The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled right-handed pitcher Brandon Cumpton from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton will make today’s start, and is expected to be a permanent member of the rotation going forward, for as long as he performs in the role. To make room on the 25-man roster, the Pirates have designated Vin Mazzaro for assignment.
I wrote about Cumpton yesterday, noting that he has the opportunity to remain in the rotation for good. If he performs well this year, then there will be no one pushing him out of the rotation the rest of the season. Next year the Pirates have three open rotation spots, and Cumpton could easily take one of those spots with a good performance in 2014.
An interesting note: by my calculations, Cumpton would end the year with less than a year of service time if he remains in the majors the rest of the season. He’d have 167 days of service time, by my estimate. That means he’d be under control through the 2020 season, rather than the 2019 season if he would have come up last week. He would also be a Super Two player after the 2016 season. That’s not as big of a concern for someone like Cumpton, since he doesn’t project to be an impact player, and thus wouldn’t see the massive increase in salary that someone like Gregory Polanco projects to see.
The move to DFA Mazzaro is strange. The Pirates had an extra reliever, so you knew sending a reliever down would be the corresponding move here. However, Jared Hughes looked like the obvious choice to be sent down, since he was the only reliever with options remaining. Hughes has a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings, bit that is supported by a very low strikeout rate, which isn’t what you want to see from a reliever. Mazzaro had a 3.48 ERA in 10.1 innings, with a 6.1 K/9 and a 4.4 BB/9. The walks aren’t something you want from a reliever. From a depth perspective, it would make sense to keep both players, and the best way to do that is to send down Hughes.
With Mazzaro gone, the Pirates now have two open spots on the 40-man roster. He could be outrighted to Indianapolis if he clears waivers, which is what happened after Spring Training. He could also elect free agency if no team claims him, but he’d forfeit the rest of his $950,000 salary this year. He didn’t do that last time, and if no team claims him this time, then he’d have a hard time finding a team willing to sign him as a free agent for more than he’s currently getting from the Pirates.