First Pitch: Which Reliever Should Be the Odd Man Out?

I’ve written about how the Pittsburgh Pirates have eight relievers for seven bullpen spots. They have a little over one week remaining, and as long as everyone stays healthy, they’ll have a tough decision to make. Earlier this week, we heard that the Pirates were listening on Vin Mazzaro. Today there were two more rumors talking about relievers other than Mazzaro.

Ken Davidoff reports that two industry sources say that the Pirates would deal Bryan Morris or Jeanmar Gomez, although they’re more protective of Gomez due to his ability to start. Meanwhile, Chris Cotillo says that the Pirates really like Morris.

Stolmy Pimentel’s name hasn’t been mentioned by anyone, but that’s not a surprise. Everyone I’ve talked to in the organization seems really excited by Pimentel, and I think he’s got an inside track for a bullpen spot, with the possibility of being a starter if needed.

It seems like the decision is between Mazzaro and Gomez, and since the Pirates like Gomez’s ability to start, it seems that Mazzaro will be the odd man out. So what would you do? Which player would be the odd man out if you were calling the shots? Vote in the poll and leave your comments below.

[polldaddy poll=7899040]

Links and Notes

**The 2014 Prospect Guide is in stock on the products page of the site. The book features profiles, scouting reports, and grades on every player in the minor league system, including our top 50 prospects. The Prospect Guide has been mentioned as a resource several times on the Pirates’ broadcast, and has been purchased as a source of reference by opposing MLB front office members, opposing scouts, and media members. If it’s a good resource for them, it’s a good resource for you. You can order your Prospect Guide on the products page of the site.

**Could Tyler Glasnow Lead the Minors in Strikeouts? John Dreker looks at what Glasnow would have to do to achieve this. If he does post a big year with strikeouts, I could see him jumping up to the top 20 prospects next year, and maybe even the top ten. Being among the leaders in strikeouts means those strikeouts would come in the upper levels, with a good possibility of ending the season in Altoona, much like Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham have done in previous two years.

**Wyatt Mathisen, Erich Weiss, and the Reese McGuire Domino Effect. Taking a look at the recent move to put Mathisen at third base, which moved Erich Weiss to second base.

**Pirate City Notes: Buddy Borden, Chad Kuhl, Erich Weiss, JaCoby Jones. A lot of looks at 2013 draft picks here.

**Francisco Liriano Leaves as a Precaution With Groin Tightness. Exhale.

**Three Pirates Among Top Young Talent in Baseball

**Pirates Release Four Minor League Pitchers

**Draft Prospect Watch: Matt Imhof is Worth Watching

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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I always liked Morris, even though he had some ups and downs last year. I would rather keep him, over say Mazzaro or Hughes – especially Hughes. I do not have much confidence in Hughes. How about packaging Mazzaro/Hughes, Gomez, Snider for a lower level prospect with a high ceiling, ideally at SS, 3B, or 1B? I’d even include Locke if that would help.


Instead of starting with the question of who is the odd man out, which presumes most of the RP have made the team based on last year’s performances, why not start with the question “Whose Spring performances demand that they make the team?”. If you start with the later then that raises the profile of Wilk, Schlereth and Thornton. Why should they not be candidates to make the team? My preference is to treat Spring Training performance as meaningful, and to reward the players that perform the best. If you want to attract the highest quality free agents for the purpose of increasing the competition in the Spring and potentially upgrade your team you have to create a climate that rewards the top performers. The FA’s will look at past Pirate history and see that if they do well then they have a legitimate shot at making the team. That will encourage the best FA’s to sign with Pittsburgh. It also raises the performance level of everyone on the team, knowing they have to compete for their jobs every Spring. The idea that the Pirate’s come to Spring with their rosters basically set and that the competition for jobs is basically a sham is bad for business.


No clue on the quality of his stuff but I think Will was a terrific signing. His career in the Tigers org took off great, then they sell him off to Japan. I t could have been a case where he just wanted to go over there for the cash or experience and they let him but he looks lile a good prospect for us to pick up for nothing.


I feel like it is a coin-flipper between Morris and Mazzaro and they are similar guys. Morris has slightly more upside but their ages are surprisingly close…but I like them all and especially Jeanmar Gomez’ versatility…when it comes down to it and you can get a solid 1B…I would deal whichever guy will get you what you need. I am surprised Stolmy is at 1% because he is the most unproven…people love potential.


From what I have seen Gomez has looked the strongest of the two . I heard he had a bad outing on an away game but at home he has been tough .


Jason Grilli. 37 year old relief pitcher in the last year of his contract who can still fetch a nice return. Plus plenty of depth behind him. I’d listen to any good offers on him.

Ron Loreski

The Tigers just lost Bruce Rondon for the season. They sure could use a high strike out setup man. But I don’t know what Detroit has to offer the Pirates. Other than Victor Martinez, no one to help out the 1B situation. And that’s highly unlikely.


At the very least It should boost the market value for relievers in general.


As Branch Rickey once said about the late, great Ralph Kiner, the Pirates should be willing to be overwhelmed.


Tim, I think you’re framing the question wrong. In the end who gets traded will be as much a result of who other teams want as who we wan to give up. If we are simply shedding a reliever for an A ball Pribanic type return, then Mazzaro is my druther BUT, if we are looking to net a lefty platoon bat for 1B, or a quality prospect then we have to ask who we would want in other GM’s shoes. If I’m one of the teams out there apparently shopping relief or 5th starters Gomez is the one I zone in on and will part value for. Still young, controlled and cheap, he has plenty of MLB experience, pitched well out of the BP wire to wire last year (65 hits in 80 innings), faired well in 8 starts. Heck, he probably should be in our rotation this year! Morris or Pimentel don’t net you their potential worth and Mazzaro doesn’t have the worth or the potential to net a return.


You hit the nail on the head. I can’t see the Bucs getting anything significant for Mazzaro. Since he’s cheap and effective in his role, I would keep him. It’s tough to gauge the return for Gomez, Morris, and Pimentel. I view Gomez and Morris more as pieces around a deal – not as the centerpiece. Everyone who reads this site loves prospects and probably overvalues Pimental (including me). Pimental would probably get a deal done for a 1B (i.e. Stolmy and change for Ike Davis).


Mazzaro is in his arbitration yrs now which means he will be making more $$$ which is a big no-no for this ownership group.


Yeah, he’s currently the 16th highest paid player on the team, behind the backup SS and (injured) backup C. I can’t believe he’s lasted on the roster this long. He’s making $450K more than Gomez and Morris. Yes, next year and the year after the difference wil grow. But if you seriously think they care more about a half mil than picking the right talent, then why even bother paying attention?
The biggest driver of who gets traded will be who the OTHER team wants most. If the Bucs get to choose, it will come down to talent and flexibility, i.e. Gomez can spot start, Morris may have the stuff to be a late inning guy down the road, etc.
But that “Nutting Is Cheap” screech sure does work for any occasion, doesn’t it?


If you don’t think contracts matter with this group, you aren’t paying attention. $500k is a boatload for this ownership group. They can ditch Mazzaro who is in arbitration for the next couple of yrs whose salary will only climb compared to a Bryan Morris who they can pay $500k to for the foreseeable future. I’m not even a Mazzaro fan. Just pointing out that when it comes to multiple players at a given position that has surplus, they will ditch the one who costs the most. They’re shopping Tabata which is all $$$ driven. You don’t shop your only bench player unless it is in order to dump salary. Do your own research. They sat on their hands this entire offseason instead of opening the checkbook and improving this team. It’s a complete joke that Nutting tries to be a rational business man in the most irrational business there currently is.

Monsoon Harvard

I believe it will be Brian Morris and Jose Tabata, and perhaps another of the named group, or someone not even previously mentioned.

I just hope they receive a first baseman who hits right handers well. I could still see them getting another good pitch-framing, decent armed catcher.

Leefoo Rug Bug

At best, we can only hope to get a backup C for one of these guys.


I think we should hire Vinny (or your choice of another ethnic mafia or gang member) to visit the Pirates’ clubhouse and have a gentle, but persuasive, “talk” with Mr. Mazzaro. About a one month “talk” would probably be about right, with additional time for rehab.

Shame to lose any of these guys.


Nah, trade one of these guys and a prospect not in the top end and from a depth position for a First Baseman. Maybe throw Tabata in too if needed. We need a left handed hitting first baseman big time. If we go in to the season with Travis Ishikawa starting I am going to vomit!

Leefoo Rug Bug

I’m sure teams are just salivating over Mazzaro, Tabata and a C level prospect. Eventually, if we throw them enough of our unwanteds, we can get someone good.

Mazzero is a middle reliever.
Tabata is a 4th OFer.
That “C” level prospect has the potential to reach similar heights.

Good luck getting someone good for that.


First I never said C level prospect and 2nd there will be teams interested in Tabata, Mazzaro, Gomez and Morris.


I was about to say I agree with you, but then I remember that Seattle traded a reliever for Logan Morrison. Neil missed his chance


Ike Davis > Logan Morrison IMO but I don’t think the cost would be much more. I definitely think Gomez > the scrub the Marlins got. Forget his name but he was optimally JM Gomez of 2012.


Pretty sure another late blooming 1B with big strikeout issues was traded WITH another reliever for a relief pitcher 2 summers ago (Chris Davis). But there’s NO WAY anyone would trade a 1B for a reliever, right??


Chances are Jeanmar Gomez/Vin Mazzaro/Bryan Morris, C level prospect, and Tabata won’t nab us a full-fledged first baseman. It may get us a a platoon partner, possibly but that would be along the lines of Ike Davis. Not that I am for or against but why no love for Ishikawa? Just because he’s not a big name?


Ah no, I could care less about big name! My problem with Ishikawa is he is a journeyman backup player, not a starting first baseman the majority of the time. I also never said C level prospect, I said prospect not in our top 10. We need to move a solid prospect to get a first baseman then do it from one of our positions of depth. First base is a huge weak spot and I see no solution internally. We have loads of depth, a trade should be able to be made.


IMO, I think the biggest problem with Ishikawa is that he’s unproven and the only way to bring him north is if he gets put on the 25-man roster. Which means someone will have to be DFA’d off the 40-man as well. Idk how confident I would be in replacing someone on the 40-man because a NRI put up good spring training numbers. However, IMO, I think if he goes down and has a few good months, while whoever is up (whether Lambo/McGuiness) is struggling, he gets a shot. If that would be the case, we’ll be now risking at least 2 players from the 40-man mid season to be DFA’d, as Tailian needs to be put on then, and whoever comes off the 25-man would need options too.

Ron Loreski

If Ishikawa makes the roster, McGuiness makes the most sense to DFA. The Pirates won’t need all 3 of those players on the 40 man. And I highly doubt another team would claim him.


Ishikawa really not unproven. He is 30 and has played in nearly 400 mlb games. We know what he is and it’s mediocre. Not saying he couldn’t help but you wouldn’t want him as your starter or platoon lefty.


Mediocre called; it says it’s a little offended by being compared with Ishakawa with the assumption being that they were somehow equal.


1.4 WAR in nearly 800 AB is pretty mediocre but your point is well taken. I’m not very confident he can even repeat that.

Leefoo Rug Bug

Meaty….i’m not a fan of Ike Davis, but I wouldn’t deal him for any combo of the above.

Upon visiting Met blogs, I see no mention of our trade pieces (and they have crap in their OF)’ but I do see they want Didi G for Ike.


Met’s want way too much for Ike. I’m not thinking they’ll get Didi either; what would Arizona do with Ike? Didi has a much higher floor than Ike and they have Goldschmit at 1b. The Met’s GM needs to realize no one is paying that much for a guy had a good rookie season 2 1/2 years ago


Sorry, I meant we get Didi or some middling SS prospect for pitching or Tabata or combination thereof and we send that SS to Mets who are basically without a MLB SS right now and they don’t have the cash to sign a Drew.


If something does work out for Davis I wouldn’t be surprised if a SS like Didi isn’t a part of it. I could see SEA taking Tabata or Gomez for one of their young infielders. They have not been overwhelmed with offers and Franklin seems more a 2B, which I think is occupied there. They also want another bat amazingly and Tabata would be a fit. Same can be said with Arizona, who also have a SS glut.

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