The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded right-handed pitcher Robert Stephenson to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor league infielder Alika Williams.
Source: Pirates trade reliever RHP Robert Stephenson to Rays for minor league SS Alika Williams.
Stephenson had 5.14 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 18 outings this season.
Williams, 24, is hitting .237/.314/.417 at Double-A. He was first-rounder in 2020.
— RobBiertempfel (@RobBiertempfel) June 2, 2023
The 30-year-old Stephenson has a 5.14 ERA over 14 innings this year, with 17 strikeouts, a 5.36 FIP and a 1.43 WHIP. He has allowed seven runs over his last three innings. He began the 2023 season on the 15-day Injured List due to an elbow injury.
He had a 5.43 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP over 58 innings last year, though he did much better with the Pirates after they got him late in the season from the Colorado Rockies.
The Pirates agreed to a $1.75M deal with Stephenson through arbitration this off-season. This is his final season before free agency.
Williams was a first round pick in 2020 by the Rays, selected 37th overall out of Arizona State.
He struggled a bit during his junior year that was limited to 17 games due to the pandemic. His high draft spot was based on his 2019 performance, when he had a .903 OPS in 57 games.
Williams played a total of 73 games over three levels in 2021, mostly in Low-A. He hit .267/.312/.375 for the season.
He played over three levels again last year, but a large majority of the season was spent in High-A, where he hit .254/.355/.390 in 84 games. He struggled with the jump to higher levels for 12 games total.
Williams was with Montgomery of the Double-A Southern League this year, where he hit .237/.314/.417 in 42 games.
He has shown little power or speed (16 steals over 27 attempts in three years) during his pro career, but he does make a nice amount of contact. He was rated by Baseball America as the best defensive infielder in the Rays system last year. His defense at shortstop is considered to be above average.
Williams turned 24 years old earlier this year. He is a glove-first player right now, who needs to hit a little more to have a chance to add real value at the big league level.
UPDATE: The Pirates announced that infielder Mark Mathias has been recalled to take the 26-man roster spot of Stephenson.
Mathias hit .275/.370/.325 in 15 games for the Pirates earlier this year. He has been with Indianapolis since, where he hit .294/.408/.424 in 26 games. He has been playing second base, third base and right field.
It’s also being reported that Duane Underwood Jr has cleared waivers and accepted his outright assignment to Indianapolis. He was designated for assignment five days ago.
Mark Mathias will take Robert Stephenson’s roster spot. Duane Underwood Jr. cleared waivers and has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis.
— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) June 2, 2023
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.