Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-06-20T20:45:26Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Jameson Taillon]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163393 2019-06-20T13:09:23Z 2019-06-20T13:09:23Z A flexor strain in Pirates starter Jameson Taillon’s pitching elbow has kept the right-hander off a major league mound since May 1. Almost two months later, Taillon’s not recovering as hoped, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic explains (subscription required). Surgery could emerge as a possibility for Taillon if he doesn’t begin progressing, Biertempfel notes.

Taillon first started feeling symptoms of his flexor strain in spring training, well before he landed on the injured list. He still hasn’t resumed throwing since going on the IL, though the Pirates are hopeful that will change in 10 to 14 days, director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk told Biertempfel. However, Tomcyzk admitted “we might have to go in another direction” – possibly surgery – with Taillon if he shows ill effects after he returns to throwing. Regardless, it doesn’t appear he’s close to a return to the majors.

An elbow procedure would be the second for Taillon, who underwent Tommy John surgery as a prized prospect in 2014. Now, given the 27-year-old’s importance to the Bucs, another TJ procedure would be an enormous blow to Taillon and the team. Taillon entered 2019 off his best season in the majors, in which he threw 191 innings of 3.20 ERA/3.46 FIP ball with 8.43 K/9 and 2.17 BB/9, and performed well again this year before going on the IL. Even though he wasn’t at full strength, Taillon managed 37 1/3 frames of 4.10 ERA/3.76 FIP pitching with 7.23 K/9, 1.93 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent groundball rate.

Injuries to Taillon and other starters help explain the Pirates’ 33-40 record, which is the third-worst mark in the National League. The club just got back Trevor Williams, but he missed a little over a month with a side strain. Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles has been on the IL since June 10. Of starters who opened the season in Pittsburgh’s rotation, Taillon, Williams and Lyles have been its top performers so far. On the other hand, Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer haven’t prevented runs at palatable rates.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Activate Trevor Williams, Option Mitch Keller]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163294 2019-06-19T19:53:59Z 2019-06-19T19:53:59Z The Pirates announced today that they have activated right-hander Trevor Williams. To open an active roster spot, the club optioned fellow righty Mitch Keller.

Williams ended up missing just over a month of action with a side strain. Before going on the injured list on May 17, the 27-year-old Williams pitched to a matching 3.33 ERA/3.33 FIP with 7.0 K/9, 1.67 BB/9 and .67 HR/9 in 54 innings. Williams, Joe Musgrove and the currently injured pair of Jordan Lyles and Jameson Taillon have been the Pirates’ most productive starters this season. Lyles, out since June 10 with left hamstring tightness, will make a minor league rehab start Sunday, Adam Berry of MLB.com tweets.

Pittsburgh turned to Keller, 23, in hopes the premier prospect would help provide answers for an injury-laden rotation. Instead, Keller has allowed 14 earned runs on 21 hits and six walks through 12 innings and three starts thus far. But Keller was fairly effective in a loss to Detroit on Tuesday, when he yielded two earned runs (four total) on four hits and two walks in five innings, and has already notched 15 strikeouts in his big league career.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Darnell Sweeney To Minors Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162841 2019-06-15T23:13:38Z 2019-06-15T23:13:38Z The Pirates have signed utilityman Darnell Sweeney to a minor league contract, John Dreker of Pirates Prospects reports.  Sweeney will report to the Bucs’ Triple-A affiliate.

Sweeney appeared in two games with the Blue Jays last season, which marked his first taste of Major League action since debuting as a big leaguer with a 37-game stint for the Phillies in 2015.  The 28-year-old has a .172/.294/.345 slash line to show for his 102 career plate appearances in the Show, though he has a significantly better .267/.339/.412 career mark over 3302 minor league PA for four different organizations.  After being let go into free agency by the Jays last winter, Sweeney signed on with the Kansas City T-Bones of the independent American Association.

Sweeney has played mostly as an outfielder at the big league level, though he has amassed quite a bit of second base, shortstop, and third base experience in the minors.  This extra versatility will be helpful in earning a spot on the Pirates’ roster, as Pittsburgh is already dealing with a glut of outfielders (barring a trade, of course).

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Supplemental First-Rounder Sammy Siani]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162794 2019-06-15T22:53:01Z 2019-06-15T22:45:30Z
  • Pirates supplemental first-round pick Sammy Siani has signed an above-slot deal worth $2.15MM, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports. The recommended slot value for Siani’s pick (No. 37) was $1.99MM. Siani’s a Pennsylvania-based high school outfielder who may have “a little Andrew Benintendi in him,” per Callis and MLB.com colleague Jonathan Mayo, who give rave reviews to his left-handed swing.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[The Overlooked Pirate]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162727 2019-06-15T18:23:09Z 2019-06-15T00:44:55Z Andrew McCutchen was the face of the franchise during his time with the Pirates, one of their best players ever, but it became obvious a couple years back they’d have to trade him. Entering 2018, McCutchen’s final year of team control, the low-budget Pirates knew they weren’t going to extend the outfielder. Consequently, Pittsburgh traded McCutchen to San Francisco for two prospects – right-hander Kyle Crick and outfielder Bryan Reynolds – as well as $500K in international bonus pool space. Crick debuted first with the Pirates and has been a quality piece of their bullpen, but Reynolds has been even an more impressive major leaguer thus far.

    Reynolds was a 2016 second-round pick of the Giants who ranked among their top five prospects when they traded him for McCutchen. At the time, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said of Reynolds: “Bryan is an effective offensive player that also plays quality defense. We look forward to working with Bryan to maximize his tools and help him become a quality well-rounded Major League player who can impact a game in many ways beyond his quality bat.”

    That sounds right up to now. Since the Pirates promoted Reynolds to their roster April 20, the 24-year-old has slashed a tremendous .354/.407/.563 (157 wRC+) with five home runs in 171 plate appearances. As a member of the Pirates’ outfield, he has accounted for three Defensive Runs Saved and a plus-0.4 Ultimate Zone Rating in 335 innings divided between left and center. The package has been worth 1.7 fWAR, making Reynolds one of the most valuable first-year players in baseball. If not for Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., there would be far more NL Rookie of the Year buzz centering on Reynolds.

    Many a rookie has fizzled after a blazing start, though, so it’s worth checking into the odds of Reynolds continuing to post above-average production going forward. The switch-hitting Reynolds was a .312/.373/.472 batter in 1,217 minor league plate appearances, which augurs well, though all but 57 of those attempts came in Double-A ball or lower. Reynolds always ran high batting averages on balls in play in the minors, but his .439 BABIP as a Pirate flat-out isn’t going to sustain itself. It ranks first in the league among those who have totaled at least 170 PA this year. Reynolds is on pace to accrue upward of 400 trips to the plate this season. Of hitters who amassed at least that many a year ago, no one put up a BABIP better than .375.

    Going solely by BABIP, Reynolds’ production is going to fall. Reynolds also appears unlikely to keep up his .210 isolated power, considering it never rose above .188 during extended looks in the minors (and that occurred during a low-A stint in 2010). He’s also hitting the plurality of batted balls on the ground, which doesn’t bode well for power. That said, all hope isn’t lost for Reynolds. According to Statcast, Reynolds ranks closer to the top of the league than the bottom in expected slugging percentage (.439; 53rd percentile), weighted-on base average (.347; 62nd percentile), average exit velocity (90.1 mph; 69th percentile), sprint speed (73rd percentile), hard-hit percentage (47.4; 88th percentile) and expected batting average (.300; 92nd percentile).

    So, while Reynolds’ .412 weighted on-base average ranks 14th in the league and puts him a few points above Nolan Arenado, he’s not that good. Reynolds’ xwOBA sits 55 points lower than his xwOBA, though it still places him a point or two above household names such as Alex Gordon, DJ LeMahieu and Jose Altuve. Like LeMahieu, Reynolds walks at a slightly below-average clip (7.5 percent). Meanwhile, Reynolds’ strikeout percentage (22.2) is a tad above average. Combining the two numbers makes Reynolds an average performer in terms of K/BB ratio. And the fact that Reynolds hasn’t yet shown any vulnerability from either side of the plate only makes him a more appealing offensive piece.

    Reynolds’ bottom-line production through almost two months of his major league career paint him as a budding star. A peek under the hood suggests he’s not there yet, but Reynolds does look like a legitimate building block for the Pirates. He and Crick are amounting to a nice return for one year of control over McCutchen, whom the Pirates weren’t going to bring back. It’s a welcome bit of good news for a team that doesn’t appear to have made out that well in sending Gerrit Cole, Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow away in other key trades dating back to January 2018.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates To Select Dario Agrazal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162705 2019-06-14T20:24:17Z 2019-06-14T20:24:17Z The Pirates will select the contract of righty Dario Agrazal, per a club announcement. He has been tapped to start the club’s game tomorrow.

    Agrazal was added to the Pittsburgh 40-man roster in the fall of 2017, but lost his spot this January. He remained in the organization after clearing waivers.

    With the Bucs struggling to fill innings, Agrazal will now receive his first shot at the majors. He has pitched to a 3.27 ERA in 74 1/3 upper minors innings thus far in 2019, carrying 7.0 K/9 against 1.2 BB/9.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Who Will Win The NL Central?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162576 2019-06-14T01:20:34Z 2019-06-14T01:20:34Z The National League Central looked like a three-team race at the beginning of the season, and not much has changed two months into the campaign. The Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – the most hyped clubs in the division coming into the year – are at the top. After winning the division a year ago, the Brewers are 39-29, a half-game better than the Cubs. The Cardinals are a less impressive 33-33, five games back, though they’re certainly not out of the race. Meanwhile, the Reds and Pirates are eight and nine games behind, respectively. Neither looked likely to challenge for the NL Central at the outset of the season. They haven’t done anything to change anyone’s mind yet.

    Led by reigning MVP right fielder Christian Yelich, brilliant free-agent acquisition Yasmani Grandal and offseason re-signing Mike Moustakas, the Brewers boast one of the majors’ most valuable groups of position players.  Their pitching hasn’t been as useful, on the other hand, as a rotation that was devoid of an ace entering the season has dealt with ineffectiveness and injuries throughout the year. However, the team still features elite reliever Josh Hader, with Jeremy Jeffress and Adrian Houser among those supporting him.

    The Cubs’ position player mix has been even better than the Brewers’ this year, largely because Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and David Bote have each offered strong production. Chicago’s rotation is probably better equipped, too, as Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels, Jose Quintana and Jon Lester are all proven commodities. Although, Yu Darvish hasn’t rebounded as hoped in his second year as a Cub. Darvish & Co. have handed off to a bullpen that hasn’t been lights-out this year, but it’s about to welcome all-time great closer Craig Kimbrel, whom the Cubs signed to a three-year, $43MM contract last week. Kimbrel would have been a match for the Brewers, making it all the more beneficial for the Cubs that they landed him (on paper, at least).

    As for the Cardinals, they’ve fallen short of expectations after trading for ex-Diamondback Paul Goldschmidt, one of the premier position players in recent memory, and signing reliever Andrew Miller in the offseason. Both players have logged somewhat disappointing production to date, though Goldschmidt’s still an imposing presence and Miller has improved after a rocky start. Regardless, neither the Cardinals’ cast of hitters nor their relief corps is their most pressing issue. It’s their rotation, which hasn’t gotten high-end numbers from anyone. Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas have gone backward after impressive showings in 2018, while Dakota Hudson’s peripherals portend trouble. Adam Wainwright’s much closer to average than ace-like these days (and he’s now on the injured list with a hamstring issue), and nobody has nailed down the fifth spot in the Redbirds’ starting staff.

    Considering the talent peppered throughout the Cardinals’ roster, it would be foolhardy to rule them out as potential division winners this season. Furthermore, with the trade deadline still yet to occur, St. Louis or anyone else in the division could put itself over the top with a shrewd acquisition(s) leading up to July 31. For now, though, the edge clearly belongs to the Cubs and the Brewers. FanGraphs currently projects the NL Central to finish in this order: Cubs (91-71), Brewers (87-75), Cardinals (83-79), Reds (78-84), Pirates (75-87). How do you expect it to shake out?

    (Poll link for app users)

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Nick Kingham]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162525 2019-06-13T20:33:39Z 2019-06-13T20:16:40Z The Blue Jays have acquired right-hander Nick Kingham from the Pirates for cash considerations, as announced by both teams.  Ryan Tepera has been shifted to the 60-day injured list to create room on Toronto’s roster.

    Kingham was designated for assignment this week, effectively ending almost a full decade in Pittsburgh’s organization for the righty.  Kingham was a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft and has long been considered one of the more promising arms both in the Bucs’ farm system and in baseball as a whole, appearing on top-100 prospect lists prior to both the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  Tommy John surgery in 2015 delayed his progress, though he still amassed a 3.46 ERA, 3.17 K/BB rate, and 7.7 K/9 over 766 1/3 career innings in the minors, starting 142 of his 147 games.

    As a big-leaguer, Kingham flirted with history when he carried a perfect game into the seventh inning during his MLB debut back on April 29, 2018.  Overall, however, Kingham has struggled to find consistency in the Show, posting a 6.67 ERA that has been boosted by 25 homers allowed over 110 2/3 innings, though he has a higher strikeout rate (8.2 K/9) in the majors than in the minors, albeit over a much smaller sample size.

    Though the Pirates are far from deep in starting pitching options, it seems like they were simply ready to move on from the 27-year-old Kingham, who now gets a chance on a Blue Jays team that is in even more desperate need of rotation help.  The Jays rank at or near the bottom of the league in most starting pitching categories, and will need even more starters on hand to fill the void if/when Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are both moved before the July 31st trade deadline.  Kingham could get a shot in the rotation immediately (which could mean the end of struggling veteran Edwin Jackson’s time in Toronto) or he could throw out of the bullpen as a long man until a trade or until the Jays decide a change needs to be made.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Notes: Chisenhall, Cervelli, Kela, Burdi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162469 2019-06-13T06:58:32Z 2019-06-13T06:58:32Z We checked in on a couple injured Pirates a few hours ago. Here’s the latest on more banged-up Bucs from their director of sports medicine, Todd Tomczyk (courtesy of Adam Berry of MLB.com):

    • The Pirates signed outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall to a one-year, $2.75MM deal in the offseason, but he hasn’t played yet and it doesn’t appear he will anytime soon. Chisenhall’s still at home mending from left calf tightness. The 30-year-old opened the season on the injured list because of a finger issue, and not long after he started a rehab assignment April 19, the team shut him down because of the calf problem. The same calf prevented Chisenhall from playing past July 1 last year – his final season with the Indians.
    • Catcher Francisco Cervelli, out since May 26 with a concussion, will be reexamined by a neurologist on Thursday. He still hasn’t been cleared for workouts. Cervelli’s season got off to a poor start even before his latest concussion-caused absence, while fellow Pirates backstops Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings have also posted subpar aggregate production. Diaz has hit well over the past month, though.
    • While Reliever Keone Kela hasn’t taken a major league mound since May 4, he could start throwing again Thursday or Friday. Kela had gone on a rehab stint toward the end of last month, but the Pirates halted it May 31 after he suffered a setback in his injured right shoulder. A headline-grabbing acquisition for the Pirates last summer, the 26-year-old Kela has struggled to a 4.63 ERA/5.63 FIP with 8.49 K/9, 3.09 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent groundball rate in 11 2/3 innings this season.
    • One of Keone’s fellow righty relievers, Nick Burdi, has returned to throwing. However, he’s still dealing with symptoms from the nerve injury that forced him to the IL almost two months ago. Burdi incurred his injury April 22 in his most recent outing. The flamethrowing 26-year-old had begun the season in encouraging fashion prior to that night, when he allowed five earned runs in a third of an inning and saw his ERA go from 4.32 to 9.35. Although an ERA that ugly is hard to ignore, it’s worth noting Burdi has put up a stellar 17:3 K:BB ratio in 8 2/3 innings this season.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates’ Trevor Williams Nearing Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162441 2019-06-13T03:36:48Z 2019-06-13T03:35:52Z The Pirates have had to go almost a month without right-hander Trevor Williams, who landed on the injured list May 17 with a right side strain. Williams will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday, though, and could slot back into Pittsburgh’s rotation as early as next Tuesday, Adam Berry of MLB.com reports.

    Even with the injury factored in, the 27-year-old Williams has perhaps been the Pirates’ best starter in 2019. Before going on the IL, Williams totaled nine starts and 54 innings – good for a six-frame average – and pitched to a matching 3.33 ERA/3.33 FIP with 7.0 K/9, 1.67 BB/9 and .67 HR/9. It continued an underrated run of production for Williams, who combined for a 3.49 ERA/3.68 FIP over 56 starts and 309 1/3 innings from 2017-18.

    In addition to Williams’ forthcoming return, the Pirates will soon welcome back fellow righty Jordan Lyles, per Berry. Lyles just hit the IL on the 10th with left hamstring tightness, though it appears he’ll only miss the minimum 10 days. So far in 2019, the 28-year-old has performed like one of the top bargain signings of the offseason. Since inking a one-year, $2.05MM contract during the winter, Lyles has notched a 3.64 ERA/3.63 FIP with 9.23 K/9, 3.36 BB/9 and .98 HR/9 in 12 starts and 64 1/3 frames.

    Of the 11 pitchers who have started for the Pirates this year, Williams, Lyles, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon are the only ones who have posted average or better numbers. Taillon has been down since the beginning of May with a right flexor strain, however, and Berry reports there’s still no timetable for his return. Meanwhile, Chris Archer has come up well short of expectations, Steven Brault has battled control problems, and opposing offenses hammered high-end prospect Mitch Keller during his first two starts.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Is Chris Archer Broken?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162391 2019-06-13T01:18:29Z 2019-06-13T01:18:29Z The Pirates decided last July to trade two of their prized young players, outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow, to the Rays for veteran righty Chris Archer. The Bucs took the gamble because they thought they were acquiring a top-of-the-rotation arm in Archer. That isn’t what they’ve gotten, though, and the deal now looks like one of the most lopsided swaps in recent memory. Not only have Meadows and Glasnow broken out in Tampa Bay, but Archer has taken enormous steps backward in his new home.

    On Tuesday, in his 21st start as a Pirate, Archer yielded seven earned runs on eight hits – including five home runs – in six innings against the Braves. The Pirates lost the game, unsurprisingly, and continue to look as if they’ll miss the playoffs for the second straight year with Archer on their roster. With a 5.06 ERA/5.14 FIP in 112 innings in Pittsburgh, the 30-year-old Archer has been detrimental to the team’s cause.

    At least this season, Archer hasn’t come close to resembling the pitcher who posted a 3.69 ERA/3.48 FIP in 1,063 frames as a Ray. Among 118 starters who have thrown 50-plus innings in 2019, Archer ranks last in home run-to-fly ball rate (24.6 percent), fourth worst in FIP (6.15) and walks per nine (4.53), and 11th from the bottom in ERA (5.73). While Archer has fanned 9.2 batters per nine, even that’s below his 2015-18 output.

    Looking beyond Archer’s basic production, alarming signs abound. His groundball rate, which has sat in the mid-40s for most of his career, is down to 38.6 percent. In turn, Archer’s fly ball rate has climbed to a career-worst 39.2 percent. That partially explains why he’s running an HR-to-FB rate nearly twice his lifetime figure.

    Likewise, it doesn’t appear a change in repertoire has helped Archer’s cause. Per Baseball Savant, Archer turned to a slider (41.7 percent), four-seam fastball (36.4), sinker (10.5) and changeup (9.9) as his primary offerings last year. That has remained the case, though his usage – slider (34.8 percent), four-seamer (27.7), sinker (22.0) and change (13.6) – now looks much different. Hitters’ production against Archer’s slider and change has mostly stayed the same since last year. But they’re tattooing Archer’s sinker, a pitch the Pirates had him resurrect, having put up a .523 weighted on-base average/.522 xwOBA against it, and abusing his four-seamer (.380/.453). Archer has lost velocity on both pitches, and his typical location has changed since a year ago (heatmaps via FanGraphs: four-seamer: 2018, ’19; sinker: 2018, ’19)

    As for Archer’s suddenly hideous walk rate, it’s easy to identify causes. After ranking 45th among 121 qualifiers in strike rate last year, he’s down to 93rd out of 127 this season. He’s also running his lowest chase, first-pitch and swinging-strike rates since 2016. When Archer’s not doling out walks, he’s surrendering damaging contact. He ranks in the league’s 24th percentile or worse in hard-hit rate, expected batting average against, expected weighted on-base average against and expected slugging percentage against. While Archer’s .361 wOBA against is subpar, his .379 xwOBA paints an even bleaker picture.

    As much as Archer has struggled this season, his pre-Pittsburgh track record earns him some benefit of the doubt. Considering what he accomplished as a Ray, it would be unwise to say Archer’s never going to rebound. However, it doesn’t appear his new sinker-heavy approach is working, nor does his once-bargain contract look all that appealing anymore. With $20MM in team options over the next two years ($9MM in 2020, $11MM in ’21), Archer’s not going to crush the Pirates’ payroll structure. However, as a low-budget team, they can’t afford to have one of their most expensive players continue to falter.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Sign 2 Draft Picks]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162304 2019-06-12T06:21:59Z 2019-06-12T06:21:59Z
  • Second-round outfielder Matt Gorski (No. 57) has signed a below-slot deal with the Pirates, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. He’ll earn $1MM, down from the $1,243,600 recommended slot value of the selection. Callis and Jonathan Mayo ranked Gorski as the 112th-best player in the draft, crediting the Indiana Hoosier with possessing “one of the best toolsets in college baseball.” They contend the 21-year-old Gorski could become a 20-20 player and a plus center fielder in the majors, though he’ll have to overcome concerns regarding the length of his swing.
  • Along with inking Gorski, the Pirates signed third baseman Jared Triolo for full slot value ($870K), Callis tweets. Triolo, out of the University of Houston, went to the Pirates in Comp Round B (No. 72 overall). Callis and Mayo had him at No. 146 going into the draft, noting, “He doesn’t have any plus tools or glaring flaws, and scouts love his makeup.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates To Recall Mitch Keller]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162193 2019-06-11T21:12:18Z 2019-06-11T20:58:50Z Mitch Keller will be recalled from Triple-A to start tomorrow’s game against the Braves, MLB.com’s Adam Berry tweets. The Pirates also announced that they’ve recalled Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indianapolis and optioned Alex McRae in his place, giving them a fresh arm in the bullpen.

    Tomorrow will be the second big league start for Keller, long lauded as one of the game’s premier pitching prospects. The 23-year-old was promoted for his MLB debut against the Reds in late May and struggled through a shaky outing that saw him yield six runs in four innings. Since that time, he’s gone back to Indy and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings of work — including 12 consecutive outs recorded via strikeout in his most recent outing.

    Earlier this week, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington indicated that while Keller was an option to start Wednesday, the team would also look outside the organization. The Pirates, as Huntington explained, do not want to continually shuttle Keller back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A. Rather, the organizational preference is that when Keller comes back up, he simply remains at the MLB level. That’s far from a declaration that this is a permanent call to the big leagues for Keller, but it stands to reason that he’ll have the opportunity to prove that he is worthy of an extended look. Throwing well against a tough Braves lineup on the road in their hitter-friendly park tomorrow would be one such way to make an impression.

    The Pirates’ rotation has significantly underperformed so far in 2019, with Chris Archer taking a notable step back and both Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams missing extended periods on the injured list. Keller is the type of high-upside arm who could provide a boost to a Pittsburgh club that still hopes to contend despite a recent slide in the standings. Huntington has previously spoken about a desire to upgrade the team’s bullpen, and earlier this morning, it was reported that the team could look to trade Corey Dickerson given the team’s glut of productive outfielders. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts in Pittsburgh, and the next several weeks will prove pivotal in determining the team’s direction at the trade deadline.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Report: Pirates’ “Preference” Is To Trade Corey Dickerson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162160 2019-06-11T14:01:39Z 2019-06-11T14:01:39Z The Pirates are interested in finding a trade partner to take outfielder Corey Dickerson, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). Dickerson, 30, is earning $8.5MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.

    As we discussed recently upon Dickerson’s activation, the Pirates are facing obvious roster pressures in several areas. The club is currently carrying only three starters, allowing it to pad its relief corps and accommodate an extra position player, but that’s a temporary measure.

    Dickerson was just brought back from the injured list, so he’s only six games into his season. In the interim, the club lost another left-handed-hitting corner piece in Lonnie Chisenhall. But it also welcomed back Gregory Polanco, struck paydirt on a low-cost deal with switch-hitting veteran Melky Cabrera, and saw youngster Bryan Reynolds (also a switch-hitter) burst onto the scene.

    Cabrera is said to be drawing interest from “multiple contenders,” per Rosenthal. He is now slashing a cool .335/.375/.462 through 185 plate appearances. He’s not a good defender and won’t sustain a .370 BABIP, but certainly seems a worthwhile target as a bench bat. Cabrera’s low-cost, low-commitment contract situation ($1.15MM salary) is surely of appeal as well.

    Rosenthal says that the Bucs “want to take another stab at contention before moving Cabrera and possibly others.” That makes sense, as the club isn’t yet buried in the division with more than six weeks to go until the trade deadline. But it’s hard to square that with the idea that the Pittsburgh org prefers to ship out Dickerson, who is a younger player with a better recent track record than Cabrera. Last year, Dickerson posted a 115 wRC+ and graded as a high end defender.

    All in all, it’s a bit of an odd situation for the Pirates, who scrambled for outfielders and now find themselves in dire need of pitching. There isn’t much reason to think that a contender will part with a worthwhile, immediate rotation (or even relief) piece for one of these outfielders.

    Cabrera may be the more cost-efficient option for the Bucs, but they will surely be selling low on Dickerson unless he goes on a tear over the next few weeks — in which case it’d be all the harder to move him unless the team is itself out of the race. Putting Polanco on the block might create some opportunities for meaningfully addressing the pitching staff, but he has had some ups and downs and that’d be a much more consequential decision.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Sign First-Rounder Quinn Priester]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162080 2019-06-10T23:20:32Z 2019-06-10T23:15:13Z The Pirates have announced the signing of first-round pick Quinn Priester. He’ll earn $3.4MM, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter).

    Priester, an Illinois high-schooler, went with the 18th overall selection. The slot value is $3.48MM. He’ll forego a commitment to TCU to launch his professional career.

    Entering the draft, most rankings had Priester slotted in just the range he was chosen. Fangraphs (17) and MLB.com (19) had him just ahead of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (20) and Baseball America (23).

    While the BA crew ranked a few additional players above Priester, they still lauded his “excellent physical projection and advanced strike-throwing capabilities.” MLB.com cited his “athleticism and the ease of his arm action.” It seems all the physical tools are there for Priester and the Bucs’ player development system.