Pirates Roster Moves 12/2/13


Monday night at 11:59 pm is Major League Baseball’s deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. Therefore, plenty of decisions are to be made on that front.

But first, the Pirates made a trade: they acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later. Mike Axisa, who writes about the Yanks at River Ave. Blues, tweets that the PTBNL will likely be a non-40-man roster minor leaguer who has to go unclaimed in next week’s Rule 5 draft before being named.

Stewart, 31, is a very light-hitting catcher (.566 OPS in 2013) but brings value defensively, especially with pitch-framing. It turns out that Stewart was the second best pitch-framer in baseball last season, ahead of exceptional defensive backstops like Yadier Molina, Jose Molina, and the Pirates own Russell Martin. He has also thrown out 33% of base stealers in his major league career, showing off what is apparently one of the best arms in the game. We’ll have more on Stewart’s role with the team and the future of Tony Sanchez in the coming days.

The acquisition of Stewart means the end of Michael McKenry‘s time in Pittsburgh. McKenry, who achieved Super 2 status to become eligible for arbitration this year, was a non-tender candidate and got designated for assignment this morning. The Fort evolved into a fan favorite over the last few years but really struggled with throwing out base runners. With the Pirates increasing their valuation of defense, Stewart represents an improvement at a similar price.

mckenry tweets

This post will be updated as soon as the Pirates release more information on their tender/non-tender moves.

UPDATE 12:15 am

Finally, 15 minutes after the deadline, the Pirates have made an announcement.

Michael McKenry, Garrett Jones, and Kyle McPherson – all designated for assignment within the last week – got non-tendered (no surprise) and become free agents.

Chris Stewart has signed a one-year deal with the team, though that was known at the time of Monday’s trade.

– All other arb. eligible players – Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider, and Vin Mazzaro – have been tendered contracts. Those are mostly no-brainers, with the exception of Snider. We wrote a bit back in June about how patient the club should be with him. With a crowded right field competition to begin with (Jose Tabata, Andrew Lambo, Jaff Decker, Jerry Sands) and Gregory Polanco on the way, it’s interesting to see them give him another shot.

The 40-man roster is full at this point. More moves surely on the way.

Go Bucs

Pirates Roster Moves 11/26/13

Yesterday, the Pirates acquired Jaff Decker and Miles Mikolas in exchange for Alex Dickerson, while designating Garrett Jones and Kyle McPherson for assignment. Today, they’ve made a couple minor signings

Nevin Ashley, a 29-year-old catcher, inked a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. A member of Tampa Bay’s 2006 draft class, Ashley has yet to crack the major leagues. In eight minor league seasons, he’s hit .258/.352/.383 over 2758 plate appearances. Ashley spent the 2013 season with the Louisville Bats, Cincinnati’s Class AAA affiliate.

Cody Eppley, a Dillsburg, PA native, has also been signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to camp. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher has appeared in 71 MLB games since 2011 (Rangers and Yankees), posting a 4.61 ERA. Like many pitchers the Pirates have picked up recently, Eppley induces plenty of ground balls (60% GB rate in MLB) and can strike batters out (10.0 K/9 in MiLB).

Be sure to follow these guys on Twitter @nevin_ashley and @CodyEppley.

Go Bucs

Pirates Roster Moves 11/25/13

Jaff Decker is the newest Bucco.

The Pirates have made some roster moves on this final Monday of November…

They acquired outfielder Jaff Decker and right-handed pitcher Miles Mikolas in exchange for 1B/OF Alex Dickerson.

– Decker’s name created some buzz last week when he was designated for assignment by the Padres. Good numbers in the minors, like his career .402 OBP and .858 OPS, made the 23-year-old outfielder an attractive option for some teams. The Pirates jumped at the opportunity, adding him to their collection of possible right fielders. Decker played just 13 games at the big league level in 2013, but he could break camp with the Bucs next spring.

– Mikolas, 25, is exactly what the Pirates have been looking for in pitchers (especially relievers) lately: a tall, hard-throwing right-hander who has the ability to generate groundballs. He’s made 27 career MLB appearances, posting a 3.44 ERA over 34 innings. In the minor leagues, Mikolas has been sharp with a 2.96 ERA, 7.6 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 over the last five seasons. It’s always good to have plenty of depth and Mikolas could be a nice arm in the bullpen.

– The Pirates gave up Alex Dickerson, a guy they drafted in the 3rd round in 2011. He did some nice things with the bat over the last few years, hitting .295 with an .827 OPS. They started him as a first baseman but he profiles more as a right fielder. With that in mind, it’d be tough for him to crack the depth chart over what the team currently has. They must feel Decker has more upside in the long term, thus shipping Dickerson off to San Diego.

To make room for Decker and Mikolas on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated Garrett Jones and Kyle McPherson for assignment.

At this point, Jones is one of the team’s more tenured players. Despite his declining performance, he was due for another raise in arbitration this year, making him an easy non-tender candidate for next week’s deadline. Since that was coming anyway, G.I. Jones was an obvious choice to DFA.

McPherson showed some promise at the end of 2012, which made him a candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation for 2013. Injuries slowed him down and he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in July.

More to come.

Go Bucs

Roster Moves: Grilli, Lambo, Locke, Sanchez, Hughes

jason grilli 2013

The Pirates have brought some players back to their roster on Tuesday afternoon.

Most importantly, Jason Grilli has been activated from the disabled list. The 36-year-old closer hasn’t pitched for the Bucs since July 22nd when he injured his arm at Nationals Park. Luckily he didn’t need Tommy John or any type of surgery, so he’s ready to go for the stretch run. Grilli has notched 30 saves in 2013, in addition to holding a 2.34 ERA and an excellent 14.0 K/9.

His return was evident after he tweeted this earlier:

jason grilli tweet

Furthermore, the Pirates have recalled the four players they sent to Altoona last week while making room for Marlon Byrd, John Buck, Justin Morneau, and Stolmy Pimentel. Those four players are LHP Jeff Locke, RHP Jared Hughes, catcher Tony Sanchez, and outfielder Andrew Lambo.

Updated Pirates Depth Chart | Pirates Bullpen Workload

Bucs make many moves on Memorial Day

The Pirates have recalled a few players, demoted a few players, and added to the disabled list…

1. The contract of Mike Zagurski was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis. He’s posted a 2.14 ERA and 15.9 K/9 for Indy this year. Pirates Prospects points out that Zagurski had a June 1st out-clause in his contract, which would explain his addition to the big league bullpen.

2. Bryan Morris was demoted to make room for Zagurski. Morris is 1-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 15.2 innings with the Bucs this year.

3. Jose Tabata was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an oblique strain. After going on a tear at the beginning of May, Tabata has cooled off as of late, hitting just .154 in his last eight games.

4. Josh Harrison was recalled to take Tabata’s place on the bench. J-Hay hit .279 with a .750 OPS at Triple-A. This move indicates that Travis Snider should be getting more playing time in right field.

5. Finally, Jeff Karstens has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Karstens was shut down indefinitely earlier this weekend.

Updated Pirates Depth Chart