Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:44:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Josh Harrison Out Six Weeks With Fractured Hand https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/josh-harrison-out-six-weeks-with-fractured-hand.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/josh-harrison-out-six-weeks-with-fractured-hand.html#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:29:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120150 The Pirates announced on Monday that second baseman Josh Harrison sustained a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left hand when he was hit by a Jose Urena fastball in yesterday’s game. He’s expected to return to game action in about six weeks, per the team.

Harrison, 30, has gotten off to a .263/.328/.351 slash with a homer, two doubles and a stolen base through his first 14 games (64 plate appearances). With the veteran infielder headed to the disabled list, the 11-4 Pirates can turn to Adam Frazier or Sean Rodriguez at second base, though the team’s depth around the infield will be a bit thinned out. Max Moroff and Christopher Bostick could conceivably come up to fill in an infield spot on the bench, though it seems likely that multiple roster moves are on the horizon; the Pirates are also still in need of a 25-man move to accommodate the claim of out-of-options lefty Enny Romero from the Nats.

Harrison is earning $10MM this season as part of the four-year, $27.3MM deal he signed three years ago. Had the Pirates gotten off to a sluggish start, there’d likely have been trade chatter surrounding Harrison this summer, though so long as they can maintain some of the momentum they’ve built up, that no longer seems likely. Harrison’s deal contains club options for $10.5MM in 2019 and $11.5MM in 2020.

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Harrison Being Evaluated After HBP https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-central-notes-nottingham-senzel-harrison.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-central-notes-nottingham-senzel-harrison.html#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:12:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120134
  • Pirates infielder Josh Harrison is undergoing further evaluations today after being hit by a pitch in Sunday’s game against the Marlins, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. Harrison was hit on the forearm by a 96 mph fastball from Jose Urena and exited the game rather to stay in and run for himself. A rumored trade piece for much of the offseason, Harrison is off to a .263/.328/.351 start to the season for an 11-4 Pirates club. The Bucs would likely turn to either Adam Frazier or Sean Rodriguez if Harrison requires a trip to the disabled list.
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    NL Notes: Blackmon, Gyorko, Gregerson, Glasnow, Hellickson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-notes-blackmon-gyorko-gregerson-glasnow-hellickson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-notes-blackmon-gyorko-gregerson-glasnow-hellickson.html#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 00:28:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120108 Though recently-extended Rockies slugger Charlie Blackmon is a star outfielder, he spent his early career trying to make it as a pitcher. Kyle Newman of the Denver Post details Blackmon’s story, beginning with his high school tenure in Atlanta. After struggling to gain any significant attention early on, Blackmon began experiencing arm troubles in his junior year at Georgia Tech. The following season, however, saw him excel as a hitter en route to being drafted by the Rockies. He’s now set to earn nine figures throughout the course of his MLB career. There are some insightful quotes and tidbits in Newman’s article, including this quote from manager Walt Weiss: “I didn’t foresee the power — he’s made some adjustments, and there’s lightning in the bat now because his power numbers are pretty amazing considering the type of player he was when he broke in.”

    More from around the National League…

    • The Cardinals have a pair of players set to return soon in Jedd Gyorko and Luke Gregerson, as Joe Trezza of MLB.com reminds us. In fact, both could come off the DL as early as this coming week. Trezza adds that Gyorko’s situation will complicate the infield alignment in St. Louis, as he could sap some playing time from either Kolten Wong or Matt Carpenter (both of whom are currently ice cold at the plate). Gregerson has thrown four scoreless rehab appearances; he began the season on the DL with a hamstring strain.
    • Tyler Glasnow’s first season in relief has yielded good results so far for the Pirates, writes Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The fireballing righty has allowed just a run across six innings in his first three appearances, in part due to an increase in his spin rate. Brink notes that he’s averaged 2,859 revolutions per minute on his curveball, a mark that’s presently 12th in all of MLB. Glasnow’s also increased his average fastball velocity to 96 MPH. “He’s a little bit more free at ease out there on the mound and being himself,” said Ray Searage, renowned pitching coach for the Pirates. “When you have confidence in yourself and try to execute at the best of your ability, you’re going to be more free and easy.”
    • Jeremy Hellickson will officially start for the Nationals tomorrow, Dan Kolko of MASN reports on Twitter. That falls in line with earlier reports that suggested the possibility. Nats fans are surely glad to see anyone but A.J. Cole, who sports a 12.00 ERA through two starts so far this season. There’s a $2MM salary to gain for Hellickson if he sticks in the rotation, as the terms of his minors pact with the club dictate.
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    Pirates Claim Enny Romero From Nationals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-claim-enny-romero-from-nationals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-claim-enny-romero-from-nationals.html#comments Sat, 14 Apr 2018 18:51:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120007 The Pirates have claimed left-hander Enny Romero off waivers from the Nationals, as per a Pittsburgh media release.  Romero will claim an open spot on the Bucs’ 40-man roster, and the release stated that he’ll join the Major League roster once a corresponding move is made.

    Washington designated Romero for assignment last week in the wake of a tough start to the season that saw the lefty allow three runs over two innings pitched.  Romero was something of the victim of a roster crunch, as the Nats chose to subtract from their eight-man bullpen to add extra bench depth in the form of utilityman Matt Reynolds.  In 2017, Romero posted a 3.56 ERA, 10.5 K/9, and a 2.83 K/BB rate over 55 2/3 IP for the Nationals.

    Romero will join closer Felipe Vazquez as the only other left-handed reliever on the Pirates’ 25-man roster, with Steven Brault (in the rotation) and Josh Smoker (at Triple-A) representing the only other southpaws on Pittsburgh’s 40-man.  Romero isn’t an ideal candidate, however, to provide balance to the Pirates bullpen since he has been a reverse-splits pitcher over his 138 career innings. Left-handed batters have a healthy .317/.398/.467 slash line against him while right-handed batters have hit just .232/.317/.371.

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    Pirates Select Contract Of Richard Rodriguez, Recall Kyle Crick https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-select-contract-of-richard-rodriguez-recall-kyle-crick.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-select-contract-of-richard-rodriguez-recall-kyle-crick.html#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 18:57:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119900 The Pirates announced today that they’ve selected the contract of right-handed reliever Richard Rodriguez and recalled fellow righty Kyle Crick. Both players were pitching for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. To make room on the big league roster, right-hander Clay Holmes and left-hander Josh Smoker were optioned to Triple-A.

    Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster was at a count of 38 players prior to Rodriguez’s selection, so there’ll be no 40-man move necessary to accommodate him, and the team can even make another addition without needing to open further space. The 28-year-old Rodriguez, a longtime Astros farmhand, broke into the Majors with the Orioles in 2017 but tallied just 4 2/3 frames with Baltimore at the big league level.

    Rodriguez, though, has carved up Triple-A hitters dating back to 2015, working to a 2.54 ERA with a 221-to-65 K/BB ratio in in 219 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate has steadily risen on a year-over-year basis, topping out at 10.2 K/9 in 2017, and he’s already whiffed nine in five shutout innings this season. Last year with the O’s, Rodriguez’s fastball sat at 93.8 mph in his brief big league audition.

    As for Crick, he was one of two pieces acquired in the trade that sent franchise icon Andrew McCutchen from the Pirates to the Giants. The former supplemental first-rounder and top prospect shifted to the bullpen with quite a bit of success in 2017, punching out 12 hitters per nine innings with a 2.76 ERA in Triple-A. That prompted a big league call-up for Crick in San Francisco, where he’d go on to log a 3.06 ERA in 32 1/3 innings — albeit with much more pedestrian marks of 7.8 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9. Crick averaged 95.5 mph on his heater, though, and was superb at limiting hard contact in his time with the Giants (20.5 percent).

    The Pirates undoubtedly hope that he can be a viable bullpen weapon in Pittsburgh, as the hard-throwing 25-year-old can be controlled through the 2023 season. He’d allowed one run with five strikeouts and no walks through four innings of relief thus far in Triple-A this year.

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    Pirates Prospect Bryan Reynolds Undergoes Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-central-notes-coghlan-cardinals-reynolds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/nl-central-notes-coghlan-cardinals-reynolds.html#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 03:46:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119808
  • Pirates outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds will undergo surgery to remove the fractured hook from the hamate bone in his left wrist, the team told reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Adam Berry). The Pittsburgh organization didn’t provide a timeline, though prior instances of that injury in the Majors have often come with a timeline around six weeks. (Each injury, of course, comes with its own set of circumstances.) Reynolds, whom the Pirates acquired in the trade that sent Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco, incurred the injury on a swing early in the Double-A season.
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    Pirates Reliever Felipe Rivero Changes Name To Felipe Vázquez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-reliever-felipe-rivero-changes-name-to-felipe-vazquez.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-reliever-felipe-rivero-changes-name-to-felipe-vazquez.html#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2018 23:34:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119620 Pirates lefty Felipe Rivero will henceforth be known as Felipe Vázquez after undergoing a legal name change, Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. That modification will be reflected on the back of his uniform in short order.

    You’ll need to read the article for the back story, but the new surname will match that of the southpaw’s sister, Prescilla Vázquez. The siblings are very close; she is said to have played a notable role in advising her brother on his agency decisions and working out the long-term deal that he signed over the winter.

    As the Bucs order up some new jerseys, they’ll hope that the newly renamed Vázquez can maintain the form he showed last year as Rivero. In 75 1/3 innings, the power lefty allowed just 14 earned runs on 47 hits while compiling an 88:20 K/BB ratio. He also racked up 21 saves after moving into the closer’s role.

    That performance led to a four-year extension in January. The deal promises Vázquez $22MM for the 2018 through 2021 seasons and also leaves the club with two option years.

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    Joe Musgrove Not Ready To Come Off DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pitching-notes-lincecum-musgrove-wheeler.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pitching-notes-lincecum-musgrove-wheeler.html#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2018 01:18:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119546
  • Pirates righty Joe Musgrove is eligible to come off the 10-day disabled list Monday, but that’s not going to happen, manager Clint Hurdle told Jerry Dipaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other reporters Sunday. Musgrove, who’s dealing with a muscle strain in his right shoulder, will first need to make multiple rehab starts, per Hurdle. Right now, though, he’s in a “no-throw” period, the skipper revealed. Musgrove, 25, was arguably the headliner in the Pirates’ return for righty Gerrit Cole, whom they traded to the Astros over the winter. Cole’s thriving in Houston, yet the 7-2 Pirates have held their own without him thus far.
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    Latest On Kevin Siegrist https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/kevin-siegrist-elects-free-agency.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/kevin-siegrist-elects-free-agency.html#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2018 19:12:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119332 April 8: Siegrist doesn’t want to pitch in the minors for the Pirates or anyone else, general manager Neal Huntington told Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and other reporters Sunday. Conversations between the Pirates and Siegrist’s side have been “very respectful,” per Huntington, but: “His agent was very clear: This is not about the Pirates. This is about minor league baseball. … This is about not wanting to pitch in the minor leagues, period, so I’m not sure how that solves itself without him pitching.”

    Huntington added that Siegrist could be part of the solution for the Pirates sometime this year, though that’s probably not going to happen if he doesn’t work his way back via the minors. “He’s a good pitcher, and we wanted him to go to triple-A to build up arm strength, to get back to Kevin Siegrist because that guy can help us,” Huntington said. “We would love to keep that door open and hope that there will be a change of mind at some point in time.”

    April 6: The Pirates have issued another statement clarifying Siegrist’s status (Twitter links via Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic). It seems that Siegrist is not a free agent and has instead been placed on the team’s suspended list for failing to report to Triple-A.

    As Biertempfel explains, the left-hander’s minor league contract allowed him to opt out at the end of Spring Training if another club was willing to place him on its MLB roster. If not, he’d be assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis. No club offered Siegrist a 25-man roster spot, but the left-hander subsequently chose not to report to Indianapolis and has been suspended by the team. Biertempfel notes that Siegrist does have a full opt-out on June 1, at which point he can become a free agent. It’d be a surprise to see Siegrist ultimately sit out until that point, but it’s not clear at this time if he intends on reporting to Indianapolis at all.

    April 5: Left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist, who was in camp with the Pirates on a minor league contract, has refused an assignment to Triple-A in favor of free agency, the team announced on Thursday (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Adam Berry). Siegrist’s deal came with a clause that allowed him to opt out if he did not make the Opening Day roster, and he’d reportedly been mulling over whether to take the assignment to Indianapolis or pursue other opportunities.

    The 28-year-old Siegrist posted sub-3.00 ERAs with the Cardinals in 2015-16 before struggling to a 4.81 ERA last year in season during which he logged DL time for both a forearm issue and a spinal sprain. Siegrist averaged a career-worst 5.03 walks per nine innings pitched last season, and his 92 mph average fastball was down noticeably from his peak, when his heater averaged 93.7 mph.

    That said, Siegrist has a fairly long track record of missing bats at the big league level. He’s averaged 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings since debuting with the 2013 Cardinals and has been largely effective against both left- and right-handed hitters — albeit with somewhat curious reverse splits. Lefties have batted .233/.344/.357 in 381 plate appearances against Siegrist, while righties have been stymied to the tune of a .192/.276/.349 slash. And while the five runs he allowed in 5 2/3 spring frames with the Pirates makes for an unappealing ERA, Siegrist also posted a substantially more encouraging 9-to-1 K/BB ratio in that tiny sample of appearances.

    Siegrist finished out the 2017 season with four years, 116 days of big league service time, meaning that any club which signs him would have the option of controlling him through at least the 2019 season via arbitration. As we noted late last week, the free agent market is hardly flush with left-handed bullpen options — Antonio Bastardo and Eric O’Flaherty are currently the two most notable names available — so Siegrist should generate some interest elsewhere.

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    Pirates Claim Jesus Liranzo https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-claim-jesus-liranzo.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/pirates-claim-jesus-liranzo.html#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2018 18:40:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119307 The Pirates have claimed righty Jesus Liranzo off waivers from the Dodgers, per a club announcement. He has been optioned to Double-A.

    Liranzo, 23, has bounced around since being designated for assignment by the Orioles just before Opening Day. Clearly, his talent has attracted plenty of attention, though teams are wary of committing a 40-man spot to a player that isn’t ready to contribute at the MLB level.

    Though he reputedly has a big arm, Liranzo has struggled to keep the ball in the zone, averaging 5.5 walks per nine in his five minor-league seasons. Liranzo pitched to a 4.85 ERA in 65 innings at Double-A last year, with 10.4 K/9 and 6.0 BB/9.

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    Pirates Place Joe Musgrove On DL; Jordy Mercer Exits With Finger Injury https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-musgrove-mercer-wieters-cruz-realmuto-yankees.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-musgrove-mercer-wieters-cruz-realmuto-yankees.html#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 20:10:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119027 Musgrove’s DL placement is retroactive three days, so he can be activated on April 9. In his place, the Pirates could turn to one of Steven Brault or Tyler Glasnow to start in Musgrove’s place on Thursday. At present, it doesn’t seem that the injury is serious. Musgrove was slowed by some shoulder troubles in Spring Training, so it seems the Bucs are just being cautious early in the season. Pittsburgh will also need to evaluate shortstop Jordy Mercer, who exited after jamming his finger into the bag when diving back to first on a pickoff attempt. The Pirates, so far, have only said that Mercer left the game with right hand/finger “discomfort.”

    The Pirates announced today that right-hander Joe Musgrove has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder. Righty Clay Holmes, who’d previously been returned to Triple-A after serving as the 26th man for yesterday’s doubleheader, has been recalled. (Holmes’ optional assignment needn’t be for the typical 10-day minimum, as he’s replacing an injured player.) As MLB.com’s Adam Berry notes, the move seemed somewhat curious at first, as Musgrove had said he felt good physically not long before the announcement. But testing ended up revealing a strain, leading to the roster move.

    Musgrove’s DL placement is retroactive three days, so he can be activated on April 9. In his place, the Pirates could turn to one of Steven Brault or Tyler Glasnow to start in Musgrove’s place on Thursday. At present, it doesn’t seem that the injury is serious. Musgrove was slowed by some shoulder troubles in Spring Training, so it seems the Bucs are just being cautious early in the season. Pittsburgh will also need to evaluate shortstop Jordy Mercer, who exited after jamming his finger into the bag when diving back to first on a pickoff attempt. The Pirates, so far, have only said that Mercer left the game with right hand/finger “discomfort.”

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    Pirates Release Clark Eagan https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/minor-mlb-transactions-4118.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/minor-mlb-transactions-4118.html#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2018 02:54:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118926
  • The Tigers announced that left-hander Ryan Carpenter will be assigned back to Triple-A Toledo.  Carpenter was called up as the 26th man for today’s double-header with the Pirates, and he made his Major League debut in the nightcap, starting the game and lasting three innings.  A seventh-round pick for the Rays in the 2011 draft, Carpenter has a 4.37 ERA, 7.7 K/9, and 3.36 K/BB rate over 760 1/3 innings (128 of his 115 games as a starter) in the Tampa Bay and Colorado farm systems.
  • The Pirates have parted with outfielder Clark Eagan, according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects (subscription required). Eagan, 23, had been with the Pirates since they selected him in the ninth round of the 2016 draft. He spent that year at the Low-A level before moving up to Single-A in 2017. In all, Eagan batted .265/.316/.385 across 604 trips to the plate with the organization.
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    Pirates Release Seven Players https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32918.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32918.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:26:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118486
  • The Pirates have released a group of minor-leaguers, John Dreker of Pirates Prospects reports (subscription link). The most prominent among them are outfielder Barrett Barnes and hurlers Cody Dickson and John Stilson. Barnes was the former 45th overall pick but did not stand out in brief action at the Triple-A level last year. Dickson is a former fourth-rounder who topped out at Triple-A last year, while Stilson has never yet received an MLB opportunity despite compiling a 2.75 ERA in 131 Triple-A innings.
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    Offseason In Review: Pittsburgh Pirates https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-pittsburgh-pirates-9.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-pittsburgh-pirates-9.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 12:37:11 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118541

    This piece is part of MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    The Pirates moved two key veterans and dropped their payroll this winter, but did not embark upon a full rebuilding course.

    Major League Signings

    • None
    Trades and Claims
    Option Decisions
    • Exercised $14.5MM club option over OF Andrew McCutchen
    Extensions
    Notable Minor-League Signings
    Notable Losses

    Pirates Depth ChartPirates Payroll Information

    Needs Addressed

    Need is certainly a term that’s subject to being defined, even in the baseball context. For the Pirates, it seems, this offseason was focused on tweaking the overall roster mix to infuse some youth and draw down payroll. The Pirates’ sparse payroll has long been a source of consternation for the team’s fans. But complaints against owner Bob Nutting reached a new high this winter after a pair of trades sent away two core players.

    Spending on MLB players had ramped up steadily from 2011 to 2015 — the season in which the Bucs peaked at 98 wins but also fell for the second consecutive season in the Wild Card play-in game. In the ensuing campaign, the Pittsburgh organization moved up to just under $100MM to open the season and expanded its spending to just shy of $110MM by the end of the year. But many felt that the team missed a chance to make further investments around a strong core.

    Then, last season, the Pirates saw a reduction in their Opening Day payroll and did not expand past the $110MM line by the end of a disappointing campaign. As the 2018 season draws near, it’s clear that the Pirates will be taking a big step back in spending, with around $85MM on the books.

    Getting there meant structuring two key swaps. First, the Bucs agreed to send staff ace Gerrit Cole — the former first overall draft pick — to the Astros in exchange for a four-player package. Favoring a spread of useful MLB-ready talent over a big-name headliner, the Pirates brought in three players who’ll likely step right onto the active roster.

    Colin Moran will help account for the fact that Jung Ho Kang likely won’t ever play for the Pirates again. The former sixth overall draft pick will try to make good on his own promise after a strong 2017 campaign at Triple-A. Joe Musgrove will give the team a useful and affordable rotation piece or swingman who helps fill in for the loss of Cole. And the high-powered Michael Feliz will be inserted right into a setup role, where he’ll try to harness his big-time stuff — as is reflected in his 96.6 mph average fastball and 14.2% swinging-strike rate in 2017. Feliz could function in the high-leverage role that Juan Nicasio held for much of 2017, before a controversial September move that allowed Nicasio to land with the division-rival Cardinals.

    The Cole swap, then, helped fill quite a few openings that had been facing the team entering the winter. Moran will join Jordy Mercer on the left side of the infield, after the Pirates decided to hang onto their long-time shortstop. I had suggested in assessing the team’s outlook last fall that Mercer could be jettisoned, but the Bucs decided he was worth a $6.75MM arbitration tab.

    Moving Cole made it all but certain that long-time franchise face Andrew McCutchen would also be dealt. The eventual move brought in one MLB-ready asset in righty Kyle Crick, along with prospect Bryan Reynolds, but it was mostly about trimming salary. The Giants took on all but $2.5MM of the cash owed to McCutchen, who will be eligible for free agency following the season.

    All in all, the trade was something of an anti-climactic way for Cutch’s storied tenure in Pittsburgh to come to a close. He is, at least in part, still within his prime years, so this wasn’t just a fond goodbye to a broken-down veteran. At the same time, recent struggles (and a glut of outfielders in free agency) left McCutchen without much of a market, so there wasn’t a major haul of talent coming back in return.

    Though Crick will factor into the depth in 2018, he won’t make the Opening Day roster. One new addition will, though: lefty Josh Smoker. The former first-round pick, who has been resurgent as a reliever, is the only one of several low-cost pick-ups who stuck on the 40-man roster all winter and spring long. (Rule 5er Nick Burdi is also still around, though his fate won’t begin to be decided until he’s back from Tommy John surgery.)

    Had the offseason ended there, we might’ve seen riots at the gates of PNC Park. But the Bucs front office went on to strike a deal for outfielder Corey Dickerson — who had been designated for assignment by the Rays — that was at least a win in terms of public relations. Dickerson, after all, was an All-Star in 2017 and only required the addition of $1.45MM in salary since the Bucs shed Daniel Hudson (whom the Rays later released) in the deal. While it had seemed the team would utilize a platoon involving the lefty hitting Daniel Nava to replace McCutchen, they’ll instead plan to utilize Dickerson as the primary left fielder. He’ll need to bounce back from a dreadful second half in 2017, but there’s little denying that he gives the Pirates’ lineup a significant boost at a minimal cost.

    Questions Remaining

    In the aggregate, the offseason decisions left the Pirates with a roster mix that includes quite a few young players as well as some veteran holdovers. The Bucs will use the coming season to see whether they can make out a new slate of core performers while trying to contend in a tough NL Central. If the team can’t keep pace, some mid-season trades and promotions could well result.

    In the rotation, Ivan Nova will serve as the veteran leader of an otherwise youthful group. He could well end up as trade fodder if there’s a summer sell-off. Musgrove will join a unit that’s expected to feature Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, and Chad Kuhl to open the season. The top 40-man depth options are Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes, though it certainly seems possible that the Pirates will look into adding some veteran pieces as players come available.

    If the young guns perform as hoped, this could be a solid, cost-efficient unit. But there’s also quite a bit of uncertainty and the group isn’t exactly teeming with upside. If there’s a front-of-the-rotation breakout candidate on hand, it may be long-time top prospect Tyler Glasnow, but his near- and long-term outlooks remain unclear. Glasnow dominated last year at Triple-A but scuffled in the bigs. He got plenty of swings and misses in camp but will begin the year in the bullpen after allowing 13 earned runs in his 16 innings of Grapefruit League action.

    Otherwise, the relief unit will again be led by Felipe Rivero, who inked a long-term deal with the club over the winter (as discussed further below). The aforementioned Feliz will join veteran George Kontos in the late-inning unit. The remainder of the pen is loaded with affordable, controllable but largely unestablished pitchers, including Smoker, Edgar Santana, Dovydas Neverauskas, and Steven Brault. Depth comes in the form of Crick, minor-league signees Kevin Siegrist and Bo Schultz, and a group of others that aren’t on the 40-man roster. Not unlike the rotation, the Pirates are staking wagers on quite a few inexperienced arms in their relief corps.

    In terms of position players, the Bucs will hope that their outfield unit is able to morph back into a strength. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco are both talented players signed to affordable long-term deals. Whether or not they can turn in full and productive seasons will go a long way toward deciding the team’s immediate fate. Dickerson could be a nice addition to this unit, though the 28-year-old will need to bounce back from a .232/.273/.397 slash and 28.4 percent strikeout rate from July 1 through season’s end. With one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining, Dickerson could potentially end up as a trade candidate at some point in the relatively near future.

    Potential trade candidates also populate the infield. Backstop Francisco Cervelli is earning $10.5MM this season and $11.5MM for 2019. If he can stay healthy, he could still be a quality asset. The versatile Josh Harrison, who’s slated to be the regular second baseman, came up in talks all winter long after a strong 2017 season. Though he’s plenty useful to Pittsburgh and remains controlled for two more seasons beyond 2018, he also isn’t all that cheap with option values of $10.5MM and $11MM. Then, there’s Mercer, who’ll again command near-everyday time at short but is entering a walk year.

    It’ll surely be interesting to see how the middle-infield situation plays out over the coming season. Well-regarded prospects Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, and Kevin Kramer are pressing up from within; it’s not inconceivable that any of the bunch could warrant a first MLB promotion during the coming season.

    The first base job will be left to Josh Bell after his strong 2017 campaign, but third base offers more possibility for intrigue. Colin Moran is going to get a shot to show his swing changes can sustain a power increase in the majors, with veteran David Freese there to face tough lefties. Recent first-round pick Ke’Bryan Hayes is still a ways off, and Freese isn’t considered a regular option at this stage of his carer, so the odds are that Moran will receive a long look.

    In addition to the promising youngsters noted above, there are loads of depth pieces on hand in the event that trades, injuries, or stumbles intervene to create a need. Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez will be the Bucs’ lefty and righty Swiss Army knives, serving as substitute options in both the infield and outfield. Max Moroff and Chris Bostick are alternative 40-man utility choices, while Jose Osuna is likely the first man up in the outfield after a nice spring. Other outfield possibilities on the 40-man are Jordan Luplow and Austin Meadows, the long-time top prospect who is aiming for a bounceback campaign.

    Deal of Note

    Felipe Rivero | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    It became something of a gag that the Pirates inked Rivero not long after dealing away Cole and Cutch — as if that relatively limited financial commitment could make up for parting with the team’s most talented pitcher and long-time superstar. But the Rivero pact was a legitimately notable extension that should move the needle in the long run.

    The 26-year-old lefty, who was acquired from the Nationals for half a year of Mark Melancon, harnessed his premium stuff to become one of the game’s best relievers in 2017. He pitched to a 1.67 ERA in 75 1/3 innings with 10.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 while also accumulating 21 saves after taking over the closer’s role partway through the season.

    So long as he continues to handle the ninth, Rivero is likely keep aggregating the kinds of numbers that would lead to hefty arbitration earnings. The four seasons of arb control, beginning in 2018, quite likely would have cost a good bit more than the $22MM that Rivero will actually earn. Plus, the two years of $10MM options could be of quite some value, given the cost of premium relievers on the open market.

    This sort of agreement just won’t be as momentous as earlier Bucs extensions — McCutchen, Marte, Polanco — have been (or could be). But it’s a move that improves the value of an already high-quality, existing asset. If the organization’s payroll is going to remain as tightly controlled as it has been, then this type of deal could one day free the Pirates to make one more addition to a hopeful contending roster.

    Overview

    It’s not difficult to imagine the MLB roster looking quite a bit different by year end than it does now. There are plenty of mid-season trade possibilities, though this roster shouldn’t be counted out entirely from contention. Regardless, the number of inexperienced pitchers in the majors and upper-level position prospects who’ll open in the minors could be a recipe for turnover. It’s tough to get excited over the moves, in the aggregate, but the reasoning behind the approach becomes a bit more apparent when one considers how many potentially worthwhile, cost-efficient 40-man pieces will be tested for the future. Of course, things would probably look a lot more compelling with a few more talented players on the roster and a few more dollars on the payroll.

    What are your thoughts on Pittsburgh’s offseason? (Link for app users)

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    How The Pirates Landed Ji-Hwan Bae https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-lindor-bauer-rangers-ichiro-bae-boxberger.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-lindor-bauer-rangers-ichiro-bae-boxberger.html#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 04:55:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118474
  • The Pirates’ interest in Korean shortstop prospect Ji-Hwan Bae dates back almost two years, Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, and the team was finally able to land the 18-year-old after he was made a free agent following the Braves’ international signing scandal.  Given a second chance at the signing, Pittsburgh again made a push, and Bae said (via an interpreter) that he chose them over other suitors because the “Pirates were the most active team approaching” about a contract.  The Pirates thought enough of Bae to give him $1.25MM, the second-largest bonus the franchise has ever given to an international prospect, and GM Neal Huntington feels Bae can stick at shortstop over the long term.
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    Indians Claim Jack Leathersich, Trade Rob Refsnyder To Rays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/indians-claim-jack-leathersich-from-pirates-trade-rob-refsnyder-rays-return-jordan-milbrath-sign-adam-rosales.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/indians-claim-jack-leathersich-from-pirates-trade-rob-refsnyder-rays-return-jordan-milbrath-sign-adam-rosales.html#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2018 20:07:31 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118416 The Indians announced a series of moves this afternoon, including a claim of lefty Jack Leathersich from the Pirates.  (The @RedSoxStats Twitter feed was first to report the claim earlier today.)  A 40-man spot for Leathersich was opened by shipping infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder to the Rays in exchange for cash.

    In other news, Cleveland announced that righty Jordan Milbrath — who was taken in the Rule 5 draft in December — was returned by the Pirates after clearing waivers. Finally, veteran infielder Adam Rosales is joining the Indians on a minors deal.

    Refsnyder was out of options, and thus the Tribe at least managed to get some money back for him rather than simply losing the utilityman if exposed to waivers.  Refsnyder had been battling for a backup infield job in camp, though it appears Erik Gonzalez has won that role.  Cleveland looks to be carrying five outfielders, with right-handed hitters Rajai Davis and Brandon Guyer (if healthy) balancing out lefty-swingers Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, and Bradley Zimmer, with Michael Brantley eventually joining the mix once he returns from the disabled list.

    Once a well-regarded prospect in the Yankees’ system, Refsnyder has yet to produce much over parts of three MLB seasons, with just a .233/.306/.311 slash line over 320 career plate appearances.  He can offer a versatile glove capable of playing second base, first base, and both corner outfield slots, so he gives Tampa Bay another multi-position bench option next to Daniel Robertson.  The Rays had been looking for a right-handed outfield bat, so Refsnyder fills that need, even if he has yet to display much hitting stroke as a big leaguer.

    Rosales was recently released from a minor league deal with the Phillies and it didn’t take him long to catch on elsewhere, as Cleveland will replace Refsnyder with a more experienced utility infielder.  Rosales has extensive work at all four infield spots (plus the odd appearance in left field) over his 10 seasons and 638 big league games.  This versatility has helped Rosales stick around in the Show despite a lack of hitting (.227/.292/.365 slash line over 1786 PA), though he did burst out for 13 homers and an .814 OPS over 248 PA with the Padres in 2016.

    Pittsburgh placed Leathersich on waivers yesterday, as he may have been an expendable piece in a Pirates bullpen that already includes Steven Brault and Josh Smoker tossing from the left side, plus Kevin Siegrist in camp on a minor league deal.  Leathersich joined the Bucs via a waiver claim off the Cubs’ roster last September, appearing in six games wearing the black-and-gold.  The 27-year-old southpaw has a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 Major League innings, and both his brief MLB stint and his much more expansive sample size of 278 1/3 minor league IP exhibit indicate a penchant for racking up big totals in both the strikeout and walks departments.

    Milbrath was also waived along with Leathersich yesterday, and as per the regulations of the Rule 5 Draft, the righty had to first be offered back to his original team (Cleveland) after other teams had passed on claiming the 26-year-old.  A 35th-round selection for the Tribe in the 2013 draft, Milbrath has a 4.33 ERA, 7.8 K/9, and 2.02 K/BB rate over 405 1/3 career innings in the minors, cracking the Double-A level in each of the last two seasons.

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    Mets Claim Bryce Brentz From Pirates https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/mets-claim-bryce-brentz-from-pirates.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/mets-claim-bryce-brentz-from-pirates.html#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 19:48:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118318 The Mets have claimed outfielder Bryce Brentz off waivers from the Pirates, Adam Berry of MLB.com was among those to report.

    The 29-year-old Brentz joined the Pirates via trade with the Red Sox in February, but he didn’t last long in Pittsburgh. The club placed him on waivers this past weekend. Because Brentz is out of options, he’ll have to go through waivers again if the Mets attempt to send him to the minors. If that doesn’t happen immediately, it likely will when star outfielder Michael Conforto comes off the disabled list. Assuming the other New York outfielders stay healthy early in the season, Conforto would be part of a contingent that features other well-known names in Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares.

    Although Boston chose Brentz in the first round of the 2010 draft, he has barely played in the majors thus far. He collected just 90 plate appearances with the Red Sox, in fact. The righty-swinger spent all of last season at the Triple-A level and posted a healthy .271/.334/.529 line (138 wRC+) with 31 home runs in 494 plate appearances.

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    Pirates Place Jordan Milbrath, Jack Leathersich On Waivers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-place-jordan-milbrath-jack-leathersich-on-waivers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-place-jordan-milbrath-jack-leathersich-on-waivers.html#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 16:00:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118249 The Pirates have placed right-hander Jordan Milbrath and lefty Jack Leathersich on waivers, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

    As a Rule 5 draft pick, the Pirates will have to offer Milbrath back to his previous organization, the Indians, if no one claims him on waivers. If a team does claim the 26-year-old Milbrath, it must commit to carrying him on its 25-man roster. Otherwise, he’d head back to the waiver wire and would have to be offered to Cleveland upon clearing.

    The side-arming Milbrath struggled in camp during his spring training stint as a member of the Pirates, with whom he allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks (with eight strikeouts) in 8 1/3 innings. He fared much better than that last year, which he divided between the Indians’ High-A and Triple-A affiliates, with a 3.02 ERA and 10.0 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings.

    Leatherich, 27, joined the Pirates last September after they claimed him from the division-rival Cubs. He then got into six of the Pirates’ games, working 4 1/3 scoreless innings with six strikeouts against two walks. Overall, Leathersich has tossed 16 2/3 frames of five-run ball in the bigs since debuting with the Mets in 2015. However, he hasn’t been nearly that effective over a much larger sample of work at the Triple-A level, where he has offset a sky-high strikeout rate (14.5 per nine) with an ugly walk rate (6.9) en route to a 4.68 ERA in 100 innings.

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    Kevin Siegrist Undecided About Opt-Out Clause https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/nl-central-notes-maddon-siegrist-choi-hendricks.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/nl-central-notes-maddon-siegrist-choi-hendricks.html#comments Mon, 26 Mar 2018 00:59:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118184
  • Kevin Siegrist will “probably look at other options first” before considering a Triple-A assignment if the Pirates don’t add him to their 25-man roster, the left-hander tells The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel (subscription required).  Siegrist signed a minor league deal with the Bucs in February that will pay him $1.5MM in guaranteed salary if he cracks the big leagues, and he can opt out of the deal if the Pirates don’t put him on the Opening Day roster and another club offers him an MLB job.  (The contract also contains a second opt-out clause, which Biertempfel reports is on June 1.)  A workhorse out of the Cardinals bullpen in 2015-16, Siegrist struggled with injuries last season and has yet to show much this spring, with a 7.94 ERA in 5 2/3 Grapefruit League innings.  Pittsburgh already has Steven Brault and Josh Smoker as left-handed options for the bullpen, so Siegrist could become expendable.
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    Pirates Place Bryce Brentz On Outright Waivers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32418.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32418.html#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 01:47:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118030
  • The Pirates have placed outfielder Bryce Brentz on outright waivers, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reports. Pittsburgh acquired the 29-year-old Brentz from Boston back in February, but the out-of-options slugger was then unable to earn a spot with his new organization during the spring. Brentz raked in the minors last year, where he tortured Triple-A pitchers with a .271/.334/.529 line (138 wRC+) and 31 home runs in 494 PAs. However, Brentz hasn’t been nearly that successful in the majors since the BoSox used a first-round pick on him in 2010, having hit .287/.311/.379 with just one HR in 90 trips to the plate.
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    Jordy Mercer On Future With Pirates https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brewers-rotation-napoli-indians-merritt-buxton-twins-extension-mercer-pirates-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brewers-rotation-napoli-indians-merritt-buxton-twins-extension-mercer-pirates-rumors.html#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 04:39:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117831
  • Long-time Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer acknowledges that this could be his last campaign in Pittsburgh, as Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic writes (subscription link). He also says he’s content to allow the situation to “play out” as it will. As Biertempfel explains, the 31-year-old does not appear likely to be in the team’s long-term plans with a variety of interesting middle-infield prospects moving up the ranks behind him.
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    Pirates Re-Sign Daniel Nava To Minor League Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-re-sign-daniel-nava-to-minor-league-deal.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-re-sign-daniel-nava-to-minor-league-deal.html#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2018 15:32:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117817 The Pirates have agreed to a new contract with outfielder Daniel Nava, The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel reports (Twitter link).  As expected, the pact is a minor league deal, according to Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The Bucs released Nava earlier this week but it was widely expected that the two sides would work out another agreement.

    It will still be some time before Nava hits the field, as he underwent back surgery in late February that carried a 10-to-12 week recovery timeline.  Back and hamstring problems limited Nava to just 214 plate appearances in a part-time role for the Phillies last season, though the veteran made the most of his playing time, hitting .301/.393/.421 with four homers and displaying good plate discipline (26 walks against just 38 strikeouts).  It was a solid comeback year for Nava, who bounced around between four different organizations in 2015-16 and managed just a .574 OPS over 314 big league PA.

    The Pirates’ addition of Corey Dickerson dimmed Nava’s chances of regular playing time on the 25-man roster, though the 35-year-old Nava still carries value as a backup and pinch-hit option against right-handed pitching.  Nava will surely be placed on the 60-day DL as he continues to recover from his surgery, so the signing won’t require Pittsburgh to make any 40-man roster moves.

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    Ray Searage: Tyler Glasnow Making Progress https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-indians-cards-pirates-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-indians-cards-pirates-royals.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:42:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117677
  • Pirates righty Tyler Glasnow, a former top prospect, had a rough time in the majors last year, but pitching coach Ray Searage has seen legitimate progress this spring, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details. “Oh, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes,” said Searage, who added that Glasnow “has embraced” the adjustments the Pirates have suggested this year. Searage likened the 2017 version of Glasnow to a deer in the headlights, but now, even though there’s still work to be done, “he’s mature.” The 6-foot-8 Glasnow, 24, will kick off the season in the Pirates’ bullpen, though their hope is that he’ll ascend to the rotation, per Bloom. He made 13 starts in 15 appearances last year and pitched to a 7.69 ERA/6.30 FIP with 8.13 K/9 against 6.39 BB/9.
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    Pirates Expect To Re-Sign Daniel Nava https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/nl-notes-phils-flaherty-brewers-mets-pirates.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/nl-notes-phils-flaherty-brewers-mets-pirates.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:14:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117656
  • The Pirates expect to re-sign free agent outfielder Daniel Nava, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Pittsburgh released Nava on Tuesday, but general manager Neal Huntington suggested at the time that the team would like to bring him back. Nava is still on the mend from February back surgery, and the Pirates want him to rehab as a member of their organization. “We anticipate him being a second-half contributor to the major league team,” said Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomcyzk, who noted that “the sooner we can get our hands on him, is the better.”
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    Pirates Sign Ji-Hwan Bae https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-sign-ji-hwan-bae.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-sign-ji-hwan-bae.html#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 22:50:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117658 The Pirates have signed former Braves prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, as John Dreker and Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com recently reported (subscription link). The well-regarded young shortstop, a recent international signee from Korea, will earn a bonus worth around $1.25MM.

    The addition of Bae means the Pirates have spent roughly $5.25MM of their available $5.75MM pool space for the 2017-18 signing period, MLB.com’s Adam Berry notes. He received the second-largest bonus the organization has ever given to a prospect, trailing only right-hander Luis Heredia, whom the Bucs handed $2.6MM back in 2010. Heredia is now a free agent.

    The 18-year-old Bae had been property of the Braves from this past September until November, when Major League Baseball took him and 11 other prospects from the Atlanta organization because of international signing violations. Thanks in part to those transgressions, MLB hit ex-Braves general manager John Coppolella with a lifetime ban.

    Bae joined the Braves for $300K, but they reportedly had an under-the-table agreement to pay him an extra $600K. After Atlanta signed Bae, special assistant Chad MacDonald offered high praise for the lefty-swinger.

    “He’s very athletic. He stays at shortstop, he’s going to be a solid to plus defender there. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. There’s more power in the bat,” said MacDonald. “If everything clicks, we have a left-handed version of Trea Turner, who I signed in San Diego. Again, maybe not that much power, but certainly the impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter.”

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    Pirates Release Daniel Nava https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-release-daniel-nava.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-release-daniel-nava.html#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2018 23:36:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117537 The Pirates have released outfielder Daniel Nava, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).  The 35-year-old veteran signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh last month but his chances of winning a job dimmed after the Pirate acquired Corey Dickerson.  If the roster crunch wasn’t enough, Nava underwent back surgery in late February, sidelining him for a projected 10-to-12 weeks.

    This might not be the end of Nava’s days in Pittsburgh, however, as Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters (including Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that he hopes to re-sign Nava to a new deal “to continue his rehab and hopefully help our Major League club later this summer.”  A reunion certainly seems possible, as Nava might prefer to take a new contract now rather than wait until he is healthy to explore options with other teams.

    Whatever the scenario, the outfielder will surely draw some interest given his strong track record against right-handed pitching.  The switch-hitting Nava owns a .281/.374/.404 slash line in 1541 career plate appearances against righties, and he enjoyed a solid (albeit injury-shortened) season with the Phillies in 2017.  Nava hit .301/.393/.421 in 214 PA for the Phils, reviving his career after struggling through lackluster years in 2015-16.

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    The Pirates' Main Issue: Pipeline, Not Payroll? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-pirates-rays-red-sox-heyward-intl-prospects.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/quick-hits-pirates-rays-red-sox-heyward-intl-prospects.html#comments Sun, 04 Mar 2018 22:54:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116233 The Pirates and Rays have faced criticism from fans and pundits for a lack of spending, plus they were two of the four teams cited in a grievance filed by the players’ union about the quartet’s use of revenue-sharing funds.  ESPN.com’s David Schoenfield, however, argues that the Bucs and Rays didn’t boast big payrolls even when they were in contention, and the larger issue that hurt Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay in 2017 was a lack of production from homegrown talent.  Neither club has done a good job of drafting and developing prospects in recent years, and the lack of a strong pipeline of minor league talent is deadly for any smaller-market franchise.

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    Central Notes: Moustakas, Bryant, Miley, Freese https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moustakas-bryant-miley-freese.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moustakas-bryant-miley-freese.html#comments Sat, 03 Mar 2018 01:41:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116131 It has long been suggested that the White Sox would make for an interesting match with free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, but we’ve seen little in the way of a clear connection. But now there’s evidence at least that the sides are “staying in touch,” in the words of Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Whether that means the South Siders have real interest that would drive a significant offer, of course, is not yet clear. Presumably, the club would be intrigued mostly in a value proposition of some kind, perhaps in a multi-year scenario. While few outside observers believe the Sox roster is primed to compete in 2018, Moustakas would boost the quality in the short term and (more importantly) is young enough that he could be installed as a solid asset for future seasons. With little in the way of clear demand from contenders, this remains one of the more intriguing fits on paper.

    • Cubs star Kris Bryant says this winter’s slow-moving free agent market has spurred him to take labor issues seriously, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes“I need to study up, have my voice heard, continue to learn, because this is going to affect us for years to come,” says Bryant. His own delayed promotion to start the 2015 season has obviously played a role in spurring his attention to the subject. It’s an interesting read on one of the game’s brightest young players, who says he and other players are readying to take a more proactive role. “I think with this next [CBA] things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side just because we’re going to get the chance to experience the effects of some of the things we agreed to,” says Bryant.
    • The Brewers rotation still has plenty of questions at the back end; indeed, many fans would still like to see an outside addition to provide one answer. As things stand, though, there’s a camp battle underway with quite a few participants. Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote yesterday that, while it’s still plenty early, both Wade Miley and Brent Suter have made favorable initial impressions. In Miley’s case, at least, it might even be that his showing already makes him an odds-on favorite to crack the roster. He has over a thousand MLB innings under his belt, after all, and the Brewers might well lose him through an opt-out (he’s an Article XX(B) free agent) if they don’t ultimately put him on the 40-man. Of course, there’s plenty of time yet for candidates to rise and fall in camp.
    • Pirates third baseman David Freese had some salty words for the organization earlier in the winter, but he tells Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they weren’t directed at finding his way to another team. Rather, it seems, Freese was making a call for all in the organization to recommit to winning — a possibility he says he believes in, particularly with the recent acquisitions of Corey Dickerson and Kevin Siegrist. Freese also says he understands he’s not likely to command the lion’s share of the time at third base. “I’ve had a good run in the big leagues,” he said, “and I just want to go out there and win some games.”
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    Pirates Sign Kevin Siegrist To Minor-League Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-sign-kevin-siegrist-to-minor-league-deal.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pirates-sign-kevin-siegrist-to-minor-league-deal.html#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2018 19:05:43 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115623 March 1: Siegrist’s contract comes with a $1.5MM base salary if he makes the big league roster, tweets FanRag’s Jon Heyman.  ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Siegrist can earn an additional $500K worth of incentives and has a pair of opt-out dates in the deal if he has not been added to the 25-man roster.

    Feb. 24: The Pirates have inked left-hander Kevin Siegrist to a minor-league contract, the team announced today in a press release. He’s received an invitation to spring training camp as well.

    Siegrist had recently pitched before a crowd of about 20 scouts in Florida, making an attempt to show teams he’s healthy and can bounce back after an injury-marred 2017 campaign with the Cardinals and Phillies. Apparently none of those teams were willing to offer Siegrist a major-league contract, but he’ll have a good chance to make a Pirates roster that features George Kontos and Michael Feliz as the top setup options behind newly-extended closer Felipe Rivero. If he does, the Bucs will have the option to control him through the 2019 season via the arbitration process.

    Prior to 2017, Siegrist had enjoyed a largely successful career with the Cardinals. Across 206 1/3 frames with the club from 2013-2016, the southpaw pitched to a 2.70 ERA while racking up 243 strikeouts. He  had a bit of a walk problem (4.10 BB/9), and ERA estimators suggested he outperformed his peripherals a bit (3.87 xFIP), but nonetheless he was solid for the Redbirds, racking up 72 holds and 9 saves during that span.

    Things took a turn for the worst for Siegrist last year, as a forearm strain and spinal sprain forced two separate stints on the DL. When on the field, his velocity and strikeout rate were both down, while his walk rate ballooned to a problematic 5.24 per nine. His 4.98 ERA became an eyesore, and by the end of August, the Cardinals had seen enough; they activated him from the DL only to designate him for assignment immediately.

    Siegrist was quickly claimed by the Phillies, for whom he pitched just five innings during the month of September. He allowed two earned runs and struck out seven. However, his showing apparently wasn’t enough to convince Philadelphia to pay him a minimal arbitration raise on his $1.6MM 2017 salary. The club opted to outright Siegrist off their 40-man roster, and he elected free agency shortly thereafter.

    The towering 6′-5″ Siegrist is just 28 years old. He was drafted and developed by the Cardinals organization, who plucked him out of Palm Beach Community College in the 41st round of the 2008 draft. Though he was a starter in the lower minors, a shift to the bullpen late in his 2012 season at the Double-A level spurred a quick rise to the majors. Siegrist pitched just 7 2/3 innings with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate before he was deemed ready to make his major-league debut on June 6th, 2013, a day on which he struck out four of the six hitters he faced while allowing no earned runs.

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    Daniel Nava Undergoes Back Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/daniel-nava-undergoes-back-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/daniel-nava-undergoes-back-surgery.html#comments Wed, 28 Feb 2018 13:59:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115968 Outfielder Daniel Nava, who was in camp with the Pirates as a non-roster invitee, underwent back surgery yesterday, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic was among those to report (via Twitter). The recovery process is expected to keep Nava out for ten to twelve weeks.

    At the time of his signing, Nava was viewed as a likely candidate to earn a share of a corner outfield platoon. But that had already come into question with the team’s recent acquisition of Corey Dickerson, who is now expected to see near-regular duty.

    With the news of the surgery added in, Nava’s outlook in Pittsburgh is decidedly unclear. That’s not to say that it’s a particularly concerning medical outlook; rather, he’s said to be slated for a microdiscectomy, a fairly common procedure that will presumably enable Nava to return without pain.

    Rather, it’s increasingly difficult to see how Nava will fit on the roster. While he’s a switch-hitter, the 35-year-old has long been utilized mostly against right-handed pitching. The results support that usage, as Nava has nearly a 200-point platoon spread in his career OPS numbers.

    With Dickerson and Gregory Polanco on two corners, the Bucs already have a pair of lefty outfield bats. And switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell likely won’t be asked to sit down very often. With Pittsburgh already carrying two third basemen (Colin Moran and David Freese) and two infield/outfield capable utility players (Adam Frazier and Sean Rodriguez), at most there’ll only be one more bench opening available. Of course, things could look quite a lot different once Nava is ready to return.

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    Injury Notes: Gurriel, Frazier, Gausman, Stroman, Thornburg, Eaton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/injury-notes-gurriel-frazier-gausman-stroman-thornburg-eaton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/injury-notes-gurriel-frazier-gausman-stroman-thornburg-eaton.html#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 19:13:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115908 The Astros have shipped first baseman Yuli Gurriel to Houston so his injured hand can be evaluated, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). At this point, the situation is more or less a mystery, with no real indication how the issue arose or just what the club is concerned about. Clearly, though, the team’s training staff has found cause to get a closer look from a specialist.

    Here’s more on some injury situations from around the game:

    • Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier has been diagnosed with a concussion, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Frazier made a leaping catch in yesterday’s Grapefruit League game against the Pirates and stumbled a bit before falling backwards and hitting his head against the base of the left-field wall (video link). Manager Aaron Boone said Frazier will be down for “a few days” and acknowledged the seemingly optimistic nature of that timeline. Frazier is far from a lock to make the Opening Day roster in New York with Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury all on the roster, but he remains a key potential long-term piece for the Yanks.
    • It seems that Orioles righty Kevin Gausman has largely shaken off a home-plate collision yesterday, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. The young starter, who is a key factor in the team’s hopes for the coming season, says he “feel[s] pretty good” on the whole despite slamming into Tigers youngster Jeimer Candelario. For the time being, at least, Gausman is expected to take the ball for his next scheduled spring outing.
    • The outlook is at least a bit more worrisome for Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, shoulder inflammation is holding Stroman back. Though he has already been cleared by an MRI of structural concerns, Stroman will rest up in hopes of moving past a problem that has evidently been going on for a few weeks. The key Jays hurler says he’s hoping to be fully ramped up for “the very beginning of the start of the season,” even if it’s not Opening Day, though surely the organization will proceed with caution.
    • The Red Sox will welcome reliever Tyler Thornburg back to the hill for the first time since he underwent surgery to address thoracic outlet syndrome, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter. A bullpen session is just one of many steps back, of course, and Thornburg still has some hurdles to clear. He has yet to pitch competitively for the Boston organization (excepting brief spring action last year) since coming over in a trade in advance of the 2017 season.
    • Indications are that Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton is largely progressing well after a long layoff for a torn ACL. As Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com writes, though, Eaton has yet to appear in game action. That appears to be less a reflection of Eaton’s surgically repaired joint than it is a planned effort to build him up deliberately. “We’re going to take it and be methodical and do it right for the first time and make sure I’m overcooked, so to speak, before I go out there.” While it’s surely tempting to max out Eaton’s reps after a lost season, skipper Davey Martinez emphasized the primary goal is to have Eaton at full speed come Opening Day.
    • The rival Mets are reporting shoulder and back soreness for Yoenis Cespedes and Jacob deGrom, respectively, but those don’t seem to be real concerns at this point, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports. However, the New York organization is likely to hold back first baseman Dominic Smith for a while after he was diagnosed with a strained quad. He already seemed to face a difficult task of cracking the Opening Day roster, so this setback is not likely to help the cause. (New reliever Anthony Swarzak just left his relief appearance with an apparent calf injury, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to tweet, though details are sparse at this time.)
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    MLBPA Files Grievance Against Four Teams Over Revenue Sharing Funds https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/mlbpa-files-grievance-against-four-teams-over-revenue-sharing-funds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/mlbpa-files-grievance-against-four-teams-over-revenue-sharing-funds.html#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:52:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115882 The Major League Baseball Player’s Association has initiated a grievance proceeding against the Athletics, Marlins, Pirates, and Rays regarding those teams’ spending of revenue sharing dollars, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

    This general issue has been percolating for some time, even as additional concerns have arisen as to the pace of free-agent signings over the 2017-18 offseason. The MLBPA reportedly engaged with the league office over the Miami and Pittsburgh organizations’ spending earlier this year.

    At the time, MLB and the teams at issue rejected the idea that there was any issue worth exploring further. Clearly, the union disagrees and also feels that two other organizations’ practices merit examination. Per Topkin, the complaint relates to spending both last year and over the present offseason.

    Revenue-sharing dollars — which will be phased out for the A’s under the current Basic Agreement — are required to be spent for improving the MLB performance of recipient clubs. That doesn’t necessarily mean it all must go to player salaries, but though teams are required to report on how they use the money. And as JJ Cooper of Baseball America notes on Twitter, successive collective bargaining agreements have tightened the permissible uses.

    Enforcing the provisions relating to these funds falls in the domain of commissioner Rob Manfred. He can issue penalties, require the submission of a two-year plan, and even order changes with that plan (“after consultation with the Players Association”).

    As Topkin notes, it is not immediately clear what the MLBPA is seeking in relief. The collectively bargained provisions do seem to give the union an interest in ensuring the provisions are followed, though, and perhaps the situation is seen as drastic enough to merit a test of their meaning before an arbitrator.

    In a statement to the Times, the league confirmed receipt of the grievance but stated that MLB “believe[s] it has no merit.” Pirates president Frank Coonelly responded with a combative tone, issuing a statement labeling the action “patently baseless” (via MLB.com’s Adam Berry, on Twitter). Rays owner Stuart Sternberg defended his own organization in less strident terms (via Topkin, on Twitter).

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    Royals Sign Michael Saunders https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-sign-michael-saunders.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/royals-sign-michael-saunders.html#comments Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:38:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115593 6:38pm: Saunders can earn $1.5MM on the MLB roster with as much as $500K in available incentives, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tweets.

    3:36pm: The Royals have announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal. It seems that the recent agreement between Saunders and the Pirates has been torn up.

    When Saunders put pen to paper with Pittsburgh, he was slated to battle with Daniel Nava and others for a spot in the outfield mix. But the Bucs’ recent acquisition of Corey Dickerson left Saunders without much of a path to the MLB roster.

    Saunders’s agent, Barry Meister, says the Pirates allowed his client to pursue other opportunities after the new development, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Meister says the team “should be commended for their player-friendly, honest and transparent behavior.”

    At the end of the day, then, Saunders will enter a different but perhaps even more promising situation in Kansas City. He’ll still need to earn his way onto the roster, but there’s a solid chance he can do so with a good performance this spring. Outside of Alex Gordon, the Royals are thin in terms of lefty outfield bats; Saunders will presumably compete with non-roster invitees Cody Asche and Tyler Collins in camp for a chance at a role in the majors.

    Saunders is coming off of a miserable 2017 season and has a long history of injury troubles. But he has had some quality campaigns in the majors, including a 2016 effort with the Blue Jays in which he posted a .253/.338/.478 batting line over 558 plate appearances. At his best, he has also graded well in the field and on the bases, so it could be that the 31-year-old still has some productive seasons ahead of him.

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    Pirates Intend To Utilize Corey Dickerson As Regular Left Fielder https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-plans-corey-dickerson-reds-senzel-shortstop-brewers-braun-utility-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-plans-corey-dickerson-reds-senzel-shortstop-brewers-braun-utility-rumors.html#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2018 02:42:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115337 Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested today that he expects new acquisition Corey Dickerson to handle the bulk of the action in left field for he coming season, as MLB.com’s Adam Berry report on Twitter. No doubt the Bucs will end up giving Dickerson some time off against lefties; while he performed well against southpaws last year, he has long carried wide platoon splits. But it seems the plan is to give him an opportunity to function as something approaching an everyday player, with the Pittsburgh organization evidently willing to stomach the less-than-stellar glovework Dickerson is reputed to deliver. Perhaps the biggest question will be whether the powerful 28-year-old can overcome an interesting problem identified by Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs in a piece today: a tendency to swing and miss at four-seam fastballs.

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    Pirates Acquire Corey Dickerson From Rays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/rays-trade-corey-dickerson-pirates-daniel-hudson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/rays-trade-corey-dickerson-pirates-daniel-hudson.html#comments Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:17:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115511 1:17pm: The Pirates are sending the Rays $1MM as part of the trade, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (Twitter link). In essence, then, they’ll spend an additional $1.45MM to turn Hudson into Dickerson, while the Rays will add a reliever to their ’pen, a prospect to the lower levels of their farm system, and trim $1.45MM from their 2018 payroll.

    12:24pm: The Pirates announced that they’ve acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson from the Rays in exchange for reliever Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray and cash.

    Corey Dickerson | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Tampa Bay recently designated Dickerson, 28, for assignment in a move that came as a surprise to many. Dickerson posted solid overall numbers in 2017, hitting .282/.325/.490 with 27 homers in 629 trips to the plate. Dickerson, though, faded badly after a strong start to the season.

    Though Dickerson hit .326/.369/.570 with 17 homers through the season’s first three months, that production was supported by a .374 BABIP that he didn’t seem especially likely to maintain. That number came back down to earth from July through season’s end as Dickerson’s strikeout rate rose to nearly 29 percent, and he batted just .232/.273/.397 with 10 homers and an 82-to-16 K/BB ratio in the final three months of the season.

    That said, Dickerson still has an overall track record as a quality bat, as evidenced by a lifetime .280/.325/.504 slash and 119 OPS+. He’ll earn $5.95MM in 2018 and is controllable for one more year via arbitration before he can reach free agency.

    The Pirates desperately needed some outfield help following this offseason’s trade of former face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen, and Dickerson should slot into the organization as the team’s new everyday left fielder. Defensive metrics aren’t exactly bullish on his glovework in the outfield, though he’s graded out as generally average or slightly above-average in left field over the past two seasons after drawing poor marks early in his career with the Rockies. He’ll be joined in the outfield by Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, each of whom is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2017 season.

    [Related: Updated Pittsburgh Pirates depth chart]

    Though Dickerson isn’t likely to recreate the massive performance he rode to his first career All-Star appearance in the first half last season, he should nonetheless serve as an offensive upgrade over the Pirates’ internal options in left field. Adam Frazier and Jordan Luplow were two of the main candidates for that gig on the 40-man roster, while veterans Michael Saunders and Daniel Nava are in camp as non-roster invitees to Spring Training. Certainly, the Dickerson pickup places a significant roadblock to either veteran making the roster, and it’s fair to wonder if they’ll ultimately be allowed to seek other opportunities.

    Daniel Hudson | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    In Hudson, the Rays will pick up a hard-throwing veteran reliever looking for a rebound season of his own. Hudson’s contract calls for him to earn $5.5MM this season, so the two contracts nearly cancel each other out. However, the Pirates are also sending cash to the Rays in the deal, so it appears that Tampa Bay will come out ahead, financially speaking, in the swap.

    Hudson, 31 early next month, posted a 4.38 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.8 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9 and a 43.3 percent ground-ball rate while averaging 95.6 mph on his fastball through 61 2/3 innings last year. A converted starter that has twice undergone Tommy John surgery in his career, Hudson has a 4.59 ERA in the ’pen over the past three-plus seasons since making the switch, but secondary metrics have been considerably more optimistic based on his strikeout rates and, outside of last season, his control. In 192 1/3 frames as a reliever, Hudson has a 3.84 FIP and 3.78 SIERA.

    Tampa Bay executives Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom recently downplayed the possibility of the Rays trading closer Alex Colome before the season begins, so it seems that Hudson will pair with recently re-signed Sergio Romo to give the Rays another experienced arm in their setup corps.

    The addition of that pair of veteran arms will allow the Rays to lean less heavily on what had looked to be a largely inexperienced group of relievers outside of Colome and southpaw Dan Jennings. Andrew Kittredge, Chaz Roe, Austin Pruitt, Ryne Stanek, Jose Alvarado and Chih-Wei Hu wiill be among the names vying for the remaining bullpen spots with the Rays this spring now that Hudson is on board.

    [Related: Updated Tampa Bay Rays depth chart]

    Gray, meanwhile, was Pittsburgh’s 13th-round pick in last year’s draft and posted a .269/.329/.486 slash with seven homers and five steals in 53 games for the Pirates’ short-season Class-A affiliate last year. The second baseman was an honorable mention on Fangraphs’ list of the Pirates’ Top 25 prospects, with Eric Longenhagen pointing to a long track record of production as an amateur but also labeling his overall offensive profile as “middling.”

    All told, it’s a fairly underwhelming return for Dickerson, though that’s largely indicative of the manner in which bat-first corner outfielders have been devalued in the current economic climate of baseball. The Rays surely tried to trade Dickerson for much of the winter but seemingly found no takers before designating him for assignment, and even in this swap it seems that Tampa Bay had to agree to take on some salary to work out a deal. Jay Bruce managed to score a three-year, $39MM pact with a similar, albeit superior overall profile at the plate, but both the trade and free-agent markets for good-not-great corner outfielders have been rather tepid over the past couple of seasons.

    It seems plausible that the Rays simply felt they could utilize a full season of Mallex Smith in a corner outfield spot without losing much in the way of overall value, and elected to turn Dickerson into an alternative Major League asset. The surprising trade of Steven Souza that followed Dickerson’s DFA, as the Rays’ front office told it recently, was more or less a function of an unexpected and aggressive pursuit of Souza by the Diamondbacks, who promised a prospect package the Rays felt they could not afford to turn away. The Rays were then able to capitalize on a weak free-agent market and bring in Carlos Gomez at a bargain rate — a move that further reflects the dwindling value of above-average offensive outfielders that aren’t premium defensive assets.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Pirates Sign Michael Saunders https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-sign-michael-saunders.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-sign-michael-saunders.html#comments Wed, 21 Feb 2018 17:22:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115434 The Pirates have inked a minor-league deal with outfielder Michael Saunders, per a club announcement. He has been invited to participate in the MLB side of camp.

    Saunders, 31, has had something of a roller-coaster career to this point. After an injury-riddled run with the Mariners, he seemed to turn a corner in 2016 with the Blue Jays. Saunders ran up a .253/.338/.478 slash through 558 plate appearances, though the bulk of the output came in the first half of the season.

    The open market was not quite as kind to Saunders as many anticipated, but he still commanded a $9MM guarantee to join the Phillies in advance of the 2017 season. Things just did not work out in Philadelphia, though, as Saunders limped to a .205/.257/.360 slash before being cut loose. He ended up back with the Toronto organization but was not overly impressive at Triple-A or in a brief, late-season return to the majors.

    Those ups and downs have shown up in baserunning and fielding metrics, too, perhaps reflecting the role that injuries have played. Saunders has at times graded as a high-end threat on the bases (2012-13) and corner outfield defender (2014), but received below-average marks in both areas in 2016 before bouncing back somewhat in his 73 total MLB games in the following campaign.

    Pittsburgh enters Spring Training with several options for filling the outfield vacancy created by the trade of Andrew McCutchen. It could be that Saunders will battle Daniel Nava (a switch-hitter who’s much better against righties) for a single spot. Saunders carries narrow platoon splits over his career, it’s worth noting. That represents a point of distinction from Nava, who was productive when healthy last year but has never hit a lick against southpaws.

    Perhaps both players could earn jobs if they are sufficiently impressive, but that seems like a tight fit. The Bucs could utilize southpaw-swinging utilityman Adam Frazier in the outfield, after all. And the team will need to ensure that it has the other pieces needed for a platoon, with right-handed hitters Bryce Brentz and Sean Rodriguez providing options.

    If he’s not able to crack the Opening Day roster, Saunders will presumably spend some time digging in against Triple-A pitching in hopes of getting back to form. (Whether and when he can opt out of his deal is not yet known.) Given the amount of uncertainty at the major-league level for the Pirates, Saunders should at a minimum represent a worthwhile depth option to have on hand.

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    Pirates Acquire Bryce Brentz https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-acquire-bryce-brentz.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-acquire-bryce-brentz.html#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2018 18:47:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115326 The Pirates have acquired outfielder Bryce Brentz from the Red Sox, according to an announcement from the Boston organization. Cash considerations will make up the return.

    Brentz, 29, is a former first-round pick who has seen only minimal MLB action in his professional career. He seemed unlikely to hold down a roster spot through camp with the Red Sox working to finalize a deal with free agent J.D. Martinez. In all likelihood, Brentz’s 40-man spot will go to Martinez.

    As a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, Brentz will have to hit quite a bit to stick in the majors. He did manage just that feat last year at Triple-A, posting a .271/.334/.529 slash with 31 long balls over 494 plate appearances at Pawtucket, and showed well again in the Mexican Pacific Winter League.

    Brentz, who is out of options, will presumably now get a shot at impressing the Pittsburgh brass in camp. He’ll join a group of candidates trying to claim a share of the corner outfield mix, including Daniel Nava, Jordan LuplowJason Martin, and Todd Cunningham as well as top Bucs’ prospect Austin Meadows.

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    NL Central Notes: Brewers, Reds, Pirates https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-central-notes-brewers-reds-pirates-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-central-notes-brewers-reds-pirates-2.html#comments Mon, 19 Feb 2018 01:45:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115193 Reiterating a familiar stance for the Brewers this offseason, GM David Stearns says that the club has confidence in its current group of starters, but they’re exploring upgrades (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “We’ve explored a variety of starting pitching options out there, and have a pretty good sense of what the market is,” Stearns said Sunday. “Our stance is if we can make an acquisition that we think can meaningfully upgrade the team at a responsible investment level, that’s something we’re open to.” Stearns went on to say that he believes the Milwaukee front office has done a nice job of adding to their depth. This isn’t the first time the Brewers GM has expressed confidence in the club’s current group of starters, though that notion might be met with some skepticism considering the club’s lengthy pursuit of Yu Darvish that ultimately came up short.

    Some other notes out of the NL Central…

    • Stearns expressed confidence in the club’s catching group as well when asked about the possibility of a reunion between the Brewers and Jonathan Lucroy (Twitter links from Haudricourt). The GM thinks that the team got “pretty meaningful production” last year from a position split between Manny Pina, Stephen Vogt and Jett Bandy (though there’s room for skepticism on that front too, considering the team’s catchers combined to finish 20th out of 30 MLB teams by positional fWAR). Haudricourt notes that Bandy is out of minor league options while Vogt’s deal is non-guaranteed, meaning the Brewers may have a tough decision to make during spring training camp.
    • Though Reds franchise icon Joey Votto has shown faith in the club’s rebuild in past seasons, the first baseman seems to be growing impatient, writes Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer“I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball,” he told the press on Sunday. “I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.” Votto certainly did all he could for the Reds during their recent losing stretch. Though the team lost at least 90 games in each of the past three seasons, he managed a stunning .320/.449/.557 slash line with 94 home runs and more walks (385) than strikeouts (338) during that time.
    • In part due to player feedback, the Pirates have made changes to their training staff this offseason that they believe will lead to fewer DL stints on the whole. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the details: Bryan Housand, the team’s new head athletic trainer, and Todd Tomscyk, recently named director of sports medicine for the club, are two of the major cogs in this overhaul. GM Neal Huntington says that Tomczyk in particular will now be able to have a “bigger impact” on the club’s performance team. Notably, the club saw three of its 2017 contributors hit the DL with hamstring strains (Gregory Polanco, Adam Frazier and David Freese); perhaps this change in the club’s training approach could help to curb that issue in 2018.
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    Latest On Pirates’ Josh Harrison https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/latest-on-pirates-josh-harrison.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/latest-on-pirates-josh-harrison.html#comments Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:56:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115131 After the Pirates traded franchise cornerstones Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole last month, utilityman Josh Harrison suggested he’d like to play elsewhere if “the team does not expect to contend this year or next.” The Pirates haven’t done anything to assuage Harrison since then, he explained to reporters (including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) when he showed up to camp on Sunday.

    Regarding a conversation he had with general manager Neal Huntington, Harrison said: “At the end of the day there wasn’t anything said or done that was like, aw man, I can breathe easy. He talked to me, said he wants to win and this or that. At the end of the day I said it’s about action, not speaking.”

    Harrison also knocked the Pirates for a lack of transparency – “Some of it goes with not knowing the direction. I understand the business side. Every year, there’s going to be guys coming in and going out. You just want to know where we stand as a team, where you stand as a player” – and backed up teammate David Freese’s recent comments criticizing the Bucs for an absence of “accountability.”

    “I don’t care how we do it, but things need to be done,” Harrison declared. “As Freese said the other day, it’s got to be urgent and not just from a couple guys, a couple people in the office. It has to be top to bottom. You talk about Freese, he’s a World Series MVP. The guy’s been there. He knows what it takes to win. I think it will go without saying that he and I, even some of the comments he mentioned, had been conversations we’ve had during the season. It’s been brought to light.”

    Although Harrison isn’t content with the state of the Pirates, it’s unclear whether they’re interested in trading him or whether there’s even a market for his services at this point. The New York teams and Toronto have shown the most reported interest in Harrison since last season ended, but both the Mets and Blue Jays have made several moves to address their infield and outfield in recent weeks. Consequently, both teams are likely out of the running for Harrison.

    The Yankees still don’t have a proven second or third base solution, meanwhile, and credible free agent options are dwindling. However, the Yankees only have in the neighborhood of $10MM to $15MM in spending room as they try to stay under the $197MM luxury tax line, which could help prevent a deal from occurring even if the Pirates are open to trading Harrison.

    While Harrison’s $6.825MM luxury tax number for 2018 is affordable, it still might not be palatable for the Yankees, who have recently passed on similarly valuable, similarly compensated free agent infielders (Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez, for instance) and could use their remaining money to address their rotation – which is an area they’ve prioritized. Passing on expensive veteran infielders would enable the Yankees to allow promising prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar to sink or swim at second and third, respectively. Torres could start the year in the minors, in part because it would give the Yankees an extra year of control over him, but they’d only need to wait until mid-April to promote him.

    If no trade materializes by Opening Day, the 30-year-old Harrison will start his eighth season in Pittsburgh. Harrison is in the last guaranteed season of the four-year, $27.3MM extension he signed with the Pirates in 2015. He’ll earn $10MM this year and could make up to $21.5MM over the following two seasons, depending on whether his employer picks up his options for 2019 and ’20.

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    Pirates Notes: Freese, Moran https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-central-notes-russell-cain-freese-moran.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-central-notes-russell-cain-freese-moran.html#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 23:00:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115057
  • David Freese had some frank opinions about the Pirates’ recent lack of success, telling reporters (including Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that more “urgency” and “accountability” is needed within the Bucs’ clubhouse.  “The last two years, we haven’t done as well as we could have because of our environment,” Freese said.  “That’s what I think.  I walk in every day, and it’s not in the air.  The demand to win just hasn’t been in the air.  That’s what you need.  You can say all you want about how we’re going to win, this and that, but if you don’t walk in and you don’t feel it and you don’t see it in people’s eyes, it’s just not going to work.”  The piece is well worth a full read for a different take on the Pirates’ struggles, as Bloom notes that Freese’s criticisms differed from recent comments made by Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez that indicated more frustration towards the front office.
    • David Freese had some frank opinions about the Pirates’ recent lack of success, telling reporters (including Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that more “urgency” and “accountability” is needed within the Bucs’ clubhouse.  “The last two years, we haven’t done as well as we could have because of our environment,” Freese said.  “That’s what I think.  I walk in every day, and it’s not in the air.  The demand to win just hasn’t been in the air.  That’s what you need.  You can say all you want about how we’re going to win, this and that, but if you don’t walk in and you don’t feel it and you don’t see it in people’s eyes, it’s just not going to work.”  The piece is well worth a full read for a different take on the Pirates’ struggles, as Bloom notes that Freese’s criticisms differed from recent comments made by Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez that indicated more frustration towards the front office.
    • Colin Moran suffered a concussion and a facial fracture after a fouling a ball into his left eye last July, and it is quite possible that the injury changed the course of the young infielder’s career.  Moran was dealt to the Pirates last month as part of the Gerrit Cole trade, and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Moran might still be an Astro today had he gotten a longer chance to perform last summer, rather than being sidelined just two games into a midseason call-up.  “I think he would have hit .300, I think he would have hit for power,” Luhnow said.  “We might not have traded him because we might have wanted to figure out a way to keep him on our club.”  Interestingly, it’s also possible to speculate that a healthy and productive Moran would’ve been traded from Houston much sooner, as Moran was reportedly involved in the Astros’ talks with the Orioles about Zach Britton at the July trade deadline (though an injured Houston pitching prospect was the primary reason the Britton deal was scuttled).
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    Latest On Pirates' Outfield Battle https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/central-notes-montgomery-lincecum-pirates-royals-tigers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/central-notes-montgomery-lincecum-pirates-royals-tigers.html#comments Thu, 15 Feb 2018 03:01:07 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114756
  • Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez, and Jordan Luplow are the top choices competing for the open spot in the Pirates’ outfield, and GM Neal Huntington tells MLB.com’s Adam Berry and other reporters that the club feels good about that internal mix.  “We’re comfortable with those three, that between those three we can get a productive outfielder out of that group, one that we feel compares well to the group of free-agent outfielders that are in our scope,” Huntington said.  A new acquisition isn’t yet totally out of the question, however, as Huntington said last week that “There are still players of interest to us. If we’re able to find that common ground, then we’d be open to adding.”
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    Pirates To Sign Daniel Nava https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-to-sign-daniel-nava.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/pirates-to-sign-daniel-nava.html#comments Tue, 06 Feb 2018 20:10:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114135 The Pirates have reached agreement with free agent outfielder/first baseman Daniel Nava, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). It’s a minors pact that includes a MLB camp invite.

    Nava, who’ll turn 35 in a few weeks, had a nice bounceback campaign last year with the cross-state Phillies. He was limited to eighty games of action owing to injuries, which also perhaps prevented him from being dealt to a contender in the middle of the season, but turned in an undeniably productive overall effort.

    Over 214 total plate appearances, Nava slashed a robust .301/.393/.421. Though he managed only four home runs, he exhibited a command of the strike zone (just 38 strikeouts with 26 walks) of the type that led to his prior MLB success.

    Of course, teams were no doubt also wary given that Nava had struggled over the prior several campaigns. While he grades as a solid defender in the corner outfield, he isn’t exactly a prime asset with the glove. And Nava is pretty clearly a strict platoon asset: the switch-hitter has long been far more successful against right-handed than left-handed pitching.

    For the Bucs, those limitations are just fine. As middling as his production has been against southpaws, Nava dominated (.341/.423/.474) when hitting with the platoon advantage last year. He ought to have a fair shot at earning a MLB roster spot in camp. Odds are — as the Pirates’ updated depth chart suggests — he’ll end up in a time share in the corner outfield.

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    Josh Smoker Not Surprised He Ended Up With Pirates https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-notes-cubs-mets-nunez-pirates.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nl-notes-cubs-mets-nunez-pirates.html#comments Sun, 04 Feb 2018 03:42:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113982 Checking in on the National League…

    • The Cubs are “still looking to add depth” to their pitching staff, general manager Jed Hoyer tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. “That’s an annual thing you think about. You prepare for injuries even if some years you go unscathed,” he continued. Starting depth does appear to be an issue at the moment for the Cubs, who lack battle-tested options beyond their current projected rotation of Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery. Of the other healthy starting possibilities on their 40-man roster, only Eddie Butler brings significant experience in the majors, though he hasn’t been particularly successful. Of course, the Cubs would help their cause quite a bit by signing Yu Darvish (who remains on their radar) or bringing in another high-profile starter via free agency or trade.
    • The Mets are reportedly interested in free agent infielder Eduardo Nunez, but Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders (on Twitter) if the organization’s hitting philosophy may ultimately prevent a signing from occurring. The club “emphasizes selectivity,” Puma points out, and that’s not the case with Nunez. Among hitters with at least 400 plate appearances last year, he had the seventh-lowest walk percentage (3.7) and the 14th-highest chase rate (39.6 percent).
    • Left-hander Josh Smoker went from the Mets to the Pirates in a trade this week, and it didn’t surprise the reliever that he ended up in Pittsburgh (via Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “I kind of had a feeling that Pittsburgh might have some interest because in the past I had heard rumblings that Pittsburgh had always had a little bit of interest in me,” Smoker said. “I know it’s a team that needs some left-handers, too.” Indeed, Smoker became just the fourth southpaw on the Bucs’ 40-man roster. While Smoker has only managed a 5.02 ERA across 71 2/3 career innings, he’s hopeful renowned Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage will be able to help him break out with his new team. After the trade, Smoker discussed Searage with his friend, former Pirates reliever Matt Capps, who offered praise for the pitching guru.
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    East Notes: Marlins, Arroyo, E-Rod, Mets https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/east-notes-marlins-arroyo-e-rod-mets.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/east-notes-marlins-arroyo-e-rod-mets.html#comments Sat, 03 Feb 2018 15:03:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113930 A 2008 agreement between Miami-Dade county and Jeffrey Loria (and his partners) saw the county fund most of the $515 million government-owned Marlins stadium in Little Havana. In exchange, the county was promised the right to 5 percent of any profits Loria & co. earned if they sold the team within 10 years. Yet Loria’s lawyers have released documents telling the county not to expect any money at all from last year’s $1.2 billion sale of the Marlins, Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald writes. The reasoning from Loria’s camp is that his accountants claim the sale amounted to a net loss of $141MM. The breakdown they offer begins with a $625MM agreed-to underlying value of the franchise, $280MM in debt, circa $300MM in taxes tied to the sale and a write-off of the $30MM fee paid to financial advisors. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez says that the city may sue to collect the taxpayers’ fair share of that $1.2 billion. My message is that this community really allowed you to make a lot of money,” he said on Friday. “He should do the right thing. He made profits, and he made big profits. He should share that with the people who allowed him to do that.”

    Here are a few other tidbits from around the league’s Eastern teams…

    • Newly-acquired Rays infielder Christian Arroyo was working out at Tropicana Field on Friday morning, Bill Chastain of MLB.com writes. MLB Pipeline’s 81st overall prospect saw his 2017 season end due to a broken hand, but surgeon Donald Sheridan cleared him for baseball activities after a visit on January 9th. “The hand is great,” Arroyo said. “Right now, it’s about getting back into baseball shape.” The 22-year-old came to Tampa Bay in this winter’s trade that sent Evan Longoria to San Francisco. He hit .192/.244/.304 across 135 plate appearances with the Giants last year in his first taste of big-league action, and figures to be in the Rays’ infield mix for the coming season.
    • Speaking of young players returning from injury, Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez could potentially miss a few starts at the beginning of the season after undergoing right knee patellofemoral ligament reconstruction surgery, Ian Browne of MLB.com writes. “[The injury] happened, like, three times already,” Rodriguez pointed out. “I was just trying to fight to pitch with a knee like that. And I did it. Sometimes there would be ups and downs. Now it’s time to get back to the guy I was before I got the surgery.” The 24-year-old southpaw’s had his share of ups and downs across parts of three seasons with the Red Sox. Last season, he put up 137 1/3 innings for the club while striking out 9.83 batters per nine and posting a 4.19 ERA overall.
    • Eduardo Nunez and Todd Frazier are currently the Mets’ leading choices in their search for an infielder, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports via Twitter. They’re apparently leery of getting “used” by Frazier (presumably for leverage) if he prefers the Yankees as his ultimate destination. In addition, the Mets are reportedly reluctant to bring back second baseman Neil Walker, and aren’t getting any traction in their efforts to acquire Josh Harrison from the Pirates. Lastly, Rosenthal adds that the team is interested in signing Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn out of free agency if their prices dip low enough.
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    Pirates Interested In Melky Cabrera https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/heymans-latest-darvish-utley-hosmer-moustakas-stanton-marlins-melky-dyson-garcia-chisox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/heymans-latest-darvish-utley-hosmer-moustakas-stanton-marlins-melky-dyson-garcia-chisox.html#comments Thu, 01 Feb 2018 23:02:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113819
  • Melky Cabrera has drawn some interest from the Marlins, Royals, and Pirates.  There hasn’t been much news on the veteran outfielder this winter, with only the Orioles (also mentioned here by Heyman) previously reported to have discussed Cabrera’s services.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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