Pirates Acquire Steve Lombardozzi From Orioles

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired infielder Steve Lombardozzi from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations. He is not on the 40-man roster, but received an invite to Spring Training. This move is separate from the player to be named later in the Travis Snider deal and it comes on the heels of the Pirates losing Jake Elmore last night, who opted for free agency over an assignment to Indianapolis.

Lombardozzi is 26 years old and has seen most of his playing time in the big leagues at second base, while also taking turns in left field and third base. He hit .288/.297/.329 in 20 games with the Orioles last year and saw extensive playing time with the Washington Nationals in 2012-13. In 277 career games, he has a .638 OPS, with his best season coming in 2012 when he put up a .273/.317/.354 line in 126 games. Back in 2011, Lombardozzi was named by Baseball America as the best defensive infielder in the Nationals system and the best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League.

UPDATE 6:45 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…

I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that this move came less than 24 hours after Elmore elected free agency. Elmore projected as a utility player, which is the same projection that Lombardozzi has. The Pirates have been adding a ton of depth options this off-season, probably in an attempt to avoid a Michael Martinez/Jayson Nix/Brent Morel situation from happening again. This move seems to be in that same manner, adding more depth to the system. I don’t think Lombardozzi will have a shot to make the roster out of Spring Training, but he could have a shot of making it to the majors at some point this season.

I saw Lombardozzi play several times in 2010 against Altoona while he was with the Nationals’ farm system. I don’t recall a lot of opponents that play the Pirates’ minor league teams, but remember him because his dad, Steve Lombardozzi Sr., was in attendance for some of those games, working as the Pirates’ minor league field coordinator at the time (he held the position from 2009-2010). As I remember, Lombardozzi was fast and very athletic, kind of a spark-plug type player.

As a recap, the Pirates now have the following players projected to be infield bench depth out of Triple-A:

Justin Sellers

Alen Hanson

Gift Ngoepe

Gustavo Nunez

Deibinson Romero

Brent Morel

Steve Lombardozzi

Hanson probably won’t be ready until mid-season, at the earliest. I’d say that Sellers would be the top option for depth early in the season, and Romero has gotten some good reviews out of the rest of the group. Aside from Sellers, Lombardozzi fits the backup utility role the best, since Ngoepe and Nunez are best as strong defensive shortstops, and Romero and Morel are best at third base.

  • Steel City Scotty
    February 4, 2015 2:38 pm

    Nice! The Pirates now have Lambo and Lombo on the roster.

    Let’s hope this prevents their playoff chances from remaining in limbo…

  • Certainly like this upgrade with MLB experience,
    showing a nice glove and the ability to put some
    sting on the ball as well as get on base.

    Could this also be some short term Kang insurance?

  • what are the chances he beats out sean rodriguez for a bench spot and Who is better defensively?

    • Pretty good from an offensive standpoint. He is a lefty middle infield bat (Rodriguez is a righty). Considering that the NL Central is heavy with right handed pitching and both players have expected splits, I’d give the offensive edge to Lombardozzi.

      Both have similar fielding percentages while playing 2B over there careers (.989 for Rodriguez, .988 for Lombardozzi).

      • if judging by Defensive Runs Saved they are similar on defense, rodriguez might have the slight edge. Lombardozzi’s numbers look better but Steamer projects Rodriguez to have a better wRC+

  • Frank…. I disagree. Here’s why, he has a no trade clause in place simply because he wants to be able to exercise his $20 million buy out for the 2019 season. That’s it!!! He has no bias towards Pittsburgh, as a matter of fact he probably see’s them akin to how Wainwright see’s them…. A up and coming team with massive potential to win several World Series. If the Pirates are willing to part with a few top 10 prospects and a major leaguer or two… This deal is done. As I said…. Philly will have to make it easy on Nuttings wallet, but $15-18.5 is manageable. That said…. Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, Meadows, McGuire/Diaz, Keller, and Tucker are off limits. Have at the rest…. You get 3

    • Yes, but his no trade clause is not league wide – he can be traded without consent to one of the nine teams that was listed in the article. Granted his contract was written in 2011-2012 before the Pirates had turned the corner (so to speak), but still, it is conceivable to me that he may not want to play in Pittsburgh.

      I don’t disagree, getting Hamels could put the Pirates rotation up alongside the Dodgers, Nationals, and Padres as one of the best in the NL if not MLB wide. But if the deal can’t be done for three players, it shouldn’t be done. A combination of Kingham / Tabata / and Sanchez would be palatable to me (even if the Pirates get less money). I just can’t see trading away Hansen at this point when we don’t know how Kang will do and what is to become of Neil Walker.

      • “A combination of Kingham / Tabata / and Sanchez would be palatable to me”

        That’s a joke, right?

        To be honest, I can’t tell anymore.

        • A half joke – you gotta start somewhere.

          What might make more sense (for both the Pirates and Phillies) is to for Neil Walker and Cody Ashe to be thrown in the mix.

          Phillies give up Ashe / Hamels
          Pirates give up Walker / Kingham / Hansen / Tabata

          Pirates play Ashe at 3B and move Harrison to 2B. It also gives them time to draft / develop an MLB ready middle infielder before Harrison’s arbitration is done.

          And it’s not like the Phillies are hurting for third basemen. Their current roster includes:
          Maikel Franco
          Freddy Galvis
          Cesar Hernandez

          • Even Amaro isn’t that dumb.

          • I think if you swap out the name “Walker” with “Marte or Polanco” and you swap out the name “Tabata” with “Glasnow”, the Phillies might actually answer the phone call.

            Why in the world would the Phillies give up a solid young player in Asche and a great pitcher in Hamels for Walker (who might not even beat out Chase Utley as the starter!), a projected middle of the rotation guy in Kingham, a question mark in Hanson, and throwing in a 4th outfielder in Tabata and his absurd contract??

            The Phillies would have zero interest in Walker and Tabata.

            I don’t think Hamels ever goes to the Pirates without first having Tyler Glasnow as part of the equation for the return.

            • They would rather pay Ryan Howard $25 million per year for a negative 1.1 WAR? It’s not like Walker would have to play 2B for them. How does Tabata’s “ridiculous” contract compare to Ryan Howard’s or Chase Utley’s?

              And why is it that Ashe is a “solid young player” and Hansen is a question mark? Ashe hit league average (.252 AVE, .699 OPS) last year. In the five years with the Pirates Tabata’s slash line – .275 AVE, .715 OPS. And he is only 2 years older than Ashe.

              • You have to think of it from the Phillies’ POV. Pat Gillick has already said he’s looking at a contention window of 2017 at the earliest, possibly 2018. So they won’t be interested in taking back contracts that expire before that window opens. Walker is a non-starter – if they want him, they’ll pick him up when he’s a free agent. Whatever production he would give them in 2015 and 2016 is pointless, since they don’t plan to contend anyway.

                Tabata will cost $8M more than Asche over the next two years, which is dead money on top of the other dead money they have already committed to Ryan Howard, among others. And, as I’m sure you’ve heard, Tabata’s true age is somewhat in doubt. Asche also plays the more difficult position, and is more likely to get better as a hitter; Tabata is coming off a dreadful season and passed through waivers twice without being claimed, so that should give you a sense of his value in a trade: zero.

                Utley’s contract is actually favorable – $10M this year, with $15M vesting options in ’16 and ’17; the contract only vests if he stays healthy, and when healthy he is still a productive player.

                The Phillies don’t NEED to trade Hamels – he’ll still be under contract in 2017, 2018 and 2019 (if his option is picked up), so they can keep him around to front the next good Phillies team. They’ll only do it if the return makes them better, quicker. They have some growth pieces in the infield, with Franco, Crawford and Asche, but might want an upgrade at 2B, their OF is atrocious, and everybody needs pitching. It will take a minimum of a top 5, a 6-10 and probably one other 11-20 guy to get it done; they’ll want at least one of them to be major league ready, and you could probably swap in a controllable major league piece for any one of them. And the more money the Phillies eat, the better those other two would have to be,

                Think Glasnow+Hanson+Locke or Marte/Polanco+Kingham+Sampson, something like that. Even that might not be enough.

                • Scratch the upgrade at 2B – forgot about Utley instantly after having just praised his contract.

    • “Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, Meadows, McGuire/Diaz, Keller, and Tucker are off limits.”

      And, you just lost your trade. If the Phillies want Blake Swihart from the Red Sox, then you’ve got to at least start the conversation with Glasnow in the mix.

  • Hey John, realizing it is not a major name/move , is it fair to say Lombardozzi is a significant upgrade for the vacated Elmore and potentially the best of the bunch in the bunch of secondary super-utility options ?

  • Unfortunately, this move doesn’t really solve the Michael Martinez problem, because Lombardozzi essentially replaced a player in Elmore who is his equal in contact, yet has more power and patience and can play short. Justin Sellers is just Martinez with more caffeine. I’d much rather they had waived Sellers instead of Elmore when Kang was signed.

    • There is very little difference between Elmore or Sellers in terms of likely contribution to the team.

      • Most assuredly – there’s only so much one can or cannot do in 40-50 PA. Still, there was a decision to be made – keep Sellers, or keep Elmore, and they have enough of a track record to indicate that Elmore is the better player – better K and BB rates, and better overall production at AAA despite Sellers playing most of that time in the high offense environment at Albuquerque. They both offer similar positional flexibility. And Elmore is 2 years younger.

        There was a cognitive process that led to the decision to waive Elmore, and I doubt it was based on “there is very little difference in terms of likely contribution to the team, so…you pick: odd or even.” I’d like to know what it was.

        One thing is certain – should the doomsday scenario revisit the Pirates infield, Lombardozzi’s one definitive tool (contact) trumps Martinez’ zero.

        • They both offer similar positional flexibility.

          ____________________________________________
          Not really. Sellers has a reputation for good or better defense at multiple positions. Elmore defense isn’t horrible or anything, but he’s not known for it; he’s mostly known for his strike zone discipline. That’d be nice to have, don’t get me wrong. But I’m guessing the Pirates felt they had enough of a mix of decent offensive backups, so they would rather hang onto Sellers so they have a couple defense-first backup options.

          Other than that small dispute, I can’t really take issue with the rest of your post. Both Sellers and Elmore planned to be plan C or D (and I’m not sure which one is which) for backup, and there’s just not a lot that guys like that are at all likely to contribute.

  • Furthermore, with Chicago now having Lester, and St Louis owning Wainwright, the Bucs aquiring Hamels would be keeping up with the Jones’s at least if not putting us over the top. Imagine 2 lefties dominant pitchers (Hamels, Liriano) to go with 2 righty dominant pitchers (Cole, Burnett) this season…… Sounds good to me.

    • Wano’s warranty is about to run out, he pitched most of last year with a dead arm. He’s probably used up the innings his last surgery bought him.

    • Hamels has a no-trade clause in his contract.

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/10/24/cole-hamels-updating-his-20-team-no-trade-list/

      “Currently, the teams to which Hamels can be traded are the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers.”

      Also, he is owed $22.5 million per year for the next four years plus an option year worth about $19 million plus performance incentives.

      Even with the Phillies picking up $30 million of that, the Bucs would be out about $60 million over 4 years ($15 million per year). Hansen, Kingham, Sanchez, and Morton / Locke + $15 million per year over 4 years would be a lot to give up for someone who doesn’t want to play in Pittsburgh.

  • Tony Ventimiglio
    February 3, 2015 8:12 pm

    I see this as a step to prevent a hole that will be created by a pending trade.

  • I’ve been thinking about this one topic for days now and wonder if Dreker or Williams could put a piece together about it. What would it take to pry Cole Hamels away from Philly?? The Phillies are obviously entering into a rebuild mode and the golden nugget they currently hold is Hamels. Hamels has 4 years of control remaining, so he wouldn’t be a rental and he is the very definition of a staff ace. A 3 year rotation of Hamels, Liriano, Cole is a formidable 1,2,3 that challenges any rotation in the N.L. Add the soon to arrive Taillion to the mix with Glasnow and that a Championship rotation (assuming Taillion and Glasnow preform to expectations). My question is, would Kingham, Hansen, Sanchez and one of Morton/Locke be enough to get him. Obviously the Phillies would have to pick up around 30 Million of his current deal. Dreker and Williams…. What say you???

  • It’s likely that we’ll lose Florimon too since he’s out of options so this infield depth could prove to be crucial

    • Pirates aren’t worried about batting average from their bench infielders as long as they are strong defenders. Florimon probably has better D based on what I’m seeing from the Baltimore blogs.

  • I like Lombardozzi a lot better than Sellers. He’s at least hit at the Major League level a little bit. Sellers has hit like a pitcher in his limited Major League action.

    • Absolutely. Plus he’s been a decent PH over his career (.286/.740). He’s not going to end a game with walk off HR, but he can certainly extend a rally. I think Lombo can leapfrog all his competition with a solid spring.

    • Yeah, but he never caught the Pink Panther!

      • Yes, but he was terrific in Dr. Strangelove:

        Gentlemen!! You can’t fight here. This is the War room. 🙂

  • Holy batarangs batman! Talk about stockpiles! Any more utility infielders and the pirates can build their own utility belt! ( insert obligatory bif! bam! Oof! here.)

  • Whew, we were getting very thin…Lombardozzi can actually hit, which probably disqualifies him from getting any utility time.

  • Just the newest edition of “oh my god we must get better AAA depth than Michael Martinez for if s*** hits the fan again”

    • This is a way better option. We are collecting Utility infielders like they are about to add a “roaver” position into baseball

  • We Nats fans loved Steve Lombardozzi, but we were happy to lose him as part of the Doug Fister trade.

    • Good to hear that he was loved by the fans. Sounds like he is a good blue collar type.

    • Lee Foo Young
      February 3, 2015 7:36 pm

      HalfSt….I see LOTS of Nats games here in Hbg, and I agree with you. We can do a LOT worse than Lombo.

      In fact, I LOVE this pickup!

      • It seems that the Nats will replace the Phillies on one of the Harrisburg radio stations, as well. Hopefully you will get the chance to follow some Senators to the Nats the next couple of years. I really hope you get to enjoy some Giolito magic this season.

        BTW, it is awesome to see the Pirates be a great team again. I would take them over the Cardinals any day.

  • Probably to make up for Elmore Electing for free agency. Was he on the 40 for Baltimore? He’s a better depth option than Elmore anyway and can play outfield. Snider probably took his spot.

  • Do the Pirates now have a symbiotic relationship with the Orioles.

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