There's a good chance that Vin Mazzaro could be traded today. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Vin Mazzaro Clears Waivers, Has Three Days to Accept Assignment to Indianapolis

Vin Mazzaro has cleared outright waivers and has been outrighted to Indianapolis, per the Pittsburgh Pirates. Mazzaro now has three days to accept or reject the assignment. Mazzaro was outrighted to Triple-A once before, prior to the 2013 season. Because this is his second time being outrighted to the minors, he can refuse the assignment and become a free agent. Mazzaro also has the right to decline an outright assignment because he has more than three years of service time.

Mazzaro could opt for free agency, and negotiate a deal with any other team as a minor league free agent. That would put him in the same situation he’s in now with the Pirates, but with a chance to try and find a better opportunity or more money. Currently he’s making $950,000, which he would get if he accepts the outright assignment. If he elects free agency, his contract would be terminated, and the Pirates wouldn’t owe him anything else the remainder of the season.

It’s surprising that another team didn’t want Mazzaro, when all they would have had to pay in the end was the waiver fee and his $950,000 salary. There are a lot of teams around the majors who seemingly need bullpen help at the Major League level. At this point I would be surprised if Mazzaro does sign with another team. Any team that needs him now, could have had him for his $950,000 salary. So it’s unlikely that a team that needs him will offer him that same deal or better as a free agent.

The Pirates currently have an open spot on the 40-man roster. If Mazzaro stays, he would likely be the first person to be called up for the bullpen if an injury occurs, taking that open 40-man spot. The Pirates can’t place him on the 40-man roster before an injury occurs, since he’s out of options and would need to be on the 25-man roster once he’s placed on the 40-man roster.

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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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  • Patrick Kelly

    How the hell did he clear waivers? No team needed a very reliable and reasonably priced RP? This just seems bizarre to me.

    • smurph

      I think maybe a team didn’t want to pay him 950,000. Maybe a small market team thinks they can get him to sign with them, rather than go back to Indy.

    • absolute59

      Patrick: He was reliable for last year only. Keep in mind before last year he had a career 5.24 ERA and a 1.62WHIP so I am sure there are lots of concerns that he will revert to his career norm.

      We picked him up off the scrap heap last year and he couldn’t make our bullpen this year. He is not really a high leverage situation guy and he is making $950,000. Other teams probably believe they can fill the middle reliever Mazzaro role with a pre-arbitration $500,000 guy.

    • glassers

      Me too Patrick , I would have never ever guessed that .

    • Y2JGQ2

      This IS bizarre, but its a bonus. hopefully we can keep him, its not easy to get 1 million on the streets, and he will definitely get back to the team this year if he sticks around and there is opportunity there

  • George Burns

    Wow, thats the last thing i expected to see.

  • IC Bob

    We all find ourselves overrating the guys on our team. Mazzaro had a decent year last year but he was terrible up to that point. I do think he will stick around here since he has had the most success in this organization. My guess is he will stick around until someone offers a major league opportunity and then the Pirates will have a choice to match it or let him walk.

    • Y2JGQ2

      No, we don’t. But thanks for telling us what we do. I think in this case, other teams overrated their own guys which led them to not pick up Mazzaro. Their loss

  • csnumber23

    I would think he will accept the assignment to Indy. If I’m not mistaken he will get his $950,000 if he does. Since no team claimed him(surprisingly) then obviously nobody wanted to pay him that much. This is great as I would bet we will need him at some point this season.

    • WTM

      Yeah, if he refuses the assignment, he gives up the $950K and takes the risk that he might have to accept a minor league deal somewhere.

      It’s a lesson on the very limited value of middle relievers.

    • Macchamp74

      Ya, no brainer for him I would think….950,000 vs minor league salary.

      • stickyweb

        Unless Boras is his agent and convinces him he’ll get a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal by refusing the assignment, he’ll be back.

        • Y2JGQ2

          I hate Scott Boras

  • SteveW

    I hope this sends a message to those who ranted and raved about NH being an idiot for not trading Mazzaro for a good prospect. Instead 29 teams just passed on taking him for free.

    • csnumber23

      Not exactly free at just under 1mil but yeah he clearly had zero trade value. To get anything for a middle reliever they either have to have closer upside or starting pitcher upside. Mazzaro has neither but I’m glad we will probably still have him for depth.

      • stickyweb

        That makes me wonder if trade talks ever got to the stage of will Bucs eat some salary to get a prospect? Hard to believe most other teams (excluding the Rays, Marlin, Astros) care about the $450K difference between Vin’s salary and ML minimum.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Mazzaro has the upside of being a set-up man and the flexibility of a long reliever. That has value. If other teams don’t respect it, its their loss, by keeping him, he has more value when we get around the trading deadline….

        • csnumber23

          I agree and glad they all passed on him. It just makes our depth even better.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    For the Pirates sake, I sure hope he chooses to stay.

    • wkkortas

      Well, he has close to a million good reasons to drive to Indy.

    • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

      Yeah, this is a nice stroke of good luck for the Buccos. He’ll be the first guy up when inevitably someone gets hurt.

  • Doug

    He’s been an average reliever at best, up tuntil last year. It’s not surprising at all that he’s cleared waivers, guys like him are a dime a dozen.

    • jaygray007

      Yeah but somehow there are some teams that don’t have that dime.

      • jaygray007


      • stickyweb

        And the Bucs seems like the only team that have a dozen of him or better.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Some teams have the same rose colored glasses that we were wearing in 2007.

  • jaygray007

    it’s nice to have one extra legitimate major league reliever just hanging out in AAA. Sweet if he accepts the assignment, wish him well if he doesn’t.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Hughes fits that bill as well if he is fully healthy. So we have two, and I have always been high on Duke Welker, but he hasn’t been established yet. Our depth is strong, and with relievers, it needs to be

  • mam995

    I believe that what you’re seeing in the Vin Mazzaro case is part of the impending change that Tim “the soothsayer” predicted in his article “The Death of Free Agency”. Things such as the “Donut Hole” contracts (a term given to the process of locking up young potential stars) that buys out a player salary during his most productive years at a lower cost. The QO (qualifying offer) that effectively limits Free Agent movement because the punishment/penalty of draft pick loss. The Luxury Tax (in which the Yankees paid $29 million and the Dodger paid $11.4 million in 2013) is another thing that is effecting player movement on a certain level. Super Agent Scott Boras is openly complaining about these “adjustments” and implying that there is a measure of collusion taking place. Other agents are also compaining that they are being leveraged by Social Media during their negotiation for their client because of open salary comparisons to other players. In truth, just like Tim wrote, there is a paradigm shift going on in Major League Baseball. Baseball the business a legalized Monoply. The other 3 major sports are also monopolies but with agreed upon salary caps. This limits their teams ability to overpay a player in context to their cap. So baseball is completely outside natural effects of supply and demand. The market is totally driven by the independent contractor…the “successful” player, the Monopsonist, the other side of the monopoly equation. This was not true in Ralph Kiner’s day. But under the current baseball CBA, Free Angency is DELIBERATELY restricted as to create heightened demand. As long as player is talented, in a closed or restricted market, he will maximize his earning potential and maybe even exceed it. Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley wanted to make ALL players Free Agents every year, as this would have the effect of flattening demand. He was overuled. But now, baseball management is figuring ways to bend the cost curve. The most talented players will still get their money, even if they sign an early Donut Hole contract to get it. It will be more of comparison contract than a restricted market contract. The marginal players will still be subject the forces that a monopoly can bring to bear. If you don’t believe this, just look at daily player movement on the waiver wire. Fringe players are treated like chattel. They have complete uncertainty or control of their careers. It is a good thing that Vin Mazzaro had a good year and settled on decent pre-arbitration deal. It gave him a modicum of security. Otherwise, he’d be playing for a minor league salary. By the way, the minimum salary to get people to go through the vagaries of playing Minor League Baseball is roughly $30,000.

    • Andrew

      entire concept of a replacement level player is they are replaceable and easily available, Vin Mazzaro is replacement level.

  • leowalter

    Baffling to me,considering the fact that a team like the Texas Rangers,whose bull pen would best be described a disaster area,would rather call up a guy named…Daniel McCutchen !

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