Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-04-13T17:46:32Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Braves Acquire Edgar Santana From Pirates]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=432866 2021-04-09T14:27:36Z 2021-04-09T14:27:03Z 9:27 am: Santana’s suspension has been served and he is eligible to return to the active roster, per David O’Brien of the Athletic (Twitter link).

8:05 am: The Braves are acquiring right-hander Edgar Santana from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations, per Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Pittsburgh designated Santana for assignment earlier this week.

A few years ago, Santana looked to have solidified himself as a reliable bullpen arm in Pittsburgh. In 84.1 innings between 2017-18, he managed a solid 3.31 ERA/3.77 SIERA. Santana didn’t miss many bats for a reliever (21.0% strikeout percentage), but he was quite good at avoiding free passes (6.8% walk rate) and racked up ground balls at a decent 45.6% clip.

Unfortunately, Santana suffered a torn UCL and required Tommy John Surgery in October 2018. The timing of the procedure cost him the entire 2019 season. Santana was then hit with an 80-game PED suspension last June, keeping him out of action for all of last year’s abbreviated season.

Nearly three years removed from his most recent game action, it’s unclear whether Santana will be able to recapture any of his former promise. He does still have a pair of minor-league option years remaining, so he’ll give the Braves some additional bullpen flexibility if the front office is sufficiently impressed with his current form to keep him on the 40-man roster. Atlanta freed up a 40-man spot (and thinned out its righty bullpen depth) in the Orlando Arcia trade earlier this week, so no corresponding move is necessary to accomodate Santana’s arrival.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates Acquire Kyle Keller, Designate Edgar Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=427159 2021-04-05T18:45:27Z 2021-04-05T18:21:32Z The Pirates have acquired right-hander Kyle Keller from the Angels in exchange for cash considerations, both teams announced.  To create roster space, the Pirates noted that right-hander Edgar Santana has been designated for assignment.

Keller hit the DFA wire himself earlier this week, and the 27-year-old now finds himself traded for the second time in 15 months, after joining the Angels in a swap with the Marlins in January 2020.  Keller has appeared in each of the last two seasons, with a 4.15 ERA over 13 MLB innings with Miami and Los Angeles, striking out 12 batters but also walking ten.

Working almost exclusively as a reliever throughout his pro career, Keller has a 3.53 ERA and 31.8% strikeout rate over 249 2/3 career innings in Miami’s farm system.  Control wasn’t nearly as much of a problem in the minors (8.9% walk rate) was it was at the big league level for Keller, and the Pirates are hoping he can provide some bullpen depth for a pitching staff that has lost both some starting and relief candidates to injury in the early going.

Santana is no stranger to injuries, having undergone Tommy John surgery in September 2018.  The rehab process cost Santana all of the 2019 season, and he then missed all of 2020 due to an 80-game PED suspension.  As per the terms of the suspension, Santana still had to sit out the first 20 games of this season before being eligible to return to the field.

Before his career was put on pause, Santana delivered solid results in his first two MLB seasons.  The right-hander posted a 3.31 ERA/3.77 SIERA over 84 1/3 innings out of Pittsburgh’s bullpen in 2017-18, with an impressive 6.8% walk rate but a below-average 21% strikeout rate.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Pirates Designate Tyler Bashlor For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=426815 2021-04-04T18:36:38Z 2021-04-04T18:34:54Z The Pirates are designating reliever Tyler Bashlor for assignment, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was among those to relay. The move opens 40-man roster space for infielder Wilmer Difo, whose previously-reported selection has been made official.

Bashlor, 27, has pitched 62.1 MLB innings with the Mets and Pirates over the past three seasons. He has only a 5.78 ERA with poor strikeout and walk rates (18.5% and 12%, respectively) in that time. Bashlor has been much better in the minors, with a 1.63 ERA in 38.2 Double-A innings and a 3.41 mark in 37 frames at Triple-A.

The Pirates have a week to trade Bashlor or place him on outright waivers. The hard-throwing righty still has a minor-league option remaining, so he can be shuttled back and forth between the majors and the alternate training site/Triple-A for the rest of the year if another team acquires him.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Pirates To Place Ke’Bryan Hayes On Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=426791 2021-04-04T17:48:56Z 2021-04-04T17:21:59Z The Pirates are placing rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes on the 10-day injured list due to left wrist inflammation, Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic and Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette were among those to relay. Infielder Wilmer Difo will be added to the active roster. Difo is not yet on the 40-man roster, so his contract will need to be formally selected.

Additionally, right-hander Kyle Crick has cleared COVID-19 intake protocols and returned to the team after the birth of his child, per a club announcement. Wil Crowe was optioned to the alternate training site to clear active roster space for Crick. Crick’s return filled the Pirates’ 40-man roster, so a corresponding move to clear space for Difo is forthcoming.

Hayes left yesterday’s game after injuring his wrist diving into a bag on a pickoff attempt. X-rays came back negative but an MRI revealed some inflammation. Hayes had issues squeezing his glove this morning so the Pirates elected to shut him down for the time being. There’s no indication at this point his absence is expected to last especially long.

The rebuilding Pirates have plenty of reason to play things cautiously. There’s arguably no more important player in the organization than Hayes, a top prospect who tore the cover off the ball in his brief MLB debut in 2020. Wrist injuries, in particular, can sometimes have a lingering impact on a player’s power potential, so it behooves Pittsburgh to be especially careful.

In Hayes’ absence, Erik González, Phillip Evans and Difo could pick up some extra playing time at third base. Difo was once a frequently deployed utility player for the Nationals, but struggles at the plate caused his playing time to dwindle and ultimately led Washington to cut him loose. The 29-year-old signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh over the winter.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[Ke'Bryan Hayes Leaves Game]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=426279 2021-04-04T05:19:36Z 2021-04-03T21:03:02Z Ke’Bryan Hayes left today’s game against the Cubs with left wrist discomfort, per Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Chicago (via Twitter). The injury occured while diving back to the first base bag during a pickoff attempt. Hayes is a hot name coming into the season coming off a robust 1.9 bWAR/1.6 fWAR in just 95 plate appearances last season. He hit a two-run homer yesterday to affirm many who made him their pick for 2021 NL Rookie of the Year. Easily the most exciting young talent on this Pirates team, it would be quite the blow to fan morale to lose Hayes for any length of time this early in the season. [UPDATE: X-rays were negative on Hayes’ wrist, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.]

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Select Clay Holmes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=424843 2021-04-01T18:40:52Z 2021-04-01T18:40:52Z The Pirates announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Clay Holmes. Pittsburgh also placed lefty Steven Brault on the 60-day injured list due to a strained left lat and placed righty Cody Ponce on the 10-day IL with forearm tightness. Righty Kyle Crick has been placed on the Covid-19 list as he goes through intake testing after being away from the team for the birth of his child.

Holmes, 28, was non-tendered by the Pirates back in December after missing much of the 2020 season due to a forearm strain. He quickly re-signed on a minor league pact, however, and he’s back on the club’s roster to begin the 2021 campaign.

The 2011 ninth-rounder has spent time with the Bucs in each of the past three seasons, pitching to a combined 5.91 ERA in 77 2/3 frames. Certainly, that’s not a great track record, but Holmes’ 59.2 percent ground-ball rate since 2018 ranks 12th among 484 big league pitchers with at least 70 innings thrown in that time. He also owns a lifetime 3.58 ERA in 223 2/3 innings of work in Triple-A, so the Pirates clearly believe there’s still some potential for him to unlock.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cody Ponce Dealing With Forearm Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=421853 2021-03-31T03:38:40Z 2021-03-31T03:38:40Z
  • The Cubs have interest in catchers Tony Wolters and Jonathan Lucroy, reports Bruce Levine of 670 the Score (Twitter link). A deal with the left-handed hitting Wolters might be more likely, Levine notes, considering Chicago’s starting catcher, Willson Contreras, hits right-handed. Both Wolters and Lucroy were recently released from minor-league deals with other clubs (the Pirates and White Sox, respectively) after failing to crack the active roster. Wolters has spent his entire MLB career with the Rockies, while Lucroy briefly played for the Cubs in 2019.
  • Pirates right-hander Cody Ponce will not be available for Opening Day, GM Ben Cherington announced to reporters (including Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic). The 26-year-old “felt something…in his forearm area,” in the words of the GM. That sounds rather ominous but Ponce has at least been able to continue throwing on the side as he attempts to work through the injury. A former second-round pick of the Brewers, Ponce made his MLB debut with Pittsburgh last season, working to a 3.18 ERA/5.27 SIERA over five appearances.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tony Wolters Opts Out Of Pirates Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=422421 2021-03-30T20:03:53Z 2021-03-30T19:53:25Z Catcher Tony Wolters opted out of his minor league deal with the Pirates, the team announced.  Wolters’ contract contained an out clause that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn’t added to the active roster.

    Wolters was signed in February to a contract that would have paid him $1.4MM in guaranteed money if he had made the team, but Pittsburgh decided to go with Michael Perez as the backup behind Jacob Stallings.  It isn’t yet known if another contract with the team is possible, considering that another veteran in Todd Frazier just re-signed with the Pirates after similarly opting out of his minors deal earlier this week.

    The Rockies non-tendered Wolters in December rather than pay the catcher a projected arbitration salary in the $1.9MM-$2.2MM range.  Wolters has spent his entire five-year big league career in Colorado, hitting only .238/.323/.319 over 1232 plate appearances but earning quite a bit of playing time (391 games) due to his excellent defense.  This track record of solid glovework could get Wolters some looks from teams who dissatisfied with their catching options as Opening Day looms.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Re-Sign Todd Frazier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=418953 2021-03-30T17:44:16Z 2021-03-30T17:18:34Z TODAY: Frazier has re-signed with the Pirates on a new minor league deal, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter).  The veteran will report to the team’s alternate training site.

    MARCH 26: Corner infielder Todd Frazier has opted out of his minor league contract with the Pirates in favor of free agency, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

    This is unlikely to be the end for the 35-year-old Frazier, who plans to continue his career, Heyman writes. Frazier has enjoyed plenty of success in the majors, having earned two All-Star nods and batted .242/.319/.448 with 218 home runs (including five seasons with between 21 and 40 HRs) and 24.2 fWAR across 4,909 plate appearances since he debuted with the Reds in 2011.His production has faded over the past couple of years, though, and he batted a subpar .236/.302/.382 with four long balls and a career-low .146 ISO over 172 PA between the Rangers and Mets in 2020.

    Despite his declining numbers, Frazier looked as if he had a chance to at least be a backup for rebuilding Pittsburgh, which has a budding star at third base in Ke’Bryan Hayes and left-handed-hitting first baseman Colin Moran. Frazier, a righty, could have platooned with Moran, and he made his case for a roster spot this spring with a .250/.353/.643 line and three dingers in 28 at-bats. Instead, Frazier – who has appeared in the majors with five teams – will try to catch on with another club. Frazier’s exit suggests infielder Phillip Evans will make the Pirates’ Opening Day roster, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Latest Pirates Roster Moves]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=420659 2021-03-29T14:35:20Z 2021-03-29T14:35:20Z
  • Former Nationals Wilmer Difo and Brian Goodwin were reassigned to minor league camp along with right-hander Steven Wright, the Pirates announced today. Right-hander Geoff Hartlieb has also been optioned to the minors. That means Anthony Alford likely starts the year as the starting centerfielder, notes Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with Dustin Fowler backing up all three outfield spots. Alford, 26, jumps right into a regular role after experiencing mere cups of coffee in the four years prior. Going back to his debut with the Blue Jays in 2017, here are Alford’s season totals for plate appearances: 8, 21, 30, and 29.
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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Pirates Made Extension Offer To Ke’Bryan Hayes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=417646 2021-03-25T02:21:27Z 2021-03-25T02:16:56Z The Pirates proposed a contract extension to third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link). It seems no deal is imminent, as Heyman writes that there’s “no traction” in talks between Pittsburgh and the Ballengee Group client.

    It’s hardly surprising the Pirates would have interest in locking up Hayes long-term. The former first-rounder has been considered a top prospect for a while, but he arguably took his stock to new heights last season. Called up to the big leagues on September 1, Hayes went on an absolute tear to start his MLB career. He hit .376/.442/.682 with five home runs in his first 95 plate appearances. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference credited him with nearly two wins above replacement, an incredible amount of value to amass in less than a month of action.

    No one should expect Hayes to sustain anything approaching that level of offensive output, but he only needs to be a decent hitter to be quite productive given the reports on his glove. Still rookie-eligible, Hayes enters 2021 as a consensus top 15 prospect in the league.

    Hayes is controllable through 2026 and stands to make salaries around the league minimum for the next three years. Already 24 years old, he isn’t slated to hit free agency until after his age-29 season. The Pirates needn’t have any urgency in locking him up then, although it’s easy to see the appeal for the organization in initiating talks. Not only is there reason to be bullish on Hayes’ future, early-career extensions tend to carry plenty of upside for teams.

    The specific offer the Pirates put on the table isn’t known. Extensions for players with less than one year of MLB service are rare but not unheard of. Looking at players in comparable situations over the past couple years, however, it’s difficult to find a prior agreement that perfectly maps with Hayes’ situation.

    Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez signed six-year extensions guaranteeing $50MM and $43MM, respectively, each including a pair of club options to buy out free agent years. Both the White Sox stars were more than a full year younger at the time of their deals than Hayes is now, though. Evan White and Brandon Lowe, meanwhile, signed extensions with guarantees around $24MM and multiple club options. Neither of those players was seen as the same caliber of prospect as Hayes at the time. A guarantee in between those general ranges that extends the Pirates’ team control window could make some sense, but obviously a player’s urgency to sacrifice earnings upside for upfront guarantees varies person-to-person.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blake Cederlind Undergoes Tommy John Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=410595 2021-03-24T16:20:05Z 2021-03-24T15:45:35Z March 24: Cederlind underwent Tommy John surgery last night, the Pirates announced to reporters (Twitter link via Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). He’ll miss all of the 2021 season and a portion of the 2022 campaign as well.

    March 12: The Pirates announced Friday that they’ve placed right-hander Blake Cederlind on the 60-day injured list due to a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Cederlind sustained the injury in Wednesday night’s game, per the team. At this time, he and the Pirates “are discussing what the best recommended intervention is to treat the injury.” Cederlind’s spot on the 40-man roster will be filled by righty Trevor Cahill, whose previously reported one-year deal is now official.

    Cederlind, 25, was in the mix for a bullpen spot with the Pirates after making his big league debut with four innings last year. The 2016 fifth-rounder has spent the past few seasons ranked among the organization’s more promising pitching prospects, but today’s announcement means he’ll miss at least the first two months of the season — quite possibly even more than that. The Pirates didn’t reference the possibility of Tommy John surgery, but that’s of course the concern anytime a player experiences a UCL injury.

    While Cederlind tossed only four innings last year, he showed plenty of reason for excitement, including a sinker that averaged 98.7 mph out of the bullpen. His last full season of work came in 2019, when he pitched to a combined 2.28 across three levels: Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A. Control has been an issue through his pro career, as he’s walked 11.3 percent of the opponents he’s faced, but he’s also posted above-average ground-ball rates.

    If Cederlind can avoid surgery, it’s possible he’ll emerge as a bullpen option for the Pirates this summer, but it seems the Bucs will take their time in determining the best course of action for the promising young righty.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Steven Brault Shut Down For A Month]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=417184 2021-03-24T14:50:53Z 2021-03-24T14:50:53Z The Pirates have shut lefty Steven Brault down for the next month or so due to a “moderate arm muscle strain,” director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk tells reporters (Twitter links via Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic and Jason Mackey of the Post-Gazette). Because of the fairly lengthy shutdown, Brault will need to be built back up before returning to a game setting. His total absence could stretch anywhere from 10 to 12 weeks in length.

    Brault exited his most recent Grapefruit League start with tightness, which the club eventually revealed to be a lat strain. The team’s update today did not specify the grade of the strain, but a fairly lengthy absence for Brault nevertheless alters the team’s rotation outlook substantially. After trading away Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon this winter, Brault was the team’s most experienced incumbent option on the starting staff.

    Holdovers Chad Kuhl and Mitch Keller are virtual locks for the Pittsburgh rotation, as are offseason signees Trevor Cahill and Tyler Anderson, both of whom signed guaranteed Major League deals for the 2021 season. Other candidates to take the ball early in the year include righties Wil Crowe and JT Brubaker. Crowe, acquired from the Nats in the offseason trade of Josh Bell, has thrown quite well so far in Spring Training. Through 9 2/3 innings, he’s held opponents to one run on seven hits and three walks with seven punchouts.

    Brault’s timeline for a return will be particularly worth monitoring given his status as an obvious summer trade candidate. The 28-year-old (29 in April) drew interest over the winter and, as a player who is controlled for just two years beyond the current campaign, is a logical trade chip for a rebuilding club like Pittsburgh. Because he’s controlled through 2023, there’s no real urgency to move him this summer — particularly if he doesn’t have much time demonstrate his health prior to the July 31 trade deadline.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trevor Cahill Likely To Make Pirates' Season-Opening Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=415490 2021-03-22T23:29:32Z 2021-03-22T23:29:32Z
  • Pirates manager Derek Shelton expects recently signed right-hander Trevor Cahill to break camp with the team, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic relays. “I don’t plan on him staying behind in Florida,” Shelton said of Cahill, whom the Pirates inked to a one-year, $1.5MM guarantee earlier this month. The Pirates aren’t yet sure which role Cahill will fill when the season starts, though. The well-traveled 33-year-old has amassed 225 starts in 352 appearances, and he’s coming off a season divided between starting and relieving with the Giants. Cahill wound up with 26 innings of 3.24 ERA ball and posted an excellent 29.2 percent strikeout rate, but he also walked 13.2 percent of the batters he faced, recorded a 4.38 SIERA and logged a personal-worst 33.3 percent groundball rate.
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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Steven Wright]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=414865 2021-03-21T17:20:44Z 2021-03-21T17:20:44Z The Pirates announced the signing of right-hander Steven Wright to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. The deal reunites the former Red Sox hurler with Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington, who led the Boston front office from 2011-15.

    Wright worked mostly as a swingman for the Red Sox from 2013-19. He peaked in 2016, tossing 156.2 innings of 3.33 ERA ball en route to an All-Star selection. A knuckleballer, Wright unsurprisingly has never gotten many strikeouts but has induced plenty of weak contact throughout his major career.

    The 36-year-old hasn’t pitched much over the past few years. Various injuries and a pair of suspensions (fifteen games for domestic violence in 2018, then eighty games for performance-enhancing drugs in 2019) have kept him to 84 MLB innings since the start of the 2017 season. Wright hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019.