Pittsburgh Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-25T20:59:40Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox Interview Luis Urueta, Don Kelly, Skip Schumaker, James Rowson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=260352 2020-10-25T01:25:50Z 2020-10-23T23:15:08Z 6:15pm: The Red Sox have also interviewed Marlins bench coach James Rowson, Speier tweets.

5:46pm: The Red Sox have asked the Twins for permission to interview their bench coach, Mike Bell, according to Speier.

3:33pm: Boston has also interviewed Padres associate manager Skip Schumaker, Kevin Acee of the San Diego-Union Tribune tweets.

10:45am: The Red Sox interviewed Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta for their vacant managerial post last week, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reports. It’s the second time in the past year that Urueta has interviewed for the position. He was also a candidate after Alex Cora was let go, although the team opted to instead stick with an internal option in Ron Roenicke, who won’t return as skipper in 2021. Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link) reports that the Sox interviewed Pirates bench coach Don Kelly as well.

Urueta, 40 in January, has held his current position in Arizona for three seasons. He’s previously served as Arizona’s minor league field coordinator in addition to managing the Diamondbacks’ Rookie-level affiliate, managing in the Dominican Winter League and managing Team Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The 40-year-old Kelly has fast risen as a popular managerial candidate after retiring as a player following the 2016 season. The longtime Tigers utilityman began working in Detroit’s player development part upon retiring and moved to their scouting staff the next year. He was hired as Houston’s first base coach for the 2018 season and hired as the Pirates’ bench coach under rookie skipper Derek Shelton last offseason.

There’s considerable speculation that Cora could return to Boston after his suspension for his role in the Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal has been served. That ban runs through the current postseason. However, the Red Sox have also reportedly interviewed Cubs third base coach Will Venable and, per Heyman, could talk to Dodgers first base coach George Lombard.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Exploring The Pirates' Roster Options]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=260201 2020-10-23T02:46:17Z 2020-10-23T02:46:17Z
  • The Pirates have 19 players eligible for arbitration this offseason, the most of any team in baseball.  At least some of those names won’t be back in Pittsburgh in 2021, as The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel thinks as many as six players could be non-tendered and several others are trade candidates.  Interestingly, Biertempfel cites Trevor Williams as a potential non-tender, on the heels of a season that saw Williams get off to a good start but then struggle to finish with a 6.18 ERA over 55 1/3 innings, with a league-high 15 homers allowed.  Williams received some trade interest from at least one team (the Blue Jays) back in August, so it’s possible Toronto or another club could have some talks with the Pirates before the non-tender deadline.  Williams had a pair of solid seasons in 2017-18 and is entering his age-29 season with two years of team control remaining.  MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Williams to earn between $3.2MM and $4.6MM through the arbitration process this winter.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=257893 2020-10-21T13:37:30Z 2020-10-21T13:37:30Z The Pirates were baseball’s worst team in 2020, although that came as little surprise following a winter where their only moves of note were to fire their manager, fire their GM and eventually trade away their best position player. They’ll have the top pick in next summer’s draft and another offseason that could subtract some notable names from the big league roster.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    • Gregory Polanco, OF: $14MM through 2021 (includes buyout of 2022 club option; contract also contains 2023 club option)

    Arbitration-Eligible Players

    Note on arb-eligible players: this year’s arbitration projections are more volatile than ever, given the unprecedented revenue losses felt by clubs and the shortened 2020 schedule. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who developed our arbitration projection model, used three different methods to calculate different projection numbers. You can see the full projections and an explanation of each if you click here, but for the purposes of our Outlook series, we’ll be using his 37-percent method — extrapolating what degree of raise a player’s 2020 rate of play would have earned him in a full 162-game slate and then awarding him 37 percent of that raise.

    Option Decisions

    Free Agents

    Other Contractual Obligations

    • The Pirates technically owe Felipe Vazquez $7.75MM in 2021, but he’s not earning his salary while on the restricted list due to the abhorrent statutory sexual assault charges brought forth against him in 2019.

    The Pirates will head into the 2020-21 offseason with an offense that scored the fewest runs in baseball (219) and a pitching staff that ranked 19th in ERA and 22nd in FIP. It’d be impossible to fix this club in just one offseason, but that’s of course not the goal of GM Ben Cherington and his staff, who surely knew they were signing on for a rebuilding effort when ownership fired former GM Neal Huntington.

    Unfortunately for the Pirates, virtually every would-be trade chip on the roster saw his value disintegrate in what was a disastrous 2020 season. Chris Archer could have been one of the more intriguing arms on the trade market but didn’t pitch after undergoing thoracic outlet surgery. That procedure makes his $11MM club option a virtual lock to be bought out, which should formally close the books on one of the most lopsided trades in franchise history. Closer Keone Kela was a no-brainer trade piece but missed the early portion of the season on the Covid-19 injured list and immediately went down with a forearm issue that ultimately ended his season. Both physical setbacks surely deprived the Pirates of the chance to acquire some younger, cost-controlled talent.

    Archer and Kela were far from the only injuries that hindered any would-be rebuilding efforts for Cherington & Co., however. Right-hander Joe Musgrove hit the IL with a triceps injury in early August and wasn’t able to return prior to the Aug. 31 trade deadline. He was still discussed in trades — the Blue Jays reportedly came close to striking a deal, in fact — but Musgrove stayed put and will surely be on the market again this winter. Hot-hitting Colin Moran could conceivably have garnered interest from teams in need of a bat; he was hitting .259/.326/.531 as of Aug. 23 — when he was hit by a pitch and diagnosed with a concussion that kept him out until the deadline had passed.

    When all was said and done, Jarrod Dyson was the only player the Pirates moved — a deal that netted them a bit of extra cash to devote to international free agency. Musgrove and fellow righty starter Trevor Williams were discussed but never moved, and the Pirates’ remaining trade assets all flopped in terms of performance. Josh Bell, Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco all hit so poorly that it’s hard to imagine many contenders even carried substantial interest — and that’s an issue that dovetails nicely into what a tough situation Cherington and his staff will face this winter. Here’s a look at what each of those three players did in 2020:

    • Bell: .226/.305/.364, eight home runs, career-worst 26.5 percent strikeout rate
    • Polanco: .153/.214/.325, seven home runs, career-worst 37.4 percent strikeout rate
    • Frazier: .230/.297/.364, seven home runs, career-worst 15.2 percent strikeout rate

    Under normal circumstances, any of those three would ostensibly be an appealing trade chip. Polanco has battled injuries and inconsistency, but at his best in 2018, he hit .254/.340/.499 with 23 home runs, 32 doubles, six triples, a dozen steals and decent defense in right field. Bell crushed 37 home runs last year, and while he’s a poor defender at first base, he’s also a switch-hitter who is controlled through the 2022 season. Frazier isn’t as well-known but entered the 2020 season with a career .279/.342/.420 slash. Like Bell, he’s controlled through 2022.

    Minor struggles or a slight down season might’ve helped to keep interest in that trio alive, but Bell and Polanco, in particular, ranked among MLB’s worst players. Of the 310 players in baseball to take at least 100 plate appearances this year, Bell’s -0.4 fWAR tied him for 283rd, while Polanco checked in at 303rd. Maybe a team would still like to acquire Bell while his salary is manageable and roll the dice on his two years of club control, but no one would pay a premium to do so. Polanco’s salary now looks mostly immovable. Frazier’s season wasn’t quite as dire, but a trade would still be selling quite low on a typically steady producer.

    There are similar quandaries in the rotation. Trevor Williams got out to a solid start to his 2020 season but was shelled over his final six starts. In his final 31 frames, he yielded 28 earned runs on 41 hits (12 homers) and 13 walks with 26 punchouts. Chad Kuhl posted a respectable 4.27 ERA through 46 1/3 innings in his return from Tommy John surgery, but he also walked 28 batters and hit a pair in that time, resulting in an ugly 5.48 FIP and 4.98 xFIP. Jameson Taillon moved another year closer to free agency in 2020, but the Pirates can’t be expected to trade him when he hasn’t pitched since June 2019 due to his second Tommy John surgery. All three of those pitchers are controlled through 2022, so there’s time to build some value back up next season.

    If there’s one bright spot from the rotation that should bring the Bucs a nice haul this winter, it’s the aforementioned Musgrove. His forearm troubles limited him to 39 2/3 frames in 2020, but he was quite good when healthy (3.86 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 55-to-16 K/BB ratio, 48.2 percent grounder rate). Thankfully for the Pirates, Musgrove finished well upon his return and was utterly dominant in his final two outings: 13 shoutout frames against the Indians and Cardinals with a 21-to-2 K/BB ratio. He’s controlled another two seasons, and with a 4.23 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 8.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 325 1/3 innings since being acquired by Pittsburgh, he’ll be among the more appealing arms on the trade market this winter — especially considering a projected salary south of $4MM.

    There are certainly some other arms the Bucs could market to the league’s many pitching-needy clubs. Southpaw Steven Brault turned in a career-best 3.38 ERA and 3.92 FIP through 42 2/3 frames, working mostly as a starter. His previous track record was limited, but he’s controlled through 2023 (and sings one heck of a National Anthem). Right-hander Richard Rodriguez quietly posted a 2.70 ERA/2.85 FIP with a 34-to-5 K/BB ratio in 23 1/3 frames. Chris Stratton, acquired from the Angels for cash in 2019, has a 3.76 ERA and matching FIP with 10.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings as a Pirate. Both relievers are controlled through 2023 as well.

    Perhaps behind the plate, 30-year-old Jacob Stallings could be an under-the-radar trade candidate. Stallings has hit .256/.326/.380 over the past two seasons while also serving as one of the best defenders in baseball. He’ll be 31 in December, but he’s controlled through 2024. It’d be a leap of faith for a contending club to plug him in as a starter, but over Stallings’ past 353 plate appearances, he’s been worth 2.4 fWAR and rWAR alike. If nothing else, his considerable platoon splits would make his right-handed bat a strong complement to another club’s left-handed-hitting starter.

    Certainly, that’s a lot of focus on what the Pirates could subtract this winter and not much of a look at what they could add. It goes without saying that the Bucs won’t be players for any of the market’s top free agents or any high-profile players on the trade market. That doesn’t mean Cherington’s group will entirely eschew some free-agent additions, however. In fact, there’s good reason to argue for the Pirates being fairly aggressive with short-term adds in free agency.

    Assuming a Musgrove trade is ultimately put together, there will be space in the rotation to attract free-agent starters in search of rebounds. Taillon and righty Mitch Keller should have spots locked down, and either of Williams or Kuhl could get another look if they’re not traded. Adding a rotation piece in need of a bounceback — or perhaps a young, non-tendered arm with some upside — would be wise.

    The current group of free-agent starters includes rebound candidates like Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Wacha, Alex Wood, Tyler Chatwood and numerous others. The non-tender market will add alternatives, with Jose Urena, Vince Velasquez and Steven Matz standing out as a few speculative possibilities. The Pirates have a fairly pitcher-friendly park and a clear path to innings — something many contending clubs won’t be able to offer.

    That’s even more true in the bullpen, where there should be numerous spots up for grabs in Spring Training. Promising a few spots to relievers in search of a rebound is sensible given the dearth of proven arms in the current group and the potential to spin any new signings into a decent return come July. We see this sort of deal come together every year around the league, with Kansas City’s recent Trevor Rosenthal addition standing as the most recent example.

    With the entire Pirates outfield struggling badly in 2020, the Bucs would be a nice soft landing spot for any free agent whose market collapses — a near inevitability given the expected lack of spending among teams and the potential flooding of the market following the non-tender date. They’ll want to leave space to allow 2019 Rookie of the Year candidate Bryan Reynolds to rebound and, quite likely, to give waiver pickup Anthony Alford a platform to audition. Shortstop-turned-outfielder Cole Tucker should get a look as well. Still, there ought to be enough fluidity to grab a veteran who could provide stability, competitive at-bats and perhaps be flipped as was the case with Dyson this year.

    The infield should be mostly set with breakout sensation Ke’Bryan Hayes, who had one of the best showings of any rookie once he was finally called to the big leagues, getting the third base job from the outset. Moran and Bell can pair to handle duties at first base and, if it’s implemented permanently in the NL, at designated hitter. Frazier’s track record should be enough to give him a mulligan on his poor 2020 showing if he isn’t traded. The possibility of a non-tender involving Bell, Frazier or Moran can’t be completely ruled out, but any would register as a surprise.

    It’s also plausible that the Bucs could add at shortstop, where none of Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer or the aforementioned Tucker has solidified himself. The 27-year-old Newman was terrific in 2019 but, like many of his teammates, floundered at the plate in 2020. Right hip surgery, meanwhile, wiped out Kramer’s entire season. Perhaps the Pirates could give a versatile option like Freddy Galvis or Jonathan Villar a look on a bounceback deal if neither is finding much of a market. There may be some speculation connecting the Bucs to KBO star Ha-Seong Kim, who’ll be posted this winter, given the team’s prior winning of the Jung Ho Kang bidding back in 2014. But Kim is a better player, should cost more and should also field offers from more competitive clubs; a match here would be a surprise.

    Broadly speaking, it should be a quiet offseason for a Pirates club that, more than anything else, needs to see key 2019 contributors rebound in 2021. It will be critical for Bell, Polanco, Frazier, Williams and others to reestablish some trade value as their club control continues to dwindle. Should that not pan out, there could be a very different and difficult set of decisions for the Bucs to make this time next year. In the meantime, Pirates fans can look forward to watching Hayes build on his astounding debut effort as they continue to dream of what next year’s No. 1 overall pick might bring.

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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Tigers Interview Don Kelly For Managerial Postion]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=258969 2020-10-19T23:30:56Z 2020-10-19T23:19:55Z The Tigers have interviewed Pirates bench coach Don Kelly for their managerial vacancy, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic (Twitter link). However, Biertempfel cautions that Kelly isn’t considered a “top candidate” at the moment due to his relative lack of coaching experience. He’s more likely to return to Pittsburgh in his current position, it seems.

    Kelly is a familiar name for Tiger fans. He spent the majority of his nine-year stint as a player in Detroit as a utilityman. Only four years removed from retirement as a player, Kelly has flown through the off-field ranks.  The 40-year-old kicked off his post-playing career in a scouting and player development role in the Tigers organization. He jumped to a big league staff with the 2019 Astros, signing on as first base coach. Pirates first-year manager Derek Shelton then tabbed Kelly as his bench coach this season.

    Tigers GM Al Avila has professed a desire for a candidate with coaching or managerial experience. Kelly fits the bill, although he’s a neophyte compared with some of Detroit’s other candidates. Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames and Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol are also known to have interviewed; all three have vastly more coaching experience. Even if Kelly doesn’t wind up in the managerial chair in Detroit, he’ll certainly find himself in the mix in future searches.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[International Signings: 10/7/20]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=253100 2020-10-08T00:59:39Z 2020-10-08T00:59:42Z A couple of notable international signings:

    • The Pirates announced they have signed 19-year-old pitcher Po-Yu Chen. The Taiwanese righty will receive a $1.25MM signing bonus, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Chen has evidently been on the organization’s radar for quite some time, with GM Ben Cherington noting the club has scouted him extensively over the past three years (via Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic). Notably, the Bucs’ only trade at this summer’s trade deadline netted them additional international pool space, as outfielder Jarrod Dyson was dealt to the White Sox for $243,300 in bonus availability.
    • The Rangers signed 17-year-old outfielder Alejandro Osuna out of Mexico, per Baseball America’s Ben Badler (via Twitter). As Badler notes, Osuna is the brother of Astros’ reliever Roberto Osuna. Alejandro Osuna also has a twin brother, Pedro Osuna, who also plays outfield, but bats and throws right-handed, unlike Alejandro, who bats and throws lefty.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[JT Riddle Elects Free Agency]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=252793 2020-10-06T14:10:47Z 2020-10-06T14:10:47Z Infielder/outfielder JT Riddle has rejected an outright assignment from the Pirates in favor of free agency, as indicated on the Triple-A International League transactions page. Pittsburgh designated Riddle for assignment last week, and as a player with more than three years of MLB service, he has the right to opt for the open market after being outrighted from the roster.

    Pittsburgh signed Riddle to a one-year deal worth $850K over the winter, but the former Marlins utilityman scuffled through the least-productive season of his career — albeit in a small sample of just 63 plate appearances. As a Pirate, Riddle managed just a .149/.174/.224 slash with a homer, two doubles and a stolen base. Despite only playing 23 games with the Bucs, Riddle appeared at all four infield positions and all three outfield slots, demonstrating some of the defensive versatility that appealed to the Pirates in the first place.

    Riddle, who’ll turn 29 next week, was a career .229/.269/.368 hitter with 18 home runs, 29 doubles and five triples in 718 plate appearances with Miami prior to signing in Pittsburgh this winter. He’ll likely find some minor league offers and Spring Training invites this winter due to that versatility and his career .284/.321/.457 slash in parts of five Triple-A seasons.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Changes In Pirates' Baseball Ops]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=252686 2020-10-06T13:43:27Z 2020-10-06T03:48:23Z
  • Pittsburgh Pirates GM Ben Cherington continues to re-make the organization that hired him as General Manager back on November 18, 2019. Lots has changed in the year plus that Cherington has been in charge, but a long rebuild still lies ahead. Given the revenue dips caused by the pandemic, it’s not particularly surprising that today’s news regards a “mix of firings and not renewing contracts,” per Jason Mackey of PG Sports Now (via Twitter). Among those not returning to Pittsburgh are strength coach Jim Malone, head athletic trainer Bryan Housand, and senior advisor Nick Leyva, among others it seems. Given the trends we’re seeing in the industry, it would not be surprising to see these positions either filled internally or not filled at all.
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    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Francisco Cervelli Announces Retirement]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=251758 2020-10-03T21:53:49Z 2020-10-03T21:53:49Z Longtime MLB catcher Francisco Cervelli announced his retirement in an Instagram post today (h/t to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). Daniel Álvarez Montes of Elextrabase (Twitter link) was first with the news of Cervelli’s forthcoming announcement.

    Signed by the Yankees as an international amateur from Venezuela in 2003, Cervelli broke into the big leagues as a September call-up five years later. He would go on to see big league action for New York every year from 2008-14 but only eclipsed 200 plate appearances in a season once. Following a 2014 trade to the Pirates for reliever Justin Wilson, Cervelli finally got an opportunity as a team’s #1 catcher. He made the most of it. In 2015, Cervelli hit .295/.370/.401 (117 wRC+) in 510 plate appearances while rating as one of the league’s premier receiving catchers.

    Unfortunately, a worrisome series of concussions kept Cervelli from matching that lofty workload in the following seasons. Nevertheless, he generally continued to produce when healthy over the rest of his five-year Pittsburgh tenure. A miserable 2019 season eventually led to Cervelli’s release from Pittsburgh, although he did latch on with the Braves for their playoff run last season.

    Cervelli signed a one-year deal with the Marlins last offseason and was thrust into the lineup when presumptive starter Jorge Alfaro went on the injured list. Even at age 34, he acquitted himself well, hitting .245/.355/.453 in 16 games. Unfortunately, another concussion (at least the seventh of his career) sent him back to the injured list in August. It soon became apparent he wouldn’t factor into the Marlins’ playoff push. Miami had already placed Cervelli on the 60-day IL, so today’s news won’t affect their roster status in advance of next week’s NL Division Series with the Braves.

    This surely isn’t the way Cervelli would’ve wanted his career to end, but he noted in his announcement that “for the first time in a long time, I know my health and wellness needs to be the leadoff.” Despite his various injuries, Cervelli ultimately compiled a 13-year MLB career. He hit .268/.358/.382 with 41 home runs over 2618 plate appearances, a bit better than the league average hitter overall. Baseball Reference estimates he was worth approximately 14 wins above replacement, while FanGraphs pegs his career as worth 18 WAR. MLBTR wishes Cervelli the best in retirement.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Outright Andrew Susac]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=251417 2020-10-02T18:43:30Z 2020-10-02T18:37:53Z Pirates catcher Andrew Susac cleared waivers and was outrighted off the 40-man roster, per John Dreker of PiratesProspects.com (Twitter link). He can become a minor league free agent this offseason.

    Susac, 30, joined the Pirates’ big league roster late in the season when Jacob Stallings landed on the seven-day concussion list. The former Giants top prospect picked up only four plate appearances though, and hasn’t tallied more than 19 plate appearances in the Majors since the 2015 campaign in San Francisco. In all, Susac has a career .219/.286/.371 slash with seven homes in 304 plate appearances at the game’s top level. While Susac has never quite put things together in the big leagues, however, he’s a lifetime .247/.351/.431 hitter in 1020 trips to the plate in Triple-A.

    Between Susac’s outright, yesterday’s claim of righty Sean Poppen and the corresponding decision to designate JT Riddle for assignment, the Pirates’ 40-man roster is at 39 players.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Sean Poppen, Designate JT Riddle]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=251115 2020-10-01T20:31:39Z 2020-10-01T20:24:00Z The Pirates have claimed right-hander Sean Poppen off waivers from the Twins, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic tweets. Pittsburgh designated infielder/outfielder JT Riddle for assignment in a corresponding move.

    Poppen, whom the Twins designated earlier this week, saw brief action with the team in each of the past two seasons, but the 26-year-old Harvard alumnus struggled along the way. He’ll join the Pirates with a 6.19 ERA (but a far better 3.33 FIP), 10.69 K/9, 5.06 BB/9 and a 48.8 percent groundball rate over 16 big league innings. Poppen was effective during his Triple-A debut a year ago, though, as he threw 61 innings of 3.84 ERA/3.92 FIP ball, notched 10.03 K/9 against 3.98 BB/9, and posted an excellent 56.9 GB percentage.

    Riddle joined the Pirates on an $850K deal last offseason after logging significant at-bats with the Marlins from 2017-19. The 28-year-old recorded a woeful line with the Bucs, hitting .149/.174/.224 with one home run and a 4 wRC+ in 69 plate appearances. Overall, Riddle has batted .222/.261/.355 with 19 HRs through 787 PA in the majors.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Pirates Place Jacob Stallings On 7-Day Concussion Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=249225 2020-09-27T19:29:12Z 2020-09-27T19:29:12Z
  • The Pirates placed catcher Jacob Stallings into the 7-day concussion protocol, the team announced. Andrew Susac was added to the active roster for today’s action. To make room on the 40-man roster, Keone Kela was moved to the 45-day injured list. Susac had been on the taxi squad. The 30-year-old backstop made appearances in the bigs for five consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2018 with the Giants, Brewers, and Orioles. He spent 2019 with the Royals Triple-A affiliate. Stallings, 30, misses the final day of the season after slashing .248/.326/.376 across 42 games and 143 plate appearances. Stallings was the Pirates’ primary catcher for the first time in his career this season, starting 40 of the team’s 60 games.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On ONeil Cruz]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=247371 2020-09-25T19:53:32Z 2020-09-25T19:00:25Z SEPT. 25: Cruz’s bail has been set at RD $2MM ($34K U.S.), per Dionisio Soldevila of Periodico Hoy. He’s facing trial and up to five years in prison if convicted.

    SEPT. 22, 7:55pm: Cruz was driving under the influence when the accident occurred, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes reports.

    11:55am: Top Pirates prospect Oneil Cruz was involved in a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic, El Diario Libre reports. Cruz survived, but the crash tragically took the lives of the three others who were involved. Per the report, the three deceased were traveling on the highway on a single motorcycle with no lights in the same direction as Cruz, who was driving his Jeep. The two vehicles collided.

    Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that there is no indication that alcohol was involved in the accident, adding that Cruz himself did not sustain serious physical injury. The Pirates issued the following statement:

    The Pirates are aware of the tragic accident in the Dominican Republic involving Oneil Cruz. We have been in contact with Oneil and he is cooperating fully with the local authorities. We will provide an update as more information becomes available.

    The loss of three lives and the unimaginable mental and emotional anguish surely felt by the 21-year-old Cruz transcend any baseball-related tint to this story. We at MLBTR offer condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of all involved in the tragic accident.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Pirates Select Jared Oliva]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=247183 2020-09-21T22:18:57Z 2020-09-21T22:18:57Z The Pirates have selected outfielder Jared Oliva’s contract, per Adam Berry of MLB.com. They placed fellow outfielder Jason Martin on the 10-day injured list with an upper back strain and moved reliever Yacksel Rios to the 45-day IL in corresponding moves.

    Oliva, who will turn 25 in November, could now get his first chance in the majors. The Pirates chose Oliva in the seventh round of the 2017 draft, and he made his Double-A debut last season. Oliva impressed at that level with a .277/.352/.398 line, six home runs and 38 stole bases across 507 plate appearances. He now ranks among the Pirates’ top 25 prospects at FanGraphs (No. 9), MLB.com (10) and Baseball America (23), with FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen writing last February that Oliva’s “on-base ability and speed might enable him to be a center field regular.”

    The bottom-feeding Pirates need as many reasons for hope as possible, so Oliva could provide some reason for optimism as a rough season draws to a conclusion. The club’s outfield ranks 29th in the league in WAR (minus-1.5) and dead last in wRC+ (50), which helps explain why the Pirates own the majors’ worst record at 15-38.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Carson Fulmer From Orioles]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=247095 2020-09-21T18:32:33Z 2020-09-21T18:32:33Z The Pirates announced Monday that for the second time this season, they’ve claimed right-hander Carson Fulmer off waivers. Pittsburgh claimed Fulmer off waivers from the Tigers in late August but lost him to the Orioles in early September before he ever pitched a game in Pittsburgh. Baltimore apparently tried to pass Fulmer through waivers themselves in order to retain him without committing a 40-man roster spot to him, but the Bucs put in a claim to bring him back.

    Fulmer, 26, hasn’t lived up to the billing since being selected by the White Sox with the No. 8 overall pick back in 2015. At various points, the former Vanderbilt star was even considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, but he’s struggled in the upper minors with the ChiSox and been hit hard at virtually every point in his up-and-down Major League career.

    To this point, Fulmer owns a woeful 6.34 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 in 105 Major League innings. But there’s plenty of pedigree here, and he still possesses high-end spin rates on his heater and curveball. His time in the Orioles organization was brief but also encouraging, as Fulmer tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and without a hit. He did walk two batters and plunk another one, however, so his longstanding control issues are still making themselves plainly evident.

    Fulmer is out of minor league options, so the Pirates will have to carry him on the Opening Day roster next year or else attempt yet again to pass him through waivers in order to keep him around. He hasn’t even come close to going unclaimed at this point, so that might be unlikely. The Tigers had the top waiver priority when they claimed him from the White Sox on Opening Day, and the Pirates had the top claim priority when they plucked him from Detroit the first time around. Ten teams passed before the Orioles won their claim on him earlier this month, and the Pirates again claimed him with top priority this time around.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Pirates Announce Three Trades]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=246962 2020-09-20T20:17:01Z 2020-09-20T20:17:01Z The Pittsburgh Pirates announced a trio of trades today. The first deal completes their August deal for Austin Davis, which the Phillies announced earlier today. The Pirates sent right-hander Joel Cesar to Philadelphia to complete that transaction. Davis, 27, has 3 scoreless appearances since joining the Buccos.

    The other two trades helped build the Pirates’ 2019-2020 international pool money. The Pirates sent left-hander Domingo Robles to the St. Louis Cardinals and right-hander Connor Loeprich to the Baltimore Orioles in separate trades for international pool money.

    Robles, 22, signed with the Pirates on the first day of the international signing period in 2014. Across 5 seasons in the Pittsburgh system, Robles owns a 27-36 record with a 3.76 ERA and 6.4 K/9 to 2.1 BB/9. The Dominican southpaw made it as high as Double-A as a 21-year-old in 2019, going 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA across 103 innings. He was not among the Pirates top 42 prospects listed by Fangraphs at the start of 2020, nor the top 30 listed by Baseball America.

    Loeprich turned 23-years-old this month, and he’ll now report to a new team in the Baltimore. Loeprich made it to High-A in 2019, though he spent the greater part of the year with Single-A Greensboro. In two seasons since being drafted out of St. Mary’s College of California, the 6’3″ right-hander sports a 3.68 ERA over 124 2/3 innings with 9.1 K/9 to 2.8 BB/9. Loeprich has largely worked out of the bullpen with only 8 starts out of 55 total minor-league appearances.

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