It has been a busy time all around baseball as the 2015 season is over and teams are trying to find the right pieces to make a run toward the 2016 World Series.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are no different and have welcomed some faces, while saying goodbye to other ones.
Oct. 24 Pirates acquire Trevor Williams – This was a bizarre acquisition as this was later revealed to be compensation for the Pirates losing their “pitching guru” in Jim Benedict, someone whose opinion had high value.
The Marlins farm system was nothing that would turn an average baseball fan’s head, however Williams was the fifth-ranked prospect in that system. Williams may never amount to anything, but this trade was interesting considering the circumstances, so it had to get a mention.
Nov. 25 Pirates sign Jake Goebbert – Goebbert is a depth option at first base, which could work in a platoon situation with Michael Morse. He also is a depth option in the outfield as well which may make his chances better for a 25-man roster spot.
Dec. 9 Pirates acquire Jon Niese in trade with Mets– The Pirates ended the Neil Walker era with this trade. The initial reactions regarding this trade from Niese’s standpoint are mixed based upon which stats are looked upon to assess this deal.
Niese will benefit from a Pirates defense which frequently shifts, something the Mets do far less. This was noted by Niese in interviews with the media following the trade.
This move saved the Pirates a projected $1 million, but Niese will slide right into the rotation as the second left-handed starter behind Francisco Liriano.
Dec. 10 Pirates sign Juan Nicasio – Not a lot of people sounded off on this signing but I like this signing similar to the one of Arquimedes Caminero last season. Nicasio will surprise a lot of people. He can be stretched out to be a starter, or take on any bullpen role.
The Los Angeles Dodgers misused him last season as they did with just about every relief pitcher.
I think Nicasio will be an asset regardless of his likely bullpen role.
Dec. 17 Pirates acquire Jason Rogers in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers – Huge fan of this move. I do not think Keon Broxton factored into the team’s long-term plans, and I was not as high on Trey Supak as others were. Still the asking price is high.
Rogers is a flexible player who can handle a variety of positions. If Jung Ho Kang cannot start the season, Rogers could play third base every day with Josh Harrison filling in at second. When Kang is healthy, Rogers can be a flex play at third or first and outfield in an emergency.
PNC Park was friendly to Rogers last year, as he batted .600 there with a home run last season. Yes, 15 at-bats is a small sample size, but it is the second-most plate appearances he had in a road stadium last season. Rogers hit .529 against the Pirates last season with nine hits in 17 at-bats.
Rogers also brings club control with him, so he is a good bench option for this team.
Dec. 17 Pirates re-sign Sean Rodriguez – This version of the Serpico look-alike will be different. He will not be a late-inning defensive replacement. His glove can be used at just about every position with confidence. Shortstop was a trouble spot in very limited duty last season, but it is hard to come into a ballpark and get the mind right when you do not know where or when you will play.
Rodriguez’s bat dwindled at times during the season, but he will not have as much of a strain this season, which can help. The Pirates know what they are getting with him and he will be welcomed back on this team.
Dec. 18 Pirates welcome back Ryan Vogelsong – Vogelsong’s numbers from last season compare to Charlie Morton’s, but in my mind he is still an upgrade.
Vogelsong had an off year in 2015 and there is still the hope he can improve with Ray Searage there to help. Morton seemed to be a lost cause by season’s end.
Vogelsong is a more of a fly ball pitcher, but I do not think that poses a problem at PNC Park. It is just a little different from the type of pitcher general manager Neal Huntington goes for.
The signing shows the Pirates are making a cost-friendly effort to try and improve the rotation.
Dec. 21 Pirates acquire Kyle Lobstein from the Detroit Tigers – I doubt that Lobstein opens the season with the Pirates. This was a depth signing for a player who never really figured it out with the Tigers. A change of scenery could help him especially considering the mess the Tigers were in 2015.
Dec. 23 Pirates claim Yoervis Medina off waivers from the Cubs – This also could be a sneaky signing. Medina was often confused for looking like Felix Hernandez when pitching with the Seattle Mariners. There was no mistaking that he did well with the Mariners in 2013 and 2014.
Medina had an awful 2015, which included time in the minor leagues. This is a low-risk bounce back candidate.
Dec. 23 Pirates sign John Jaso – Yes the power numbers are lacking, but the advanced statistics are not. This was a perfect platoon signing for the Pirates and a low-risk underrated move.
Jaso will have to learn the first base position but with half of Alvarez’s salary, they can afford to be more patient. He can battle at the plate and a lot of this is because he knows what is a strike and what is not which as a catcher is an instinct which can serve him well in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates like his ability to get on base, something which the team will need next season. Though he has been an injury risk, if he stays healthy, this will be a big addition for the Pirates.