Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-23T13:58:32Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pirates Not Interested In Dealing Starling Marte]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=145558 2019-01-22T15:37:10Z 2019-01-22T14:14:53Z
  • Some potentially eyebrow-raising chatter arose yesterday regarding the Pirates, but Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that there’s nothing of substance. There’s no possibility of a deal between the Bucs and Dodgers regarding outfielder Starling Marte, says Heyman, shooting down speculation that had arisen. That, at least, had some facial plausibility since the L.A. organization would no doubt be interested in such a pursuit. Heyman also shoots down a much more fanciful idea that evidently arose involving a certain superstar free agent.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/18/19]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=145092 2019-01-19T03:34:10Z 2019-01-19T03:30:22Z Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Pirates have outrighted righty Dario Agrazal to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, MLB.com’s Adam Berry tweets. A control-and-groundball-oriented hurler, the 24-year-old Agrazal has yet to move past the Double-A level. In his 85 2/3 innings at Altoona last year, he pitched to a 3.99 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 along with a 49.6% groundball rate. Agrazal had been designated for assignment recently to open up a 40-man roster spot.

    Earlier Transactions

    • Per a team announcement, catcher Andrew Susac cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk after being designated for assignment by the Orioles. Set to turn 29 in March, Susac was once one of baseball’s premier catching prospects but has only managed a .221/.283/.373 slash in 300 plate appearances at the MLB level to date. He did hit .256/.405/.456 in a smallish sample of 158 plate appearances in Triple-A last year and has a career .248/.350/.438 line through 927 PAs at that level. He’ll remain on hand in the O’s organization as a depth option.
    • The Nationals announced that infielder Matt Reynolds has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment. He was sent outright to Triple-A Fresno. Reynolds made just 14 plate appearances with Washington last season and has spent the bulk of his career with the Mets, for whom he batted .228/.300/.351 in 226 PAs from 2016-17. The 28-year-old Reynolds can handle shortstop, second base and third base, and he’s a career .283/.350/.420 hitter in nearly 1600 Triple-A plate appearances (although most of those came in an extremely hitter-friendly setting with the Mets’ former Las Vegas affiliate in the Pacific Coast League).
    • Right-hander Jonathan Aro is headed to the Braves on a minor league contract, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old hasn’t cracked a big league roster since 2016 and has only 11 MLB frames under his belt in all. However, Aro does have a career 3.14 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 174 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. He’s spent the past two seasons with the Triple-A affiliates for the Mariners (2017) and the Padres (2018).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Japan’s Orix Buffaloes Purchase Contract Of Tyler Eppler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144635 2019-01-15T14:59:31Z 2019-01-15T14:18:16Z Japan’s Orix Buffaloes have announced that they have purchased the contract of righty Tyler Eppler from the Pirates. The 26-year-old appears to have an agreement for an estimated $600K in 2019 salary, per a Kyodo News report.

    Though Eppler would have had a shot at making his MLB debut in the near future, he was left unprotected — and went unselected — in the recent Rule 5 draft. Given those circumstances, it’s easy to see why he chose to accept a move to Nippon Professional Baseball, where he’ll have a chance to earn significant money, pitch at the highest level of baseball outside of North America, and perhaps generate momentum for an eventual stateside return.

    Eppler is coming off of a strong showing at Triple-A, where he worked to a 3.59 ERA in 153 innings with 6.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. The former sixth-round pick also went on to throw well this winter in the Dominican Winter League. Still, he was left without a 40-man spot for 2019 after consecutive seasons at the highest level of the minors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143896 2019-01-12T18:50:18Z 2019-01-12T18:15:47Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed yesterday at 1pm ET, and there has been a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track those settlements from the National League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Rounding out contract numbers for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dominic Leone will take home $1.26MM, Chasen Shreve will make $900K, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna will earn $12.25MM in his last season before free agency, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). Ozuna has the most high-impact potential as he looks to rebound from a still-productive season in 2018 that saw his power output hindered at times by a balky shoulder. He still managed 23 home runs and a .280/.325/.433 slash line while playing just about every day outside of a 10-day DL stint late in August.
    • The Diamondbacks came to terms with a slew of players, per Feinsand (via Twitter), including Matt Andriese for $920K, Steven Souza Jr. for $4.125MM, shortstop Nick Ahmed for $3.6625MM, and potential closer Archie Bradley for $1.83MM.
    • The Rockies and starting pitcher Jon Gray have come to an agreement on a $2.935MM deal, per Feinsand (via Twitter). Gray had an up-and-down 2018 that is generally considered to be more promising than the optics of his 5.12 ERA make it seem.
    • The Pirates have come to terms on one-year deals with both of their arbitration eligible players, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Left fielder Corey Dickerson signs for $8.5MM, and reliever Keone Kela takes home $3.175MM. It’s a small arb class for the Pirates, whose list will grow next season as players like Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Joe Musgrove, among others, reach their first season of eligibility.
    • The Dodgers signed a couple of their remaining arbitration-eligible players yesterday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Utility man Chris Taylor has a $3.5MM deal, while outfield Joc Pederson settled at $5MM.

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Aaron Slegers, Designate Dario Agrazal For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144114 2019-01-11T19:57:17Z 2019-01-11T19:52:16Z The Pirates announced Friday that they’ve claimed right-hander Aaron Slegers off waivers from the Twins and designated right-hander Dario Agrazal for assignment. Slegers himself was recently designated for assignment by Minnesota to clear 40-man roster space for newly signed Nelson Cruz.

    Slegers, a towering righty, stands at 6’10” and has pitched 29 innings for the Twins across the past two seasons but struggled to a 5.90 ERA in that time. Although Slegers hasn’t had much experience at the MLB level, he’s had quite a bit of success in Triple-A, where he’s pitched to a 3.54 ERA in 233 2/3 innings with 6.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and average or better ground-ball tendencies. The Pirates surely found it appealing that the 26-year-old Slegers has a pair of minor league options remaining as well, which should give them some additional roster depth and flexibility in 2019, should he stick with the organization.

    Agrazal, 24, has had some success in the minors himself, but having split the 2018 season between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, he’s further from the Majors than Slegers. This past season, the Panamian-born Agrazal pitched to a combined 3.65 ERA at those two levels, averaging an outstanding 1.2 walks per nine innings pitched but also a sub-optimal 5.4 strikeouts per nine. Agrazal has pounded the strike zone throughout his minor league career (1.3 BB/9) and possesses a low-90s heater that generates enough sink to produce consistently strong ground-ball rates. He’s never been one to miss many bats, however, which likely limits his appeal to the Bucs (and perhaps to other clubs throughout the league). The Pirates will have a week to trade Agrazal or run him through outright waivers. If he clears waivers, he can remain in the organization and be sent to the minors without a 40-man roster spot.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jeff Banister Joins Pirates’ Front Office]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142824 2019-01-06T21:47:16Z 2019-01-06T21:43:33Z The Pirates have hired Jeff Banister as a special assistant, baseball operations, the team announced. He joins fellow new hire David Eckstein in that regard.

    The 54-year-old Banister is headed back to Pittsburgh, which selected him in the 25th round of the 1986 draft. Banister then spent seven seasons in the Pirates’ minor league system and picked up his sole majors plate appearance with the team in 1991. He eventually went on to manage for five seasons in the minors with Pittsburgh and also spent three seasons as its major league field coordinator and eight as a minor league field coordinator. Banister topped that off by serving as the Pirates’ interim pitching coach in 2008 and their bench coach in 2010.

    After his long tenure in Pittsburgh, Banister became the Rangers’ manager in 2014. He held that position through last year, posting a 325-313 regular-season record with a pair of playoff berths and two American League West titles. Perhaps Banister will be in line to become the Pirates’ next manager if Clint Hurdle’s run ends, then, though there’s no indication the Bucs are down on the latter despite three straight non-playoff seasons.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Add David Eckstein To Front Office]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142773 2019-01-06T14:33:41Z 2019-01-06T14:32:29Z The Pirates have hired former major league infielder David Eckstein to serve as a special assistant for baseball operations, Adam Berry of MLB.com was among those to cover. He’s now in the same organization as his brother Rick Eckstein, who’s entering his first season as the Pirates’ hitting coach.

    This is David Eckstein’s first front office role since his playing career ended in 2010, though he has garnered some coaching experience with the Angels, Diamondbacks and USA Baseball, as Berry points out. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington noted that the “intelligence, intensity and a unique drive and energy” of Eckstein “will be an asset for our Major League team and player development system as a teacher and mentor.”

    Now 43, the diminutive Eckstein was known for getting the most out of his talent during his tenure as a big league second baseman and shortstop. A 19th-round pick of the Red Sox in 1997, Eckstein began making his mark a few years later in Anaheim, which claimed him off waivers from Boston in 2000. Eckstein debuted in 2001 and enjoyed a successful four-year run with the Angels, whom he helped take home their only World Series title in 2002. He then moved on to St. Louis, where he played from 2005-07, earned a pair of All-Star nods and collected 2006 World Series MVP honors as part of yet another championship-winning squad.

    Eckstein divided the final three years of his career among Toronto, Arizona and San Diego, finishing with a .281/.345/.355 lifetime line, 35 home runs, 123 stolen bases and 16.8 fWAR in 5,705 plate appearances.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Pirates List Of Spring Non-Roster Invitees]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142647 2019-01-05T17:55:42Z 2019-01-05T17:55:42Z The Pirates released a list of non-roster invitees who have been invited to big league camp this spring, per a team announcementThe most notable name on the list belongs to third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who ranks second on Baseball America’s list (subscription required) of Pirates top prospects.

    Hayes, 22 in January, will likely spend 2019 in Triple A after slashing .293/.375/.444 with Double A Altoona last season, also earning Pittsburgh’s Minor League Player-Of-The-Year honors. Hayes has yet to see his power show up in game, but he’s otherwise marched steadily through the Pittsburgh system since being drafted 32nd overall in the 2015 draft.

    Other notables include infielder Will Craig, Altoona’s MVP last season, outfielder Bryan Reynolds, a highly-regarded prospect in his own right who hit .302/.381/.438 in Double A last season, and right-handed starter Tyler Eppler, who tied for Pittsburgh’s minor-league lead in wins while going 13-6 with a 3.59 ERA over 153 innings for Triple A Indianapolis. It also happens to be his birthday, so Happy Birthday and congrats to Tyler, who turned 26 today.

    The full list of those receiving the NRI includes Elvis Escobar, Geoff Hartlieb, Alex McRae, Eduardo Vera, Brandon Waddell, Blake Weiman, Jason Delay, Christian Kelley, and Arden Pabst.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Roberto Gomez To Minors Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142572 2019-01-05T01:48:44Z 2019-01-05T01:47:35Z
  • The Pirates also announced some non-roster invitees to their big league Spring Training camp today, including the addition of right-hander Roberto Gomez on a minor league deal.  (John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com had the news on Gomez back in November.)  The 29-year-old Gomez has 14 2/3 career MLB innings to his name, all with the Giants over the last two seasons.  Over 550 career minor league frames, Gomez has a 3.68 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 2.16 K/BB rate, starting 92 of his 147 career games but seeing increasing usage as a reliever over the last two seasons.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Tulo, Napoli, Castellanos, Rays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142506 2019-01-04T17:53:07Z 2019-01-04T17:43:23Z Troy Tulowitzki impressed enough in his December 16th showcase to draw genuine interest from as many as 16 major league clubs, per Andy Martino of SNY.tv. The Cubs were reportedly willing to hand Tulo their starting shortstop position at least until the end of Addison Russell’s suspension. The Pirates, as well, liked Tulo’s lateral mobility and overall athleticism enough to install him as their starting shortstop. The Angels were interested in him as a third baseman. By signing with the Yankees, however, Tulo arguably sees more playing time certainly than in Chicago, assuming Didi Gregorius’ injury will keep him out for longer than Russell. The Yankees fulfill (at least for now) his desire to stick at short, and they certainly figure to be more competitive than the Pirates. In context, there’s ample reason to understand New York’s appeal to Tulowitzki and vice versa, though the story changes if Manny Machado winds up in pinstripes. Of course, Tulo’s minimum salary deal would hardly be a deterrent to a Machado signing, but it could be yet another sign that Brian Cashman and the Yankees are more than content to enter 2019 without the divisive superstar. Let’s check in on a few other notes from around the game…

    • Interestingly, Mike Napoli interviewed with the Chicago Cubs before they filled their recent coaching vacancies, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s been less than a month since the former All-Star announced his retirement, but now that the Cubs went in a different direction, Napoli will have no trouble enjoying his time off. Napoli was always touted as a positive influence who buoyed clubhouse morale with intensity and charm, and there’s plenty reason to believe there is a future in coaching for him, if he so chooses.
    • The Tigers are no-doubt ready to deal Nick Castellanos, but they’re not ready to give him away, per mlive.com’s Evan Woodbery. GM Al Avila faced a similar quandary last offseason in trying to find a match for veteran Ian Kinsler. He settled on returning a pair of lower-tier prospects from the Angels, only one of whom registers on their list of top-30 prospects from MLB.com (Troy Montgomery at #29). Kinsler’s situation was complicated by a partial no-trade list, but the Tigers still ended up with a package not much different from what the Angels received when they moved him to Boston mid-season. The Tigers don’t appear ready to settle this time around, even if it means getting a lesser prospect mid-season or letting him walk at year’s end. The crux of the issue is that the Tigers view Castellanos as a robust offensive producer on a one-year deal coming off a career season and entering his prime. Trade partners, meanwhile, can paint Castellanos as an $11MM defensive liability. Of potential trade partners, the division rival Indians are still the most logical fit, and they’ve partnered even recently on the Leonys Martin deal last season. Still, finding middle ground on appropriate compensation for a player with such evaluative extremes is proving difficult. Avila and the Tigers, however, will not be cowed by the challenge, nor will they give in to it – at least for now.
    • The Tampa Bay Rays are reducing the seating capacity of Tropicana Field in order to create “a more intimate, entertaining, and appealing experience [for our fans],” per Carl Lisciandrello of the Tampa Bay Times. The new renovation plan will lower the seating capacity by roughly 6,000 to around 25,000 to 26,000. With an average daily attendance in 2018 of 14,258 that exceeded only the Marlins, the Rays are certainly taking a creative approach to attract more fans by lowering their capacity ceiling. While the initial optics of this renovation plan certainly invites a degree of ribbing, Rays ownership is wise to take a creative approach to growing a fanbase that has been historically lackluster, especially given the recent failure to finalize a deal for a new stadium in Ybor City. Outfielder Tommy Pham was the latest to criticize Rays’ fans in a recent interview on MLB Network Radio, saying, “It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all,” as chronicled by Anthony Barstow of the New York Post. The Rays have done the job of putting a competitive and exciting team on the field, now they’ll embark on better utilizing areas within the ballpark. Hopefully, there will be more fans there in 2019 to notice.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Tyler Lyons]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142093 2019-01-02T00:53:29Z 2019-01-02T00:46:58Z The Pirates have signed left-handed reliever Tyler Lyons to a minor league pact, John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com reports.

    Pittsburgh’s plenty familiar with Lyons, who had been with NL Central rival St. Louis since it selected him in the 2010 draft. Lyons, a former starter, debuted with the Cardinals in 2013 and later emerged as an effective piece out of their bullpen. Over 97 appearances (89 in relief) and 162 innings from 2015-17, Lyons posted a 3.33 ERA. He was particularly excellent in 2017, a 54-frame showing in which he logged a 2.83 ERA with 11.33 K/9, 3.33 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent groundball rate.

    The Redbirds were likely expecting more of the same from Lyons in 2018, but the 30-year-old’s season went awry as he battled back and elbow injuries. While Lyons continued to strike out hitters at a solid clip (10.26 per nine), his walks increased (4.32 BB/9), his grounder rate dropped to alarming degrees (28.3 percent) and his home run rate went from .5 per nine the previous season to 1.62. He also surrendered a ridiculously high .412 batting average on balls in play and only recorded a 60.4 percent strand rate. All of that led to an 8.64 ERA across 16 2/3 innings for Lyons, whom the Cardinals designated for assignment in late July. Lyons spent the rest of the season at Triple-A, where he offered far better production (2.49 ERA, 8.72 K/9, 2.49 BB/9 in 21 2/3 innings), and then elected free agency in October.

    Considering Lyons’ past success and the makeup of the Pirates’ bullpen, he could earn a major league shot in Pittsburgh in 2019. Aside from closer Felipe Vazquez, the only lefty reliever on the Bucs’ 40-man roster is Steven Brault, who has struggled in the bigs since debuting in 2016.

    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: NL Central]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141671 2018-12-28T19:46:20Z 2018-12-28T02:43:23Z Our 3 Remaining Needs series slides west to the NL Central, another lively offseason division with a surprise player moving to the fore. Though heavy lifting may have concluded in many of the NL’s charter cities, others still have piles of work at hand. Let’s get to the most pressing needs for each of the five teams in the NL’s staunchest division last season (teams listed in order of 2018 standings) . . .

    [Previous installment: NL East]

    Milwaukee Brewers

    • Address second base. The keystone was a black hole for an otherwise prodigious lineup last year, with midseason acquisition Jonathan Schoop performing so badly at times that 6’4, 230 pound Travis Shaw was asked to learn the position. With the likely impending departure of 3B Mike Moustakas, Shaw will slide back across the diamond, leaving a gaping hole at second. Top prospect Keston Hiura is on the way, but may still be a year or so off, and the options at hand are, in the interim, woefully insufficient. The club has been connected to free agent Jed Lowrie, but may prefer a short-term stopgap to keep Hiura’s spot warm.
    • Add a proven arm to the rotation.  Milwaukee’s rotation consists, at current, of three number-five starters, three rookies vying for the fourth and fifth spots, and a rehabbing Jimmy Nelson set to make his return at some point early in the season. Ideally, the club would be a perfect fit for a top-end hurler, but seems to have neither the financial nor the prospect capital to make such a deal happen. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta all had promising debuts last season, but the Crew would do well to somehow slot a proven commodity into the mix.
    • Find a legitimate backup shortstop.  Former top prospect Orlando Arcia’s 2018 season was, to put it mildly, not a good one. The purported defensive wiz was anything but magical on that side of the ball last season, to say nothing of his league-worst 54 wRC+. If he again slumps out of the gate, the club can’t exactly look to Tyler Saladino or Hernan Perez to hold down the fort, especially given its question marks at second. A veteran backup capable of handling the bat against both sides (and, perhaps, handling second-base duties in a pinch as well) would be a perfect fit for the reigning division champs.

    Chicago Cubs

    • Solidify the back end of the bullpen. An aging Cubs pen that struggled with the free pass last season faces further uncertainty at present, what with the loss of Jesse Chavez and the hazy future of closer Brandon Morrow, who’s found it nearly impossible to stay healthy for a full major-league season. Upper-minors reinforcements are scarce, so the club will likely have to dip into what little reserves it has or scour the fringes of the market for a bargain pickup.
    • See if Jason Heyward’s albatross can be moved (with cash incentive). This is speculative, at best, but the Cubs have as few holes as any team in baseball, and still lurk at the edges of the Bryce Harper market. Finding a team willing to take on at least some of the $118.5MM still owed to Heyward could be just enough to lift the free-spending Cubbies to the Harper Sweepstakes’ fore; the club, after all, would still boast a number of capable right-field options for the upcoming campaign even if they were to deal Heyward and miss on the 26-year-old superstar.
    • Add depth in the upper minors. Star-caliber graduations from 2015-17 have decimated a farm that was once the jewel of the National League. At current, the system offers little in the way of high-impact talent, which could be a major impediment to a big mid-season acquisition, should the Cubs be hit by injuries and/or ineffectiveness. Both Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber could be leveraged in this way – with multiple years of team control remaining for each, the prospect capital acquired could be, come July, the lone bullet(s) in the Cubbies’ gun.

    St. Louis Cardinals

    • Find a taker for Jose Martinez. Martinez has raked to the tune of a 130 wRC+ after years of uneven performance in the minors since debuting for the club in late 2016.  The acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt, however, and the 30-year-old’s frightening defense in an outfield corner, make him a much better fit elsewhere, ideally on an AL club. Though the return might be insubstantial, even with his four years of team control remaining, it’ll likely add more value to the club than Martinez will as a part-time fill-in and occasional pinch-hitter.
    • Continue to add to the bullpen. Despite possessing a hothouse of flame-throwers in the pen, the 2018 unit was arguably the NL’s worst (4.50 xFIP, 4.34 BB/9). The club took a major step to address the issue with last week’s signing of Andrew Miller, but it’s still a unit light on track record and heavy on control issues. The Giants’ Will Smith and Tony Watson, former Central stalwarts both, have each been linked with the Redbirds this month, and either could catapult the club to a place very near the projected top of the division.
    • Add a lefty bat. In addition to the perennially-awesome Matt Carpenter, the Cards’ only other left-handed regulars are the mercurial Kolten Wong and the will-be 33-year-old Dexter Fowler, who often struggled to hit the ball out of the infield last season. The bench, too, is stacked mostly with solid right-handed hitters of all types – there is, it seems, scarcely a club out there in more dire need of left-handed infusion, and this one might need a couple.

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    • Add to the rotation. The unit, though possessing of four proven MLB arms, is arguably the division’s thinnest – after the 3-4 of Joe Musgrove and Trevor Williams, the latter of whom has posted consecutive shaky-peripheral (4.54 xFIP, 6.64 K/9 in ’18) seasons, the club has little on which it can depend. Chad Kuhl, dreadful anyway in ’18, had Tommy John in September, and youngsters Nick Kingham and Clay Holmes showed little in their scattered opportunities. Top prospect Mitch Keller is close, but the team would be well-served to add a couple proven, back-end arms (in addition to the newly-signed Jordan Lyles, who’s spent much of the last three seasons as a reliever) to cover their backs.
    • Find a shortstop. Following the departure of longtime Pirate Jordy Mercer, the club is left with just a combination of Kevin Newman and newly-acquired Erik Gonzalez at the position, neither of whom inspire much confidence on the offensive side. The Buccos have long prized defense at the position, and may indeed be content with a combination of the two, but a sub-70 wRC+ anywhere on the diamond is a gaping hole, regardless of defensive prowess.
    • Assemble more depth on the bench. Gregory Polanco will already miss the first two months of the season, at the very least. If Starling Marte or Corey Dickerson incurs an injury, the club’s outfield mix will look exceptionally weak. Positional versatility, a hallmark of the successful Pirate teams of the mid-decade, is in short supply on the current version, and the club will need to bolster its depth if it harbors any real hope of contending in an increasingly difficult division.

    Cincinnati Reds

    • Make another impact move. The club, which for years has been an absentee on the free-agent market, and hadn’t made an industry-shaking acquisition since 2011’s trade for Mat Latos, has already announced its intention to contend this offseason, jettisoning far-away talent for short-term impact in a pair of December trades to acquire Tanner Roark, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Matt Kemp. But, given the quality of the Central, the returns aren’t nearly enough; the Reds are still at least seven, and perhaps closer to ten or twelve, wins away from seriously challenging for a playoff spot. Landing an elite-level talent via trade – which the club, with a throng of upper-level projected regulars on the farm, is certainly capable of doing – could catapult them squarely into the mix.
    • Shore up center field. Following last week’s procurement of Kemp and Puig, the Reds are flush with outfield thump from both sides, but are still left without a true center fielder in their midst. It’s true that Great American Ballpark has less space in the outfield than most, and that the club has been successful with a decaying Shin-Soo Choo manning the position for much of a season, but the rotation is a contact-heavy one that will undoubtedly suffer with a subpar defender left free to roam.  Top prospect Nick Senzel could be an option, but the club will likely be best-served to pluck its feast from outside the organization.
    • Add depth to the bench/pen. Both units here are severely undernourished – an infusion would require perhaps three 85 FIP- or lower bullpen arms, and bench bats capable of handling multiple positions and offering adequate output at the plate. It’ll be a tall task to imbue the club with this much reinforcement, but a necessary one if Dick Williams, Nick Krall, and Co. hope to contend next season.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Pollock, Grandal, Cervelli, Lucroy, Andujar, Blue Jays, Mets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141306 2018-12-23T23:17:32Z 2018-12-22T15:23:26Z Outfielder A.J. Pollock may be looking for six years on the open market, Jon Heyman of Fancred reported among many other recent notes. That seems an optimistic target, though certainly it doesn’t hurt to aim high, at least initially. Still, finding the perfect fit to pony up even four years for Pollock isn’t easy, despite his lofty position in an otherwise barren center field market. The teams linked to Pollock so far this offseason – the Reds, Mets, Astros and Braves – have by and large augmented their lineups through alternative means. The Reds just added two fairly notable outfielders in a trade with the Dodgers, the Mets filled their need for a righty bat with Wilson Ramos, and the Astros signed Michael Brantley. While none of these necessarily precludes these teams from bringing on Pollock, they certainly lessen the urgency for the Reds, Mets and Astros, respectively. Speculatively speaking, the White Sox, Giants or Indians are teams that could be fits for Pollock moving forward.

    Meanwhile in the free agent market…

    • Speaking of top free agents, backstop Yasmani Grandal is believed to “have four years somewhere if he wants it,” per Heyman, which seems to indicate that the veteran is sitting on some strong offers already. The Reds are among the clubs with interest, though the long-term presence of Tucker Barnhart means Cincinnati can be patient.
    • Elsewhere on the catching market, there was a bit of drama yesterday involving Pirates receiver Francisco Cervelli. Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweeted that the team was “very, very close” to sending the veteran to the Dodgers, querying whether medical problems scuttled the deal. GM Neal Huntington offered a rare public rebuke of that rumor, however, Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (Twitter links). Huntington says the Bucs never “discussed any name with the Dodgers” regarding a possible Cervelli swap. He says that “the implication that a trade was nullified due to a failed medical review is completely wrong.”
    • Heyman writes that the Athletics sought to bring back veteran receiver Jonathan Lucroy, offering him $4MM for the 2019 season, but he seems to be holding out in hopes of getting more elsewhere. Lucroy signed late last offseason, inking his deal with Oakland in March, so both sides have shown a willingness to take the patient approach in waiting out the market.
    • A number of trade possibilities still seem to be swirling, though it’s tough to say at this point what likely will or will not get done. Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar “appears to be on the block, for the right price,” says Heyman. Of course, the Yanks are likely looking for high-end MLB assets in any swap involving the young third baseman, who had an impressive debut season in 2018. Despite concerns about his defensive handle at third, the 129 wRC+ and 27 bombs Andujar posted as a 23-year-old ought to have no trouble returning major league talent for New York.
    • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca examines the situations of Blue Jays hurlers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, noting that president Mark Shapiro made clear recently that the organization does not feel compelled to reduce its asking price on either pitcher. The Reds have been the most eager in pursing Stroman, but their recent acquisitions of Tanner Roark and Alex Wood may lessen the likelihood of a deal. Given that both pitchers still have multiple years of team control, it might behoove Shapiro and the Blue Jays to start the season with the pair of righties in their rotation. A strong start to the 2019 season might be enough to generate the type of return Shapiro desires.
    • The Mets have some new potential schemes in the oven, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. It seems the club is getting hits on backstops Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. A backup outfielder was the intended target in a deal for either backstop, but a spare infielder who could back up Amed Rosario at short might be a better fit. They were eyeing Rangers southpaw Mike Minor, but that push has “stalled” as the Mets aren’t eager to put together the type of package that fits the Rangers’ ask. If anything, GM Brodie Van Wagenen has proven an action-oriented approach, so it’s safe to assume the Mets aren’t done dealing yet this offseason.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Troy Tulowitzki Hosts Workout For MLB Clubs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141004 2018-12-19T04:43:51Z 2018-12-19T04:43:51Z At least 11 teams were on hand to watch Troy Tulowitzki work out earlier today, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The Giants, Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates were all represented at the showcase, Brown reports (as were other, unnamed teams), with some clubs even sending their top executives to get a first-hand look at the former Rockies star. Angels GM Billy Eppler was in attendance, per Brown, as were new Giants president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy.

    Since being released by the Blue Jays last week — with two years and $38MM remaining on his contract — Tulowitzki has been separately connected to a handful of teams including the Pirates, the Yankees, the Cubs and the Giants. His agent, Paul Cohen, recently told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Tulowitzki is open to playing second base or third base with a new team. Brown, notably, writes that the biggest appeal for Tulowitzki will be the promise of regular at-bats at one positions (as opposed to moving between those three spots in a utility role).

    It doesn’t seem as though there’s any early favorite to add Tulowitzki, who’ll cost his new team only the Major League minimum of $555K next season. (Toronto is on the hook for the remainder of his salary.) At that price, it’s justifiable for virtually any team to take a look at Tulowitzki and see if he can rediscover some of the form that once made him one of the game’s premier players. While few would expect him to return to his 2013-14 levels of output, that type of performance is hardly necessary from someone whose new team will pay him the league minimum. Tulowitzki’s bat was at least league-average in both 2015 and 2016, so if he’s healthy there’s plenty of reason to believe he can at least be fairly productive at the dish. How he adjusts defensively after undergoing surgery on both heels last year could be a more pressing question — particularly if he’s also adjusting to a new position after spending his entire pro career at shortstop.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Sign Steven Baron To Minor League Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=140973 2018-12-19T05:25:45Z 2018-12-18T22:33:11Z
  • The Pirates have agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Steven Baron, per John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com. Baron, who just turned 28, has gone 1-for-16 in a minuscule sample of six big league games. He’s a career .252/.309/.331 hitter in parts of four Triple-A seasons, though, and has thrown out 43 percent of would-be base thieves in his minor league career. He’s also drawn consistently excellent marks for his pitch-framing abilities and above-average marks in terms of pitch blocking, per Baseball Prospectus.
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