The Pittsburgh Pirates have released right-handed pitcher Allen Webster, according to the MLB.com transaction page. They had acquired Webster at the end of last month from the Diamondbacks, in exchange for cash considerations.

This move is a surprise, as they didn’t need a spot on the 40-man roster, even after tonight’s addition of Jason Rogers. The Rogers move cleared Keon Broxton, and that combined with the Webster move (which happened Wednesday, according to the transactions), leaves the 40-man at 38.

Webster seemed like a good project, with a fastball that touched the upper 90s, and the long-term potential to still end up a starting pitcher in the majors. He was out of options, which means if he didn’t make the roster, they’d have to put him through waivers. Considering he didn’t cost more than cash considerations, I think he might have had a shot at clearing waivers.

I’m not 100% on this, but I’m pretty sure you can’t just release someone. They would have to go through release waivers, giving each team a chance to claim the player. So the fact that Webster was released shows that no team wanted to claim him. And the Pirates could have put him on outright waivers, sending him to the minors and keeping him in Triple-A, with Webster lacking the service time to decline that move.

It seems there’s something else going on here. When this type of move happens, it either means the team is trying to sign a player back to a minor league deal (while keeping the player happy in avoiding the outright scenario), or the more common scenario is that the player is being released to pursue playing in a foreign country. This actually happened last year with Josh Lindblom, who the Pirates claimed off waivers, then waived a released a few days later when he decided to play in the KBO.

No word yet on why the Pirates released Webster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s looking to play in another country. There are some benefits there. Lindblom received $850,000 and a $50,000 signing bonus last year, which was guaranteed. If he would have stayed in Pittsburgh, he would have received a shot at maybe making a little over $500,000 if he made the team. And that seemed unlikely. Like I said, I don’t know if this is the case with Webster, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s why he was released.

Update 10:45 am: Looks like he is headed to the KBO in Korea.

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72 COMMENTS

  1. very shrewd indeed. The pirates send him over to the KBO to pitch. He then can send back quality scouting reports on the hitters worth tracking. He wasn’t really released just a front.

  2. Careers are short and he has to go where the money is the most for him. I wish him luck and hope he pays the Pirates the money they spent to acquire him.

  3. I am guessing that the Pirates will either resign him to a minor league contract and/or a transaction or two is in the works.

  4. I wonder after his stint in the KBL he comes back here? Also could this be a quid pro quo for a future KBL back this way?

  5. That’s crazy. If what Tim speculates is true, I’d love to hear that conversation. ” Can you release me, I can make more in Asia.” While you gave up cash to get him.

    Maybe another battle in the CBA.

    Meanwhile, Nutting prays for a temperature drop.

    • It was a good theory from Tim, but how does that specifically make any sense for Webster?

      We’re talking about a 25 year old with three big league quality pitches two years removed from being a Top 100 prospect in the game who just got the opportunity to work with a picthing coach/system who has made pitchers upwards of a hundred million bucks. One marginal bounceback season with the Pirates and Webster can equal in one season what he’d make overseas in five.

      • But you don’t know what he’s financial situation is right now. He could be about to lose a house, family illness, etc.

        Besides, with more guys coming over here to make money taking their jobs, those leagues have spots to fill. And they pay more than riding a bus passed Leo Walters lawn.

      • Webster has less than a year of service time. If he bounces back this year, he’s still making league minimum the next two years. There’s also no guarantee that he does make league minimum next year, as he could be sent down.

        This guarantees him money, and the money will probably be more than the minimum that he wasn’t guaranteed in the majors this year.

        There is a chance he could have stayed, worked with Searage, and guaranteed himself a chance to stay in the majors and make $500,000 the next few years until his first big payday came along. But for a guy who only made a $20,000 signing bonus, you can see how taking the safer route here and getting some guaranteed money would make sense.

          • It’s possible this could work out better for him in the long-term. If he goes to Korea and figures things out, he’ll not only get guaranteed money now, but will be able to return on a bigger deal than the league minimum he would have received if he broke out in the US.

            Look at Liz as an example. Good numbers in Korea and the Dominican Winter League. Turned that into a big one-year payday that would have been the equivalent of two years league minimum pay. Plus he probably got paid well in Korea.

          • Bird in the hand. Webster has a possibility of making major league minimum this year, although probably only a pro-rated portion. He’s guaranteed $850,000 in Korea.

            I can’t blame the guy for taking the sure money.

        • I don’t know, seemed like Webster couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than had with Searage and the Pirates. Maybe his chances to crack the pen weren’t as good as we all thought.

          • The current bullpen is Melancon, Watson, Hughes, Nicasio, Caminero, a lefty reliever, and one final spot that’s open.

            Webster would have been competing for that final spot, going up against other hard throwers like Scahill, Rondon, Holdzkom, etc. And the Pirates will probably be bringing in more arms this off-season, especially if they deal Melancon.

            Overall, he was far from a guarantee to make the roster, even if Melancon was dealt. He definitely had an inside track, but no guarantee.

  6. “Neal Huntington’s crying poor notwithstanding, the Pirates need to wade into the starting pitching market and flash some cash right now, before their good options dry up. If Pittsburgh, a revenue-sharing receiver with three straight playoff berths to juice fans, can’t afford to make a modest upgrade in their rotation as a response to the loss of the retired A.J. Burnett, they’re thoroughly doomed in the NL Central. The powerhouses of the division are too rich, too deep, and too smart to be beaten without opening a checkbook.

    Ideally, the Pirates might also upgrade on the infield, but if they could afford to do so, they probably would have kept Neil Walker, and so, they wouldn’t need to. It seems they need to triage their weaknesses and address only the most critical. Right now, that most glaring breach is the fact that Jon Niese is their third starter. They have no chance to catch up to the Cubs, but they can ensure that the Clint Hurdle Invitational ($1, Joe Sheehan) survives for another year if they get real and pay up for Kazmir or Leake.”

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28086

  7. Tim, your foreign signing scenario sounds good for Webster, but how is it good for the Pirates given that they are out of their cash considerations?

  8. well, so much for that brilliant idea of resurrecting his career….scratch him off the list of potential starters next year…

  9. I picture Bob Nutting in his lodge at Seven Springs, his minions coming in, saying Mr. N we won’t save any money if we release him… And him giving a death stare and yelling rhetorically Do YOU want to be fired Too! SOMEONE Has to be Responsible For this G-Damn Weather…

  10. Does this make a Morse for Moreland trade a hot possibility? The Rangers were chasing Napoli, but he signed with Cleveland.

    • Amen. Quite honestly, we will see what happens the rest of the offseason, but NH could erode a lot of the cache he’s built with this offseason. His moves do not make any sense and certainly do not make us better…you have to at least ask the question: was there a plan at all going into the offseason?

      • As a guy who spent *years* defending “process” over results, I feel I’d be a hypocrite calling this winter anything but a clusterf*ck.

        You don’t undermine years of quality work with one confusing, unproductive, yet far from disastrous offseason, though. Folks should never have been giving him some sort of free pass as an all-knowing GM, but just as well, folks shouldn’t jump on him to be replaced. Way, wayyyy too much of an overreaction for me.

        • I was saying at least they didn’t give up any prospects this offseason but there goes Supak, who could have substantially more value in 6 months.

        • Oh I dont think he should be fired. I do think this obliterates the whole notion that NH walks on water though. I mean this offseason has NO plan at all.

          • Or the plan was tenuous and/or poorly executed.

            Figure that the priorities were:
            A. #3 SP to replace Burnett/Happ
            B. 1B who projects to deliver something north of replacement level
            C. Restock bullpen.

            Even with Webster’s release, “C” isn’t shaping up too badly. Melancon, Watson, Caminero, Hughes, Nicasio, Rondon/Holdzkom + lefty TBNL feels to me like a pretty good pen. My preference is Matt Thornton.

            The B objective is met…barely. I would have preferred Kim or Jaso, but whatever (and FWIW Jaso IS still out there). This you can safely say: among the options who project to deliver 1-ish WAR, Rogers is the least expensive, the one you are least likely to regret, and, being cheap, it does free up that much more cash to address the #3 SP.

            So for me, setting aside all the baffling moves at the ass-end of the roster (SRod, Lambo, Decker, Webster), this offseason hinges on one thing: whether NH can bring in a legitimate #3. Kazmir, Latos. If it’s Leake I’ll be surprised AND disappointed.

            Until then, the jury is still out.

            • The B objective, for one, is setting the absolute lowest of bars. If that was their actual objective, shame on them. Second, with a projected offensive output barely over league average, Rogers sure as hell isn’t putting up 1 WAR at first base. Chris Carter was a 101 wRC+ hitter in 460 PA and was worth just 0.3 WAR. Mike Napoli was a 98 wRC+ hitter in 469 PA and was one of the best defenders at the position, still worth just 0.7 WAR.

              The C objective has really only benefited by one move, Jaun Nicasio, now that Webster is gone. Still three slots open, and that’s *if* Huntington can’t find anyone to shed Melancon’s salary.

              And A isn’t anywhere close to being met.

              Awful winter thus far, and as a major Front Office supporter, I really, truly struggle to see how it could be classified as anything but that.

              • How do you get 3 bullpen slots open? Melancon-Watson-Caminero-Hughes-Nicasio makes 5/7, and that’s disregarding Rondon. If they move Melancon, sure, that opens another slot, but with Walker, Pedro and Morton already shed, that’s hardly a foregone conclusion.

                As for Rogers, there are strong indicators the hit tool is real – well above average exit velocity, high minor league BABIP despite an utter lack of speed, above average BB%. Steamer regressed his BABIP to league average. A 10-point bump gets you a 110 wRC+ and, with Napoli’s or Carter’s playing time, a 1 WAR.

    • NMR, I mean what the hell? They offer Kim a contract while, you would have to assume, they were in negotiations for Rodgers…but valued Rodgers more (by giving up assets) than simply paying Kim a little more…and then they release maybe one of two players they actually picked up this year who have some upside. I mean Jesus…what the hell is the vision here?

      • This winter has drug Pirate fans back to 2010/2011 convincing themselves that garbage like Jason Rogers equates to “good” players with “upside” due to hoping, praying that something they do actually makes sense.

      • What does Jesus have to do with this? I take it that you were being blasphemous, or you were referring to Matty Alou’s brother.

  11. I will say it again…this offseason is incredibly odd. Rogers might be a decent player but why trade an asset like Supak for him (bc you’re in division rival wants a lot for a mediocre player) when you could have just spent $1M more total for the Korean. This offseason has been very strange…I don’t understand almost any of it to be honest.

      • Webster was one of the upside players they’ve managed to pick up this offseason. This offseason just has been completely disjointed. No two moves make sense together…this team certainly isn’t better than even at the beginning of last year. Depth eroded, pitching holes both rotation and pen, and no clear starters at multiple positions. Scary.

  12. PP should have waited until January to send out the Prospects Guide. These moves are wrecking havoc with your top 30. I’m shaking my head with these last two moves.

    • No matter what month he puts it out, a transaction is sure to make it partially outdated within a matter of weeks, if not days.

      • That is true since there is rarely a time that there isn’t some sort of transaction going on. The reason it comes out now is simple, Christmas delivery. For Bill W, the only top 30 player involved so far was Trey Supak, ranked 27th

          • Tim tweeted where Supak and Broxton were last night, so it was alright to mention it. We do top 50 though, not top 30. I’m fairly certain who gets bumped back into the top 50, but that information will have to wait for the books to get out and in peoples’ hands first

    • This is kind of the point of the Prospect Guide. Moves happen and you can refer to the book to see who they gave up and where players ranked. The only thing I hate is when a move comes like this, between finishing the book and shipping it out.

  13. I’m really bummed to see him go. The move to land him was brilliant. So, anyway…to totally change the subject…Tim, did you get to see Star Wars? What do you think? I absolutely loved it – it looked and felt like one of the original three in the series.

    • It’s been a long time since I saw a Star Wars movie, want to rewatch. Should I watch them by actual release date, or by episode?

      • I watched IV, V, and VI before seeing it, mostly because my girlfriend had never seen them. You don’t really need to watch I-III again, but if you want to, then who am I to stop you from hours of disappointment?

      • I like that they gave you some of the back story while still leaving tons of mystique, just like the originals. I remember when I’d watch IV-VI, I’d wonder things like, “I wonder what the battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan was like?” . Then of course years later George Lucas showed me while simultaneously defecating on my soul.

  14. I don’t know. I will just stop speculating now until opening day and see what happens. I have no idea what the plan is up to this point. Rogers’ stats look nice but you give up a pitcher you spent a million on for a guy who didn’t post 150 AB in the majors until he was 27? I don’t get it. Rogers looks like a 1.0 or so WAR player over the course of a full season. You have Mike Morse who I am pretty sure has the potential to be a 1 WAR guy. So now you have two right handed hitting and throwing 1B…I am waiting for some justification from an optimistic person out there…Ex-Pirate farmhand Clint Robinson is a better MLB player than Rogers.

  15. Ho Ho Ho, LLOYD says that it’s most likely now that Georgee Rondon makes it in the big league pen. Ahhhhh, who cares tho really…….sumpthin goin on LLOYD thinks. Webbie was released for a reason. We shall see so soon.

    Now on J-Rogers, YESSSS!!!!
    Great addition as a potential big league bat a la Jay-Hay and/or GFJones.

    LLOYD

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