The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton to the Philadelphia Phillies for right-handed pitcher David Whitehead, according to a Phillies press release. The Pirates have also announced the deal. Whitehead was the 34th round pick in 2013 and pitched in High-A last year at the age of 23, putting up a 4.44 ERA in 135.2 innings, along with a 6.2 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9.

Whitehead had Tommy John surgery before he was drafted, which led to him dropping so far in the draft in 2013. He has since gone back to hitting 93 MPH with his fastball, and working down in the zone. Matt Winkelman does a great job covering the Phillies prospects, and passed along this report:

Overall, this appears to be a salary dump, with the return for Morton being small. It does clear $8 M off the books this year, and $1 M next year for his buyout. More notably, it clears a rotation spot, with the Pirates rumored to be after some free agent starters.

Despite constant complaints, Morton is a guy who deserves to be starting in the majors. He’s a strong number four starter when he’s at his best, although he’s been inconsistent at times, in large part to his struggles against left-handers. The irony of this is that Morton was scheduled to be at PirateFest today, and I just finished sending a few interview thoughts to Sean McCool, hoping to see if Morton had been working on a changeup or some other approach this off-season to counter those issues against lefties. After many conversations with Morton last year, he seemed frustrated that left-handers were doing such a good job of squaring up on his sinker, and was hoping to find a way to prevent that.

Morton has more value to the Pirates than Whitehead. The Pirates have plenty of pitchers who are similar to Whitehead, with Frank Duncan sounding similar in value. Duncan didn’t rate in our Top 50, and I don’t project Whitehead to get consideration. The value of this move would be the extra payroll space. The Pirates now have a projected $86.5 M payroll, giving them plenty of room to add an outside arm. They’ve been linked to a lot of guys since the Jon Niese trade, and now they’ve got plenty of payroll space to add one of those guys and still make other moves.

The guys that they’ve been linked to would all be upgrades over Morton, with no worries about improvements against left-handers, or trying to get the best version of a starter. They should get some more security with the new pitcher. And I’m speaking like it’s a foregone conclusion that they’ll add a new pitcher, because that’s the only way this deal makes sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if we quickly hear that the Pirates have added someone else. Otherwise, it didn’t make sense to trade Morton right now, with no replacement in place, and for a pitcher that will get buried in the strong pitching group that exists between Altoona and Bradenton.

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218 COMMENTS

  1. I must have missed this – when did MLB institute a salary cap, causing the Pirates to dump salaries? The Cubs and Dodgers both have much higher payrolls. Is this salary cap proportional to market size?

    • Locke just does not have a great place on this team. His best place is, probably, a lefty long reliever…but at 3.5M that is a lot for what he would bring.

  2. Tim – you value / valued Morton way too much. He was frustratingly inconsistent which means a team cannot rely on him. Ray Searage squeezed wins out of any pitcher put in front of him except Morton. Scott Kazmir would be ideal and affordable unlike Cueto and he’d fit in with Cole and Lirianos as three top of the rotation starters. Locke is the next on the block.

  3. One interesting consideration: I know NH wouldn’t, obviously, say that the team was “punting” this season or “bridging” until 2017, but I really wonder what the fall-out would be if that were to actually prove to be the result. IF the Pirates dont bring in some more talent to this roster and we see not only not a playoff year, but a barely .500 or even barely under .500 season…I wonder what the fall-out would be. After 20 losing seasons and then 3 straight playoff seasons this team and ownership still (right or wrong) have the “cheap” banner hanging over their heads.

    A bad year, and a bad year in which some very “controversial” “financially driven” decisions were made in the offseason and I wonder if the team is not looking at a decrease in attendance maybe quicker than other franchises would and the result being a bad financial one for the team. Say it is the halfway point of the season and the Pirates are out of it (again this is all without seeing what else they do with the roster)…I wonder if that 2.4-2.5M fan number doesnt creep back down into the 2.0-2.2 number and retard the progress of this team instead of help act as a continuing catalyst in improving this franchise. THIS really is a very, very important offseason and with the decisions that have been made…NH and the team better have got the decisions right.

  4. Just to be clear: the money saved is roughly Alvarez 10 million, Walker 8 million, AJ 8 million, JA 10 million, Morton 8 million, ARam 14 million plus others. They were, but are now not paying those contracts. That’s 58 million dollars. I know that some of those guys retired, and that ARam was only here a few months, but that shows how much money has been shed. That’s a lot of money not being spent that was last time we played ball.

      • I mentioned that. The number was meant to demonstrate how much salary they have shed not what they paid. In that sense, it is very accurate. Of course, I’m not sure they would pay a whole season of ARam, and they clearly won’t pay a season of JA, Pedro and Walker. But that’s my points I guess. Broadly, I’m saying they’ve shed a ton of money through many ways. And implicitly I’m criticizing their lack of spending. Hopefully, that will change soon.

  5. More frustration. Through various ways we lose 3 starting pitchers, starting 1B, 2B and 3B. Now, we’ve got JHay and Kang who could be improvements at 2,3B. But the key here is money. The Bucs have saved a ton of cash losing a lot of players and only adding 11 million or so. That could be great if they went out and improved the SP with Maeda or someone strong. The fact is, the money is there. They could sign Maeda, Morneau, and maybe even Kazmir and stay about where they say they want to be. It might all play out well. But right now it sucks. Looks like Locke will be back for sure. Expecting Niese to be much better is unfair- we just don’t know.

    One important point: the goal here is to win the World Series. We’re not far away. For other teams, things are different. But we are in a whole different place. A better one. So taking risks on many reclamation projects etc. are tough to see.

  6. IF the rumor is true that the Pirates arent interested in any pitcher over $10M per year in free agency…then this deal makes less sense and continues a confusing offseason for the Pirates.

  7. This trade of Morton seems different from NH’s way of doing things It seems to me he’s going to go after a Free agent or make a trade and he’s opening up money to do it Not some reclamation project. Or maybe it’s a bat and they will sign a guy like Masterson and let him and Webster battle it out. The Cubs are looking crazy good and they might not be done. That Cubs team looks more dangerous than any of the Cards teams we have been falling behind every year. This team needs something big for 2016

  8. I agree that this is a salary dump but, assuming we spend the saved money on another pitcher (e.g. Kazmir), I am fine with the move. My only concern with this is the timing. They are currently missing a #3 (or at worst a #4) pitcher. I would have preferred locking up the pitcher (or pitchers) first and then dumping Morton.

    That is why I keep checking for updates every 15 minutes…

  9. I do not want Kazmir for two reasons:
    1) the only thing greater than the money we have to pay him is the amount of medical red flags in his file.
    2) We already have two lefties in the rotation. Give me a righty, please.

  10. DECONSTRUCTION….to dismantle, destroy, demolish. We are witnessing the deconstruction of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 major league roster, a team that had a very fine season. Alvarez, Walker, Burnett, Happ, Blanton, Bastardo, Morton, and Ramirez replaced by……?

    • I get your point although Happ was Burnett’s replacement so it is not fair to count that position twice. Blanton, and Soria, while good, only played 4 months combined. Ramirez was not good during his 2 months. Morton was pre-replaced by Niese. And finally, Morse already can replace the 0-WAR producing Alvarez.

      So the real losses at this point are “just” the Burnett/Happ #3 spot, bullpen depth (which Neal may have already done), and Walker (or conversely Harrison’s UT spot).

        • I am not sure the Pirates sniff more than 85 wins with this roster…and if they ONLY have $20M additional to spend then Im not sure this roster changes enough to raise that win total much.

          • Fair to be concerned, I know I am, but this is still a pretty damn good team. I’d call 85 closer to a floor right night *assuming* no major setbacks…but that’s kind of where I question this winter strategy thus far.

            Shit happens in baseball. If you aren’t planning for shit to go wrong, you’re inviting disaster. The Pirates, thus far, have reduced depth without improving the team *or* adding upside. Maybe they can do that with the money they have left, but realistically that seems to be a stretch given prices in this market.

            Hope the kids show up guns blazing.

        • I just do not understand this offseason. IF they wanted to dump salary then why not dump Morton and keep Walker and his 2+ WAR offense…and then use the $8M from Morton to bring in another starter. IF the team has $20M to spend…then they would have, essentially, $18 with Walker+Morton…but they would have, roughly, 2 more WAR and only $2M less in budget. This offseason really doesnt make much sense.

          • Because they were not going to sign Walker for 2017….. Like it or not the choice came down to keeping Walker in 2016 and let him walk for nothing, or get something of value for 2016 and beyond….

            • Or keep him in 2016, get a draft pick in return for him, and replace him in 2017 with Hanson who you bring up to ease into big league play this year.

  11. Salary dump my eye, I wondered who would trade for Morton or Locke and what little they would give up. Two team I guarantee would never trade for either are the Cards and Chubs. Of the 5 Pirates I said they should get rid of, 3 are already out the door in a week and a half. Mercer is stuck here because of the injury to Kang. BTW, the main reason I like to see the Pirates sign Latos is he would have drilled that infielder for the Chubs that spiked Kang. Outside of Latos the best scrappers I ever saw as Pirates were Don Hoak and bullpen coach Sam Narron and he never walked he ran to the trouble spot and it was always full speed ahead. Parker and Stargell weren’t too shabby either.

  12. Anytime you can get someone to take on a $8M salary that’s proves it wasn’t a bad deal. He just isn’t good enough for this team. I hope NH pulls trigger on 2/$20M deal w Latos. I see more upside w him than anyone else out there. He isn’t a Liriano or a Volquez or a Happ because his success was a 5 year stretch of excellence vs 1 great season in 2009.

    • If you believe that WAR is an accurate way to value players then this was a mistake, I’m not upset about it but still a mistake.

      • I do agree that Morton was ok value to Phillies and Morton was much more valuable to us last year than fans will give credit BUT… you only have room in rotation and budget for 5. Latos/Kazmir would be better options.

    • Seven Springs slopes still closed. Long range forecast has us in the 50’s until January. Resort bleeding cash. Bob to Neil….dump salary. New 2016 payroll $101M. Neil to Bob….Yes Sir!

  13. This will be a good move if it leads to a rotation upgrade — and then I’d give kudos to them to be willing to concede that somewhat good (Morton) isn’t good enough. It will be a bad move if they saved salary doesn’t go back into the team. Just waiting to see at this point.

    Now, go trade Melancon and Hanson to Texas for Odor.

  14. Great move, now follow it with dumping Locke.

    Use the money to sign Chris Davis (I know, I can dream can’t I?).

    But it shows you what some PBC players are worth when you can even get the Phillies to give you a pitcher from their top 30 minor league rankings.

    • Shitty dream considering 7 years for Davis is begging for another Ryan Howard like deal. Get rid of a useful #5 and go throw stupid money at a guy who DINGERZ.

      The contract Davis supposedly turned down was stupid. He’s asking someone to basically guarantee they hate the deal in the last 2 years.

  15. Interesting stuff. Good luck to Morton playing in that stadium, yikes.

    Back end SP making his market value with health issues doesnt shock me to get basically a warm body in return. Could have pushed for more but seems like a move to just get his salary off the damn books.

    Hurdle apparently stated they are clearly going after another pitcher or two, had a plan in place. Corresponding move should be interesting. Give me Kazmir or Latos and call it good.

    • I think the health issues are what really drove down his market value. The hip problems in particular seemed last season to mess with his repeatability a bit, and his command was even wonkier than it had been previously. There might have been concern about whether or not he could be counted on to give a team enough innings, or about his performance starting to diminish. At 32 with two hip surgeries and a Tommy John under his belt, there’s a decent chance the decline is precipitous, and he was only fine before that.

  16. I read somewhere that 105 million is the target. Wow!! That’s 20th LAST year. Probably bottom 6 or so this year. 2018 and the tv deal can’t get here soon enough. It’s a shame we are going to lose Cutch’s prime to bottom 5-8 payroll abilities.

  17. This actually does 2 things: Clearing Morton’s salary allows us now to sign a player like Kazmir, but we’d still have to trade Melancon- OR- it allows us to keep melancon and maybe sign someone like Latos- That being said, its hard to believe we couldn’t get more than this for a #4 starter.

    • Why can’t they do both? Tired of the nickel and dime excuses. Go spend some money on a real upgrade, not an I hope this works out upgrade. Last few off seasons offered hope, this one has just been excuses. This better be the groundwork for something big.

      • WE CAN’T AFFORD TO DO BOTH- I’m tired of people with no financial sense (the same people I have to talk to everyday as a Financial Advisor) making stupid statements. Are you a CFO? Do you own a business, do you have P&L responsibility for anything including your own household? If not, please….be quiet. And if you do, and your net worth is negative, again…..don’t comment on the spending habits of a business whom has over 500Million dollar value

          • As always, and probably in your case if you are having troubles with financial advisors just remember: “you can’t help stupid” – and that was my point.

          • In order for Financial Advisors to be successful, it requires their clients to actually follow their advice. Good sound long term financial guidance has not changed in 20 years. For the record, my clients have done quite well, sorry you chose poorly in your financial portfolio….but its never too late to develop a sound financial plan build on proper allocation and diversification. Happy Holidays NMR!!!

        • I will say what I want when I want and I care not what you have to say about it or what you are tired of. It’s condescending jerk like you that make places like this less enjoyable. They most certainly could do both, as similarly situated teams seem to find ways to get things done. And yeah I manage and own several rental properties, and I know when a house needs a roof you get a stinking roof. Now please, I am not sure what language can get me in trouble on here, but you can go straight somewhere.

          • Funny- and here I was thinking that forum posters like you whom are always critical and unrealistic were the ones whom made places like this less enjoyable.

            Quick question- If your renters told you that you needed a new roof, would you first look into the cost effectiveness of repairing the roof, or just go out and find the most expensive roofer you can find and replace the whole thing irrespective of cost. Just wondering….cause that’s what you are expecting them to do.

            • Kind of depends. In this exact metaphor I would be in a landlord market that is awash with cash, with a potential huge payday in 2018. So If I am to compete with other landlords in my market I would at least try to keep the best roof that keeps my units top of the line as possible. It’s an argument that can be had all day, and unless the books are opened up we’ll never truly get an answer. But, if you do some math and add up the monies received sharing from the mlb tv deal, the monies received from the luxury tax clubs, money from the existing tv deal with Root and there is no reason they can’t compete with other mid market clubs as far as payroll. I have been a fan of this team since I went to my first game in 79. I have seen a team built up and destroyed, have heard that Jeff King, Orlando Merced, Carlos Garcia, Midre Cummings and Mike Dunne were the next wave. You are obviously an ownership sympathizer, and that’s fine, and you can back their moves all you want, but you are not going to tell me that if they decided to bump the payroll up to a competitive 120 million they couldn’t keep Melancon and still sign Kazmir and Latos. I don’t want them to sign Cano, Grinkie, ludicrous future albatross deals, and to be honest there aren’t too many deals out there that have been signed that I would have thought will be good deals down the road for the Bucs, but to say they have to choose this or that over some number that may or may not be the actual number and then fight with people about it is just looking to be a di%$ to someone. The ownership most certainly could afford both, and just profit a few million less. Back to the metaphor to wrap it up, if I were 3 votes away from best apartment complex in PA, and that new roof put me over the top, then year I’d spend a few bucks extra off my profits margin to get it done. Especially if I know I have future inexpensive pieces to use in my basement the next 6 years.

  18. Baseball aside, I am very sad to see Charlie go as a human being. He was a terrific person, an excellent teammate and someone who competed hard. He played a big part in the resurgence even if 2015 was a down year for him. I’m hoping he is our next “reclamation” project in 2016.

  19. Looks like the pirates a finally constructing a rotation to fix a problem I’ve been talking about the last three years, if you can’t beat your division you can’t win your division. Looks to me like what the brass is aiming at is finally having a rotation that matches up (at least on paper) with the cubs and cards.

  20. THANK YOU !!!!!!!! This is one of the happiest days of my life as a Pirate fan!!! I’ve been miserable watching this guy pitch . No more watching him crack every time he feels the slightest bit of pressure. No more watching him drill guys in the hip on a curve ball that ‘s supposed to be down and away. Charlie was a nice guy but he was not a strong minded baseball player

  21. Morton to me was nothing but untapped potential. So much movement on his pitches, but he’s a head case and Philly fans will eat him alive. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him DFA at some point this year

  22. If we don’t move Melancon, then Kazmir makes sense here, and even if we move Melancon, I’m not sure that frees up enough room to add Cueto. So I kind of expect to see Kazmir added, and if Melancon is moved, it will be for a 1B upgrade rental.

  23. When opposing teams role out 4 plus lefties in the lineup sure Morton is deserving of major league innings but don’t expect good results.

    Morton had two seasons with a wOBA under .380 vs LHH, 2012 and 2014. 2012 was an injured shortened season, in 2014 he got good results on his sinker vs lefties, but that looks like the outlier. His split change was always awful. He is not as bad as his 2015 but is the type of pitcher that if you can upgrade from or find similar production at a lower cost it is a good move.

    • All well and good. But what does that have to do with the value returned in this “deal”? Because it’s basically the same as a non-tender, except Morton had a contract.

      He’s averaged 1.3 WAR over the past 3 years. Obviously the Phils value WAR less than the Bucs do, but I have to think Morton was worth more than a David Whitehead.

      FWIW, the Bucs 34th rounder from 2013 didn’t sign. But their 33rd rounder did. He’s a LHP named Sean Keselica. I don’t even think Tim knows who that guy is.

          • At this point they traded Walker and Morton for Niese and little under $10 million in payroll. That could be well spent or poorly spent. They’ve used $10 million to get returns better than Morton’s projection before, maybe get Dayton Moore on a conference call he found some value last off-season.

  24. Biertempfel just said he heard their target budget number is 105 million…so that gives them what? 20 million to play with?

  25. This doesnt shock me at all. I kind of thought this going to happen. Niese is a left handed Morton with a couple extra option years. No need to have 2 #4 guys in the rotation.

    Lets just hope they still dont see Niese has their number 3 and get another back end of rotation guy. Lets hope theyre getting a legitimate #2/#3 type pitcher. Kazmir comes to mind. Maybe Gallardo…although they would have to give up a draft pick, doubt they get him.

    • Niese is not a left-handed Morton. Niese has been Morton’s superior for their careers, is younger, and has two option years instead of just one. Niese’s peak was higher, longer, and more consistent, and it may still be happening. Morton’s peak is behind him.

      Niese has been a true #3 in the past and is young enough to get back there. I mean, he’s only not been there for one year. Morton has been a true #4 for his career, but is three years older with a more extensive injury history.

      Everything, from handedness to contract to performance to age to health gives Niese more value than Morton on the trade market. It adds up accordingly to a lot of value difference.

  26. We just might be on to Cueto!! Trust me, if there was long term money out there for him, the Cubs would have gotten him. We might be able to put 15 to 20 a year for a 2 year deal and see what happens!! This is our Window of Opportunity here!! I would go for it!!

  27. Sign Davis. There is no legit cleanup hitter on the roster. Polanco and Bell are at least a year or two away from hitting cleanup.

  28. Addition by subtraction – got rid of an overpaid, sub-par starting pitcher who still had 2 years on his contract – saved $17million over two years. It won’t take much to replace a pitcher with a near 5.00 ERA. There was no way we were going to get Moreland for Morton – that was a pipe dream. To get anyone to just take him and his contract was a victory, regardless of what we got in return..
    Now, go get Kazmir (no likely though) or Latos (more likely), and fill the final spot with whomever wins that spot in the Spring – Locke, Glasnow, Taillon, Webster, etc.
    This Whitehead kid is probably filler, but you never know. Probably doesn’t have the stuff of a starter, but maybe a bullpen arm in the future. Watson and Hughes looked like future AAAA pitchers until they moved to the bullpen…

    • I agree with you 100% on the pipe dream of getting Morton for Morehead unless NH needed the salary dump and not Morehead’s 5.6 mil salary. This just proves that was inaccurate. Everyone including probably Tim saw Morton as being almost untradable. Good luck to him with Philly bc it was probably the best deal! What I can’t see is PGH getting a 4th lefty in Kazmir for our rotation unless we depart with Locke too and move Niese to the #5 spot giving Glasgow and Taillon an additional year in AAA.

  29. I think the major motivation for this, besides a salary dump, is that Morton is a liability against a LH dominated lineup like the Cubs and Cards. I sure wish they had gotten more return though. Maybe there is something they can “fix” about Whitehead that will make him to be more valuable than he appears.

    • No thank you. I like Ross, but I think Polanco is going to be better than Cespedes this year, let alone moving forward. I rather they just spend the cash on Kasmir.

      • You’re probably right. I am anticipating a Polanco breakout as well. I like Kazmir. I’d love to see spend an extra 5-6 million per year and get Cueto.

        • I’d be tentative about Cueto. I don’t know how long he’s going to stay the pitcher he is. He changes his delivery a lot, and as he gets older and loses some athleticism, he might also start to lose command.

          I think there’s a good reason Price and Greinke went off the market quickly, but Cueto’s still sticking around.

  30. Assuming Phillies absorbed this contract I think its a great move to pave the way for another signing . Morton was not very effective against either the Cards or Cubs, he basically became a 5-6 inning pitcher (when he was effective) and he cant pitch to lefthanders.. I wonder if Locke might be ticketed to the Rangers. I think this was a good move to clear salary and hopefully improve the rotation.

  31. Seems like a weird time to announce the trade without another move forthcoming. It is Piratefest weekend – really bad pr timing if just a straight dump

  32. Tim I have always liked Morton both as a player and a person. He gets brutalized here and I wish him well. I believe he has the talent and needs a boost unfortunately for him the Phillies defense will kill him. The trade only makes sense if they get some A list player either through FA or a trade. Preferably I hope they keep Melancon.

  33. Tim, I’ll bet Nutting just needed more money for artificial snow at 7 Springs. According to many comments I saw yesterday, the Organization doesn’t really want to win, just get close !

      • I have seen so many ridiculous comments along this line of thought the last two days both here and other spots, I felt obligated to do it. Anytime you want to seriously discuss baseball and Pirate prospects, let me know.

      • And there’s a difference between actually owning and managing a consistently winning baseball team than pretending to while sitting on a couch.

  34. This is an absolute joke. They are throwing away 2016. It is also an absolute JOKE that with the high cost of pitching, and Morton only making 8 million that they could only get, oh wait they didn’t really get anyone. So they just decided to give him away. These are the things the last regime did. Here comes the losing again. The 3 years were nice why they lasted. There is nothing that anyone could reply to this comment that in anyway can support this trade. Salary dump, complete joke, and a slap in the face towards fans!

    • Really? Eventually a team has to grow up and be an adult. Charlie Morton can’t pitch for a team hoping to win a WS. A nice guy with a very inconsistent history. We were lucky to be able to erase the mistake we made to extend him. No problems at all with this dump. Thanks Phils!

      • Why can’t Morton pitch for a team hoping to win a WS? He’s one of only 89 pitchers to have logged 400+ innings over the past 3 years. He’s better than Locke. And the Royals just won the WS carrying Jeremy Guthrie among others (as the Giants did the year before carrying both Vogelsong and Lincecum).

      • You’re supporting the team that just traded an above average second baseman for John F’ng Niese. You don’t have any right to claim Charlie Morton can’t win a world series.

            • He also was getting worse at fielding hip position, hitting the baseball, especially vs lefties, and more expensive.

              • Walker was getting older, not sure those other trends existed, and it wasn’t like the Pirates deciding on an extension for Walker, it was one more season. Aging is a curve not a cliff.

                  • Declined relative to what, there isn’t an evident overall trend yes 2nd basemen age younger than other positions but again aging isn’t a cliff.

                    Year / OPS vs LHP / DRS / UZR
                    2010: .809 / -8 / -10.4
                    2011: .672 / -3 / -5.1
                    2012: .602 / -4 / -1.2
                    2013: .518 / +9 / -1.4
                    2014: .727 / -2 / -6.8
                    2015: .575 / -2 / -6.8

                    • Which of those stats from last year suggest he isn’t on downslope of career?

                      And pretty sure those defensive metrics don’t account for the fact he made weak throws to both Mercer and Kang when those two were injured.

                      Let the Mets pay him premium dollars for his decline years.

                    • The numbers you are attempting to rationalize. 2014 was a career year, decline from a career year is tautological. Walker is projected at his career averages and to be a 2.0 WAR player in his decline year.

            • Yeah, sure NMR. Hurdle lost all confidence in his splits offensively, that’s why he sat the last month or so against LH pitching. If that’s an ” above average 2nd baseman “, you and Rob Rossi can have him. Better yet, the Mets can have him for almost $ 11 mil.

    • To answer your question, the three years lasted because this management team had a strategy, that they implemented. That strategy played out and to this point, we have had 3 consecutive successful years.

    • When you can keep your head while all others are losing theirs…

      Get a grip, you act like we just traded Cole. UpChuck was of next to no value over a replacement level pitcher. Making room for someone who will be.

      • The mets got walker for a pitcher numbers wise that is not that far off for morton. Morton is similar and makes less and we got basically a nobody. Explain to me how this is a good trade.

        • Niese’s numbers the last 5 years are comparable to Leake, who is about to get paid like a strong #3 SP.

          And not to mention Niese will benefit from Pirates IF defense and expansive LF.

          If he stays healthy, his numbers will be much improved over last year just on those two factors alone. But biggest reason he’ll improve is working w Searage.

  35. This seems odd to me. At one time the PBC was connected to Moreland of Texas and the reported asking price was Morton. I am guessing now the report was erroneous because obviously NH wanted to dump Morton’s salary and we’ve long had interest in Moreland. I guess we need to wait until the other shoe drops.

  36. Even if NH is clearing salary to sign Kazmir (or hey, Chris Davis!), you have to think Morton is worth more than a 23 year old A ball pitcher who was a 34th round pick with a ceiling of a #5. Kind of a slap in the face, IMO.

    Charlie is still the best interview in baseball. Wish he’d been able to harness that electric stuff for more wins.

  37. I think a free agent signing or trade for a #3 must already be a done deal and the Pirates are just waiting an hour or two to space out the news. You don’t open a hole in your rotation like that without a solution already in place. Otherwise, why not just delay the Morton announcement until afterwards?

    • Juan Nicasio could be the #5 guy..lol…well maybe I shouldn’t laugh at that. I would hope they are still in on Kazmir. But I think they would rather take Latos if the cost is fewer years.

  38. My buddy who writes for the Phillies is calling this a straight salary dump. Whitehead not even a top 30 prospect for the Phillies.

  39. I think this might mean there’s a chance that the try to stretch out Nicasio in ST and slot him in at #5 and slide Locke into the pen as the second Lefty. Plus with this money we can afford to keep the Shark

    • The great thing about guys like you is that it’s not Morton you hate, its the concept of Morton. You’ll find another guy to miserably complain about by April 15th. And we’ll enjoy watching you whine.

  40. Does anyone think we are to bring in some guys? I’m hopeful. It just seems like a lot of subtraction so far. I’m ok with all this as long as we do some signing. Anyone think we will now keep Melancon? So far we have lost a ton Kang can replicate walkers numbers. I think we will lose home runs with Pedro gone but, most of his seemed to come as a solo shot or when we didn’t need them. Just wondering othe fan thoughts here.

  41. Seems to me like they’re loading up the rotation with lefties to combat the Cards and Cubbies soemthing like 4-1 or 3-2. I would think its Latos but I guess Kazmir could be in play

        • And that’s the scary part…should they really be going Free Agent X or bust with anyone in this market?

          Why back yourself into that corner?

          Who really thinks the fourth year of Kazmir making $15m, for example, will be any better?

          All they’ve done this off season is decimate their own depth.

          • I wouldn’t give him 4 years, but if that’s what it takes, they’re not paying for the 4th year. They’re paying for the other, good years and hoping the last year isn’t too horrible.

            Aren’t you the one who has been saying they need to target player X and go after him instead of kicking the tires on everyone?

            If they stop here I’ll agree with you on the depth, but seriously, who thinks they are done?

            • Not the Pirates, Arik. The Pirates can’t simultaneously expect to compete *and* waste 15-20% of payroll on a player. No way in hell Huntington would do that.

              And yes, I am the one who has been saying they need to have specific targets. But they obviously have to be smart ones. That shouldn’t be difficult to understand.

      • Yee of little faith. If there’s one position the Pirates brass deserves latitude in valuing, it’s pitching.

        • Exactly. No explain why it took trading at least a 2.5 win second baseman for the priveledge of trying to get something worthwhile out of Jon Niese.

          • Maybe the market for Walker wasn’t robust. But by dropping Walker and Morton and adding Niese they gain what, about 8MM, which when added to the 8.5 MM AJ made enables them to sign AJ’s replacement. Of all the positions on the field Walker was most expendable because he is most easily replaced internally.

  42. You beat DK sports to the punch on this development. You are the best source for all things pirates. Thanks and keep up the good work. This MUST mean another announcement coming soon regarding a big addition to the rotation, correct?

    • Be nice to add another top of the rotation guy or finally pay for a big bat like Chris Davis!!!!!! Josh Bell could be the 4th out fielder and still see plenty of playing time.

      Saw something on MLB network about Cargo moving to 1st, what do yinz think of that? I would love to have his bat.

  43. Years of control, fastball command, throws strikes, nice guy and best is frees up a lot of salary so we can keep Melancon.

    • He had some VG numbers in Lo A, but was so-so in Hi A. I would assume he throws a lot of GB’s and will not make $8 mil this year.

      Hate to see Charlie go, but maybe the change of scenery will help him. Last year when he completely abandoned the new mechanics Benedict and Searage put together for him, I was wondering how long he would stay with the team.

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