Jon Heyman reports today that the Pirates are interested in right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson and Heyman believes he would be a good fit for the Pirates. This isn’t a new rumor, as we heard it from two differences sources earlier this month, but the is the first time it’s been mentioned since the Pirates signed Ryan Vogelsong and acquired Kyle Lobstein, which gave them a fifth starter and some depth. There appears to be more interest in Masterson now than before. On December 5th, there were reportedly five teams in on him, while now Heyman says as many as ten teams are showing interest.

The 30-year-old Masterson has had a couple poor seasons since posting a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 193 innings in 2013. He also had a very strong 2011 season, setting career bests with a 3.21 ERA and 216 innings. In the last two years, he has played for three different teams and hasn’t pitched well anywhere, posting ERA’s of 5.51, 7.04 and 5.61 at each stop, ending with the Red Sox in 2015. Boston signed him as a free agent last off-season for $9.5M, but after two down years in a row, Masterson will need to take a pay cut.

The Pirates could have an edge with him in that they have been known to turn pitchers around recently, so he could see them as a way to sign for one year and attempt to get back on track. The Pirates also need more depth in their rotation, as they only have six options for starters early in the year, so Masterson would still fit even with the additions of Vogelsong and Lobstein.

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98 COMMENTS

  1. If the Pirates are looking for value and rebound it seems like Doug Fister fits that role much better than Masterson.

  2. I’m going to just toss my idea out there to everyone of what the Pirates are doing. I hope Masterson isn’t the solution bc the Cardinals and Red Sox didn’t fix him and I’m tired of hearing his name being floated around in rumors quite honestly. Be prepared for Latos to sign w Baltimore bc he’s a prick and I don’t think he will sign w the Pirates out of spite.

    I think the Pirates are puffing smoke bc they have publicly let it known their interests w alot of players and I believe it’s bc they are pushing the FA market just so they can dry up the competition for the trade market. As much as me and any Pirate fan would love Tyson Ross, I need to be more realistic. I see NH trading for Andrew Cashner and his one year deal. I think he’s the 2nd best thing to Ross and easier to obtain.

    • But he packs a little douchy Curve. With all the street fighting in San Diego you would think he’d have at least a glock.

  3. I’m becoming more convinced that the rotation addition will be a guy whom NH was interested in several years ago and could be acquired for the cost of a roster spot since the Cubs would be paying his $13 mill salary: Edwin Jackson.

    • This is what makes signing Voglesong so strange to me. Why jump the gun on such an underwhelming arm when there are still plenty of marginal cheap guys that seem to fit the typical pirate mold so much better? Bud Norris might turn out to be the biggest miss of all.

  4. In the same vein as my comment regarding the Dodgers’ rotation yesterday, the Yankees now have a surplus of left-handed relievers, so maybe we could trade to get Wilson back if we don’t want to sign a lefty to work out of the ‘pen or slide Locke into that role.

      • I always thought Wilson had a future – wonder what it would have taken from the Pirates prospects to get him back – have no clue how good the prospects the Yanks got from the Tigers are.

        I seem to recall there was some consideration a couple of years ago in stretching him out and giving him a shot at starting…

      • I seem to have missed that. I’m usually on top of deals involving former Pirates.

        Well Detroit’s definitely not trading him, so I guess we’ll go with someone else.

  5. I’ve never been sold on Masterson. I’d prefer they take a shot with Mat Latos and try to get Cliff Lee for a good value. I bet Lee will drive a touger bargain than Latos though, so I’d be happy with Latos alone.

    Masterson wasn’t any good when he got traded to the Cardinals either, and I don’t see him as being much more than a 5th starter or 4th at best.

    • I think taking a chance on Cliff Lee with an incentive laden deal makes a ton of sense for the Pirates. Can plug him in as a #3 and if he doesnt work out, he will earn a small-ish base salary. Low-risk, high-reward type signing. Pirates are contenders too and that is attractive as well.

      • I just don’t trust him after what’s happened the last 2 years with his elbow. He should of had surgery in 2014. I like the idea though bc that’s what kinda deal teams are going to offer and hopefully Lee and his ego thinks the same.

        • Its a low-risk, high-reward type of signing and the Pirates fit within the parameters of the type of team he wants to go to. Im good with it.

  6. There are way too many good LH hitters in our division to even consider this. Anyone who has seen Masterson pitch knows every pitch including the fastball grooves nicely towards lefties. At sub 90-MPH its laughable to think he’ll regain the success he had when he could actually run a pitch into a MLB lefties hands.

  7. The Dodgers now have more starting pitchers than they need after signing Maeda and Kazmir. Perhaps one of Anderson, Wood, or Ryu is available now. I assume they want to use Urias at some point, after all, and they expect McCarthy back by the All-Star break, so they have six starting pitchers on opening day with two more set to contribute mid-season.

    There’s injury history to be concerned with around Ryu and Anderson, but Anderson was effective enough last year despite a weirdly high HR/FB%, and Ryu’s been very good his first two years. Perhaps the Dodgers would be willing to part with either due to the injury histories in favor of what they consider “more certainty” from their new signings. Wood is also a solid pitcher, but there are injury concerns there, too, given his wonky mechanics, though the injury hasn’t happened yet. The Dodgers were rumored to be shopping Wood right after getting him, too, so maybe they’ll go that way again.

    In any case, the Dodgers are likely to deal a starter, and they have two who could pitch in the middle of our rotation and one who’s okay enough to pass there. I’d be on the phone if I were NH.

    • For what it’s worth, if the Dodgers want a back of the bullpen arm, I would trade Melancon to them for Wood, assuming they’d take it. I’d definitely do it for Ryu if there’s a decent chance he’s healthy, but Wood seems both safer and more likely. Wood is just now entering his first arbitration eligible season, by the way.

      • Agreed. Ryu is certainly a solid LH starter, but his contract is incredibly team friendly. Only due 7 mil this year. Dodgers have too many LH starters now with Kazmir so the logic makes sense for them to flip one.

      • Anderson is 15 mil so I highly doubt that’s a direction they would go. I would however approve of either Wood / Ryu solely for upside, and they are in our price range. But flipping Melancon makes no sense unless Dodgers were willing to throw in someone like Van Slyke (1B / OF) while we add on prospect.

        • Well, the deal would save us enough money to sign a capable reliever to help cover the loss of Melancon. Either starter, if he pitches well, is probably more valuable to us than Melancon, and the only reason a Melancon for Ryu or Wood trade would make sense for the Dodgers is because bullpen is basically the only weakness the Dodgers have.

          • Would take that chance on Ryu but not Wood. For some reason I believe the Braves pitching program has good instincts on SP’s and wouldn’t have traded Wood if they thought he had upside.

        • Anderson can still be had. Remember that the Dodgers throw more money into trades than any other team. 2.5-3 million would even the trade out.

        • I always liked McCarthy but the Pirates will never take on the 3 year contract he has left esp with his injury history.

          • Thinking of him in the Henderson Alvarez mold; good pitchers are good pitchers, and the Pirates haven’t come close to ever having too many of them.

            But you’re certainly correct, if the focus is on the immediate need then McCarthy isn’t a fit.

    • Hold your breath! Whatever the Dodgers are up to def involves trading one of their other starting pitchers in a monster package. To me, Jose Fernandez isn’t happening for them even though they are still in pursuit. I believe they are going to use that package for OdorizzI AND Boxberger from the Rays. In the aftermath it would depend if LA is looking to trade another if the Pirates are fortunate.

  8. Ive read all the posts here and there are valid arguments on both sides. Those who are on the side being against signing a guy like Masterson seem to want the Pirates to take a chance on a bigger name guy and “go for it” like the Cubs. Problem is, if that player doesnt work out, it could really damage the Pirates in a huge way. Long term, big contract for a player who stinks. Of course, if that player is what we hope he is, thats 1 spot we dont have to worry about for a long while. Those who say the Pirates know what they are doing, seem fine with the thought this Pirates coaching staff can handle any player and maximize the strengths of that player and turn them back to quality players. Problem with this is, what if they dont turn out to be good again and the potential is much lower than a big name player. However, the positive is that if the player doesnt work out, he may be useful in the bullpen and add strength there or you have some young guys about ready to come up and these players dont block their progression.

    Obviously, the Pirates do Option B as Ive said above and its been successful enough to lead to 3 really good seasons and 1 where they were considered a favorite to win it all. The biggest reason this management team hasnt gotten the respect from everyone yet, is because they havent won it all yet.

    I love that the Pirates have 4 top prospects and a couple lower level prospects who could make a huge contribution to this team. I feel 2016 will be a step backwards kind of year, possibly even finishing 3rd in the division(oh boy for those on the Option A train) but it leads to overcoming those growing pains and 2017 could be THE year this team truly contends.

    Potential 2017 lineup and rotation(based on those currently on the team or projected to arrive.

    2B Alen Hanson
    RF Gregory Polanco
    CF Andrew McCutchen
    1B Josh Bell
    LF Starling Marte
    3B Jung Ho Kang
    C Elias Diaz(maybe Francisco Cervelli)
    SS Jordy Mercer

    RHP Gerrit Cole
    LHP Francisco Liriano
    RHP Tyler Glasnow
    RHP Jameson Taillon
    LHP Jon Niese

    • Are you saying we haven’t been contenders the last 3 years and could have been a tweak or 2 away from winning the World Series? And we could not have done that without taking any steps back?

      • No. I was saying there are 2 sides everyone takes and there are good and bad outcomes to both sides. The Pirates seem to choose the “safer” side which is going after lower risk signings. Its fine and its been working for them. I feel 2016 could be a step backwards due to 4 major prospects adjusting to the MLB level. On the flip side, it worked for the Cubs last season.

    • Completely disagree with your two classifications. There are many, many folks like me who understand there’s a big, biiiig middle ground between supporting *literally* any starter as a good reclamation arm and the alternative of signing a major money acquisition. Reclamation pitchers are *not* all equal. I swear some people have taken the “Searage magic” joke literally, as in he can sprinkle his pixie dust on any starter and have them turn into gold.

      • Francisco Liriano won’t be on the team next year bc he will be next year’s trade bait esp if he has another consistent season.

    • Francisco Liriano won’t be on the team next year bc he will be next year’s trade bait esp if he has another consistent season. The Pirates won’t take a chance going into that 3rd year esp with Liriano coming at a bargain price.

      • Completely disagree. The Pirated will allow him to finish out his contract. The only chance he is traded is if the Pirates completely tank 2016 and he is traded at the deadline for prospects. As far as NMR is concerned, there are those who fall in some middle ground of the 2 classes I listed and of course thats normal. My argument was in a statement that there seems to be 2 sides to the thought of which direction this team can go. A. Go for it big big risk, name signing. B. Lower risk, middle of the pack signing. The Pirates go towards B. Has nothing to do with understanding “Searage Magic”. Its understanding the Pirates are not going to put all of their eggs($$$$) in one basket but much prefer to spread it around.

  9. Breaking News!

    The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced the signing of RHP Charlie Brown.

    Brown last pitched in the Independent Sandlot League, and has what can be deemed a rather unimpressive stat of never winning a game. However, Brown’s agent, Lucy, has stated that she believes that if anyone can help Brown, it is noted pitching Guru Ray Searage.

    Pirate’s GM Neil Huntington was over heard to say that “Charlie has fully embraced our concept that pitchers should pay us to pitch, and has given us 5 cents for his signing”.

    Information regarding this signing came from sandlot scout Linus.

  10. I would much rather them sign Latos over Masterson. While I think Latos as a person can be a complete tool , I also think he could actually help as a pitcher. I’m just not sure I’d like to see him as a Bucco. We do need a legitimate #3 though. Depending on JT or Glasnow to come up and save the day is like playing Russian Roulette. That being said I’m really curious to see how JT is going to do. I was more stoked about his stuff compared to Cole prior to the injuries. If he can stay healthy and put it all together it will be fun watching him and GC every 5th day.

    • Very well said.

      No clue how he’ll take instruction or impact the clubhouse, but he absolutely has more of the qualities that have made reclamation pitchers successful in the past than anyone acquired by the Pirates this winter.

      • Thanks. If anybody can get the best out of him it’s uncle Ray. However, if there’s anyone who won’t put up with his crap it would be Clint. I’m hoping we get a better alternative and don’t have to worry about it. Happy new year.

  11. Well at least we dodged the Kyle Kendricks bullet!

    I have no problem with them bringing in Masterson but his velocity is a real issue. I’m sure they are looking at his medical records and monitoring his progress but 5PMH is a lot to need to regain . I’m still hoping for Latos or (don’t laugh) Cliff Lee.

    On the other hand 3 years of really bad pitching seems to be the recommended dosage for a Pirates comeback (see Liriano, Burnett, Volquez, Happ).

  12. masterson is in no way- a #3. Not anymore than Morse is a cleanup hitter/full time starting first baseman- so as #5 depth sure, but this does not fill the hole

  13. From his days with the Tribe he was a good clubhouse guy. I do not know what that means but I did hear that a lot from Tribe fans and media. If they can get him for a decent number could help. I remember he wanted big dollars a few years ago. I think these pitchers should strike while it’s hot.

    • I would rather have a competent #3 starter over the mediocre and hard hit “good clubhouse guy”…

          • Yes, leo. Tell me how this incredible drop in velocity means nothing. Because Searage, am I right?

            Here’s a screen shot of what the docs found when they scoped Masterson’s shoulder last September:

            • Funny man. I am sure that they will sign him if his MRI comes up like that. But then again, you were probably one of the biggest cheerleaders for Mozeliak when he signed him. Guys like you and Bucco Fan with his head up his butt are so full of s##t, it isn’t even funny any more.

              • No, Leo. I argued *against* signing Masterson last year, but cool narrative.

                I am genuinely disappointed not to have the endorsement of the Blog’s resident professional scout-in-his-own-mind. I only wish I lived in a sh*thole minor league town and got to be the same.

        • He is good at getting obliterated I guess…..it was supposed to be a funny statement, but the idea behind it, is if a pitcher has a 5+ ERA for 3 plus years, whatever he IS good at, is far less valueable than all the stuff he is bad at- is worth to any team

      • Yeah. Volquez and Burnett were never any help at all in Pittsburgh. Remember, if it is possible, some of us are very much aware of all the moves from 3 & 4 years ago when yo yos like you were making fun of those signings and deals. Thanks for all your helpful information, LOL.

        • I’m so tired of these dumb responses to my posts- Did I at any point say or imply that my statement was based off/looking at Masterson’s 2015 statistics? Before you gentleman respond, how about actually pulling up Masterson’s stats for the last 3 years or is that too much to ask

      • “no one with a 5+ ERA is a good anything.”

        True.

        AJ Burnett 2011 5.15 ERA
        Francisco Liriano 2012 5.34 ERA
        Edinson Volquez 2013 5.71

  14. I believe we will end up with either Latos or Masterson on a one year deal. We won’t bother with any of the draft pick guys unless it’s after the deadline for the pick.

      • Why not? Especially if Locke is struggling,Vogelsong is done, they could get a guy like Kennedy, Chen, or Gallardo to stabalize their rotation instead of having to trade. This is assuming these guys go that route of course.

        • I think they all misjudged by not taking the QO but I expect them all to be pitching somewhere by then and I hope the Pirates won’t need a starter by June.

          • Misjudged is putting it nicely. I was thinking the same about Martin last year until the Jays broke the bank for him.

  15. They are interested in anyone who is cheap and without much leverage. …this way they can convince some of their fans that they’re doing something and really do want to do what it takes to win…

    • This is so true – the extremmely poor results the last two years after 20 years of success make these comments so relevant and on point.

      • People hate when we sign a player, then they perform well, and you don’t here anything from those people. I have trust in the management we have. They have been putting a quality product iron the field. 2nd most wins in all of baseball over the last 3 years. Well done.

    • Or, they could see a chance to get great value/production from a SP w/o handcuffing their finances while also trying to increase depth/versatility elsewhere?
      Considering the Pirates success over the last few years and your apparent success at being miserable and miserably wrong, I’ll side w/ them. But, hey, that’s just me. I presume that there are a lot of people that think like you in the Post Gazette comments section and, you know, the places where people who are uninformed gather to whine. Maybe try over there?

    • The hive mentality on here,protect queen NH…you don’t have to agree with this guy, but who the hell are you to call someone a clown or suggest he go elsewhere. Maybe you should just make facebook posts and comment your own nonsense. It is easy to see both sides, we lost bigger money players in Alvarez, Morton,and Walker and replaced them with Jaso, Neise, and RV. On the surface it looks bad,if you are stuck in 10 years ago baseball and only care about HR’s and RBI’s it looks bad and cheap. If you are worried the prospects won’t hit, it looks bad. You can agree to disagree, if you don’t like a comment, don’t answer it. I get it, and will see how it plays out, although if it fails there will be fallout i am sure, but if BuccosFan in MD wants to complain, it’s still free speech.

      • Even worse for me, guys have completely detached logic from arguments.

        When the Pirates began their string of successful reclamation projects, there were concrete reasons cited for taking chances on the likes of Burnett, Liriano, Melancon, etc…xFIP < ERA, plus velocity, high strikeouts, opportunity to adjust pitch selection. Now, simply becoming a Pirate apparently is logic. Josh freaking Fogg could come out of retirement and guys on here would be all butthurt for having the audacity to question whether or not that is really a move that has a good chance of panning out.

        • calling NH a queen and using terms like “butthurt” just makes both of you look like complete morons @yutz03 and @NMR

          • but being called a “clown” is civil and respectful, right?? I didn’t see you making the same rude disrespectful remark to leowalter for calling other people clowns for expressing their opinions, right or wrong? while they may look silly, you’ve just made yourself into a hypocrite with no credibility whatsoever!

          • Lol, you must be from the new idiotic PC generation. Did I use a microagression!! If you don’t get the metaphor of hive mentality and that NH is the QUEEN BEE that his soldiers protect to the end, you deserve a proper butthurtin’ moron

      • BuccoStuckInMD isn’t questioning the moves, he’s questioning the motives of the moves. No, I don’t have to ‘respect’ that. I also don’t have to respect someone who writes as if he’s a 5th grader.

        If you want to coherently and substantively say why moves were bad or won’t work, do so. But, don’t say it’s because they want to ‘appear’ as doing something and ‘convince’ their fans that they want to win. That doesn’t have any merit, that doesn’t have any substance. That’s just whining. And, complaining. And, throwing a tantrum because they’re uneducated as to *why* the Pirates made the moves they did.

        It’s either they don’t understand them or they’re purposely trying to be miserable. Either way, I’m calling him out for trying to ruin a forum where serious fans wish to opine. He can whine somewhere else, as far as I’m concerned.

        • Well said…now care to actually list logical reasons why Justin Masterson is a good bounce back candidate?

          A forum where folks do nothing but fluff is just as insufferable as the opposite.

          • That seemingly writes itself, as it dovetails why a whole lot of guys would be good bounce-back seasons under this pitching coach and w/ the Pirates overhaul of mechanics or general wizardry.

            Hell, I’m not even sure Masterson *would* be a great fit, or at least a better fit than most. But, he’s a GB pitcher, he’s shown an ability to strike out cats in the past, he’s a 2-seamer/slider pitcher that usually works for this staff and this (improved) defense, particularly on the right side.

            I have more of an issue w/ people who are still pushing the same, tired, outdated, inaccurate, uninformed narrative of the Pirates being cheap, the Pirates making faux strategic moves for fans’ understanding, and the Pirates not deserving the benefit of the doubt. The latter can be said to be excuse-making/appeal to authority, but, in this FO’s defense, they *should* get the benefit of the doubt. Once they start making mistakes w/ pitchers, perhaps the narrative changes.

            Until then, sit back, drink an IC, and quit whining. Not only is it annoying to read, it also bears no semblance to reality, at least lately.

            • I will chime back in with the fact that until they start spending to the point where they aren’t in bottom 7 or so teams in the league, there will be a perception that they are cheap. Now, when the Littlebrain regime was pissing away millions on Burnitz/Randa and not drafting the top prospects, I was screaming wtf are they thinking. The Moskos draft thing followed by the Matt Morris trade had me questioning if I should just root for a different team. When this group took over I couldn’t be happier to see them just bottom out and spend on the draft and on the academies abroad.

              With all that said, not many of the options available are/were worth what they got paid. All these contracts with guys getting crazy money until they are 40 are going to look bad in a few years, and the teams that signed them can afford the hit. Hopefully we stay a top team and when our tv deal is up ownership hits the lottery like Arizona did. Until then they have to run things differently, and I get it, but if they are not growing payroll after the last 3 years they are going to appear cheap. If the money is there and they are going to invest it elsewhere in the team or toward future extensions, thats fine, but if they are pocketing it and claiming the market size is the problem, then they are cheap, they do receive multiple millions from MLB, and deserve some criticism. Time will tell, and NH and FC deserve credit and kudos. Nutting….we shall see.

            • “But, he’s a GB pitcher, he’s shown an ability to strike out cats in the past, he’s a 2-seamer/slider pitcher that usually works for this staff and this (improved) defense, particularly on the right side.”

              Ha! From someone supposedly grounded in “reality”, no less. Tell you what, pay attention to people who do anything but fluff this front office you so dearly defend and you might learn a thing or two about declining velocity, shoulder injuries, and platoon splits to round out your solid knowledge of Ray Searage pixie dust.

        • Andrew….let me be clear…I am questioning the moves AND the motives for the moves. As far as you respecting that opinion, I could care less. It’s amazing to me how protective some people are the minute someone criticizes this FO. If you want a forum of all kool-aid drinkers, have at it…I’m not a kool-aid drinker. Never have been….I’m call it as I see them. I give credit when earned and I also am the first to admit when I am proven wrong. You are the only one who is seemingly having a tantrum. I don’t make fun of people and I don’t call others names or ridicule them….except for Luke who initiated it…I am sorry to say I gave it back to him. If you don’t like my opinions, ignore them….

          • I haven’t seen anything substantive that you’ve articulated against these moves. Until I do, I’ll assume – based on your own words – that you simply don’t like or trust the people making the moves.

            Once you make a substantive case against this offseason…I’ll respond accordingly.

            • Lets take a vote……….Who would you trust to choose which MLB pitcher is most worthy to be signed by the Buccos as a “reclamation project”?

              1. NH and the Bucco Brass
              2. NMR and BFS in MD

              HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa, thanks for giving LLOYD a belly laugh!!!

              LLOYD

      • Hi all.

        Choose civility. One could consider that it takes time to rewrite 20 years of mismanagement. Once an opinion is learned, it takes work to unlearn it.

        Bucco Fan is right that the Pirates are interested in low cost players without leverage. It does not mean, however, as the Pirates have shown repeatedly, that the low cost player is not valuable.

        Best to all.

        -Wabbit

        • I totally agree, I just think the frustration for some is we’ve had record attendance for 3 years, receive large sums of cash from MLB from revenue sharing and luxury tax monies, and are still in the bottom of the league in payroll. I get why they are doing things this way, but does appear cheap. Value players are great, but the talk of a step back has some rightfully annoyed.

      • Hive Mentality for the Queen???
        Hahahahaha, yutzy, give LLOYD a break. All of us can question whatever we want but some of you dudes think you are GM’s for real and have the “Final Say”!!!!!!
        Haha, well LLOYD says that your take on the offseason so far may or may not be correct but be freaking clear that NH has earned more trust than clowns like you and NMR that are armchair GM’s that throw money on things that are way different than a multi-million dollar company.

        So settle my man………

        LLOYD

        ps………..Go Buccos

        pss……..Foooooooooooooooo

      • Speaking of hive mentality, Alvarez a big money player??? really!!!! That is one of your 2 jokes today. Walker is the other joke they both had the same problems like little hitting in big games, against front line pitching, and playoff games. Philadelphia turned down NHs request for your golden boy so the Mets get him for a year. Your other golden boy who forgot what the glove was for, so far no one wants him. Walker was offered an extension and turned it down, good riddance.

        • They were big money players. They were all making or going to make over 8 million dollars. If Pedro was making 3 or 4 million a year, his 27 HR’s are still on the team. Walkers “extension” offer did nothing for him, and again if he’s making less he’s still on the team. By definition, these moves were driven by cost, which, if you look at it on the surface, comes off as cheap. If they spend the savings on those 3 players to upgrade the team or give an extension or 2, fine. If not, they APPEAR cheap. It’s that simple. For example, Pedro has more power than Jaso, and Jaso has played 5 games at first, but he costs less than Pedro, so they see it as better value. Right or wrong, they look cheap. I am not even saying I agree 100 percent, but if Buc Fan in MD and whoever else wants to call them cheap, they do have a point.

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