The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that they’ve non-tendered Jeff Locke and Eric Fryer, and have tendered contracts for the 2017 season to every other available player on the 40-man roster.
The move with Locke isn’t a surprise, as he was designated for assignment earlier this week, signaling that his time was up with the Pirates. I wrote about that time on the team earlier this week. Fryer also isn’t a surprise, as I’ve had him projected to be non-tendered since the start of the off-season.
The one surprise was that the Pirates decided to tender a contract to Jared Hughes, who was coming off a down year, and projected to make $2.5 M in arbitration. The Pirates also have a few prospects in Triple-A such as Trevor Williams and Frank Duncan who can be ground ball specialists and middle relievers. However, when Hughes is at his best, he is one of the best ground ball pitchers in the game, and that’s a high bar for the prospects.
Hughes didn’t have his best sinker most of the year in 2016, but did get it back late. He had a 52% ground ball rate in the first half, compared to a 64.8% ground ball rate in the second half, finishing at 76.9% in the final month. His soft contact was also at its highest in September, and his hard contact went down in the second half, bottoming out in September. So if that’s a sign that he’s back to normal, then the Pirates have their ground ball specialist back, ready for situational work with men on base and one out.
There weren’t really any other surprises. Wade LeBlanc reached a pre-arb extension earlier today for one year and $800,000 to round out the moves.