According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pittsburgh Pirates have interest in Detroit Tigers’ closer Joakim Soria. He has a 2.85 ERA in 41 innings this season, with 23 saves in 26 opportunities.

James Schmehl, who covers the Tigers, says that the deal is near.

If this happens, it would be a big change from how the Pirates have typically approached the relief pitching market at the deadline in the past. Soria would be a huge addition for the bullpen, giving the Pirates a lights out trio when paired with Mark Melancon and Tony Watson. Updates will be provided as more information comes out.

UPDATE 5:59 PM: More Soria rumors:

It sounds more and more like a deal is getting close, as there usually isn’t this much for just your usual interest.

UPDATE 6:06 PM: Looking over the advanced metrics, there are a few concerns for Soria. He’s got a 3.71 xFIP, which is much lower than his ERA. His strikeout rate is low this year, dropping from 9.74 to 7.90 K/9. His walk rate is up (1.22 to 2.41 BB/9) and his home run rate is way up (0.41 to 1.76 HR/9). He’s also benefitting from an extreme 94.7% strand rate, but is unlucky with a 19% HR/FB ratio. In short, he’ll probably strand fewer runners in the future, but also give up fewer home runs. If these trends continue, there could be cause for concern.

Beyond that, things are looking good for him. His line drive rate is down from last year, his velocity is at an all-time high. So maybe they’re expecting to get the old version of Soria.

UPDATE 6:07 PM: Jon Heyman says a deal is done.

UPDATE 6:13 PM: Rosenthal says they’re reviewing medicals, which is an important step, as we learned last night with Carlos Gomez.

UPDATE 6:26 PM: No details yet, but Jon Morosi says it’s one minor leaguer in return.

UPDATE 6:48 PM: Rob Biertempfel says it’s JaCoby Jones.

UPDATE 6:51 PM: Thoughts on Jones…

I’m going to link to this article from Monday for more details. In short, I thought Jones did a great job this year of improving his defense at shortstop. He’s a very athletic player, and has some good power from the middle infield spot. There are some concerns with his strikeouts and his walks. He’s got a chance to stick at shortstop in the future, and surprisingly the bat is the biggest question mark for me due to those strikeouts, despite him always looking like a bat-first guy.

He’s a good prospect, but the Pirates can afford to lose him. They’ve got Jordy Mercer and Jung-ho Kang in the majors, Adam Frazier in Altoona (who is more of a utility player that can play shortstop in a pinch than a starter), and the lower levels will have Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and Kevin Kramer. In short, they suddenly had an excess at shortstop and no immediate need for Jones. They do have an immediate need for a reliever like Soria.

UPDATE 6:57 PM: Pirates make it official with a press release. Said a corresponding 25-man move will come when Soria joins the team. The 40-man spot currently had an opening after Worley was designated for assignment.

UPDATE 7:17 PM: The Pirates are taking on the remainder of Soria’s salary, which is just shy of $2.6 M. The 40-man payroll page has been updated, with the Pirates around $98.2 M. They’ve added a lot of salary this month. It’s just shy of $6.5 M for the rest of the year with the additions of Ramirez, Blanton, Ishikawa, and now Soria.

UPDATE 8:32 PM: Neal Huntington had a conference call with the media, including our own Sean McCool. Here are the highlights, with some notes on the Joe Blanton deal. Huntington also said the team doesn’t plan to add a starter, which we posted about here.

On Joe Blanton:

“He’ll help solidify the bullpen. Blanton is a veteran and very experienced. Pitching in long relief and spot starts. He’s done a nice job for them this year.”

“In our minds, Blanton was a better fit for the role in terms of versatility, flexibility, and pitches. We felt that Blanton was better for that role to fill the spot on our club.”

On Worley going out today:

“We appreciate everything Vance has done. He was better as a starter. Blanton was a better fit for us.”

On Soria:

“Soria is a veteran closer, a late inning reliever. He lengthens and deepens our bullpen. Working to get here as early as tomorrow.”

“After we acquired Ramirez, we wanted to stay flexible. As we looked at the entirety of the board and at who and what were available, we felt like this was our best move.”

On closer role:

“Melancon is still the everyday closer. We anticipate that Mark will continue to be our closer.”

Jones and SS Depth:

“It wasn’t easy to trade [Jones]. Detroit was strong on wanting him as a return. We hated to give him up. But to get something good, you have to give up something good. Jones has an interesting tool set. He’s an interesting athlete. Not a guy we gave up willingly but a guy we had to give up to get the deal done.”

How long has this been in the works:

“Sometimes it’s one of those thing that they come together in a few conversations. Sometimes they take longer. We’ve had deals on the board that we talked about but haven’t come to fruition.”

On more deals:

“We’ll continue to look. You always look for ways to improve your club. We still like this club a lot, but we recognize things you can do to add to it. We’ve added three veterans to it that made it stronger…We’ll continue to keep our eyes and ears open and continue working.”

 

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90 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe Detroit asked NH to promote him to AAA to see him play against higher level competition. He didn’t seem deserving of the promotion on his own.

    Now that he’s gone, I love this trade. He was not going to make it to Pittsburgh. Good luck Jacoby and hello Soria.

  2. I really hope we aren’t done…Bastardo is not very good. We need a RH bat…and we might need a starter.

    • Not for nothing, but that means we went from saying “we could use 1-2 relief pitchers” to “we go two, but we really needed 3”.

      Every bullpen has a few not great options in it. Bastardo is inconsistent and has been much of his career, but is functionable. He’s like our 5th or 6th man in the pen.

  3. Bastardo – 3 more walks tonight in one inning pitched – that is 5 walks in his last 1 and 2/3 innings…I hope the Pirates aren’t thinking that he’s good enough to be the second LH reliever??

  4. I will likely be quickly criticized for saying this, but we overpaid for Soria. His numbers are not very impressive and he’s a rental…the Nationals got Papeldon for about the same value. I do think Soria is an upgrade over Guerra and possibly Caminero, but we gave up too much in my opinion. We really needed a LH more than two RH relievers.

    Yes, Jacoby Jones needed to cut down on his strikeouts, but he has the kind of rare athletic ability that few people have. He has exciting potential and I will be surprised if he is not in the Tigers lineup somewhere in 2016. It may not be at SS with Iglesias there, but he could play second or even CF. I’m sorry the Pirates traded him away.

    Time will tell, but I believe we will regret this trade. I hope I am wrong.

    • I like Jones as well I just can’t see where we would start. The outfield is set and Harrison, mercer,kang hanson, bell in the infield. I think he was expendable.

    • From 88 to 94 after almost getting tossed. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that. Pure theatre…. but Pedro just tossed a DP ball into left field. The show is over. I’d love to interview in this order after the game. AJ, Ray S., Walker, Cervelli, Clint. What a mess.

  5. How is it that a team as good as the pirates are so consistently bad against fringe pitching and why in the he double hockey sticks is aj still in this game, get him out before he really hurts himself.

    • That doesn’t look like concentration on his face……………it looks like pain. Even Walk is demonstrating that he can’t finish his pitches.

  6. If I’m Neil H watching this Burnett start (throwing 85-88 mph fastballs up in the zone) after watching his last couple starts I’m going out and getting a SP Quick. This team can not roll 2 deep and expect to go anywhere. The 2nd tier starters this year are very affordable. Go out and get a guy like Kennedy or something similar and hand them over to Ray

    • Yes, I hope it is just fatigue. He looks hurt and they are killing him. 88 on the fastball and no bite on the curve. Who is our long guy tonight because the Reds are pitching a meatball that we should get to.

  7. If the Tigers wanted an infielder, I would’ve preferred to give up a guy like Gift…but I’m guessing that wouldn’t have been enough.

    Do you guys prefer parting with Jones as opposed to Sampson?

    • Yes. Jones was part of a crowded IF or OF group. We’re not as deep with our SPs. We could need Sampson this year or next. Unlikely we’d need Jones. Would be nice to have kept him, but keep in mind the Tigers gave up a pretty nice prospect for Soria just last year.

  8. I’m sad to see JaCoby Jones leave the organization. I think he could have been a shortstop of the future for the Pirates. Then again, I said the same thing with Brock Holt.

  9. JaCoby?

    Ugh. I guess that’s what it’s like being a contender…gotta trade away promising players.

    Best of luck to him…hope he crushes it for the Tigers.

  10. It’s funny how we as pirates fans obsess for weeks about who we can acquire at the deadline and what pieces we need to make a run, and then whenever we do make a deal (big splash or otherwise) there’s a moment where I’m bummed to see a prospect go. I have to keep reminding myself that they are just prospects and the whole point of this whole operation is to win at MLB level. But, I blame PP for letting me get too attached to upsides!

    This deal helps us now though and I think it’s a fair swap and a good risk to take, especially with the depth at SS in the system.

  11. Great trade! Deepens the bullpen which has been shaky in long and middle relief. Could also spell Melancon and Watson. Jones had too many strikeouts and dealt from depth. We now need a back up outfielder or first baseman.

    • The way the Tigers rush prospects it wouldn’t surprise me to see Jones be in the bigs next year, nor will surprise me to see him go back to the outfield

  12. Nice pick up. I think they sold high on Jones to get a quality piece for the bullpen. Almost finished. Now just another RH bat and we should be ready to roll.

    I’m pleased with the acquisitions that NH has made so far.

    • This is a good move for everybody, including Jones who was about to be passed. He was just promoted to AA despite problems with the bat, I guess to showcase. The Bucs are a better team tonight without sacrificing the future. Nice move NH.

  13. Can afford to give him up after the recent draft. College guys like Newman could be ready soon.

    • This is an all or nothing deal for the Tigers. If Soria pitches well for us, though, it was worth it. And middle IF is seemingly a position of depth for us right now.

  14. He’s neither as good as his ERA nor as bad as his FIP/xFIP. Slots in well, I think, in middle relief. I just don’t know that he was especially well suited for the closer role.

    • He’s got multiple years of closer experience and with the velocity still up he gives us four good arms in late innings. Now Watson doesn’t have to face a string of right handed bats anymore. Clear those meds. Go get Napoli.

  15. Defensive shifts could also benefit his game. Also I think once Mercer gets back infield will be better.

    • This shows that Mercer isn’t going anywhere for sure for the next few years. Bridging gap to one of these 1st rounders

  16. I’ll wait for the official announcement of what we are giving up in return before being too happy…what is his contract status?

  17. Really preferred the GB-pitcher in Jim Johnson…but Soria has a long history of solid performance and would be a solid addition, as long as not crazy price, to the backend of our pen. Add Holdzkom to that and you have legitimate options every day 7-8-9 no matter who pitched how many straight days before.

    Still need a bench bat or two…Napoli would be nice for RH platoon bat

  18. Much needed additon for the overworked top three most notably watson who has been used a ton and is showing signs of tiring, soria one night watson the next for an exellent combo.

  19. I think he would be a 6 inning guy. No way in shell he replaces Hughes Watson and Melancon! Probably add depth for all three but can’t see him closing with these three..

    • Think Clint would try to slot him into a straight 7th-inning role, with Hughes acting as a “fireman” to get out of jams whenever they arise.

    • bill you are nuts. that is all. Hughes will continue doing what he’s doing- coming in mid inning and bailing us out every night. Watson will share duries with watson for 7th/8th innings depending on the team and the matchup. The end.

  20. If they give up anything of value for him, I will be sorely disappointed. -0.6 WAR on the season. Blanton is at +0.4 just for sake of comparison.

    • I agree with you about the acquisition cost, but I’m not a fan of using FIP WAR as the sole litmus test for measuring relievers. Just too much noise in too few innings. By the same measure, Melancon has been a rather pedestrian 0.7 WAR, barely better than Joe Blanton. Raise your hand if you buy into that.

      Soria would be an improvement over Caminero and Guerra and give the team a legitimate 4-deep late inning pen.

        • Thats a rather noisy stat at times, and the ballpark difference may help that just by the nature of the park.

          He’s not optimal, but that drives cost down a bit and he’s track record is solid. He’s just not usually a guy prone to that level of HR, he’s moving to a friendlier park, and he’s velo is up. His preiphs are just odd in general.

            • Ideally in the pen you look for a decent K rate. GB guys are neat, but subject to defense at times. Soria seems a good fit, velo up and getting Ks. Not what he was a few years ago, still reliable.

        • You can cite whatever statistic you want, it’s a 41 inning sample size. Fluky things happen in small sizes, and HR per fly ball are among the flukiest. Absent a mechanical issue (Frieri, Wandy), it’s not something you should expect to persist.

          • Especially considering that you have to compare him to Caminero…he’s definitely better than that….I hope haha

      • This is my stance. We could then focus on acquiring one or two more bench bat pieces and take a shot without, hopefully, going overboard I terms of cost. I don’t believe, honestly, that we will not see a right handed OF/1B or both added…we’ve been linked to several specifically bc it is a recognized void. I believe we will see that void filled…

    • Not to mention a .222 BABIP and 94.7% LOB rate — both way out of whack from career norms. HR/FB% is out of whack as well (in a bad way) but that’s factored into FIP/xFIP.

      • It’s a good question and yes, the answer to that is Soria.

        However, if Bucs are giving up anyone of note, the other question is, “Could they have done better.”

        I dunno. I posted something in another thread about Soria becoming available and it was obvious to me, an armchair GM, that there were red lights all over his peripherals.

        This is one I leave to the professionals in hopes they’re seeing a lot to like that amateurs like me aren’t.

        • Caminero will hang on the roster, unless he’s the one being traded. 100 mph guy who has to stick for one more month until he gets another year in the Pirate’s system.

    • Yes-it is. Soria is a really strong pitcher with great stuff and can handle high leverage situations. Anytime you are able to put a succesful starter in as your 8th inning guy along side Watson, it’s a win, a huge win. I don’t care about peripherals in this instance, i care about his stuff and his results. He has a strong track record of success and is still young

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