of the team’s injury situations in a chat with reporters (including The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel and MLB.com’s Adam Berry) today.  Francisco Cervelli could begin a rehab assignment this weekend, as the catcher has resumed full baseball activities after being cleared of concussion symptoms.  Cervelli has been on the disabled list since June 22.
  • The outlook is more ominous for right-hander Chad Kuhl, who was diagnosed with a strained right forearm after undergoing an MRI.  “Doctors have recommended a conservative treatment at this time,” Tomcyzk said, so Kuhl won’t be facing a surgical procedure in the near future.  Kuhl has a 4.37 ERA, 7.9 K/9 and 2.21 K/BB rate over 313 career innings and 61 starts for the Pirates.
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    Pirates Designate Enny Romero https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-designate-enny-romero-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pirates-designate-enny-romero-2.html#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2018 22:37:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126408 The Pirates have designated lefty Enny Romero for assignment after activating him from the disabled list, per a club announcement. In other moves, the club promoted righty Nick Kingham and optioned infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna.

    While the club’s maneuvering did not require a 40-man spot, Romero’s return to health forced a decision. He is out of options, meaning he had to be added back to the active roster or cut loose.

    Romero was very nearly designated earlier in the year, before his shoulder injury was discovered. The hard-throwing southpaw, who was claimed from the Nationals in April, has thrown only six MLB frames on the season.

    NL Central Notes: Norris, Turley, Reds https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-central-notes-norris-turley-reds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-central-notes-norris-turley-reds.html#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2018 16:48:59 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126098 The Cardinals’ signing of Bud Norris didn’t come with much fanfare, but he’s cemented himself in the ninth inning in St. Louis and now tells Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch that he hopes to remain with the Cardinals for the long haul. “I get chills on my neck thinking about it,” said Norris. “Yes, I would love to end my career here and I would love to have a multi-year contract here. That would mean the world to me and my family … There’s something very, very special about this place.” Norris said he’s willing to pitch in any role over the long run, though after originally being reluctant about the transition from rotation to bullpen, he’s now embraced the mindset of a late-inning reliever and enjoys the challenge. Through 33 2/3 innings this season, Norris has pitched to a 3.21 ERA with even better supporting metrics — 11.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9, 1.07 HR/9, 2.65 FIP, 2.41 xFIP. He’s playing on a one-year, $3MM deal with the Cards, though he’s certainly well on his way to earning a raise.

    More from the division…

    • The Pirates announced this morning that left-hander Nik Turley has been reinstated after the completion of his 80-game PED suspension. He was, however, immediately placed on the 60-day disabled list to a left elbow strain. No further context or timeline was given in the team’s brief press release. It’s not clear at all, then, whether Turley will ever even suit up for the Pirates. Pittsburgh claimed the 28-year-old off waivers from the Twins over the offseason, but if he doesn’t end up pitching for the team this season, it’s hard to envision him keeping a 40-man roster spot in the coming offseason. Turley was hit hard in the Majors last year, allowing 22 runs in 17 2/3 innings, but he also posted an impressive 2.66 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings of work in Triple-A.
    • The Reds have played at nearly a .500 clip since Jim Riggleman took over the team in April, and while there’ll be speculation about the possibility of him keeping the job, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required) that the Reds “plan to conduct a wide search” at season’s end regardless of how the club finishes out the year. As Rosenthal notes, Riggleman joined the organization as the team’s Double-A manager in 2012 under then-GM Walt Jocketty, but current president of baseball operations Dick Williams may prefer to hire his own preferred choice rather than stick with a manager who was not initially his own hire.
    Pirates Release Johnny Hellweg To Pursue Opportunity In Japan https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-release-johnny-hellweg-japan-npb.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-release-johnny-hellweg-japan-npb.html#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2018 15:15:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125823 June 29: Hellweg has signed with the Hiroshima Carp, per an announcement from the club (link via the Japan Times). He’ll earn a $300K base salary and can increase that total via incentives.

    June 25: The Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate announced on Monday that right-hander Johnny Hellweg has been granted his release in order to pursue an opportunity to play in Japan. Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com first tweeted the news.

    Hellweg, 29, was once considered one of the Angels’ better prospects and was one traded to the Brewers alongside Jean Segura in the 2012 Zack Greinke blockbuster. Hellweg wasn’t able to establish himself with the Brewers, however, totaling just 30 2/3 innings with Milwaukee in 2013. Hellweg sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in 2014 that limited him to 20 innings that season, and he pitched just 60 2/3 innings in Triple-A in his final season with the Brewers organization in 2015.

    Since that time, Hellweg has pitched for the Padres and has had two stints with the New Jersey Jackals of the independent Can-Am Association as well. The 2018 season was his second in the Pirates organization, and he’d been throwing quite well in Triple-A, leading to the interest from overseas. In 27 innings, he’s posted a 1.33 ERA with 8.3 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9 with a superlative 68.1 percent ground-ball rate.

    Pirates Select Tanner Anderson, Place Sean Rodriguez On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-select-tanner-anderson-place-sean-rodriguez-on-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-select-tanner-anderson-place-sean-rodriguez-on-dl.html#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2018 21:50:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125983 The Pirates announced Wednesday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Tanner Anderson from Triple-A Indianapolis and placed infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez on the 10-day DL with a strained right quadriceps. Right-hander A.J. Schugel was moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

    [Related: Pittsburgh Pirates depth chart]

    Anderson, 25, was the Pirates’ 20th-round pick back in the 2015 draft. While he’s never been considered to be among the organization’s very best prospects, he’s steadily risen through the ranks and been a steadily above-average performer along the way. This season in Triple-A has been no exception, as he’s worked to a tidy 2.34 ERA through 34 2/3 innings of relief work.

    Anderson has never posted especially impressive strikeout numbers and is averaging just 6.2 whiffs per nine innings pitched in 2018. However, he’s long demonstrated outstanding control and has posted a ground-ball rate of at least 61.3 percent at each minor league stop. The Pirates shifted Anderson from the rotation to a relief role last season, and he’ll carry a gaudy 65.7 percent grounder rate with him to the Pittsburgh bullpen.

    As for Rodriguez, the 33-year-old has struggled immensely at the dish in each of the past two seasons. Signed by the Braves a two-year contract in November 2016, Rodriguez suffered a shoulder injury in a car accident later that offseason and wound up missing a significant chunk of the 2017 season. He was traded back to the Pirates last summer, but the early struggles he had in Atlanta carried over to his return trip to the Buccos. Over the past two seasons, Rodriguez is hitting .157/.273/.285 in 290 plate appearances.

    Kuhl Exits With Forearm Discomfort https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-kuhl-ervin-bundy-oday-guzman.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-kuhl-ervin-bundy-oday-guzman.html#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2018 03:11:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125927 The Pirates announced tonight that right-hander Chad Kuhl exited his start after four innings due to discomfort in his right forearm. Forearm discomfort can be ominous in and of itself, but Kuhl’s exit is made all the more concerning by the fact that he uncorked three wild pitches, walked a pair and threw just 40 of his 73 offerings on the evening for strikes. There’s been no word on Kuhl since the Bucs and Mets wrapped up tonight’s game, but if he requires a DL stint, the Pirates can turn to righty Nick Kingham once again. While he’s currently in the minors, Kingham has pitched well both in the Majors and in Triple-A so far this season.

    Pirates, No. 36 Pick Gunnar Hoglund Still Negotiating https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/amateur-notes-july-2-class-draft-indians-pirates-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/amateur-notes-july-2-class-draft-indians-pirates-royals.html#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2018 22:12:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125886
  • Over the coming weeks, of course, we could begin to see some situations develop that warrant closer attention. It seems there’s at least a bit of uncertainty between the Brewers and their top pick, Brice Turang. The same can be said with regard to a few other talented young players. Ethan Hankins, the No. 35 overall selection, is still in talks with the Indians, as GM Mike Chernoff says and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. But he also has an arrangement in place with Chipola College’s JuCo baseball program that would enable him to play a year and then re-enter next year’s draft, Doug Freeman of Prep Baseball Report tweets. Similarly, Pirates draftee Gunnar Hoglund — who went one pick after Hankins — has begun attending summer school orientation at Ole Miss, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
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    Pirates Notes: Taillon, McCutchen https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-os-machado-dodgers-tribe-marlins-herrera-taillon.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/heymans-latest-os-machado-dodgers-tribe-marlins-herrera-taillon.html#comments Sun, 24 Jun 2018 23:37:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125775
  • The Pirates had some discussions with Andrew McCutchen about a longer-term extension following the outfielder’s MVP season in 2013.  At the time, McCutchen was just two years into what ended up being (thanks to a club option) a seven-year, $65.25MM deal with the Bucs.  According to Heyman, McCutchen had some regret about signing that deal, which kept him from hitting the open market after the 2015 season and ended up being an enormous bargain for Pittsburgh.  Further extension talks didn’t go far, however, as McCutchen and his team made mention of Joey Votto’s ten-year, $225MM deal with the Reds as a potential comparable.

    • There is “no chance” that the Pirates would trade Jameson Taillon, a source tells Heyman.  Pittsburgh could yet decide to move some veterans at the deadline but Taillon seems untouchable, given his good season and four remaining years of team control.
    • The Pirates had some discussions with Andrew McCutchen about a longer-term extension following the outfielder’s MVP season in 2013.  At the time, McCutchen was just two years into what ended up being (thanks to a club option) a seven-year, $65.25MM deal with the Bucs.  According to Heyman, McCutchen had some regret about signing that deal, which kept him from hitting the open market after the 2015 season and ended up being an enormous bargain for Pittsburgh.  Further extension talks didn’t go far, however, as McCutchen and his team made mention of Joey Votto’s ten-year, $225MM deal with the Reds as a potential comparable.
    Pirates Place Michael Feliz On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-darvish-shaw-as-brewers-bucs.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-darvish-shaw-as-brewers-bucs.html#comments Sun, 24 Jun 2018 18:33:37 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125714
  • The Pirates have sent reliever Michael Feliz to the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation and recalled righty Clay Holmes from Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced. The hard-throwing Feliz has endured a rough season in his first year with the Pirates, who acquired him from Astros as part of the teams’ Gerrit Cole trade over the winter. Feliz ranks second among Pirates relievers in innings pitched (32 2/3) and has struck out 10.74 hitters per nine, but a high walk rate (4.41 BB/9) and a low grounder percentage (30.7) have helped lead to a 5.51 ERA.
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    2018 Amateur Signings: 6/22/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/2018-amateur-signings-62218.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/2018-amateur-signings-62218.html#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2018 05:48:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125604 Let’s round up Friday’s draft deals of note. As always, the rankings referenced come courtesy of FangraphsMLB.comBaseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law; Fangraphs and MLB.com scouting reports are available to the public free of charge, while the others require subscriptions.

    • The Pirates have a deal with second-rounder Braxton Ashcraft, MLB.com’s Jim Callis tweets. Aschcraft’s $1,825,000 bonus comes in well over the slot value for the 51st overall selection ($1,382,400). The Baseball America (#58) and MLB.com (#64) analysts were highest on the reputedly athletic hurler, who’s regarded more for his projectability than his present ability on the mound. He’ll forego a commitment to Baylor to join the Bucs, who have inked most of their top picks but are still trying to work things out with sandwich round selection Gunnar Hoglund.
    • Astros second-rounder Jayson Schroeder also lands over slot, Callis tweets. Like Ashcraft, Schroeder is a high-school righty who still needs polish but has shown promising tools. He’ll take home a $1.25MM bonus after being taken 66th overall, a choice that carried a $965,300 allocation. Schroeder had been slated to attend the University of Washington.
    • The Brewers announced their deal with second-round choice Joe Gray, with Callis again tweeting the dollars. Gray lands right at the $1,113,500 allocation for the 60th selection. He’s another toolsy player who’ll forego a collegiate commitment, but in his case he’s an outfielder who has decided against a run at the University of Mississippi. A quality defender with power, Gray is seen as possessing significant upside — if his hitting ability can catch up to his other talents. Notably, the Brewers have yet to ink first-rounder Brice Turang. And amateur scouting director Tod Johnson suggested today that a deal is not inevitable, telling Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter link): “Obviously he and his family have to make a decision as to whether he wants to get on the field and start playing professionally, or go down to LSU and go that route.”
    Pirates Place Francisco Cervelli On 7-Day Concussion DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-place-francisco-cervelli-on-7-day-concussion-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-place-francisco-cervelli-on-7-day-concussion-dl.html#comments Sat, 23 Jun 2018 00:02:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125592 The Pirates announced just before today’s game that they placed catcher Francisco Cervelli on the 7-day concussion DL. Fellow backstop Jacob Stallings has been recalled to take his place on the active roster.

    That’s unwelcome news for the Bucs, who say that Cervelli alerted the organization to symptoms last night, per MLB.com’s Adam Berry (via Twitter). At this point, the prognosis is unknown.

    It is hard to overstate Cervelli’s importance to a Pirates club that is trying to hang in a tough NL Central race. He has been not only one of the team’s best players, but one of the very most productive receivers in all of baseball. In just 218 plate appearances, Cervelli has already set a career-high with nine home runs and carries a .257/.390/.486 slash with a healthy 14.2% walk rate.

    If the Pirates can’t stay close enough to a postseason berth, of course, some summer trade movement is likely. In that event, Cervelli could be a major possible trade asset — if, that is, the 32-year-old is at full health.

    Under the three-year, $31MM extension Cervelli signed early in the 2016 season, he’s owed $10.5MM this season and $11.5MM for 2019. Those contract rights could hold appeal for contenders, but the injury questions have certainly mounted in recent seasons.

    The veteran backstop missed significant time in 2017, ending the season on the DL owing to a quad injury. Earlier in the year, he twice spent time on the concussion DL. Unfortunately, today’s news represents a continuation of a rather extensive history of head injuries for Cervelli.

    Neal Huntington Discusses Jung Ho Kang https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/central-notes-tigers-castellanos-fulmer-cards-kang.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/central-notes-tigers-castellanos-fulmer-cards-kang.html#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 02:11:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125244
  • The Pirates reinstated infielder Jung Ho Kang from the restricted list and optioned him to Triple-A on Friday. General manager Neal Huntington spoke about Kang on Sunday (via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review), saying “we need to see quality plate appearances” in the minors and “we need to see him doing the things he did before to show us he can be major league ready again.” If that happens, the Pirates will be happy to welcome Kang back, Huntington suggested. “We would love to have a healthy and productive Jung Ho Kang back on this major league team,” he said, “because if that player comes back, he’s going to help us win games.” Kang did indeed help Pittsburgh win games from 2015-16, but he then earned his third DUI in his native South Korea prior to the 2017 season and hasn’t played in the majors since.
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    Pirates Notes: Deadline, Rotation, Middle Infield, Bullpen https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-notes-deadline-rotation-middle-infield-bullpen.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-notes-deadline-rotation-middle-infield-bullpen.html#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 00:16:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125241 The Pirates have fallen to earth since a solid start and now sit a game below .500 (35-36), but general manager Neal Huntington told reporters before Sunday’s loss to the Reds that he still has a buyer’s mindset as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. “We’ve had more conversations about adding players at this point in time than we’ve had about subtracting players,” Huntington said (via Adam Berry of MLB.com), adding that “our intent is to continue to give this club every chance in the world to show us that we can continue to do the things that we did the first six weeks, eight weeks to put ourselves nine games over and that we can dig out of this hole that we’ve dug ourselves over this tough stretch of 30 days.” The Pirates are sitting in fourth place in a tough NL Central, seven games behind first-place Milwaukee, but they’re only 3 1/2 out of a wild-card spot. With several playoff-contending teams on their schedule in the next several weeks, the Bucs will have an opportunity to make up ground on their competitors and end up as buyers. But if the Pirates drop out of the hunt pre-deadline, they could ultimately market some of their shorter-term players, as Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported this week.

    More from Pittsburgh…

    • Right-hander Trevor Williams has scuffled of late, as he recorded a 5.51 ERA in May and then allowed seven earned runs in six innings in his only June start thus far. Nevertheless, there aren’t any plans to pull him from Pittsburgh’s rotation and replace him with impressive rookie Nick Kingham, who’s currently in the minors, Huntington said (via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “Our focus with Trevor right now is to get that secondary stuff back to being effective, to get the four- and the two-seam fastball command back to being effective, and [we] believe that we’re going to be able to do that and work from there,” stated Huntington, who noted it’s unfortunate for Kingham that “we’ve got six guys that we believe can help us win major league games as starting pitchers right now.” In Huntington’s estimation, that group includes the 26-year-old Williams, who, to his credit, has been a respectable starter since debuting in 2016. Williams has combined for 216 innings of 4.15 ERA ball and posted 6.6 K/9 against 2.95 BB/9 in 40 starts.
    • The Pirates are considering promoting middle infield prospects Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer, but call-ups don’t seem imminent, Brink suggests. Starting middle infielders Josh Harrison (second base) and Jordy Mercer (shortstop) have been reasonably effective, and Huntington expressed confidence in reserve Sean Rodriguez, even though he has hit just .159/.286/299 in 126 plate appearances. Playing time would be hard to come by for the prospects, then, and the Pirates don’t want to promote them unless they’re going to see regular action. Both Newman, MLB.com’s seventh-ranked Pirates prospect, and Kramer (No. 8) have logged above-average production at the Triple-A level this season. Neither Newman nor Kramer is on the Bucs’ already full 40-man roster, though, which stands as another roadblock in the way of the “Seinfeld” tandem.
    • More from Brink, who writes that Huntington took some of the blame Sunday for the woes of Pittsburgh’s bullpen. “The general manager didn’t give the manager a legitimate eighth-inning guy or seventh-inning guy, speaking in conventional terms,” said Huntington, whose team entered Sunday tied for 25th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.56). As Brink points out, the Pirates’ season-opening plan to have Michael Feliz and George Kontos set up closer Felipe Vazquez didn’t work. Feliz, whom the Bucs acquired over the winter from Houston as part of the teams’ Gerrit Cole trade, has registered a 6.18 ERA over 27 2/3 innings. And Kontos managed a subpar 5.03 mark in 19 2/3 frames before the Pirates released him last month.
    Pirates Reinstate Jung Ho Kang, Option Him To Triple-A https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-reinstate-jung-ho-kang-option-him-to-triple-a.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-reinstate-jung-ho-kang-option-him-to-triple-a.html#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2018 19:05:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125040 The Pirates announced Friday that they’ve reinstated infielder Jung Ho Kang from the restricted list and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis. While he won’t be with the big league club for the time being, Kang is now back on the 40-man roster (which is full) and will once again begin earning the pro-rated portion of this year’s $3MM salary. Through season’s end, that will afford him approximately $1.73MM.

    Kang, 31, didn’t play in the Majors last year or for the first two and a half months of the 2018 season due to legal troubles in his native South Korea. The former Nexen Heroes star was arrested and charged with his third DUI during the 2016-17 offseason, which left him unable to secure a work visa and forced him to miss the entire 2017 season. He secured a visa to return to the Majors last month and has been on the Pirates’ restricted list while working out at their Spring Training facility and, eventually, playing games at the minor league level.

    Kang performed terribly in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, to the point where he was released by his club, but he looked better in a seven-game stint with Class-A Advanced Bradenton upon returning to the Pirates organization. Kang hit .417/.531/.875 with three homers in 32 plate appearances against High-A pitching before going 1-for-15 in a four-game stretch at Indianapolis prior to his reinstatement. He’ll continue trying to round into form there, hoping for an eventual return to Pittsburgh.

    That, of course, is hardly a given. GM Neal Huntington suggested in an April radio appearance that this Kang’s last chance with the organization. He’ll likely need to produce at the Triple-A level before he’s even considered an option, though for all of his considerable off-field issues, a healthy Kang would admittedly give the Pirates a potent bat to plug back into their lineup. In his first two seasons at the big league level (2015-16), Kang batted .273/.355/.483 with 36 homers in 837 plate appearances.

    Pirates Agree To Terms With First-Rounder Travis Swaggerty https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-travis-swaggerty.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-travis-swaggerty.html#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2018 15:30:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125029 The Pirates are in agreement with first-round pick Travis Swaggerty, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (via Twitter). The former University of South Alabama center fielder’s deal, which is still pending a physical, will promise him a $4.4MM signing bonus. That checks in a bit shy of the No. 10 overall slot’s value of $4,560,200.

    Swaggerty, 20, was one of the more well-rounded bats in the draft. His junior season with the Jaguars saw him bat .296/.455/.526 with 13 homers, 10 doubles and nine steals (14 attempts) over the course of 57 games and 277 plate appearances. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs ranked Swaggerty fourth in the draft class, as did ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required). Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com rated Swaggerty 11th among draft-eligible prospects, as did the team over at Baseball America (subscription link).

    Swaggerty draws average or better ratings for each of his tools, with his current calling card coming in the form of plus speed and defense in center field. He drew plenty of walks this season, and most scouting reports agree that he’s added some strength and lift to his swing, giving him solid power potential as well. MLB.com’s report suggested Brett Gardner as a loose comparison, noting that Swaggerty has more power and less speed than Gardner had at this point in his career. Fangraphs’ report notes that he has some mechanical issues in his swing that prevented him from performing at a level that’s more commensurate with his tantalizing set of tools, so the Pirates will work to further hone his approach at the plate as he transitions into pro ball.

    Latest On Pirates’ Deadline Planning https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-expected-to-sell-veteran-players-at-deadline-trade-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/pirates-expected-to-sell-veteran-players-at-deadline-trade-rumors.html#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2018 01:54:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125011 The Pirates appear to be preparing to deal away some veteran assets this summer, according to reporting from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. While the Bucs have obviously not yet committed to a path, Morosi tweets that the organization is “likely” to offer up some of its shorter-term players at the trade deadline.

    It’s not surprising to hear that the Pittsburgh organization has begun to think about selling this summer. After a strong opening run, the club has faded fast and now sits two games under .500 and eight games back in a tough NL Central division. With three quality teams stacked ahead in the standings, it’s a bit difficult to see the Pirates staying in the hunt all season long.

    Under the circumstances, says Morosi, the club plans to open the door to trades barring a sudden reversal of fortunes. Given the caveats sprinkled through the report, it’s clearly too soon to declare the Pirates a deadline “seller.” But the trend lines are all pointing in that direction, as Fangraphs’ playoff odds tracker illustrates.

    We held off on including any Bucs players in our recent ranking of the top fifty trade deadline candidates. As we noted there, however, the club has a solid list of assets that it could put on the market. It’s worth checking through some of the top names to consider here, as some will likely appear on the next iteration of our top-fifty list.

    There aren’t many pure rental pieces. Shortstop Jordy Mercer would be an appealing infield addition for the right contending team. Sean Rodriguez has struggled but could still turn himself into an asset given his versatility. Though his deal includes an option for 2019, corner infielder David Freese will mostly be viewed as a rental piece and could draw some interest as an experienced bench bat.

    The Bucs are much more interesting when you expand the search to players that are under contract for future seasons. Veteran backstop Francisco Cervelli, a respected defender who is on fire with the bat, would make for an interesting entrant onto the trade market. He’s under contract for 2019, which increases his appeal but also his value to Pittsburgh. Similarly, righty Ivan Nova has another year to go on his deal. He isn’t thriving in the results department, but his peripherals remain quite strong and he’d be a nice addition for a team looking to add good innings to a rotation. Utilityman Josh Harrison remains a quality, versatile player who’d fit just about anywhere. His remaining two years of contract control aren’t cheap, but they come via option. And Corey Dickerson could still be of interest with another arb season left, though he has cooled of late.

    There are yet more controllable pieces worth considering, too. While the Pirates would surely be hesitant to blow up their core, they’ll surely also listen if the market comes to them. Closer Felipe Vazquez is playing under an amply affordable extension, while Jameson Taillon continues to be a quality rotation piece. In both cases, the Pittsburgh front office will no doubt hold out for exceedingly high returns, if they’re really all that willing to talk at all. The same would hold true of star outfielder Starling Marte or other controllable position players, in all likelihood.

    For the time being, then, it’s all guesswork as to which of those players might turn up in another uniform. Any chatter on deadline moves is surely still in the preliminary stages, if it’s really even taking place at all for a team that is still straddling the fence with ten weeks of the season in the books.

    Pirates Notes: Nova, Kingham, Frazier, Kang https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-notes-darvish-pirates-marlins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-notes-darvish-pirates-marlins.html#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2018 19:38:11 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124665
  • More on the Pirates, who promoted veteran infielder Jung Ho Kang from Single-A to Triple-A on Sunday, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. It’s an important development for Kang, who was a quality regular with the Bucs from 2015-16 but hasn’t played in the majors since then because of off-field problems. Kang racked up his his third DUI in his homeland of South Korea during the 2016-17 offseason, and he’s still on the restricted list as a result. Unsurprisingly, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in April that Kang is likely down to “his last chance with us.”
    • The Pirates activated righty Ivan Nova from the disabled list and optioned fellow righty Nick Kingham to Triple-A prior to Sunday’s game. Nova returned after a finger injury shelved him for two weeks. His presence is unfortunate for Kingham, who continued his strong rookie season Saturday with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a loss to the Cubs. Overall, the 26-year-old Kingham has pitched to a 3.82 ERA with 35 strikeouts against seven walks in 35 1/3 innings (six starts).
    • Additionally, the Pirates optioned utility player Adam Frazier to make room for the addition of catcher Jacob Stallings from Triple-A. It’s a somewhat surprising demotion for Frazier, who offered league-average offensive production (.283/.347/.402) over 614 plate appearances from 2016-17 while seeing action at several positions. Frazier’s defensive versatility has continued this year, as he has lined up at second base and all three outfield spots, but his batting line has fallen to .237/.318/.356 in 152 PAs.
    • More on the Pirates, who promoted veteran infielder Jung Ho Kang from Single-A to Triple-A on Sunday, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. It’s an important development for Kang, who was a quality regular with the Bucs from 2015-16 but hasn’t played in the majors since then because of off-field problems. Kang racked up his his third DUI in his homeland of South Korea during the 2016-17 offseason, and he’s still on the restricted list as a result. Unsurprisingly, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said in April that Kang is likely down to “his last chance with us.”
    Pirates Place Richard Rodriguez On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-injury-notes-acuna-cueto-thames-phils-bucs-rox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-injury-notes-acuna-cueto-thames-phils-bucs-rox.html#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2018 19:14:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124533
  • The Pirates have sent righty reliever Richard Rodriguez to the DL with shoulder inflammation, Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. The club recalled righty Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A in a corresponding move. Pittsburgh doesn’t expect Rodriguez to miss a significant amount of time, but even a short-term absence could hurt. The 28-year-old rookie has burst on the scene with a 2.38 ERA and 13.1 K/9 against 1.19 BB/9 in 22 2/3 innings this season.
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    Ivan Nova Progressing Toward Return https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-notes-nova-hellickson-murphy-kemp.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/nl-notes-nova-hellickson-murphy-kemp.html#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2018 15:23:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124275 Pirates righty Ivan Nova seems reasonably close to a return, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He received good reports after throwing a pair of simulated innings, suggesting that his sprained ring finger won’t keep him out very long. Obviously the club will wait to see how he responds before moving things forward, but it seems reasonable to think that Nova could make it back in relatively short order given that he last pitched on May 24th. The Bucs would certainly like not only for Nova to return, but also for him to turn things around on the bump. He carries a 4.96 ERA through 61 2/3 frames, though his peripherals have been in his typical range and suggest he has been a bit unfortunate.

    Jung Ho Kang To Begin Playing In Minor League Games https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/jung-ho-kang-to-begin-playing-in-minor-league-games.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/jung-ho-kang-to-begin-playing-in-minor-league-games.html#comments Thu, 31 May 2018 16:01:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123704 The Pirates are set to send Jung Ho Kang out on a minor league assignment as he builds up for an eventual return to their big league roster, tweets Adam Berry of MLB.com. Kang will initially be assigned to Class-A Advanced Bradenton.

    Kang is currently on the restricted list after missing the 2017 season and the entirety of the 2018 season, to date, after being charged with his third DUI in his native South Korea in the 2016-17 offseason. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote earlier this month that Kang can remain there until he’s deemed ready to rejoin the big league roster, so Kang won’t be paid or accumulate any MLB service time until he’s actually ready to return to the Major League roster.

    That outcome, of course, doesn’t appear to be a given. Kang played poorly in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, hitting just .143/.219/.202 with 31 strikeouts in 96 plate appearances before being cut loose by his club. The Pirates aren’t under any obligation to actually bring Kang back to the roster if his performance doesn’t merit that promotion, and GM Neal Huntington suggested in a radio appearance late last month that this Kang’s last chance with the organization.

    The 29-26 Pirates are currently six games out of first place behind the surging Brewers in the NL Central but just two games back of a Wild Card spot, so it seems they’ll look to see whether Kang is capable of returning to the form he showed in 2015-16 when he hit .273/.355/.483 with 36 homers in 837 plate appearances. He’ll earn the pro-rated portion of this season’s $3MM salary for any time spent on the team’s active roster, though Huntington’s comments from April cast some doubt as to whether the organization would consider exercising next year’s $5.5MM option, barring a highly productive finish to the 2018 season.

    Felipe Vazquez Dodges Major Injury https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-donaldson-nats-f-vazquez-reddick-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-donaldson-nats-f-vazquez-reddick-royals.html#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 20:14:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123475
  • There was fear on Sunday that Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez suffered a serious forearm injury, but it seems he dodged a significant blow. Vazquez told Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other reporters Monday that he’s doing fine, adding that he expects to be available again Tuesday. “I felt like a little pop, but it was not — it looked worse than it really happened,” he said.
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    Pirates Place George Kontos On Release Waivers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-designate-george-kontos.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-designate-george-kontos.html#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 17:55:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123233 MAY 28: The Pirates have placed Kontos on unconditional release waivers, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette tweets.

    MAY 25: The Pirates have designated righty George Kontos for assignment, the club announced. His roster spot was needed for the activation of fellow right-hander Joe Musgrove from the DL.

    Kontos, 32, had turned in a nice showing last year upon arriving in mid-season, and has generally produced excellent earned-run averages in the majors. But his peripherals have rarely matched his bottom-line numbers and the veteran had struggled quite a bit to open the 2018 season.

    Through 19 2/3 innings in the present campaign, Kontos carries a 5.03 ERA with just 4.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. He had shown a breakout ability to generate whiffs last year with a 16.4% swinging-strike rate, but he’s sitting at just 8.5% in 2018.

    Poll: Which Surprise Team Has Best Shot At Playoff Berth? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/poll-which-surprise-team-has-best-shot-at-playoff-berth.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/poll-which-surprise-team-has-best-shot-at-playoff-berth.html#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 15:55:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123461 As the 2018 MLB season nears the one-third mark, the playoff races in each league are beginning to take shape. While it’s no surprise that the majority of the sport’s so-called super teams have lived up to the billing thus far, several unexpected contenders may be emerging to challenge for postseason berths. None of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates were popular playoff picks entering the campaign, but all are in contention at this point, and a few of those teams even possess elite records.

    The most successful of those clubs has been Seattle, which is one of just five teams with a winning percentage above .600. The Mariners have raced to a 32-20 mark (.615), the fourth-best record in the American League, even though they’ve had to go without superstar second baseman Robinson Cano for two weeks and won’t get him back in the near future. Cano suffered a fractured right hand in mid-May, but the 80-game suspension he incurred almost immediately after that injury is the more costly blow because it’ll render him ineligible for the playoffs – if the Mariners qualify, that is.

    A postseason berth for Seattle would be its first since 2001, thus snapping the longest playoff drought in American sports. There’s clearly plenty of work for that to happen, particularly for a team that hasn’t been spectacular statistically and possesses a less shiny 27-25 Pythagorean record. But the Mariners’ actual record right now is so impressive that they won’t need to be great from here on out to remain firmly in the mix throughout the regular season. FanGraphs is projecting a mediocre 56-54 win-loss total over the Mariners’ final 110 games, but even in that scenario, they’d finish with 88 victories – three more than Minnesota amassed in 2017 en route to an AL wild-card berth.

    The wild card is likely the M’s only path to the playoffs, as even though they’re just one game out of the AL West race, there’s little question the reigning World Series champion Astros will pull away with the division. Given the talent in the AL, a wild-card spot will be tough to come by for the Mariners, but general manager Jerry Dipoto seemingly increased his team’s odds last week when he acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays. The Mariners already owned one of baseball’s best bullpens without Colome, and his presence should make Seattle an even harder out in close games. At 15-8, the Mariners have been one of the majors’ top teams in one-run contests this season.

    Staying in the AL West, Oakland has perhaps exceeded expectations at 28-25, though it has scored fewer runs than it has allowed (234 to 237). Still, despite its underwhelming Pythagorean mark (26-27), FanGraphs is projecting an above-.500 final record for Oakland (82-80) – which would be its first such season since 2014 and could keep it in the discussion into September. However, with the Yankees or Red Sox (whichever team doesn’t win the AL East), Angels and Mariners among the teams fighting for two wild-card positions, a playoff position looks a bit unrealistic for the A’s.

    Over in the National League, both the Braves (30-21) and Phillies (29-21) have gone from serving as longtime NL East doormats to looking like two of the premier teams in the game. Milwaukee, arguably a surprise team but one that did garner some preseason hype after winning 86 games in 2017, is the lone NL club with a superior record to Atlanta and Philadelphia. And only the Cubs have a better run differential than the Braves, who have outscored their opponents by 60 (261 to 201).

    The Braves’ arduous, years-long rebuild is clearly paying dividends now, as a host of players under the age of 25 – including Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna (who’s now on the DL), Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara and A.J. Minter – have been among their driving forces this year. With that group joining a few slightly older, already established players (superstar Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz, to name a few), Atlanta looks as if it’s going to be around for a long time. And it might be ready now to return to the playoffs, where it hasn’t been since 2013, though the NL East is going to be a dogfight with both the Phillies and favored Nationals (29-22) right behind the Braves.

    As for those Phillies, they own an even longer playoff drought than the Braves (six years), but that streak doesn’t look as if it’ll last much longer. Like Atlanta, Philadelphia went through a few years of suffering while simultaneously managing to stockpile young talent (Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Scott Kingery) that has either already established itself in the majors or is in the midst of doing so. Philly’s also a sleeping giant in terms of payroll, a club capable of spending alongside other big-money juggernauts, and it’ll put that advantage to use in the coming years. It already started last winter with the expensive free-agent signings of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, two additions which have paid off so far (Santana did endure a poor April, but he’s gotten off the mat this month).

    As with the Braves, the Phillies should be around for a while, and a playoff spot this year certainly isn’t out of the question. Although, despite their tremendous starts, FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with 82 wins and extend their playoff droughts.

    Baseball’s other Pennsylvania-based team, the low-payroll Pirates, lost the battle for public opinion over the winter when they traded two veteran cornerstones (Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole) for younger players and didn’t sign any free agents to major league contracts. Some Pirates fans even called for owner Bob Nutting to sell the team in the wake of those deals, but he didn’t oblige.

    Now, the Pirates are a solid 28-24 (plus-22 run) and have gotten there with some help from Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove, two players acquired in the Cole package. Fellow offseason acquisition Corey Dickerson – whom general manager Neal Huntington stole from the Rays in another trade – has been even better, while veteran holdovers Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli are also amid excellent seasons. Pittsburgh may be able to hang in the race all year, then, for the first time since 2015 – its most recent playoff berth. It’s going to be an extremely tall task to actually return to the postseason, though, with six NL teams – including the division-rival Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings and several more breathing down its neck.

    Every year in baseball, surprise teams emerge to upset the preseason apple cart. Just as the Twins, Diamondbacks and Rockies crashed the playoff party last year, at least one of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates could do it in 2018. The question is: Which team has the best chance to play into the fall?

    (poll link for app users)

    Felipe Vazquez Feeling Forearm Soreness https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-vazquez-darvish-cordero-renfroe-flores.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-vazquez-darvish-cordero-renfroe-flores.html#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 00:53:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123433 Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez felt soreness in his left forearm during the last two pitches of his appearance today against the Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Elizabeth Bloom reported.  The southpaw didn’t speak to the media himself after the game, though Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk confirmed that Vazquez was receiving treatment.  It’s too early to gauge the seriousness of the problem, though obviously any sort of forearm issue is of great concern, particularly for a pitcher who throws as hard as Vazquez.  His fastball has dropped in velocity this season (96.8 mph as opposed to 98.5 mph in 2017), though this year’s total is closer to his career average, so it could be that 2017 proves to be something of an outlier, or perhaps it’s still too early in the 2018 campaign to make conclusions.  Vazquez has a 3.54 ERA and 9.74 K/9 through 20 1/3 frames for the Bucs this year, with an increased walk rate and a decreased swinging-strike and grounder rate from his outstanding 2017 season.  On the flip side, Vazquez has also yet to allow a home run this year, and he has had some bad luck the form of a .333 BABIP and only a 65.5% strand rate.

    Vazquez’s breakout 2017 earned him a four-year, $22MM extension from the Pirates in the offseason, locking him up as a building block on the Pittsburgh roster.  Losing Vazquez for any amount of time would be a significant blow to a Pirates team that has surpassed expectations by staying competitive in the NL Central and in the wild card race.  Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana are likely the top candidates to take over as closer if Vazquez did have to hit the DL; it’s possible that the Bucs could target ninth-inning help at the deadline if they stayed in the race, though payroll would certainly play an issue in any acquisition.

    Clint Hurdle Discusses Decision To Keep Austin Meadows In Majors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-meadows-reds-cards-miggy.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-meadows-reds-cards-miggy.html#comments Sun, 27 May 2018 01:01:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123326 When the Pirates promoted outfield prospect Austin Meadows on May 18, the plan was for him to quickly return to the minors, manager Clint Hurdle told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other reporters Saturday. However, Meadows’ “performance was eye-catching,” according to Hurdle, which convinced the team to keep him around when it activated fellow outfielder Starling Marte from the disabled list Saturday. With Marte, Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson, the Pirates now have their starting outfield intact again, but Hurdle still sees enough opportunities for the 23-year-old Meadows to justify keeping him in the majors. “We need to continue to monitor [Corey] Dickerson’s on-field innings,” Hurdle said. “Marte’s bouncing back, we’re going to be smart with, and Polanco. So I think between the four of them, and a true fourth outfielder, we’ll be able to have the opportunity to get everybody playing time.” Meadows was out of the lineup for the Bucs’ game on Saturday, but he did collect a pinch-hit appearance. He didn’t reach base in that at-bat, dropping his line to a still-stellar .433/.433/.867 over his first 29 major league trips to the plate.

    Ivan Nova Could Go On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/nl-injury-notes-kershaw-bucs-panik-mets.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/nl-injury-notes-kershaw-bucs-panik-mets.html#comments Sat, 26 May 2018 23:22:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123308
  • Pirates starter Ivan Nova has a strained ligament in his right index finger and may be headed to the DL, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweets. To prepare for Nova’s potential absence, the Pirates had their Triple-A affiliate pull righty Nick Kingham from his start after just one inning on Friday, per Mason Wittner of MLB.com. The 26-year-old Kingham made the first three big league starts of his career earlier this season and held his own, with a a 3.44 ERA/2.56 FIP and outstanding strikeout and walk rates (10.31 K/9, .98 BB/9) across 18 1/3 innings. While Nova hasn’t been nearly as effective as Kingham, he has logged playable numbers over 11 starts and 61 1/3 frames (4.96 ERA/4.28 FIP, 6.86 K/9, 1.46 BB/9 and a 50.7 percent groundball rate).
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    Pirates Activate Starling Marte, Option Jose Osuna https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-activate-starling-marte-option-jose-osuna.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-activate-starling-marte-option-jose-osuna.html#comments Sat, 26 May 2018 16:55:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123285 After reporting earlier today that Starling Marte could be activated from the DL if he felt good upon arrival to PNC Park, Adam Berry of MLB.com tweets that Marte has indeed been reinstated, with the Pirates optioning first base/outfield type Jose Osuna to the minors.

    The quick DL stint for Marte is obviously best-case scenario for the Pirates, who must have been concerned at first considering the dubious nature of oblique injuries in general. Marte’s kicked off the 2018 season with a bang, hitting .308/.366/.503 with six homers and ten steals, so his return to the lineup is excellent news for Pittsburgh, who’ve been a .500 team in his absence.

    The more interesting implication of this transaction is that outfield prospect Austin Meadows survived the roster crunch. Meadows was promoted to the big leagues for the first time ever following Marte’s placement on the disabled list, despite hitting a tepid .294/.336/.397 in Triple-A this season. His performance in the majors, however, has earned him a longer look: Meadows has homered three times and struck out just twice while hitting .448 in his 29 MLB plate appearances.

    Injury Notes: Gomez, Sanchez, Marte, Bird, Prado https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-gomez-sanchez-marte-bird-prado.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-gomez-sanchez-marte-bird-prado.html#comments Sat, 26 May 2018 16:35:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123283 Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez has been activated from the 10-day disabled list; he’d been sidelined since May 16th with a strained groin. The injury was thought to be minor at the time, and the fact that Gomez missed only the ten-day minimum leaves little room to doubt his health at this time. That doesn’t mean his performance comes without questions, though, as the veteran is slashing just .200/.252/.345 on the season. No corresponding move was required for Tampa Bay, as their roster was two men short following yesterday’s surprising trade with Seattle.

    And now a flurry of other injury-related items from around the league…

    • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that Anibal Sanchez could be the Braves’ starter on Tuesday following a successful rehab start on Friday. Mark Bowman of MLB.com takes it a step further by quoting manager Brian Snitker, who reportedly said that Sanchez is indeed penciled in to start Tuesday’s game. Sanchez has a 1.29 ERA in three appearances (two starts) on the season.
    • Adam Berry of MLB.com writes that Starling Marte will be activated from the DL by the Pirates today if he reports to the ballpark feeling ready to play. It’d be a remarkably quick return for the 29-year-old outfielder, who has been sidelined with an oblique injury. Injuries of that type have a reputation for lingering and causing players to miss extended time. One has to wonder what Marte’s potential activation would mean for the red-hot Austin Meadows, who’s managed more homers in the big leagues thus far (3) than strikeouts (2).
    • The Yankees have reinstated first baseman Greg Bird from the disabled list, optioning infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Marc Carig of The Athletic notes that the move makes plenty of sense considering the versatility of Gleyber Torres and the fact that a removal of Neil Walker from the roster isn’t reversible. Bird entered the season with plenty of hype surrounding him, but has yet to make his 2018 debut thanks to right foot surgery.
    • In a move that was widely expected, the Marlins placed Martin Prado (hamstring) on the 10-day DL today, recalling J.T. Riddle from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. It’s the latest in an unfortunate series of injuries for the formerly-durable Prado, who made only 147 trips to the plate last year following eight straight seasons with at least 500 PA.
    Quick Hits: Colon, Bibens-Dirkx, Odor, Rangers, Anthopoulos, Bae https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/quick-hits-colon-bibens-dirkx-odor-rangers-anthopoulos-bae.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/quick-hits-colon-bibens-dirkx-odor-rangers-anthopoulos-bae.html#comments Sat, 26 May 2018 14:22:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123274 Timeless right-hander Bartolo Colon celebrated his 45th birthday this week, so he’ll soon become just the 18th player in major league history to pitch in the majors beyond that benchmark. Colon is also the oldest to hurl a pitch since Jamie Moyer back in 2012. Value metrics are divided on his effectiveness so far this season; Baseball Reference pegs his contributions at 1.6 WAR, while Fangraphs believes his 2018 production to be exactly replacement level. In any case, it would have been difficult at season’s outset to imagine Colon exceeding his current results. A 3.51 ERA and 7.20 K/BB ratio are welcome numbers to a Rangers rotation that sports the sixth-highest combined ERA in major-league baseball.

    It’ll be fun to see just how long Colon can keep up this pace. But in the meantime, here are some minor notes from last night…

    • In other Rangers news, Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram examines the job security of a pitcher and a position player in Arlington. Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched well on the whole in his last start (though he was a victim of some bad fielding behind him), Wilson notes that the club is more likely to give Matt Moore a longer look before ceding his spot in the rotation to Bibens-Dirkx. Meanwhile, Wilson notes that struggling second baseman Rougned Odor has two options remaining. With Jurickson Profar putting together quality at-bats of late, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa producing at a better clip than Odor, there’s a chance the club might consider letting the latter work out his issues in the minors.
    • In a subscription-only piece for The Athletic, Bill Shaikin examines the storyline of Alex Anthopoulos leaving the Dodgers organization to run a Braves club that’s currently leading the NL East. While Anthopoulos felt like he had “as good a job as there was in baseball” with the Dodgers, his reshaping of the Braves’ payroll has helped to set them up for success as they near the end of a lengthy rebuild. Trades of Jim Johnson, Matt Kemp and some international bonus pool money shipped to the Angels has set the stage for Atlanta to complement its young core through free agency and perhaps even the midseason trade market.
    • Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides an update on Pirates prospect Bae Ji-hwan via Twitter. Bae is reportedly on his way back to the United States after cooperating with police in South Korea on suspicion of a domestic violence incident. He’ll be allowed to participate in baseball activities pending the outcome of an investigation into said incident. Bae was one of a few players that the Braves reportedly offered “extra-contractual compensation” recently and were thus barred from signing in the last international signing period.
    Pirates Release Tyler Jones https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/minor-mlb-transactions-52218.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/minor-mlb-transactions-52218.html#comments Wed, 23 May 2018 01:23:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122964
  • The Pirates have released right-hander Tyler Jones, according to John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com. Jones, 28, has had some promising seasons in the upper minors, but hasn’t shown as well in the last two campaigns. Homers have been an issue for Jones thus far, as he has been tagged for a 5.40 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 over 16 2/3 innings with the Bucs’ top affiliate.
    • The Nationals signed outfielder Jaff Decker to a minors contract, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (via Twitter).  The 30-year-old has appeared in each of the last five MLB seasons, posting a .510 OPS over 191 career plate appearances with the Padres, Pirates, Rays, and A’s.  Decker signed a minor league deal with Atlanta over the winter but was released earlier this month.
    • The Pirates have released right-hander Tyler Jones, according to John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com. Jones, 28, has had some promising seasons in the upper minors, but hasn’t shown as well in the last two campaigns. Homers have been an issue for Jones thus far, as he has been tagged for a 5.40 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 over 16 2/3 innings with the Bucs’ top affiliate.
    A Look In At Felipe Vazquez's Start To The Season https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/nl-central-notes-krall-vazquez-andersonperalta-hicks-darvish.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/nl-central-notes-krall-vazquez-andersonperalta-hicks-darvish.html#comments Tue, 22 May 2018 13:41:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122962
  • Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at a few interesting subjects involving the Pirates. In particular, she dives into the question of fastball velocity in regard to closer Felipe Vazquez, whose slight loss of speed does not seem to represent much cause for concern — particularly since he has actually increased the spin rate on the offering. Though Vazquez only carries a 3.86 ERA on the year, it’s worth noting too that he has been hurt by a 58.3% strand rate. That said, while Vazquez is still getting loads of swinging strikes, his walk rate has gone backwards and he isn’t getting as many grounders as he has in years past. At this point, he hasn’t shown quite the level of dominance he did in 2017, but there’s not yet any reason to believe he won’t be a quality late-inning arm for the foreseeable future.
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    Pirates To Activate Josh Harrison On Sunday https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-cardinals-brewers-bucs-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-cardinals-brewers-bucs-royals.html#comments Sun, 20 May 2018 02:34:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122746
  • The Pirates plan to activate second baseman Josh Harrison from the disabled list Sunday, manager Clint Hurdle told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other reporters Saturday. Harrison has been out since mid-April with a fractured left hand, and fellow second base options Sean Rodriguez, Max Moroff and Adam Frazier haven’t been particularly productive in his absence. The club optioned Moroff to Triple-A on Saturday.
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    Pirates Prospect Ji-hwan Bae Accused Of Domestic Violence https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-prospect-ji-hwan-bae-accused-of-domestic-violence.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-prospect-ji-hwan-bae-accused-of-domestic-violence.html#comments Sat, 19 May 2018 01:11:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122666 Pirates prospect Ji-hwan Bae is facing allegations of domestic violence, according to reports from Naver Sports (Korean language link) and Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription link). Bae has left the organization — at the request of investigators and with the team’s permission — to appear in his native South Korea.

    At this point, it does not appear that charges have been filed. But the police are looking into a formal complaint from Bae’s former girlfriend, who also issued a comment to Biertempfel. She asserts that Bae physically and verbally abused her beginning on New Year’s Eve of 2017.

    Bae, who is only 18 years of age, originally signed with the Braves in the fall of 2017 as an international free agent. The infielder was considered one of the most talented players available in that year’s amateur market. Not long after he had formally joined the Atlanta organization, though, Bae was declare a free agent along with numerous other amateur players as part of the penalties leveled against the Atlanta organization for impermissible signing practices.

    Not long after, Bae agreed to a $1.25MM bonus with the Pirates. He had been playing in extended Spring Training thus far in 2018. Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington tells Biertempfel that the club has notified Major League Baseball as required but that Bae is presently eligible to “participate in baseball activities during this review,” though it is not clear whether there are any specific plans for whether and how he will re-join the organization.

    Needless to say, the allegations are deeply troubling. Presumably, they will be investigated fully both in South Korea and by the MLB commissioner’s office. The agreement that governs domestic violence matters at the MLB level included a provision that the commissioner’s office would promulgate rules to address players, like Bae, who are not on 40-man rosters. Those do not appear to have been made available publicly, but presumably largely reflect the standards that apply to MLB players.

    Under the MLB-MLBPA policy, players can be placed on paid administrative leave during an investigation and, ultimately, face suspension regardless of whether criminal authorities pursue charges. In one recent case involving a minor-league player, the Astros released Danry Vasquez after he was suspended indefinitely by MLB following a horrific episode of domestic violence.

    Pirates Promote Austin Meadows, Place Starling Marte On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-to-promote-austin-meadows-place-starling-marte-on-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/pirates-to-promote-austin-meadows-place-starling-marte-on-dl.html#comments Fri, 18 May 2018 18:45:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122598 May 18: The Pirates have announced Meadows’ promotion and Marte’s placement on the DL.

    May 17: The Pirates announced tonight that they’re planning to promote top outfield prospect Austin Meadows tomorrow. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic first reported that the Bucs were planning to call up the long time top prospect. Biertempfel adds that he’ll be stepping into the roster spot of Starling Marte, who’ll land on the disabled list with a right oblique strain.

    Austin Meadows | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Meadows, 23, has long rated as one of the game’s most promising outfield prospects. The ninth overall pick in 2013, Meadows entered the season ranked among the game’s top 50 prospects, per Baseball America (44), MLB.com (45), Fangraphs (47), Baseball Prospectus (34). After a down season at the Triple-A level in 2017, Meadows is hitting .281/.326/.380 with a homer and eight steals (in nine attempts). He’s struck out in just 20 of his 131 plate appearances but also drawn just seven walks.

    The promotion will give the Pirates their first regular-season look at Meadows against Major League pitching. Hamstring injuries throughout his minor league tenure likely delayed Meadows’ timeline, and while he still has yet to truly overpower Triple-A pitching as he did at the Double-A level, there’s plenty of reason for optimism regarding his bat. Scouting reports on Meadows credit him for having an above-average to plus hit tool with average power and plus speed. Those wheels serve him well defensively, also, as he’s capable of playing center field, though more recent scouting reports on him forecast a potential move to left field when all is said and done.

    It’s possible that this is merely a short-term promotion for Meadows, but oblique injuries tend to keep players on the disabled list for around a month, so he may also get a reasonably prolonged look in the outfield with Marte on the shelf. With Andrew McCutchen now in San Francisco and Corey Dickerson only controlled through 2019, Meadows will be fighting to show the Pirates that he deserves the long-term spot in the outfield that the organization has long hoped he’d eventually claim. For the time being, it seems likely that Meadows will man center field, with Dickerson and Gregory Polanco flanking him in the outfield corners.

    As for Marte, his loss shouldn’t be undersold. Though the 29-year-old disappointed fans and the organization alike in 2017 when he was slapped with an 80-game suspension following a failed PED test, he’s bounced back extraordinarily well in 2018, hitting at a career-best .308/.366/.503 pace with six homers, five doubles and an NL-best four triples — all while racking up 10 steals in 13 tries and walking at a career-high 8.6 percent clip. That’s quite a lot of production to subtract from the lineup and leaves Meadows with some sizable shoes to fill, though if he can simply hold his own at the plate in his first exposure to MLB pitching and play capable defense in center field, the Pirates will surely be pleased with that outcome.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Josh Harrison To Begin Rehab Assignment Monday https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-beltre-cubs-bucs-tribe-candelario.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/injury-notes-beltre-cubs-bucs-tribe-candelario.html#comments Sun, 13 May 2018 21:43:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122246
  • Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison will begin a rehab assignment Monday at the Double-A level, Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror reports (Twitter link). Harrison has been on the shelf since suffering a fractured left hand on April 15. It seems he’ll make it back to the majors within the expected six-week window, though.
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    Central Notes: Reyes, R. Rodriguez, Taillon, Senzel https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-reyes-r-rodriguez-taillon-senzel.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/central-notes-reyes-r-rodriguez-taillon-senzel.html#comments Sat, 12 May 2018 14:13:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122101 The presence of Rule 5 Draft pick Victor Reyes is somewhat of a strain on the Tigers’ roster. Evan Woodberry of mlive.com takes an extensive look at the topic, and notes that the speedy outfielder’s most definable job so far this season has been as a pinch runner for the aging Victor Martinez. While injuries mount for Detroit, other players have been forced to shoulder a heavier workload, including Mikie Mahtook, who had to start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived. While Reyes certainly has a bright future, Woodberry points out that he’s clearly overmatched by big-league pitching in the present; he’s only managed to collect three soft singles so far this season and has an average exit velocity below 80 MPH. In accordance with the Rule 5 boundaries, Reyes must remain on the Tigers’ 25-man roster for the entirety of the season or be returned to his former club (the Diamondbacks). Few around baseball have any doubt that his future is bright, but rostering him for the entire season could prove a significant burden for a club that’s already going to have a hard time winning baseball games.

    Onto some items from the NL Central…

    • Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs writes that the Pirates found a winning lottery ticket in the form of recent minor-league free agent Richard Rodriguez. The 28-year-old right-hander has been just about as dominant as a pitcher can be, evidenced by his 15.53 K/9 and microscopic 0.16 FIP on the young season. He’s already been worth half a win above replacement, as Sawchik points out, which is remarkable considering we’re not even halfway through May. Sawchik has plenty of other interesting facts throughout a deep look into RichRod’s dominance, including the whiff rate on his fastball, his first-pitch strike percentage and the way he’s attacking hitters.
    • In other Pirates news, right-hander Jameson Taillon exited last night’s start with a finger laceration. According to Adam Berry of MLB.com, Taillon is frustrated at the freak accident and hopes it won’t cost him a start. “It just got worse and worse. It’s tough in the short term to come out of a game, but hopefully by coming out when I did, we’ve kind of mitigated it,” Taillon said. “Hopefully I won’t miss starts down the road.” The budding Pirates ace has had something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde season so far, allowing 15 earned runs in his three losses but permitting just three across his other five starts.
    • Nick Senzel’s vertigo is back, and the Reds prospect has landed on the 7-day DL as a result. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes that Senzel hasn’t played since being removed from a May 3rd game after just one plate appearance. Vertigo is a condition that brings on dizziness spells and causes the victim to lose balance. Reds president Dick Williams told reporters recently that the club is “being very cautious” with their top-ranked prospect, and at the moment there isn’t a clear timetable for when he’ll be able to resume playing. The club has been playing Senzel at both second and third base this season in hopes of increasing his versatility and finding him a spot at the big league level.