Pirates Reported to Be Interested in LaTroy Hawkins

Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are believed to be interested in Colorado Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins. He notes that a deal might be difficult for the Rockies, since they’re looking for players who could help them at the start of next season. Hawkins is 41 years old, but he’s also cheap compared to some of the other players on the market. He’s only making $2.25 M this year, with a $2.25 M option next year and a $250,000 buyout.

Using the reliever trade values I looked at last night, Hawkins would be worth $2.9 M. That’s based on his salary, and 0.5 WAR per year, at $8.5 M per WAR. He’s had a higher value in previous years, including an 0.8 WAR last year. This year he has an 0.3 WAR, which projects to an 0.45 WAR over a full season. I rounded it up, and went with this figure over the 2013 figure due to Hawkins’ age.

The $2.9 M value would be worth a young Grade C pitcher, and maybe a Grade C hitting prospect. The pitcher would likely be a lower level starting prospect. That’s not much to give up for relief pitching help, but I’m not sure how much help Hawkins would be. He’s got a 3.09 ERA in 35 innings this year, but a 4.35 xFIP, which doesn’t indicate the same success going forward. That number would rank behind everyone in the Pirates’ bullpen, and would be worse than what guys like Jared Hughes and Jeanmar Gomez would be expected to do in the middle innings, based on their xFIP totals.

Tim Williams

Author: 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 AccuScore.com, 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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  • leadoff

    If you can get him for nothing he has to be better than Frieri.

    • deacs

      It could’ve been the scotch but the Alvarez strikeout followed by the bottom of the 7th with Frieri letting Morton’s guys in and all of his own was about as frustrated as I’ve been in a while at a reliever. Not that it mattered because they only scored one run. But still, I was thinking he’d be gone by today.

      • S Brooks

        He won’t be gone until either Cole comes back or they make an acquisition. Searage is working on mechanics to restore him to his former dominance, and NH isn’t going to cut bait unless and until he absolutely has to.

        That said, Hurdle’s stubborn insistence on using him in reasonably close games is puzzling. I almost think Hurdle is getting in a dig at NH – “you traded my guy for THIS?” Almost.

        • deacs

          The game was close when he came in so it’s goes back to Tim’s point – do we really need to fix him with the game on the line or get him innings when the game is out of hand one way or the other? Work with him on the side, get him some meaningless innings. If there’s truly something that needs to be fixed why put him in while the games still close? If they do get a reliever and wind up sending Wilson or Hughes down just because they have options, even if it’s only for the month of August, I won’t be all that happy.

        • stickyweb

          Funny Brooks, I was thinking the same thing about Hurdle showing up Hunitington by playing Martinez so much. I can’t remember ever seeing the 25th guy get such consistent playing time as MM did this week.

          • csnumber23

            Haha very true! Also, Martinez should be the 125th guy not the 25th. He does zero to help the team.

    • jaygray007

      depends on how much you do or don’t believe in Frieri’s HR rate.

      K slightly down compared to his career, BB also slightly down from his career, but HR rate almost DOUBLE his career. How does one maintain the same nastiness of pitches (as told by comparable K rate), and the same or better control as his career, but at the same time have 2x more balls hit out of the park compared to the rest of your career.

      it doesn’t add up. If it’s more than bad luck, it HAS to be a small adjustment that has to be made. it doesn’t make sense otherwise.

      the dude is due for a bounceback. I dunno how much leadership matters in a clubhouse, and i’m sure Hawkins has a ton of it because he is old as s***, but i think i’d rather take my chances with Frieri.

      i’d be really interested to talk to a scout about Frieri. all the tools are clearly there. what the heck is wrong?

      but yeah i mean… if Hawkins is really cheap compared to all other relievers, i’ll take him. he’s no worse than useful.

      • ecbucs

        Carlos Marmol is due for a comeback too but I don’t expect it to happen.

        • jaygray007

          Marmol’s a different animal. He was fine when he walked 5ish guys per nine.

          It turns out that 7 per 9 is just too much to overcome.

      • S Brooks

        Frieri’s not unlucky, he’s broken.

        The guy throws 94, and some major league hitters still can’t do much with that, even if it’s as straight as the darts he throws. Case in point – of the 8 K’s in his 8 Pirate innings, only 3 are swinging, and one of those was a pitcher, Wade Miley. The other two were Charlie Culbertson (batting .183, -2.4 runs below average on 4-seamers) and Brandon Barnes (.242, -1.5 runs below average on 4-seamers). Two guys who hit below average on 4 seamers, and the average 4-seamer they face is only 92 MPH. (His 5 K’s looking have all been on the outer edge or even further outside and he got the benefit of good framing.)

        The rest of the time, the league is hitting .464 against him and slugging .750. And most of that is because when hitters make contact, they’re squaring up: 13 line drives or “fliners” against 6 true fly balls and 9 grounders. Both HR have come on “fliners,” which casts doubt on the notion that he’s been unlucky on HR/FB.

        Wandy wasn’t “unlucky” when he gave up 25% HR/FB, he was broken. You could trot him and his gimpy knee out there 20 more times and odds are he would continue to give up 25% HR/FB, just like a batting practice pitcher probably would. Presumably Ernie isn’t injured, but his mechanics are so out of whack that he has zero deception and movement, so any hitter that CAN catch up to a 94 MPH fastball probably will, at least until he’s fixed.

        • jaygray007

          i agree about wandy. he could barely get his fastball to 88 anymore, if memory serves. It was his time.

          with Frieri, there’s still a useful reliever in there somewhere. At least i think so. Did he once have a lot of movement and deception on his pitches? how was he successful before?

          • http://batman-news.com NMR

            Almost all by deception, jaygray. Throws almost all fastballs up in the zone, which will certainly get swings and misses, but will also certainly get hit hard if the batter catches up to it. He either needs a second pitch, or to get his mechanics back to where hitters couldn’t pick up the ball. His K/9 numbers are also a bit deceiving, IMO, this year because of how many batters he’s letting on base. His current 26.6% K-rate is less than Tony Watson’s and a 7% drop from last year.

          • S Brooks

            He used to throw from a low 3/4 slot and had several additional inches of vertical movement on his pitches. There are some good videos of him in San Diego showing the arm slot and the movement. Since 2012 the arm slot has been steadily rising. Batters get an extra look at the pitch, which doesn’t move as much, and is now quite hittable for the league’s better fastball hitters.

            • jaygray007

              there’s my answer i’ve been looking for. if what you say here is true, then that makes perfect sense as to why he isn’t doing well anymore. Thanks.

    • Lukas Sutton

      He doesnt have to be anything. Old reliever with an average ERA, worse FIP and xFIP makes no sense to “upgrade” the pen. We do have better options in AAA over him.

  • johndw28

    Isn’t he striking out about 4.5 per 9. Xfip over 4?

    • deacs

      Frieri or Hawkins?

  • Scott Kliesen

    There’s a former Wall Street Broker who made a bunch of money betting on baseball by applying a combination of trading tactics and advanced baseball metrics. In his book, Trading Bases, which I highly recommend, he discusses a concept called “cluster luck,” which for anyone who has played blackjack understands. My point is Frieri seems to be going through a period of bad cluster luck. His measurables indicate he will be a quality pitcher for Pirates if they just wait for his luck to turn. In the mean time, us fans have to suffer through his bad luck, but the worm will turn for him, and we will enjoy having him on team once it does.

    • S Brooks

      Familiar with the concept, but I don’t think that’s what’s at work here. He’s not giving up seeing-eye singles or bloop doubles. He’s getting hit hard, plain and simple. If he keeps throwing 94 MPH meatballs up there with no movement or deception, he will keep getting hit hard.

      The only way this changes is if Searage fixes his mechanics to add back the horizontal movement and deception in his delivery. Also a change up wouldn’t hurt.

      • http://batman-news.com NMR

        Bingo. Doesn’t mean Frieri can’t or won’t be a quality pitcher in the future, but just about everyone involved agrees we’re at the point of a distinct change in skill, not just luck.

  • R Edwards

    No thank you – I don’t see how Hawkins is worth a trade – unless we are giving up a prospect along the lines of a Matt Curry, Jarek Cunningham, or Jaff Decker. I also don’t see how a guy like Hawkins, at this stage of his career, is any better than a guy like Mazzaro or Oliver.

  • CityofChamps

    His numbers are more impressive considering he plays half his games at Coors

    • leadoff

      I agree, if Hawkins can keep balls on the ground, he can be very affective for the Pirates.

  • jaygray007

    Reasons why Hawkins could work…

    Despite decreased Ks, Hawkins’ fastball is faster than it was last year and is still over 93 mph. The stuff appears to still be there. the lack of K is a mystery though. bad luck?

    He could be a situational righty. Most of his problems have come against lefties… more specifically against lefties at Coors… his wOBA (which is to be interpreted on the same scale as OBP) vs lefties is .298 this year overall and .358 vs lefties at home. vs Righties his wOBA is .263 overall and .250 at home.

    also, his xFIP vs Righties is below 4 and his xFIP vs Lefties is above 5.

    I realize i’m cutting up an already-small sample of 35 innings into even smaller samples, which is kind of stupid. But i think there’s reason to believe his Ks will rise and xFIP to shrink. He should still be able to mow down righties.

    his current role with the Rockies requires he face whatever is up in the 9th inning, whether it be lefties or righties. If the pirates acquire him to be a righty specialist for a minimal cost, i would be fine with it.

    • leadoff

      IMO, one of the main problems with the Pirate thinking is that they do not want situational pitchers in the pen, they want 2 inning pitchers in the pen, even though Hughes is proving to be a situational pitcher more than he is an innings eater. Hughes seems better in the role of getting starters out of trouble than he is in getting himself out of trouble.

      • jaygray007

        yeah i think there is merit to wanting guys who can go multiple innings from april to august. But yep. September is a different animal. I’d rather have Latroy Hawkins over Wirfin Obispo.

  • csnumber23

    I don’t think Hawkins would help much but he is an upgrade on Frieri and Stolmy at this point. If he costs very little then I could see adding him. On another note, I just read the Phillies have made Hamels available. If the Bucs are really looking for a big time starter, (not sure if they really are) this is the guy I would try to get. Reason being, he is signed through 2019. I know he is expensive and it would take a lot but Hamels is tough and right in his prime.

  • CalipariFan506

    I think our best bullpen options are in Indianapolis, not on the market.