The Pittsburgh Pirates have claimed right-handed pitcher Nefi Ogando off waivers from the Miami Marlins. To make room on the 40-man roster, they have designated Jason Rogers for assignment.
Ogando has spent a total of 19.2 innings in the majors, with 15.2 of those innings in the Miami bullpen last year. He had a 2.30 ERA and a 4.40 xFIP, with an 8:8 K/BB ratio in that limited time. You can see the appeal of the 27-year-old reliever when you look at the velocity, which averaged 95 MPH and tops out at 98. Ogando pitched 24.1 innings in Triple-A, with a 3.33 ERA, a 7.0 K/9 and a 4.1 BB/9.
Ogando did miss some time in 2016 with a fractured rib on his right side, leading to only 40 innings on the season. I don’t think the control issues can be blamed on the rib, since he’s had those issues in the upper levels in previous years.
He also throws a high-80s slider which can be a wipeout pitch and has been a strikeout pitch in the past. His fastball has hit triple-digits in the past, and prior to the 2015 season, Baseball America called it a 70-grade pitch, with the chance for a plus slider if he could learn to throw it for a strike.
Ogando has one option year remaining. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just claimed in order to try and sneak through waivers. The Pirates will need to clear someone off the 40-man roster to make room when they make the Ivan Nova signing official, and it makes sense to try and pick up a spare arm in the process.
It looks like Rogers was the next guy off the 40-man roster. He was out of options and the Pirates might have had to make a decision on him eventually. We’ll see if they can sneak him through waivers almost a year after trading outfielder Keon Broxton and right-handed pitcher Trey Supak for him.
At the time, Rogers looked like an interesting option for the open first base position, since he was coming off a good half-season with the Brewers. However, a few weeks later (exactly one year ago today, actually) the Pirates ended up signing John Jaso to a two-year deal. That made the Rogers trade kind of pointless. It added depth, but at a high price. If the deal was just Broxton for Rogers, it would have made more sense. But the Pirates basically threw away Supak, who was just outside the top 30 heading into last year, but had good velocity and some upside, just like Gage Hinsz (Hinsz had moved ahead of Supak in 2015).
Supak did decline in value, and I heard from rival scouts in 2016 that the Pirates didn’t get what they were expecting with him. But he still had some upside, and giving him away for a guy that was barely used is a waste of a prospect. If they can keep Rogers in the system it might help soften the blow. But Rogers still doesn’t really have an immediate role on this team without several injuries taking place.