March 11: The Rangers announced they’re getting right-hander Ricky DeVito from the Pirates as the player to be named later. DeVito, 24, was acquired from Atlanta in the Richard Rodriguez deal, and worked to a 5.40 ERA across 70 innings at High-A last season (six starts, 29 relief appearances).
March 8: The Rangers announced Wednesday that they’ve traded infielder/outfielder Mark Mathias to the Pirates in exchange for a player to be named later. Texas designated Mathias for assignment over the weekend in order to open a 40-man roster spot for newly signed reliever Will Smith. The Pirates announced that righty Max Kranick, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, has been transferred to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Mathias, 28, comes to the Pirates with a minor league option and five years of team control remaining. He’s seen action in part of two big league seasons — 2020 with the Brewers and 2022 with Milwaukee and Texas. He’s logged just 127 plate appearances in that time but carries a solid .256/.307/.462 batting line (114 wRC+) with six homers, six doubles, a 7.1% walk rate and a more troubling 29.1% strikeout rate.
Mathias lost the entire 2021 season to a torn labrum that required shoulder surgery. It was the second shoulder surgery for Mathias, who also had a procedure performed back in his college days. He returned to post a huge .318/.421/.518 batting line in 50 Triple-A games with the Brewers in 2022. Milwaukee also carried him on the big league roster for six games, but Mathias was traded to Texas prior to the deadline in the deal that sent righty Matt Bush to the Brewers.
The versatile Mathias could crack the Pirates’ Opening Day roster in a bench role, though his remaining minor league option means he’s not a lock to do so. Still, he’s played all four infield positions and all three outfield spots in his professional career, albeit with just one lone inning in center field with the Brewers in 2020. He’s moved around the diamond consistently in the Majors, with no more than 51 innings played at any single position (despite a total of 292 defensive innings under his belt).
While he’s never been regarded as a plus defender at any position, Mathias can play pretty much anywhere. He doesn’t have huge power, but he’s a career .286/.377/.466 hitter in 715 Triple-A plate appearances and has stacked up 21 homers, 41 doubles, three triples and 26 steals (in 31 attempts) in 173 total games at that level.
Second base has been Mathias’ most frequent position in the minors, and that happens to be the Pirates’ least-settled spot in the lineup, so he’s a particularly sensible add for Pittsburgh at a low cost of acquisition. He’ll compete with Rodolfo Castro, Ji Hwan Bae and Nick Gonzales for playing time there throughout the remainder of camp.