The Pittsburgh Pirates signed three players to minor league free agent deals today. Those players are third baseman Andy Marte, right handed pitcher Fernando Nieve, and catcher Dusty Brown.
Marte, who turned 27 in October, is a very similar story to Andy LaRoche. He was one of the top prospects in the game at one time, ranking 11th in the majors in 2004, 9th in 2005, and 14th in 2006. So far, Marte has combined for a .218/.277/.358 line in 838 major league at-bats, along with 20 homers. His walk rate has improved in the last two years, but only to the point where it’s above average. Marte has had better power than LaRoche, with a .140 ISO, compared to a .113 for LaRoche. The problem is that Marte’s hitting has been horrible in the majors, and his power and walk rates aren’t good enough to make up for that poor hitting.
Marte did have a lot of success in AAA in 2009, with a .327/.369/.593 line in 300 at-bats, although that was in his fourth tour at the level. He’s basically a gamble. The Pirates would be in great shape if he finally realized his potential, but that is a very long shot.
Nieve pitched for the Mets in 2010, with a 6.00 ERA in 42 innings, along with an 8.1 K/9, a 4.7 BB/9, and a 2.1 HR/9 ratio. The 28 year old pitcher averaged 93.1 MPH with his fastball. His career numbers aren’t much better, with a 4.61 ERA in 185.2 innings, along with a 6.9 K/9, a 4.1 BB/9, and a 1.6 HR/9. He struggles with a high walk rate, and is prone to giving up a lot of home runs, neither of which is good for a reliever.
Brown had a brief appearance with the Red Sox in 2010, and in his career has 15 major league at-bats with four hits and one homer. Brown, who is 28, has a .258/.342/.392 line in 857 at-bats during his career at the AAA level. The Pirates need catching depth in the upper levels of the minors, due to the departures of Erik Kratz and Hector Gimenez. Brown would most likely serve as the backup to Jason Jaramillo in Indianapolis.