Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-08-22T18:47:29Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Reportedly Expected To Sign Francisco Cervelli]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171999 2019-08-22T18:36:56Z 2019-08-22T18:27:28Z Just-released Pirates backstop Francisco Cervelli evidently won’t spend much time on the open market. He is slated to ink a deal with the Braves, according to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter). Whether it’s of the major or minor-league variety isn’t known.

It seems from the Pirates’ announcement earlier today that Cervelli still must clear release waivers before he’ll be able to sign a new deal. But that’s really just a formality, given that he’s still owed the balance of his $11.5MM salary.

More to come …

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Release Francisco Cervelli]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171995 2019-08-22T18:36:16Z 2019-08-22T18:14:00Z The Pirates announced today that they have released catcher Francisco Cervelli. The 33-year-old had been attempting to work his way back from a concussion.

Today’s move represents a disappointing end to to Cervelli’s generally excellent tenure in Pittsburgh. He has been with the organization since 2015, blossoming from a former Yankees reserve into a high-quality full-time backstop.

GM Neal Huntington issued a statement on the matter, as MLB.com’s Adam Berry covers on Twitter. The club’s top baseball operations decisionmaker explained:

“Out of respect and appreciation for Francisco, we have chosen to honor his request to be released in order for him to pursue an opportunity that potentially gives him a chance at more playing time, as well as an opportunity this season to compete in the postseason.”

Cervelli is owed $11.5MM this season — far too much to make him an appealing waiver-claim target. Instead, the Bucs will continue to pay the remainder, less a pro-rated portion of the league minimum for whatever portion of the season he spends on another MLB roster.

That deal didn’t always seem like dead weight. At the time the three-year, $31MM extension was signed — thus keeping Cervelli from testing free agency before the 2017 season — it looked to be an excellent value for the club. Cervelli ended up missing much more time due to injury than anticipated, but was still able to turn in 404 plate appearances of .259/.378/.431 hitting last year. Over his five total seasons in Pittsburgh, he carried a 100 OPS+ — making him a precisely league average hitter, which is a nice rate of production for a well-regarded defensive catcher.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates Place Chris Archer, Clay Holmes On Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171900 2019-08-21T20:21:46Z 2019-08-21T19:53:30Z The Pirates have placed right-handers Chris Archer and Clay Holmes on the 10-day injured list, the team announced.  Archer has been sidelined with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, while Holmes is suffering from left quad discomfort.  Right-handers Dario Agrazal and Parker Markel have been called up from Triple-A to fill the two 25-man roster spots.

Some type of IL placement seemed likely for Archer following his abbreviated outing last night, when he left the game after just one inning following an off-target warm-up prior to his second frame of work.  This is the first noteworthy arm issue of Archer’s career and only the third IL stint of his eight-year career, though they have all happened within the last two seasons — Archer missed a month due to an abdominal strain in 2018, and right thumb inflammation cost him around three weeks earlier this year.

The seriousness of the shoulder issue isn’t yet known, though if it lingers, the Pirates could just decide to shut Archer down for the remainder of the season.  It would bring an early end to what has been a discouraging campaign for Archer, with a career-high 5.19 ERA over 119 2/3 frames.  That innings total would mark a new career low for Archer in his seven full MLB seasons, while also posting career worsts in walk rate (4.14 BB/9), grounder rate (36.3%), home run rate (20.2%), xwOBA (.346), and hard-hit ball rate (40.1%).

All in all, it has been a very unmemorable stint in Pittsburgh since Archer was acquired in a trade deadline deal in July 2018.  The deal raised eyebrows at the time, and given that Austin Meadows and (pre-injury) Tyler Glasnow both emerged as key contributors for the Rays, the trade is now looking like a significant misfire for the Pirates’ front office.

Archer still has as many as two seasons to turn things around in the Steel City, as the Bucs hold club options on his services for 2020 ($9MM, $1.75MM buyout) and 2021 ($11MM, $250K buyout).  Despite his struggles, it still seems very likely that the Pirates will exercise that 2020 option, given the uncertainty in the team’s 2020 rotation.  Jameson Taillon will miss all of next season recovering from Tommy John surgery, leaving the Pirates with Archer in all likelihood, as well as some combination of Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, Mitch Keller, Steven Brault, and others all in the mix.  Since the Bucs are likely to pursue a veteran starter anyway this winter, keeping Archer at a relatively inexpensive price seems like a logical move, especially if Archer can recapture any of his past form.

Holmes has a 6.05 ERA, 1.54 K/BB rate, and 10.0 K/9 over 38 2/3 relief innings for Pittsburgh this season.  Control has been a major concern for Holmes over his brief Major League career, as he has a 7.1 BB/9 over 65 frames for the Bucs in 2018-19.  This is Holmes’ second trip to the IL in less than a month, as he only recently returned from an absence due to right triceps inflammation.

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George Miller <![CDATA[Chris Archer Leaves Start With Shoulder Discomfort]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171832 2019-08-21T01:44:36Z 2019-08-21T01:10:29Z In a worrisome moment for the Pirates, starter Chris Archer left his start against the Nationals after throwing an errant warm-up pitch before the second inning. Per Mark Zuckerman of MASN, the Pirates are calling it right shoulder discomfort for Archer.

Archer made it through the first inning of Tuesday’s game without issue, striking out the final two batters to work around a pair of singles. However, while warming up prior to the second inning, Archer threw high to catcher Jacob Stallings, shook his head, and walked off the field after meeting with the Pittsburgh training staff.

Of course, the seriousness of Archer’s soreness is yet unknown and will be monitored as details emerge. Regardless, it’s an unpleasant situation for a Pirates team that has already seen its top starter undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery this year. Any significant injury to Archer would only weaken an already-thin pitching staff that entered the season looking like the Pirates’ strength.

The Pirates hold a club option worth $9MM to retain Archer for the 2020 season, a decision that could be complicated by the introduction of a health issue. His Pittsburgh tenure has been a tumultuous one, with Archer’s underwhelming performance only amplified by the hefty return that the Pirates sent to Tampa Bay in return. This season, the 30-year-old has struggled to a 5.23 ERA, made worse only by the fact that peripheral markers don’t paint a much better picture, giving Archer credit for a 5.07 FIP.

While those numbers alone may challenge whether Archer is worth the $9MM option, an underlying health question might motivate the Pirates to prematurely cut ties with the former ace. However, given how heavily the Pirates invested in him at last season’s trade deadline, it would seem unwise to jump ship so quickly on a pitcher with Archer’s pure talent. To be sure, $9MM, while certainly not a bargain, is an affordable mark for even a middling starter—Matt Harvey, for example, signed with the Angels for $11MM prior to 2019.

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Dylan A. Chase <![CDATA[Pirates Announce Series Of Roster Moves]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171771 2019-08-20T16:34:21Z 2019-08-20T16:34:21Z In a grab bag of roster moves, the Pirates have announced the activation of reliever Richard Rodriguez from the injured list, the optioning of pitcher Montana DuRapau to Triple-A, the reinstatement of infielder Jose Osuna from suspension, and the long-delayed placement of pitcher Kyle Crick on the suspended list.

Rodriguez, 29, has been on the IL since August 12th due to a shoulder issue. When healthy, the right-hander has mounted a 3.72 ERA in 48.1 innings in 2019–his second full-year in Pittsburgh. His last outing was an August 9th appearance against the Cardinals in which Rodriguez allowed 3 earned runs in just one-third of an inning. His K/9 rate is just 7.63 this year–a stark drop from the 11.42 rate he displayed in 2018. Fielding independent metrics have been summarily unimpressed with his work this year (5.51 FIP).

DuRapau will return to Triple-A Indianapolis after receiving another run up from the Pirates taxi squad. In 2019, his first taste of the big league environment, DuRapau has logged a 7.56 ERA in 16.2 innings.

As for the suspension movements involving Osuna and Crick, yes, the Pirates are still dealing with the fallout from their unforgettable July 30th fracas with the Cinncinatti Reds. Though it may seem like that high-intensity dustup occurred a lifetime ago, Osuna just began serving his five-game suspension on August 14th, and Crick had been fighting his suspension since it was issued. Osuna returns with a healthy 147 wRC+ in 135 at-bats this year, while Crick has logged a 4.43 ERA, 10.88 K/9, and 6.45 BB/9 in 44.2 innings in 2019.

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Pirates Season Marked By Conflict On-Field And Off]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171455 2019-08-17T14:38:59Z 2019-08-17T14:38:59Z Last night’s walkoff victory against the reeling Cubs aside, the Pirates are mired in a deep funk. They started the second half in free fall, going 6-25 as they’ve dipped from the fringes of the playoff race to (at one point) twenty games under .500. The Pirates have been involved in multiple on-field conflicts, with manager Clint Hurdle stealing focus as he spars with other managers within the NL Central. Hurdle has a well-known strategic proclivity towards pitching up and in – with which certain managers haven taken issue when Pirates hurlers struggle with their command. As a team, they rank 24th out of 30 in BB/9 with a team average of 3.58 BB/9.

Perhaps more worrying to the organization, in-fighting has become a hallmark of this Pirates squad, per The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel. Mercurial reliever Keone Kela is the source of at least some of the conflict. Kela not only inspired the trade deadline fracas with the Reds by throwing behind Derek Dietrich, but he also took a two-game suspension earlier this season for his part in a clubhouse altercation with performance coach Hector Morales. The Buccos explored trading Kela, but ultimately failed to find a suitable deal, and it’s safe to wonder whether his trade worth took a hit, either from recent suspensions, injury history, or a reputation as a difficult clubhouse personality.

On the field, Kela missed too much time to raise his stock, returning from the injured list for just four appearances before the deadline. That put him at 18 appearances on the season with a 3.45 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 15 2/3 innings. Fine numbers not far off from Kela’s career norms, but clearly not compelling enough to drive significant trade interest.

Only a week after Kela’s incident, bullpen coach Euclides Rojas drove a pre-game on-field dust-up with reliever Kyle Crick. The incident nearly turned physical before the two men were pulled apart. Crick had been publicly bemoaning perceived preferential treatment given to closer Felipe Vazquez by the coaching staff.

Birtempfel notes that the clubhouse lacks the veteran leadership provided over the years by vets like A.J. Burnett, David Freese, Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen, or more recently from Jameson Taillon and Francisco Cervelli, who have been absent due to injuries.

It’s not all doom-and-gloom for the Pirates, however, as Crick insists there’s a growing camaraderie among this exceptionally young group of Pirates players.

The depth of conflict reported here certainly pulls back the curtain a touch further than usual. Not necessarily evidenced here, however, is the Pirates clubhouse being any more or less destructive than a typical clubhouse enduring a tough stretch on the field. Fangraphs Ben Clemens recently wrote this of the 5-24 stretch that opened the Pirates’ second half:

“Think of it this way: the worst team in baseball since World War II, by winning percentage, was the expansion New York Mets of 1962. They were cover-your-eyes awful, going 40-120, a .250 winning percentage. Let’s assume, despite its absurdity, that the Pirates suddenly transformed to a team with a .250 winning percentage overnight. Their odds of going 5-24 or worse over a 29-game stretch would still only be 23%. Even the worst team in baseball history, in other words, would be unlikely to look this bad over a month of play.”

Any clubhouse might struggle with a degree of in-fighting while losing at that rate. Still, the Pirates seem more combative than your average team. Hurdle seems to set the tone there, and though the team could very well emerge from this season more galvanized as a unit, it’s a troubling environment in which to see the indoctrination of young stars like Bryan Reynolds and Mitch Keller.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Release Tyler Lyons]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171154 2019-08-15T00:44:30Z 2019-08-15T00:44:30Z The Pirates released left-hander Tyler Lyons from their Triple-A club over the weekend, as first indicated on the Triple-A International League transactions log.

Lyons, 30, was briefly with the Pirates’ big league club earlier this season after having his contract selected from Triple-A Indianapolis, but he lasted just five days on the Major League roster before being designated for assignment. The former Cardinals reliever has enjoyed a strong season with the Bucs’ top minor league affiliate, though, pitching to a 3.55 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9 and a 39.8 percent ground-ball rate in 45 2/3 innings. Between those 45 2/3 innings and another four in the Majors, Lyons has limited opposing lefties to an awful .141/.205/.282 batting line. Right-handers have give him trouble, though, hitting him at a .278/.361/.444 clip.

It wasn’t that long ago that Lyons was a solid member of the bullpen with the division-rival Cardinals. From 2015-17, he totaled 162 innings with a 3.33 ERA and a 174-to-49 K/BB ratio (9.7 K/9, 2.7 BB/9). That strong three-year run was highlighted by a 2017 campaign in which Lyons logged a 2.83 ERA and a near-identical 2.86 FIP to go along with a career-best 30.9 percent strikeout rate (11.33 K/9).

Back and elbow issues hampered Lyons early in the 2018 season, and the Cardinals somewhat surprisingly jettisoned him in the midst of a summer bullpen shakeup that July. Lyons ultimately went unclaimed on waivers, though, and had to settle for a minor league deal this past offseason despite a respectable showing in Triple-A Memphis following that DFA. He’s now thrown just 20 MLB innings since that standout 2017 campaign, but clubs in need of some left-handed bullpen depth could certainly do worse than to take a flier on Lyons based on his track record and solid Triple-A numbers over the past two seasons.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Jameson Taillon Undergoes Tommy John Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171131 2019-08-14T21:01:41Z 2019-08-14T20:22:48Z The Pirates announced today that right-hander Jameson Taillon underwent his second career Tommy John surgery. Taillon had been slated for surgery to repair his right flexor tendon, which was initially expected to sideline him for seven to nine months. However, according to the Pirates, it was determined during the course of that procedure that he required a UCL revision in his right elbow. Taillon is expected to miss the entire 2020 season and return to competition in 2021.

It’s a brutal loss for the Pirates, who just a couple of months ago were hoping that Taillon would be able to return at some point in 2019. Now, they’ll be without their best pitcher not only for this season but the entire 2020 campaign as well. That’ll leave the Buccos with a rotation mix comprised of Joe Musgrove, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, Steven Brault and well-regarded prospect Mitch Keller. Pittsburgh also hopes to have Chad Kuhl back in 2020, when he’s recovered from his own Tommy John surgery, and other options are present on the 40-man roster in the form of Dario Agrazal, JT Brubaker, Yefry Ramirez and Rookie Davis. Still, it’s a largely non-established group that could well be in need of offseason augmentation.

Taillon, 27, was the No. 2 overall draft pick back in 2010 and long rated as one of baseball’s elite prospects. Injuries, headlined by a prior Tommy John surgery and a frightening battle with testicular cancer, stalled his development and delayed his path to the big leagues. However, upon arrival, Taillon quickly demonstrated why he’d received such lofty fanfare, and in 2018 looked to have cemented himself as a front-of-the-rotation piece in Pittsburgh. After a pair of solid seasons to begin his career in 2016-17, Taillon broke out in 2018 with 191 innings of 3.20 ERA ball. Along the way, he averaged 7.2 strikeouts, 1.9 walks and 0.96 homers per nine innings pitched to go along with a grounder rate just a hair under 50 percent.

Taillon will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and figures to receive a relatively small raise given that injuries limited him to 37 1/3 innings of 4.10 ERA ball in 2019. Whatever price he and the Pirates agree on will quite likely be his salary in 2021 as well, given that it’s common for arbitration-eligible players who miss an entire season due to injury to simply re-sign at the same rate. Taillon will get a bump into seven figures to reflect the contributions he’s made in his career to date, but the potential $4.5-6MM salary he might’ve received with a healthy 2019 campaign now looks firmly out of the question.

The Pittsburgh front office will have a tall order when it comes to replacing the value lost with a full season of Taillon. While the roster has several rotation alternatives, there are few, if any, with Taillon’s ceiling among them. (Keller, perhaps, stands out as a notable exception.) The worst-case scenario in the rotation comes at a time when other members of the lineup — namely Josh Bell and breakout rookie Bryan Reynolds — have stepped into the spotlight and given the Pirates hope that each can be a core piece around which to build. Now, with new core assets emerging, Pittsburgh will see one of its most crucial core members fade from the picture for the foreseeable future.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Reinstate Rookie Davis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=171037 2019-08-14T02:11:08Z 2019-08-14T02:11:08Z
  • The Pirates have reinstated right-hander Rookie Davis from the 60-day injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis, the team announced. Davis had been out since early June with hand and forearm injuries. The 26-year-old has given up eight earned runs on 12 hits and eight walks (with 10 strikeouts) in 10 2/3 major league innings this season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mitch Keller Back In Pirates Rotation; Richard Rodriguez Heads To IL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170967 2019-08-13T20:15:58Z 2019-08-13T17:52:46Z
  • The Pirates welcomed prized righty Mitch Keller back to the big leagues yesterday. It was a long-anticipated return after a rough showing in his initial promotion earlier this year. Keller was effective through five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while recording four strikeouts and a pair of walks. He is now in line to get a full trial down the stretch. Before the game, the team created roster space by placing reliever Richard Rodriguez on the 10-day injured list. Rodriguez is said to be dealing with shoulder inflammation. The 29-year-old has certainly not been in top form this year, turning south after a breakout 2018 showing. While his velocity has held steady, his swinging-strike rate has plummeted from 13.8% to 9.6%. Though Rodriguez has maintained a solid 3.72 ERA, it has come in spite of his poor peripherals (7.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.9 HR/9).
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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Francisco Cervelli To Begin Rehab Assignment As Catcher]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170746 2019-08-10T21:48:35Z 2019-08-10T21:24:19Z The Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli, who’d reportedly given up catching after the latest in a series of debilitating concussions in late May, will begin a rehab assignment tomorrow with Double-A Altoona behind the plate, per mlb.com’s Adam Berry.

    Cervelli, 33, walked back on his initial declaration a few days later, and has since expressed a fervid desire to return to his natural habitat. Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk noted Thursday that the longtime backstop would need final clearance from both the commissioner’s office and MLBPA, in addition to the Pirates’ own set of team doctors, to resume play behind the dish, though it appears such approval is mere formality at this point.

    After a seven-year start to his career as backup for the Yankees, Cervelli came into his own in 2015 with the Pirates, slashing .295/.370/.401, good for 5.9 fWAR (a recently-inflated number buoyed by controversial pitch-framing statistics) in near-full-time play for the 98-win Buccos. An assortment of injuries has limited the Venezuelan to mostly part-time duty over the last four seasons, though he’s been wonderfully productive when healthy. An always-discerning eye (his walk percentage peaked at an exceptional 14.2% in 2016) has slipped a bit this year – strikeouts up, walks way down – and, coupled with bad luck on balls in play, has resulted in the 12-year-vet’s least productive major league season.

    Still, Cervelli’s just a year removed from a 125 wRC+, 2.6 fWAR line in just 104 games, so it would greatly behoove the slumping Pirates to see what juice can still be squeezed from his once-ripe profile behind the dish. There’s been no word on the duration of the free-agent-to-be’s prospective rehab, or when Cervelli himself would like to return to the field, but it’s certainly a positive development regardless for a club who’s been hot on a silver linings trail after falling out of the race mid-July.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Notes: Huntington, Hurdle, Searage, Chisenhall]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170601 2019-08-09T13:59:28Z 2019-08-09T13:59:28Z As part of a mailbag covering the floundering Pirates, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription link) focuses on team higher-ups whose jobs could be in jeopardy. Biertempfel writes it’s “more likely” the club will fire pitching coach Ray Searage and maybe bullpen coach Euclides Rojas than either GM Neal Huntington or manager Clint Hurdle, at least during the season. Searage’s ouster would mark the end of what has been an oft-praised Pirates stint, but this season has been a rough go for their pitching staff. How much blame he should take for that is up for debate. As for Huntington and Hurdle, their jobs for 2020 aren’t etched in stone, suggests Biertempfel, who reports owner Bob Nutting would be willing to eat their salaries and fire them “if he is convinced that there is no hope of improvement in 2020.” With that in mind, the onus could be on Huntington and Hurdle to explain why they should keep their positions.

    • More from Biertempfel, who dismisses the possibility of outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall playing for the Pirates this season. Chisenhall remains at home in Bradenton, Fla., mending from left calf troubles, and there won’t be enough time for him to return to the majors this year. It seems the $2.75MM the Pirates gave Chisenhall last offseason will go down as a wasted investment. By the time this season ends, injuries will have kept the former Indian out of 375 of a possible 486 regular-season games dating back to 2017.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Notes: Keller, Polanco, Cervelli ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=170423 2019-08-08T05:17:49Z 2019-08-08T05:17:49Z
  • More on the Pirates from Mackey, who has the latest on injured outfielder Gregory Polanco and catcher Francisco Cervelli. Polanco, who hasn’t played since June 16 because of left shoulder problems, has received clearance to restart baseball activities. It’s still not clear when he might return to the Bucs, however. Polanco also sat out the first couple weeks of 2019 on account of his shoulder, which required season-ending surgery last September. Cervelli, trying to work back from a concussion that has shelved him since May 25, is progressing toward catching again this season. The concussion-prone Cervelli will first need “final clearances from our doctors, the commissioner’s office and the [MLBPA],” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said.
    • Prized Pirates righty Mitch Keller is likely to return to the majors for a start next Tuesday, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests. The 23-year-old is one of the game’s highest-ranked pitching prospects, but a three-start audition in the majors from May to June didn’t go well. Keller allowed 14 earned runs on 21 hits and six walks in a 12-inning span, though he did strike out 15 batters. And Keller has held his own this year in his debut in the offense-driven International League. In 103 2/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis, he has pitched to a 3.56 ERA/3.60 FIP with 10.68 K/9 and 3.04 BB/9.
    • More on the Pirates from Mackey, who has the latest on injured outfielder Gregory Polanco and catcher Francisco Cervelli. Polanco, who hasn’t played since June 16 because of left shoulder problems, has received clearance to restart baseball activities. It’s still not clear when he might return to the Bucs, however. Polanco also sat out the first couple weeks of 2019 on account of his shoulder, which required season-ending surgery last September. Cervelli, trying to work back from a concussion that has shelved him since May 25, is progressing toward catching again this season. The concussion-prone Cervelli will first need “final clearances from our doctors, the commissioner’s office and the [MLBPA],” Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Release Jung Ho Kang]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169678 2019-08-05T06:02:30Z 2019-08-05T05:54:58Z TODAY: The Pirates have released Kang, John Dreker of Pirates Prospects tweets.

    FRIDAY: The Pirates have designated infielder Jung Ho Kang for assignment, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. Erik Gonzalez and Pablo Reyes are coming onto the active roster, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweets.

    It has been a forgettable season for Kang, who re-signed with the Bucs for $3MM after sitting out virtually all of the prior two campaigns. He had only himself to blame for the absence and lost earnings, as it resulted from his history of multiple instances of being caught driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Kang has by all accounts carried himself in a more responsible manner off the field since returning to the Pittsburgh organization. But he has not returned to his days of high-quality offensive production at the plate.

    Through 185 plate appearances in 2019, Kang carries a meager .169/.222/.395 batting line with ten home runs but also a whopping sixty strikeouts and only eleven walks. That’s a surprising turn for a player who carried a 21.4% strikeout rate and 9.7% walk rate in his most recent full season in the majors.

    It remains to be seen how Kang’s career will progress from this point. The 32-year-old’s power is still intact, so he could be given a shot with another MLB outfit (likely on a minors deal). It seems plausible to imagine also that he could elect to go back to his native Korea or another Asian league if the opportunities here are not satisfactory.

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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Yacksel Rios]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=169814 2019-08-05T13:35:22Z 2019-08-03T19:07:30Z The Pirates have claimed Phillies reliever Yacksel Rios, the teams announced Saturday.

    Rios, 26, has appeared in 53 games (all in relief) for the Phillies over the last three seasons. He’s flashed consistent bat-missing ability (9.00 career K/9) but has been much too homer-prone (1.96 HR/9) to firmly establish himself among the team’s late-inning options. Rios’ 96.0 average fastball velocity remains prime and perhaps represents fertile clay for new pitching coach Ray Searage to mold, but his shaky command has a long way to go.

    Aside from the inimitable Felipe Vazquez, the Pittsburgh pen has been dreadfully short on production of late. Kyle Crick started strong but his again seen his command regress to pre-2018 levels, and neither Richard Rodriguez nor the volatile Keone Kela have been able to reprise past-year performances. Rios, it would seem, should be afforded a long look at some point.

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