Pirates Prospects » News and Rumors http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Sat, 20 Dec 2014 23:36:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Edinson Volquez Agrees to Deal With Royals http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/edinson-volquez-agrees-to-deal-with-royals.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/edinson-volquez-agrees-to-deal-with-royals.html#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 00:04:41 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91422 The Kansas City Royals have agreed to a two-year contract with right-hander Edinson Volquez that will pay him a total of $20M. The deal is still pending a physical. The Pittsburgh Pirates got great value out of Volquez in 2014, signing him to a one-year, $5M deal. He posted a 3.04 ERA over 192.2 innings, making 31 starts and one relief appearance. That was after posting a 5.71 ERA in 2013 when he split the season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Pirates initially said they had interest in re-signing Volquez this off-season, but those talks died down after they signed Francisco Liriano.

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The Rumors About the Marlins Being Interested in Pedro Alvarez Can Be Put to Rest http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/the-rumors-about-the-marlins-being-interested-in-pedro-alvarez-can-be-put-to-rest.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/the-rumors-about-the-marlins-being-interested-in-pedro-alvarez-can-be-put-to-rest.html#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:23:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91397 Throughout the off-season, Neal Huntington has said that Pedro Alvarez will be the starting first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, there have been some rumors about how the Pirates could still trade him. A specific rumor came up last week, saying the Pirates and Marlins discussed an Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi deal.

That deal sounded too good to be true. Eovaldi has amazing stuff, with one of the hardest fastballs in the game. He’s under control for three more seasons. Meanwhile, Alvarez is under control for two years, is coming off a down year, has never played first base, and at his best is just a three outcomes guy. It’s not that Alvarez is bad when he’s at his best. He averaged a 2.7 WAR between 2012-13. But Eovaldi was a 3.0 WAR pitcher last year, and could be in line for more improvements, since he’s only going to be 25 next year. If I had a choice, I’d make the Alvarez/Eovaldi deal (assuming it’s realistic, which I don’t think it was), and sign someone like Michael Morse to play first base.

It seems the Marlins feel the same way.

That’s why the rumors never made sense for either side. The Pirates could have traded Alvarez, but would have needed to immediately replace him with a first base option. And if they felt they were better off making a trade and replacing Alvarez with an external option, then why wouldn’t the Marlins just skip the trade and make that external addition themselves?

It’s possible the Pirates were thinking about dealing Alvarez. I just think it would have been incredibly difficult for them to do so.

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Francisco Liriano’s Contract Details http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/francisco-lirianos-contract-details.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/francisco-lirianos-contract-details.html#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 18:30:25 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91380 Jon Heyman has the breakdown of Francisco Liriano’s contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I’ve updated the 2015 payroll page with the new totals. The big change was bumping Liriano down from $13 M in 2015, and adding his signing bonus, which I’m guessing is spread out over the three years, just like every other bonus.

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Pedro Alvarez Mentioned as a First Base Possibility For the Marlins http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pedro-alvarez-mentioned-as-a-first-base-possibility-for-the-marlins.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pedro-alvarez-mentioned-as-a-first-base-possibility-for-the-marlins.html#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 18:01:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91270 Jon Heyman had a list of first base possibilities for the Miami Marlins, with Pedro Alvarez being one of four names on the list.

Alvarez is currently the first base option for the Pirates, and if they traded him, they would need to find a replacement. They could obviously go with one of the names on that list, but a deal wouldn’t make sense. Their MLB roster looks pretty set at this point. They could add a starting pitcher, but there is less of a need for that with the additions of Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. Every starting position is set. The bullpen and bench look to be coming together.

The only way an Alvarez deal would make sense would be if the Pirates just liked someone else better than Alvarez, and/or felt that a trade and then adding a replacement would make them better overall. There have been rumors that the Pirates have been shopping him this off-season, so that theory isn’t far-fetched.

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Pirates Acquire Antonio Bastardo From the Phillies For Joely Rodriguez http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-are-pursuing-antonio-bastardo-of-the-phillies.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-are-pursuing-antonio-bastardo-of-the-phillies.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 22:30:31 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91197 The Pittsburgh Pirates are pursuing Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury.

This is not the first time the Pirates have been linked to Bastardo. They were also connected to him last July (which was also from Salisbury). Ultimately, the Phillies didn’t trade him. The Pirates have been reported to be looking at lefty relievers on the trade market, including briefly discussing a swap of Travis Snider for Brian Matusz.

Bastardo has been a solid reliever, putting up a career 3.72 ERA and a 3.78 xFIP. He also has an 11.3 K/9 and a 4.3 BB/9. He’s under control for one more season, and is projected to make $2.8 M in his final year of arbitration.

UPDATE 5:43 PM:  Robert Murray is reporting the deal is done, although there are no specifics yet.

Ken Rosenthal tweets that the deal is close. Expect more news shortly.

UPDATE 5:55 PM: Jon Heyman says it’s a done deal.

UPDATE 5:57 PM: Joel Sherman says it’s Joely Rodriguez going for Bastardo.

UPDATE 6:02 PM: Here is a report on Rodriguez from the 2015 Prospect Guide (a book which he will no longer be featured in after this deal). He was our #33 ranked prospect in the system, with an upside of an impact bullpen piece or a spot starter.

Joely Rodriguez has shown many forms in his minor league career. He looked dominant in his jump to the US in 2010, hitting 94 MPH out of the bullpen with good movement. He went down with an elbow injury in 2011, then returned in 2012 to poor results. The 2010 stuff returned in 2013, and he once again looked like a promising prospect, sitting 91-94 MPH and touching 96, while showing good command and good secondary stuff, with an above-average slider and a nice changeup.

The 2014 season was a rollercoaster that showed both versions of Rodriguez. He struggled in Altoona as a starter, and was eventually moved to the bullpen. The struggles continued in relief. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League during the off-season, where he suddenly was putting up strong results again. He followed that up by going to the Dominican Winter Leagues, where he got off to a great start in the rotation. The late-season improvements are good to see, especially in two leagues known for having good levels of talent.

When he’s at his best, Rodriguez looks like a guy that could be a starter in the majors — possibly a number three or a number four guy. Unfortunately, Rodriguez has been too inconsistent in his career to really pin down an upside. The off-season success gives hope that he’s on the right track. He should return to Altoona in 2015, but could move up to Indianapolis if he carries over the off-season results. He might have trouble fitting in to the Pirates’ rotation in the future, but has a very real shot of making the bullpen, where he could end up a dominant left-hander. He needs to become more consistent before that can happen.

Rodriguez has some upside, but the big problem here is consistency. I really liked what I saw from him in Bradenton during the 2013 season. He didn’t have that in 2014 in Altoona, but has been doing well in the winter leagues, and was named to the AFL All-Star team today. He’s not a guy who is untouchable. He’s also not a guy who projected to be in the Pirates’ rotation, and his likely upside with the team would be in the bullpen. They’re basically trading six years of a guy who could be a strong lefty reliever or better, and getting one year of a guy who has been a good lefty reliever in the majors.

UPDATE 6:20 PM: The 2015 payroll page is updated with the move. The Pirates are currently projected around $75 M, and that figure doesn’t include Francisco Liriano’s signing, which could take things up another $13 M (assuming he’s making an even amount each year). The Pirates had an open spot before this, but since Rodriguez was on the 40-man roster, they won’t need to use that spot to add Bastardo when the deal is official.

UPDATE 6:29 PM: The Pirates have officially announced the deal.

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Pirates Have Had Discussions on an Extension For Neil Walker http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-have-had-discussions-on-an-extension-for-neil-walker.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-have-had-discussions-on-an-extension-for-neil-walker.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 20:34:09 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91201 The Pittsburgh Pirates have had discussions on an extension for second baseman Neil Walker, according to Bill Brink at the Post-Gazette. Brink says that the discussions are preliminary, and nothing is close at the time. He also offered up that Howie Kendrick’s four-year, $33.5 M deal is a reasonable comparison, but that a rival executive thinks Walker could get more than Kendrick.

Walker is currently under team control for two more seasons. He’s arbitration eligible this off-season, and is projected to make $8.6 M. I’d agree with the rival executive that he’d probably get more than Kendrick, since he projects to make close to $20 M in his final two arbitration years. Kendrick’s price would mean his first two free agent years could be had for about $7 M each.

The topic of extending Walker comes up every off-season. I don’t think it’s a move the Pirates should make right now. They’ve got him under control for two more seasons, and they aren’t getting much of a discount on any free agent years if they extend him now. They can go year-to-year with him, and then try to re-sign him after the 2016 season if they still need a second baseman. That might not even be the case, since Alen Hanson could take over before then.

Another issue with extending Walker and guaranteeing his salary would be his injury issues. He has had back issues, which don’t go away with age. He hasn’t missed a ton of time with the injuries so far, usually resulting in short trips to the disabled list. However, an extension talks about buying control of his age 31 season and beyond, and at a high price. He’s already an injury risk now, and could be even more of an injury risk as he hits the other side of 30.

This isn’t saying that Walker has no value to the Pirates, or that they should get rid of him. It’s just saying that there is no point to an extension now, since they still have him for two years, and can re-visit an extension when he’s closer to free agency and they have a better idea of their second base situation in the future, and his health going forward.

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Pirates Have Reportedly Discussed Shopping Travis Snider For Brian Matusz http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-have-reportedly-discussed-shopping-travis-snider-for-brian-matusz.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pirates-have-reportedly-discussed-shopping-travis-snider-for-brian-matusz.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 17:58:47 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91192 Rob Biertempfel has an update at the Trib about how the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for lefty relievers. Biertempfel says that the club is looking at free agent Craig Breslow, and that they’ve reportedly discussed sending Travis Snider to the Baltimore Orioles for Brian Matusz. Yesterday we heard that they were exploring trade options for a lefty reliever.

Breslow is coming off a horrible year with the Red Sox, posting a 5.96 ERA and a 5.14 xFIP. Prior to that, he was always a guy who would out-perform his advanced metrics, posting a career 3.20 ERA and a 4.39 xFIP. He looks like more of a middle relief option, and with the prices paid to free agents right now, he might not be the best option.

Matusz is interesting. He has a 3.51 ERA and a 3.83 xFIP over the last two seasons as a reliever, with a 9.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, and an 0.9 HR/9. He is eligible for arbitration this year, projected to make $2.7 M, and is under control through the 2016 season. By comparison, Snider is under control through the 2016 season, and is projected to make $2 M this year.

Snider represents a very interesting situation. He won’t be a starter for the Pirates, since they will be going with Gregory Polanco as their right fielder. He has struggled in the majors for most of his career, but turned things on last year in early June. Starting from the time Polanco arrived to replace Snider in the lineup, he posted a .289/.353/.510 line in 224 plate appearances, hitting ten homers in that span. His numbers were so insane in the second half that he ranked 3rd on the team in wOBA, and third in wRC+, finishing right ahead of Andrew McCutchen in both categories (while also beating him out in slugging and OPS).

That’s not in any way to say that Snider is a better hitter than McCutchen. You’d need a lot more than just a second half breakout for that to happen. But Snider’s hitting can’t be ignored. The Pirates have sent away former prospects like Jose Bautista and Brandon Moss, only to see them finally break out elsewhere at a late age. If they trade Snider away, and he does the same thing, then they can’t say that it couldn’t be foreseen, since he is already starting to hit.

That doesn’t mean he’s untouchable. He’s currently the fourth outfielder, and a great depth option if one of the outfielders goes down (which seems likely) or if Polanco continues to struggle making the jump to the majors. I would rather have that type of player, possibly on the verge of finally breaking out, than having a second lefty reliever.

UPDATE 1:35 PM: Reports from the Baltimore media say that there’s not much progress on the deal right now.

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Pat Neshek Signs With the Astros After Reportedly Coming Close to Signing With Pirates http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pat-neshek-signs-with-the-astros-after-reportedly-coming-close-to-signing-with-pirates.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/pat-neshek-signs-with-the-astros-after-reportedly-coming-close-to-signing-with-pirates.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:20:21 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91188 Yesterday there was a report that the Pittsburgh Pirates were interested in right-handed reliever Pat Neshek. Then last night the news came out that he was deciding between three teams, and that the Astros were one of them. Today he signed with the Houston Astros for $12.5 M over two years.

Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that he was about to sign with the Pirates, but the Astros upped their offer at the last second.

I wrote this about Neshek last night:

Due to the fact that the Pirates rarely spend in the bullpen, I would be surprised if they land Neshek. He’s coming off a good year, with a 1.87 ERA and a 3.29 xFIP, along with a 9.1 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9. However, that is the first year since 2007 that he’s been more than just a replacement level reliever. Is this a Jason Grilli type case with a late bloomer? And how much is that one good season in 2014 going to raise his price tag? Neshek seems like a gamble where you’re buying high on one good season at a late age.

So consider me a little surprised that the Pirates were going after him to the point where they almost signed him. I don’t know what the offer was, but it had to be significant, since the Astros had to pay $12.5 M to beat their offer. I generally trust the Pirates with any pitching decision. They’ve earned that trust over the last few years with all of the reclamation projects they’ve had success with. But I can’t help thinking that they dodged a bullet here.

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Rumors: Edinson Volquez, Pat Neshek http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/rumors-edinson-volquez-pat-neshek.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/rumors-edinson-volquez-pat-neshek.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 07:44:23 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91182 Here are two rumors to wrap up the evening and day two of the Winter Meetings before I call it a night. The first rumor is from Bill Brink, who says that the White Sox and Edinson Volquez are said to have mutual interest.

This might be insignificant to the Pirates, since they have been rumored to be done with the rotation, and moving on to upgrading the bullpen. Earlier in the evening, Mike Berardino said that Volquez is looking for two years and $20 M, which is what Jason Hammel received.

My guess is that the Pirates won’t be in on Volquez at this point. As for the bullpen focus, there was a rumor today from Rob Biertempfel saying the Pirates had interest in Pat Neshek. Jerry Crasnick says that Neshek is in serious talks with three clubs, although he doesn’t mention the Pirates.

Due to the fact that the Pirates rarely spend in the bullpen, I would be surprised if they land Neshek. He’s coming off a good year, with a 1.87 ERA and a 3.29 xFIP, along with a 9.1 K/9 and a 1.2 BB/9. However, that is the first year since 2007 that he’s been more than just a replacement level reliever. Is this a Jason Grilli type case with a late bloomer? And how much is that one good season in 2014 going to raise his price tag? Neshek seems like a gamble where you’re buying high on one good season at a late age. We’ll see whether the Pirates actually get him, and from the sound of Crasnick’s tweet, we might find out sooner, rather than later.

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Jon Lester to Sign With the Cubs http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/jon-lester-to-sign-with-the-cubs.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/12/jon-lester-to-sign-with-the-cubs.html#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:33:48 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=91178 Jon Lester will be signing with the Chicago Cubs, according to Ken Rosenthal. Jeff Passan has the details, noting that the Cubs will be paying $155 M for six years.

Two thoughts on this deal that are Pirates-related. The first thought is the obvious one, that this isn’t the best news seeing the Cubs landing a top starting pitcher. They have been loading up on top young hitting talent, and just need the pitching. They also have a lot of money to spend on pitching, as shown by giving Lester almost $26 M per year over six years. They could probably sign another top starter next year as well. That’s going to make them a dangerous team in the future, and will only make the NL Central that much more difficult.

The second thought is that Lester signed for about $26 M per year, while Francisco Liriano is signing for about $13 M per year and three years less of a commitment. Here are the comparisons of the two pitchers over the last two seasons.

Liriano: 3.20 ERA, 3.26 xFIP, 323.1 IP

Lester: 3.10 ERA, 3.49 xFIP, 433 IP

The innings pitched are very significant. Lester averaged about 55 innings more per season than Liriano. But the two pitched about on the same level the last two seasons, with Liriano having the edge in xFIP. If they’re both pitching the same when healthy, then is Lester’s extra 55 innings worth an extra $13 M, plus an extra commitment of about $78 M over three additional years? Looking at the two deals, and that one key difference, it seems that either the Cubs are paying a premium for Lester, or the Pirates are getting a huge value with Liriano.

Either way, it’s good that Liriano is in the mix already, since the starting pitching market is about to heat up with Lester off the board.

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