The Pittsburgh Pirates lost left-handed reliever Andy Oliver in the December Rule 5 draft and it appears they were fine with that move. Oliver was placed on waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies after he didn’t make their team. He cleared waivers, which included the Pirates passing on bringing him back for half of the $50,000 price tag associated with Rule 5 picks. Oliver was outrighted by the Phillies, but decided to become a minor league free agent instead.
Oliver pitched against the Pirates on Saturday afternoon and walked one, while allowing a single to Josh Bell. He also threw a wild pitch in his abbreviated outing. Oliver has always had trouble with command and this spring he walked 11 batters in 12.2 innings.
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.
Oliver was in camp with the Phillies via a Rule V claim. Presumably, the Pirates passed on getting him back as a 40-man roster piece. I would expect him to be picked up somewhere, possibly Texas or Colorado (both are known to be looking for bullpen depth).
Is this more a matter of roster space or is Andy Oliver someone that might have been on his way or nearly on his way out of the system to begin with? Did the Travis Snider trade (Brault, Tarpley) leave no room for Oliver? Always interesting how these things play out.
The Snider trade brought in two pitchers in Low-A ball, so it had no effect on Oliver. The Pirates have some strong pitchers in AAA and Oliver showed no real improvements in three seasons in the system, so they moved on. He would have been a free agent at the end of the year anyway.