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Report: Antonio Bastardo going to the Mets

By Bill Brink 2 weeks ago

Lefty Antonio Bastardo is in agreement on a two-year, $12 million contract, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez and MLB Networks’ Jon Heyman

I found it surprising that the Pirates weren’t more interested in retaining Bastardo (or if they were, they kept it quiet; I personally didn’t hear much of anything going on between them this winter and didn’t see many reports linking the two), especially on that reasonable contract. (Update: The Pirates, we found out tonight, reportedly offered Bastardo $8 million over two years). Bastardo struck out 10 batters per nine innings and had a 129 ERA+ in 66 games, during which he had a 2.98 ERA in 571/3 innings. 

The Pirates don’t have many proven lefty relievers other than Tony WatsonKyle Lobstein might be in the Class AAA Indianapolis rotation.They like non-roster invitee Robert Zarate but even GM Neal Huntington said recently that he was something of an unknown commodity. Huntington said the team could go with six righties if that was their best bullpen, rather than forcing in a sub-par lefty, but Clint Hurdle is a proponent of at least two lefties, if not three. 

But their approach has always been to get lefties who can pitch to both sides -- they aren’t big on LOOGYs (lefty one-out guys, like Randy Choate). So if they can’t find someone who can do that, they’ll go with the six best guys in addition to Watson.


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Breaking down the Pirates' non-roster invitees

By Bill Brink 2 weeks ago

In addition to the 40-man roster, teams usually bring another 20 or so players to major league spring training as non-roster invitees. The Pirates currently have 18, and will probably add another few before pitchers and catchers report a month from now.

Here’s a look at who’s coming: 

Wilfredo Boscan, RHP, 26

Boscan made 25 starts in the Pirates’ system in 2015 and had a 3.07 ERA for Class AAA Indianapolis. Three times the Pirates recalled him to help with a short bullpen or injury, but he never got in a game, and has yet to pitch in the majors. He struck out only 86 batters in 126 innings, but kept the ball in the park (only three homers). He will probably return to the Indy rotation this season.

Steven Brault, LHP, 23

Brault joined the Pirates in the Travis Snider trade. In 1552/3 innings across 28 starts for high-A Bradenton and Class AA Altoona in 2015, Brault had a 2.43 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He could also open the year in Indy’s rotation.

Jim Fuller, LHP, 28

Fuller has spent eight seasons in the minors, with the Mets, Twins and A’s. He had a 4.40 ERA in 2015 between AA and AAA with Oakland, pitching 43 innings in 32 relief appearances. The season before, at Class AA New Britain, his ERA was a full two runs lower and he struck out 10.9 batters per nine.

Guido Knudson, RHP, 26

The Pirates claimed him off waivers, then released him, then re-signed him to a minor league deal, keeping him in the organization without having him occupy a 40-man spot. He has five innings of major league experience, with the Tigers in 2015, and struck out more than a batter per inning between Class AA Erie and Class AAA Toledo last year.

Chad Kuhl, RHP, 23

Kuhl is a Pirates ninth-rounder out of the University of Delaware in 2013. In 26 starts at Altoona, he had a 2.48 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Kuhl has pitched at least 150 innings in each of the past two minor league seasons.

Kelvin Marte, LHP, 28

Marte has been in the minors for nine seasons, all in the Giants farm system. In 26 games, 19 starts, with Class AA Erie in 2015, Marte had a 2.63 ERA. He doesn’t strike anyone out, but he doesn’t walk anyone either, and cut down on his homers allowed (five in 130 innings in 2015 after giving up 14 in 1231/3 innings in ’14).

Curtis Partch, RHP, 28

Partch has 301/3 innings of major league experience with the Reds in 2013-14. Last year at Class AAA Sacramento, the first of his nine minor league seasons away from the Cincinnati organization, he had a 3.53 ERA in 48 relief appearances, striking out 81 batters in 631/3 innings.

Trevor Williams, RHP, 23

A second-rounder out of Arizona State in 2013, Williams came to the Pirates in a trade with the Marlins, one that was compensation for the Marlins hiring Jim Benedict. Williams was hittable in 131 innings between Class AA and AAA in 2015, but had a 3.85 ERA. He had a 2.89 ERA and 8/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert Zarate, LHP, 28

The Pirates are high on Zarate, whom they think could compete for a spot in the major league bullpen as a second lefty. He doesn’t have much experience stateside, but in 2015, he struck out 10.8 batters per nine in the Rays’ minor league system. 

Ed Easley, C, 30

Easley had a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2015. The former Diamondbacks supplemental first-rounder hit .251/.345/.337 with four homers in 323 plate appearances at Class AAA Memphis, his third go-round at that level.

Reese McGuire, C, 20

McGuire, one of two Pirates first-rounders in 2013, reached Bradenton last season, where he hit .254/.301/.294 with no homers and 15 doubles. His defense is well ahead of his offense, but he is young and has time to develop. His pitch-calling and arm are his strengths. Baseball America ranked him as the Pirates’ No. 6 prospect after the 2015 season.

Jacob Stallings, C, 26

The Pirates took Stallings in the seventh round as a senior in 2012 and gave him signing bonus well under slot to save some pool money. He hit .275/.313/.370 at Altoona in 2015 and threw out 37 percent of runners attempting to steal.

Juan Diaz, SS/3B, 27

Diaz has played mostly shortstop in his career, but can play second and third. In 396 PAs with Class AAA New Orleans in the Marlins organization last year, Diaz hit .272/.315/.373 with five homers.

Cole Figueroa, 2B/3B, 28

Figueroa has 57 major league plate appearances, with the Rays in 2014 and the Yankees in ’15. He performed well at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, hitting .292/.355/.359 in 507 plate appearances. He also walked 44 times compared to 27 strikeouts. He can play shortstop in addition to second and third.

Adam Frazier, SS, 24

Frazier, a Pirates sixth-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2013, hit .324/.384/.416 with 21 doubles for Altoona in 2015. 

Dan Gamache, 2B, 25

Gamache reached Indianapolis in 2015, a season during which he hit .312/.355/.413.

Danny Ortiz, OF, 26

Ortiz is the only one in the bunch who has showed much power. He hit 17 homers at Class AAA Rochester in 2015, with a .248/.295/.430 line in 526 PAs. He has five other minor league seasons with 10 homers or more.

Antoan Richardson, PR/OF, 32

Richardson reached the majors in 2011 and again in ’14. He’s a speedster. He stole 26 bases in the minors in 2014, his previous full season, and had 39 in ’13.

 


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Game times announced for Pirates- Marlins series in Puerto Rico

By Bill Brink 2 weeks ago

Both Pirates games against the Marlins in Puerto Rico will start at 7:10 p.m., MLB announced today.

The Pirates and Marlins will play at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan on May 30-31. The Pirates will return to Puerto Rico for the first time since 2004, when they faced the Expos. 

Roberto Clemente day, usually observed in September, will be celebrated on May 31 throughout MLB.

The announcement came as part of MLB’s league-wide release of start times for the 2016 season. You can find the start times for all Pirates games here.

And rejoice: We’re exactly one month away from the first official workout for pitchers and catchers.


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Minor transactions: Pirates sign Nate Irving

By Bill Brink 2 weeks ago

The Pirates signed catcher Nate Irving to a minor league contract, according to Baseball America’s latest transactions update.

The Diamondbacks took Irving, 23, in the 34th round of the 2014 draft out of Virginia. In two seasons at low-A Hillsboro, Irving hit .276/.378/.316 with no home runs and four doubles in 119 plate appearances. He caught only 14 percent of runners attempting to steal. The Diamondbacks released him in October. 

The Pirates also released 22-year-old righty Dan Urbina, who pitched in the Pirates’ system for the past five years. Urbina made it stateside in 2014, pitching for rookie-level Bristol. In 2015, again at Bristol, he had a 6.99 ERA, a 1.98 WHIP and 44 hits allowed in 281/3 innings.


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In advance of deadline, Pirates avoid arbitration with most eligible players

By Bill Brink 3 weeks ago

Update 3:21 p.m.: The Pirates and Melancon did agree to terms, avoiding arbitration. Melancon settled for $9.65 million in his final season before free agency, according to an industry source.

Also, the Pirates and Chris Stewart have in fact agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2018, according to a source with direct knowledge of the contract. Terms are unknown at this time, and the deal is pending a physical.

The Pirates will have no arbitration hearings.

**********

The deadline to exchange desired salary figures has come and gone, and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with six of their seven eligible players. As of yet, they have not agreed with Mark Melancon.

Francisco Cervelli: $3.5 million
Tony Watson: $3.45 million
Jeff Locke: $3,025,000
Jared Hughes: $2,175,000
Jordy Mercer: $2,075,000
Chris Stewart: Unknown (Has agreed to terms on a two-year extension with a club )

Total: $14,225,000

This brings the estimated opening-day, 40-man payroll to roughly $98.8 million, before taking out $3 million the Dodgers kicked in for Michael Morse. This includes MLB Trade Rumors projections of Mark Melancon’s arbitration salary ($10 million) and the $1.6 million Stewart was projected to make.


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