The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired right-handed pitcher Johnny Barbato from the New York Yankees for cash considerations. Barbato was optioned to Indianapolis, and no corresponding 40-man roster move was needed, due to the Pirates having three open spots.
Barbato pitched briefly with the Yankees last year, making 13 appearances with some poor results. He had a 7.62 ERA, although his 3.74 xFIP was much better. He got a lot of strikeouts, with a 10.4 K/9, but struggled with the long ball, due to a 20% HR/FB ratio. He also dealt with some control problems.
During his time in the minors, Barbato has been a strikeout pitcher, averaging over a batter an inning at almost every stage of his career. He’s had some control issues in the upper levels, but hasn’t dealt with severe home run problems.
One encouraging sign was his velocity, averaging 94.6 MPH in the majors last year, and reaching as high as 96. The fastball has sinking action, and has led to some decent ground ball rates in the past. His strikeout pitch is an upper 70s curve that has a lot of break.
Barbato can be optioned back and forth from the minors this year, and has one more option year remaining after this season. He should provide another hard throwing depth option for the bullpen. If he is outrighted off the 40-man roster at any point this year, he will be eligible for minor league free agency at the end of the season. The Pirates still have two open spots remaining, so they won’t be needing his roster spot any time soon.