(Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Designate Vin Mazzaro For Assignment, Bullpen Set

The Pittsburgh Pirates have designated right-handed reliever Vin Mazzaro for assignment, setting their bullpen for Opening Day. The last two spots were down to Stolmy Pimentel, Jeanmar Gomez and Mazzaro after the Pirates announced Bryan Morris made the roster yesterday.

This move isn’t unexpected. Mazzaro was the guy I expected to be the odd man out for the majority of Spring Training. Coming into camp it looked like Morris could be the odd man out, but his stuff was really impressive, and obviously impressed the Pirates. The Pirates love Stolmy Pimentel and his arsenal, to the point that he was getting a starter’s workload this Spring. That left Gomez and Mazzaro, and Gomez has more value due to his success in a lot of different roles last year.

The Pirates now have ten days to trade Mazzaro, or put him on waivers. I’m guessing there will be a few teams calling about a trade, and I don’t think he’ll end up on waivers. His value really doesn’t change much. The Pirates have to trade him now, but that really isn’t any different than where they were before this move. Everyone knew that they had four relievers for three bullpen spots, and that they needed to trade one of them. Now we know that Mazzaro is that guy. The return will really depend on how many teams need a reliever, and whether those teams feel they need to offer more to beat out other potential bidders.

I don’t expect the return to be massive. The Pirates had a similar situation last year with Chris Resop. They traded him early, and got Zack Thornton for him. Thornton is now a depth option for Indianapolis. I also don’t think we’ll see a two birds with one stone scenario where they trade a reliever and get a first baseman. I’d expect the return to be similar to Resop, with the Pirates getting a depth option.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Y2JGQ2

    ….and now, because we didn’t think ahead, we are going to get a fruit basket, and a year’s subscription to the jelly of the month club for a perfectly valuable relief pitcher

    • Honusty

      It’s a little complicated, but they can still trade them. I think they have 10 days to trade, place on waivers, or release.

      • John

        You are right H. Upon further review,lol!

        Designated for Assignment
        If a team wants to move a player from off the 40-man roster,
        he is designated for assignment. This means that the team has 10 days
        for the player to clear waivers. Then the team can trade the player,
        offer him a minor league assignment or give him his outright release. If
        the player does not accept his assignment to the minor leagues and is
        not traded, he is released.

        Read more:

        • DG Lewis

          He actually doesn’t have to be placed on waivers until the end of the day Wednesday. Once a player is placed on waivers, teams have three business days to claim him, and he has to be able to clear waivers before the ten-day period expires (which would be the morning of Tuesday the 8th).

          If he hasn’t been traded by Wednesday afternoon, the Pirates will place him on waivers, and teams will have until the afternoon of Monday the 7th to put in claims – but he can still be traded at any time until the expiration of the ten day window. If he hasn’t been traded by Tuesday morning, whatever team has the highest waiver priority will get him for $20k.

          If no team were to put in a claim, he could be outrighted to the minors on Tuesday, but that’s not about to happen.

    • LongJohnSilver

      Agree with you Y2.

    • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

      Actually, I’d prefer one of those sweet Cracker Barrel baskets, with the sausage and stuff.

    • DG Lewis

      Yeah, if they hadn’t been able to turn a failed starter who they picked up for a couple of low-minors lottery tickets into a valuable middle reliever, they could have simply released him without anyone noticing.

      Oh, wait.

      Yeah, if they hadn’t been able to rebuild Morris in the offseason into a potential setup/closer option, they could have simply waived him and then outrighted him to Indy and kept Mazzaro.

      No, that’s not it.

      Yeah, if they’d only known that everyone in the bullpen was going to remain healthy through the offseason and all of spring training, they could have traded him straight up for Mike Carp in December without worrying about having to go with Duke Welker as their last bullpen arm.

      Um, maybe not.

      What, exactly, in the way of “thinking ahead” would have resulted in a better result for the Pirates than DFAing a middle reliever with no options who is the 13th guy in a 12 man pitching staff at the end of spring training?

      • Y2JGQ2

        Trading him before you lost the leverage of having options. When a team knows you have 10 days before you have to release him, you aren’t going to get crap. We could have traded him a month ago, 6 weeks ago, 2 weeks ago, before EVERYONE knew he wasn’t going to make the team. Does that answer your question?

        • S Brooks

          We’re talking about a middle reliever with a lifetime ERA just south of 5 and a WHIP north of 1.5. His upside is 6th man out of the bullpen for a handful of teams, 7th for a dozen more – he doesn’t have the arsenal to pitch high leverage innings, and at 27 he’s not going to suddenly develop it. If there were some team out there willing to offer a player of some interest for him, that deal would have been made.

          Whatever leverage there was doesn’t go away, if anything it increases because Vinny is just good enough that he won’t make it through waivers (plus, as of now he’s the best arm available – sort of a tallest midget, but whatever), which means any team with a bullpen need and low waiver priority knows it has to make an offer or someone else is getting him.

        • DG Lewis

          Before today, every other team out there knew that the Pirates had four relief pitchers for three spots. The only thing that’s changed is that they’ve defined which one is officially on the trade block. If any team besides Miami wants him, they have to trade for him (and even if Miami wants him, they can only wait if they’re willing to lose the chance to claim him).

      • Y2JGQ2

        DG- Would you pick up a car with a blown engine from a junk yard, rebuild it, restore it, take it to the track and run it pretty well, decline to sell it, and then three months later start it up, put a block on the accelerator, and drive it into a lake? Thats pretty much what you are saying in your first point. Your second point is so lost that i’m not even going to discuss it, and your third one basically says that we would have intentionally chosen to NOT trade from a position of extreme depth to fill a glaring need, on the off chance that someone’s arm fell off…..or 3 people’s arms fell off, leaving that as a position of need………. maybe you should just not reply next time?

        • DG Lewis

          Let’s see – I got the car in exchange for a box of rocks, it cost me nothing to restore it, I got a full year of use out of it, and the PA DOT has this weird law that says I’m not allowed to own more than 12 cars at any one time. I have 12 other cars that are all faster, roomier, more durable, and get better gas mileage. So, yeah, I’ll put it on Craigslist and see who’ll give me a case of beer for it.

          I’m saying that relief pitching is only a position of depth because Morris seems to have figured out how to pitch, Wandy hasn’t needed surgery, and Searage seems to have confidence that Volquez can function as an adequate fifth starter. A month ago, none of those things were known – and many people around here would not have laid money on any one of them, let alone all three. Over the past month, there are many things that could have happened that could have resulted in the Pirates needing to have Mazzaro on the active roster for OD 2014.

          Furthermore, he would not have enabled them to “fill a glaring need”; it’s not like the Red Sox were trading Mike Carp straight up for Vin Mazzaro. At best, he would have been a throw-in on another deal (and had there been a deal for a 1B that would have only needed them to throw in Vin Mazzaro to close it, he would have been gone a long time ago); more likely, he would have brought some mid-minors prospect who might have been around 30-40 in the Pirates’ prospect list.

          I’m willing to forego a mediocre prospect in exchange for having had the insurance policy.

    • meatygettingsaucy

      Because middle relievers with poor track records outside of a single season have sooooo much value

      • Y2JGQ2

        When they are under 30, throw 95 MPH, and can throw multiple innings as well as handle a late inning role, they are valuable. Have you SEEN some of the garbage that makes the bullpen of most ML teams, or you could just look at ours from 2008 to get an idea

  • leadoff

    I am amazed that they can’t get something, anything for a solid bullpen pitcher with the bums that some of these teams have in their bullpens. This would make 2 good pitchers they lost this offseason for nothing, Wang and Mazzaro, sure hope their is something in the wind we don’t know about.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I still seriously doubt Wang will stick with the team all year, unless he ends up on the old mystery DL trip route like we’ve done so eloquently with pitchers like Donnie Veal and Evan Meek before.

  • lonleylibertarian

    I was not a huge fan of Mazzaro last year – or Morris for that matter – but Morris definately showed better this spring – Gomez and Pimentel are just too versatile to risk losing.

    Will be interesting to see if anyone bites – heck he might clear and end up in Indy

    • John

      That is really wishful thinking. Huntington’s fax machine already ran out of paper!

      • leadoff

        We better hope someone comes down with a toothache, we need a disable list candidate in a hurry.

        • John

          I like your number, lol!

    • Y2JGQ2

      I agree Mazzaro is the weakest link, and its nice to have all that depth, but as a gm, you have to get value back for your depth, especially when it really is ML level somewhat proven talent. Tim had actually outlined an article last year which talked about our inabilities to do that in regards to shortstops. Its a common mismanagement theme we’ve seen even in the last few years.

      Book for Neal Huntington “How do turn your depth into real value” or “the real cost of duplicating efforts”

      • S Brooks

        Is there a shred of evidence to suggest that NH turned down an offer of value for Mazzaro?

  • sweetleb

    tim say the pirates have injury before the ten days are up can they then pull mazzaro of waivers?

    • John

      that’s a hell of question? I know once he has been dfa’ed he is off the 40 man roster. I would think as long as they don’t fill that 40th roster spot and it is before 10 days I would say yes. However, I would bet no more than a cold beer that I’m right.

      • DG Lewis

        As above, he won’t actually be placed on waivers until Wednesday (and if the 40-man page is correct, they now have an open slot on the 40-man). A player that’s been DFA’d can be returned to the 40-man, so if someone goes on the DL Monday or Wednesday (avert), they could return him to the 40-man (and 25-man). They could also pull him back from waivers any time before the 10-day period ends.

    • Tim Williams

      They can’t.

      • DG Lewis

        You know this stuff better than I do, Tim, but are you sure? I thought waivers were revocable before the trade deadline? They’d have to clear a spot on the 25-man, but presumably they’d be pulling Vin back if someone went on the DL, which would clear the spot (and your current 40-man listing shows an open spot on the 40-man, so there’s space there, too).

        Before he’s waived, I think they can return him to the 40-man at any time, no?

  • ElGaupo77

    I’ve said it 10 times this spring. Justin Wilson to AAA until an injury solves this problem. I guess Neal doesn’t want to mess with the Union.

    • stevew

      Yes, let’s risk losing a few games – games that might ultimately determine whether the Bucs make the playoffs – by farming out one of the team’s top four RP’s so that they can hang onto journeyman Vin Mazzaro.

      • Y2JGQ2

        hahhaa, agreed steve, that’s pretty dumb and shortsighted, that would just be compounding the error

    • leowalter

      Some times I wonder where people get ideas like this one. Unbelievable really. Just don’t say it an 11 th time.

      • ElGaupo77

        Wilson 73.2 innings – 0.5 WAR
        Mazzaro 73.1 innings – 0.4 WAR

        Wilson is SOOOOOOOOO much better dude. I’m such an idiot.

        Wilson had a 3.5 BB/9 Not that great for a reliever.

        • freddylang

          Wilson is a lefty that throws 99. End of argument.

          • ElGaupo77

            Guess Welker is better than Melancon too since Welker hits 100. Vick Black hits 100 and we gave him away. Speed isn’t the most important aspect of pitching.

            • JCora

              Those are both righties and are much more common then a left handed reliever who throws 99 mph with an 2.08 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his rookie year. That’s why so many teams wanted him over the off season. You name 1 lefty who throws 99+ and I’ll name 3-4(if not more) righties who can do the same

              • ElGaupo77

                I’m saying to stash Wilson (or Watson) in AAA for a couple weeks until a pitcher gets injured so we didn’t have to give away Mazzaro. We weren’t going to lose games by doing this.

                We might lose games now come July when we’re thin in the 6th and 7th innings.

                Go look at last year’s numbers. Watson, Melancon and Grilli all had better years than Wilson. Mazzaro and Gomez’s years were similar to Wilson’s. Plus Wilson BABIP was .220. Any regression to norm (about .280) without Wilson improving his 3.6 BB/9 means Wilson would be the worst reliever in our pen, not the best.

                • JCora

                  Yes, but that’s all an if, and there’s no reason to assume that his BABIP will drop. Also, if you can assume a regression in BABIP, you could also assume that he gets his control issues taken care of. I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think you send Wilson or Watson down, just to keep Mazzaro here. Another lefty in the pen who has the stuff to become a set-up/closer is more valuable than Mazzaro, who is a middle reliever. Above all, you’re sending the wrong message if you do. Players understand what type of stuff and possible future Pimental has, but I’m not too sure they would feel the same if they decided to send Wilson just to keep Mazzaro. They’re doing the right thing IMO

        • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

          You’re not seriously trying to compare Wilson to Mazzaro, are you?

  • BallHeadWonder

    Vinny was MUCH BETTER than Morris last season!! Vinny had a decent Spring!! Morris is shaky as hell out of the pen!! I am scared as hell when he comes into the game. I am a team player and I will roll with Morris, but I am not a fan!! Vinny didn’t deserve this!! But I get the business side of things…..It’s messed up!!

    • S Brooks

      Wow 12 exclamation points. Lotta passion for the last guy out if the bullpen.

      FWIW NH will get a better return on him than he paid to acquire him last year. If it were me, I’d try to pick up Carlos Triunfel from Seattle – 24 year old former top prospect SS who still has upside and is better than anyone at Indy. Was just DFAd yesterday.

      Lacking that, it would be nice to get a depth option at one of the corners.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Last season is irrelevant, Morris was a rookie, Mazzaro was not. Rookies improve, Mazzaro has about 4 years of ML service. That’s why the decision is what it is. If you would have watched Mazzaro pitch when he was a rookie, you wouldn’t have wanted him either

    • Honusty

      Morris’ velocity is up this spring and he’s added a cutter I think. He’s turned a lot of heads this spring. This development put Morris in front of Mazzaro. Let’s hope it carries over to the regular season.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Dumb…..keeping Volquez, and to a certain extent Pimentel, over Mazzaro – just because one has a $5 million contract and the other is out of options. Okay, once has a contract and one is out of options – so what? How about picking the best 25? Pimentel may have great stuff as they say, but it has not translated to more than a mixed bag of results in the minors – and he was mediocre this Spring. IMHO, Volquez may be gone by Mothers Day – unless he does a 180 from his last 2 years performances and this Spring’s performance. Why would anyone think that is going to happen, based on what he did in Spring training?

    • Y2JGQ2

      Dude, i’m with you. Volquez is trash. They could have signed at least a handful of previously successful, but in need of resurrection starting pitchers (daisuke for example) to a minor league contract, rather than giving 5 million to edison, with no upside to the team for an option if he pitches well, it was a horrible contract for the pirates, no other way to say it. Problem is dude, we still would have needed a 5th starter, so mazzaro is still gone, but instead, he’s gone for cumpton

      • Y2JGQ2

        Can’t agree with Pimentel though, the front office, and a lot of us, think he may have turned a corner with his control and command and he has way more upside than mazzaro. Can’t just let players like that leave the organization….Mazzaro is a replacement level player. Although I am concerned about the 3 Million we have to pay him since it was a major league contract since we tendered him. On waivers, correct me if i’m wrong, but the team picking him up, is only responsible for paying the major league minimum for him, and we have to pay the rest of his contract for the year.

        • S Brooks

          His salary is 950k, not 3m, and the Pirates only have to pay him 1/4 of that if he is waived. If he’s traded, the team that acquires him pays his full salary.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD

          I am not sold on Pimentel – he was good at times in Altoona and Indy last year – but he had a number of awful performances as well. He also did not show much this Spring. Mazzaro was very good last year – I think they are going to regret letting him go, and keeping Volquez and Pimentel. Someone is going to pick up a good MLB reliever for next to nothing – because we have zero leverage in trying to trade him for anything of value. I would have cut Volquez, and used a combination of Cumpton/Gomez as a 5th starter. Sometimes, I think, the Pirates are too slow in trusting their own prospects and players. Cumpton earned that SP spot – based on last year and this Spring.

          • leowalter

            Tell that to Searage and Benedict and see how they laugh up their sleeves at you.

            • BuccosFanStuckinMD

              Dumb comment…one could respond in the same manner to any opinion ever stated on this web site, including those who do most of the articles. I never said Pimentel doesn’t have talent and intriguing ability – but it is not a secret that he has been spotty at best, over the past 2-3 years. Having great stuff and a mid-upper 90s fastball does not guarantee success….if it did, Kip Wells would have been a great pitcher. As much respect as I have for Searage, he is not batting 1.000 – remember Jonathan Sanchez?

              • MRF23

                The upside for Vin Mazzaro is exactly what you saw last year, a decent right handed reliever who will never be a starter and will never be a closer. Pimental could potentially be a middle of the rotation starter, or maybe a late inning reliever. That’s why he gets a roster spot and Mazzaro doesn’t. You might turn down a 50/50 shot at $ 100 in exchange for $ 50 guaranteed, but you wouldn’t turn it down for $ 20 guaranteed. Vin Mazzaro is $ 20.

                It’s unfortunate but I don’t think Mazzaro’s value has declined much at all in spring training. We all knew a few weeks ago that the Pirates had a log jam in the bullpen, and someone would need to go. Every other GM did too. And we all knew Mazzaro was one of the candidates to not make the team. The only thing that’s changed is now we know for sure.

              • leowalter

                Then you had better apply for a MLB job as much knowledge as you seem to think you have. Comparing Pimental,or anyone to the situation with Sanchez last year is like comparing apples to oranges. But why do I try to spoil your narrative ?

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