Pirates Designate Axford and Gomez For Assignment, Acquire Justin Sellers From Indians

The Pittsburgh Pirates have designated pitchers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment. In a separate transaction, they acquired 28-year-old infielder Justin Sellers from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Charlie Morton has also been activated from the 60-day disabled list, meaning the 40-man roster remains filled.

Sellers has played parts of the last four seasons in the majors, spending 2011-13 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. This year for the Indians, he hit .188 over 17 games. He also hit .188 in 77 plate appearances during the 2013 season. He has a .198/.280/.294 slash line in 252 at-bats during his big league career. Sellers can play shortstop, second base and third base, spending most of his minor league time at shortstop, where he is considered strong defensively. He has also played both corner outfield positions in the minors.

Axford made 4.5 M this season and was due for another raise through arbitration, so it’s no surprise he was designated for assignment. With the Pirates, he had a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings over 13 appearances after coming over to Pittsburgh as a waiver pickup from the Indians in mid-August.

Gomez was set to go to arbitration for the first time this off-season. He had a 3.19 ERA this year in 62 innings, but his 1.50 WHIP and low strikeout rate showed another story to his season. He pitched much better last year when he had a slightly higher ERA and saw more work out of the bullpen. The 26-year-old also saw his GO/AO ratio go from 1.83 in 2013 down to 1.40 this year.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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If they already know those two have zero shot at being on the 40.. makes sense to just grab a warm body vs carrying 39.. unless there’s a more favorable 1,200th ranked player?

John Lease

Another piece of trash added to the 40 man roster. I’m sure he’s happy, because he might get some more service time this year. Axford and Jeanmar are no more? I’d guess Jeanmar might make it thru the designation process, and land safely on the AAA roster. Axford has done enough in the majors, someone will pick him up. Why the fascination though with the INDIANS trash? That’s one thing Neil has never gotten over. We’ve recycled that teams trash for years. Surely some other teams trash might be just a little less trashy. What about the Twins trash? We haven’t rooted thru that dumpster in years. Even when they signed Luis Rivas, he’d already been recycled in Cleveland. Michael Restovich was a long time ago, need some FRESH twins trash. Pat Meares minty freshness would be great.


Not surprised at all you are criticizing this non-important, no impact on next season move. You do realize that: waiver claims are common for every team this time of year, he won’t block anyone of note from being added to the 40 man, and we are talking about the 40th man on the 40 man roster. Really grasping at straws John for reason to criticize the front office today. And no, this doesn’t make me an ‘apologist’ for anyone, all this makes me is someone who understands a slow news day and a totally non-important waiver wire claim that will have no impact next season.


I imagine Michael Martinez is at home thinking, “If I’d only raised my average from .165 to .180 I’d still have a job!”


Hopefully the Pirates are looking at the Royals pen and remembering their own 2013 pen with Grilli closing and how they had the same success that the Royals are having when being ahead in the 6th was the recipe for success. Hopefully they will address the pen a little better for 2015 than they did for 2014. Why Sellers? they can pick this type of player up anytime they need to, in fact they have a bunch of them in the minors of their own.


lets save more money by getting rid of Pedro, Davis, Gaby and Morton.
That will save about 20m.


I wonder if Jayson Nix is available? When Tim did his evaluation of the likely 40 man roster for 2015 a few months ago, I don’t think he included Justin Sellers in that evaluation! Isn’t JS the kind of player who is always available if you have an injury? I would think adding him to the 40 man roster likely takes up a slot which would be better spent protecting young talent??


It’s good to see the annual ritual of acting like every move made in the off-season is completely set in stone for Opening Day is alive and well!!
Yep, for the moment, Justin Sellers is taking up a 40-man spot. In just a few days, 4 spots will open up on the 40-man when Martin, Liriano, Volquez and Barmes become free agents. There will be plenty of space to protect young talent.

When the World Series is over, the Pirates 40-man middle infield depth would be exactly one man: Chase d’Arnaud. (Hanson is on there, as well, but is a bit further away than Opening Day 2015).

I’m sure Sellers, as it stands here in October, is either a placeholder until the Pirates see if Barmes is coming back or a replacement for d’Arnaud.

We are still a few weeks away from the Pirates having to set the 40-man for the Rule 5 draft, so Sellers isn’t blocking anybody at the moment.


While your explanation is reasonable, unfortunately, all too often, reasonable rationalizations such as your’s seem to morph into much less reasonable actions such as the Pirates’ starting Jayson Nix, Michael Martinez and Brent Morel sometimes en masse. BTW, my recollection of Tim’s article, which I described, was that it did not conclude that there will be plenty of space to protect young talent (I would hope that we have so much talent, young and old, that limiting the list to only 40 players is a difficult task – apparently, perhaps correctly, you are much less impressed with the talent in the Pirate organization).


Hey Greg, I didn’t mean to be so snippy, it wasn’t personal, more general. You touched on 2 of my bigger pet peeves: I think there’s generally too much hand wringing over the 24th and 25th guys on the roster, and I think too much is made of early off-season moves (usually moreso elsewhere, like mlb.com, where typically someone makes the “last piece for the World Series” comment within the first 5.)

Over at bucsdugout, Wilbur reminded me that Chase d’Arnaud will be a minor league FA in a few weeks, which basically leaves ZERO middle infield depth (not counting Hanson) for the start of 2015. So this signing makes some sense.

I get your sentiment about not wanting the Martinez, Nix, Morel signings to happen, but the fact that they needed these guys during the season, is the exact reason why these signings occur (if that makes sense). And I don’t think their signings left valuable younger assets unprotected.

The sad reality for the Pirates, as excited as we all are about their present and their future is that they have NOBODY in the minors that is waiting in the wings for C, 1B, 2B, SS or 3B (except maybe Lambo) for 2015. Actually, if we’re completely honest here, other than Nick Kingham, is there anybody knocking on the door to help in the first half of 2015?? I’m excited as anybody about guys like Hanson and Bell and others, but they won’t be contributing anything to the 2015 Pirates before the All-Star break, so you have to find a few back-ups and injury stop-gaps out there.

If it makes you feel better, if Barmes and d’Arnaud are both gone, then Sellers 1 spot on the roster is one less than the 2 that Barmes & d’Arnaud were taking up. So, they’ve actually GAINED a spot to protect some youth.


Indeed… our utility man is now our star 3B. The Sellers move is needed.


Appreciate your message… I agree with you that the signings and use of Martinez, Morel, Nix, et al, as starters reflects a lack of production by what has been described by some as a vaunted Pirate farm system. After all the many previous losing seasons and the corresponding higher draft picks, I find the fact that that situation still exists to be somewhat frustrating and fair game for critique and comment concerning the organization. You seem better able to take it in stride… I hope the Pirates can get to the point in the future that when there are injuries they can bring up younger player(s) who can provide at least decent play for a limited period, and who will gain some major league experience which will benefit that player and the organization thereafter. Otherwise the team suffers from MM&N type performance and the organization suffers from the failure to retain that MLB experience and it’s losing potential developmental opportunities for players who could contribute to the team in the future.

John Lease

It’s even better seeing the annual ritual of defending every move by the front office, no matter how idiotic. He won’t be on the 40 man roster when it COUNTS. So, why is he on there at all? Make him feel better? He can check it out on the Pirates website?

B Thomas

That was an idiotic response

Joe Sweetnich

Morton signed a 3 year $21 MM contract extension. Want to throw away the $21 MILLION?


I think there is a new thing in MLB called a trade.

Joe Sweetnich

Uh, he’s injured and won’t be back until late spring training if then. I’m sure he’d really bring back quite a bit in a trade…


The idea is to get rid of an unreliable pitcher with a 7m paycheck.
A bag of balls will suffice although I’m sure he would bring a little more. I’m aware of his injury status.
Let me say my opinion of Morton and the others I named is just my frustration with these players. They all have the potential to turn in a good season and I see why other fans want to keep some or all of them.
Neal Huntington is not going to read my post and act on it just like he doesn’t read anybody else’s.


Will Sellers replace Barmes or is he infield depth to stash in Triple-A?

Dropping Axford and Gomez is not a shock. It will be interesting to see who replaces these two in the bullpen. Probably a couple guys currently not in the organization.


Ideally, I’d like to give Gomez’s long man role to Cumpton, and also another reliever from outside.

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