Scouting The Trade Market: Pittsburgh Pirates

Dream of a young, power rotation is becoming a reality for 2014 and beyond
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(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

The Yankees have swung a trade late in Spring Training in each of the last three seasons, and if they’re going to do the same this spring, they’ll have to do it soon. Opening Day in Houston is only 12 days away. Infield help figures to be the top priority at this point but adding another arm, specifically for the bullpen, wouldn’t be a bad idea. It’s not like you can have too many relievers.

This time of year, most trades involve players who are out of options and can’t go to the minors without passing through waivers. Teams don’t want to lose them for nothing, so they’re traded if don’t make the roster. That’s how the Yankees wound up with Chris Stewart in Spring Training 2012 and why they traded away Sergio Mitre in Spring Training 2011. MLBTR has this year’s list of out of options players and one of the most well-stocked teams is the Pirates, who have four out of options pitchers for three bullpen spots. Both Travis Sawchik and Tim Williams expect a trade before Opening Day, not someone to be placed on waivers. Is there a trade match with the Yankees? Let’s look.

Jeanmar Gomez
If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because Gomez threw a perfect game against Double-A Trenton back in May 2009. The 26-year-old right-hander was the Pirates swingman last summer, pitching to a 3.35 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 80.2 innings across eight starts and 26 relief appearances. Gomez is a classic low-90s sinker, low-80s slider, low-80s changeup guy who gets grounders (55.4%) but doesn’t miss bats (15.9 K%) or really limit walks (8.4 BB%). On the bright side, he did not have much of a platoon split last year, holding righties to a .269 wOBA and lefties to a .278 wOBA. Not the sexiest pitcher in the world, but for a swingman, you could do worse.

Vin Mazzaro
Mazzaro, 27, is local guy from Hackensack who really blossomed after moving in the bullpen full time last year, posting a 2.81 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 73.2 innings. He’s a low strikeout (15.1 K%), low walk (6.9 BB%), high ground ball (52.2%) pitcher despite a mid-90s two-seamer and upper-80s slider. Mazzaro had a small reverse platoon split in 2013, holding righties to .286 wOBA and lefties to a .269 wOBA. Given his two power pitches, there’s a chance the Yankees and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would be able to really unlock his strikeout potential, something they’ve done with guys like Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan in recent years.

Bryan Morris
Morris came over from the Dodgers in the Jason Bay/Manny Ramirez trade way back in the day, but it wasn’t until last season that he got extended time in the big leagues. The 26-year-old had a 3.46 ERA (4.89 FIP) in 65 innings, getting … wait for it … lots of grounders (57.5%) but few strikeouts (13.7 K%). His walk rate (10.4 BB%) was really high and lefties gave him a bit of a hard time (.320 wOBA) as well (.295 for RHB).

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty)
Morris. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

The numbers aren’t anything special but what makes Morris interesting is that he’s shown increased velocity and a new pitch in camp. Sawchik says scouts have clocked Morris’ four-seamer at 97 mph and his cutter at 91 mph this spring, both up 2-3 from last season. He’s also added a two-seamer in the mid-90s. A hard low-90s slider is his breaking ball. Morris has battled elbow and shoulder problems over the years and once upon a time Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he had “a 92-94 mph fastball that has hit 96 mph” and “the stuff of a frontline starter.” It could simply be that his old velocity has just started to fully return now that he’s a few years away from his last arm injury.

Stolmy Pimentel
Pimentel, 24, was part of last winter’s Mark Melancon-Joel Hanrahan trade. He made his big league debut last September (1.93 ERA and 1.76 FIP in 9.1 innings) after pitching to a 3.35 ERA (~3.96 FIP) in 169.1 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A. His minor league strikeout (17.3 K%) and walk (7.9 BB%) weren’t anything to write home about. In their 2014 Prospect Handbook, Baseball America said Pimentel “sits at 92-94 mph … topping out at 95” and has an “excellent, mid-80s split-changeup,” though they caution “he’s probably not quite ready for prime time” and will “have to earn his stripes in low-leverage work.”

* * *

The Yankees have several guys just like Gomez in David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno, and as interesting as his two-pitch mix may be, Pimentel wouldn’t really move the bullpen needle all that much this year. Mazzaro and Morris are decent middle relievers with the type of power stuff the Yankees love, though the strikeout numbers don’t back it up. It’s obvious New York values having strikeout pitchers in their bullpen for what I think are obvious reasons. For what it’s worth, Rob Biertempfel and Ken Davidoff say everyone but Pimentel is available.

What would the Pirates want in exchange for Mazzaro or Morris? How do you value an out of options middle reliever? Stewart had knee surgery and will likely miss 4-6 weeks according to Sawchik, but would the Yankees really deal a spare catcher for a middle reliever who might not last the season? Maybe Austin Romine, but even then that feels like a stretch. Remember, the Yankees have a full 40-man roster, so they’d not only have to give up something in a trade for these guys, but they’d have to clear a 40-man spot as well (which they could do in the trade, obviously). Pittsburgh has some extra interesting arms, but I have a hard time seeing a trade fit here. Then again, the Yankees and Pirates get together for a trade every other week it seems, so who knows what’s cooking now.

Dream of a young, power rotation is becoming a reality for 2014 and beyond
2014 Season Preview: Back To Offensive Basics
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I love the name Stolmy Pimentel. He sounds like an elf.

    I also missed Vin Mazzaro actually becoming a respectable pitcher. Good for him.

    Not super-enthused as to bullpen parts, but I agree with the potential of a Rothschild/Mazzaro mix.

    • Cuso

      His name sounds like vodka with an olive to me..

      • I’m One

        My type of drink. Maybe I should look a bit closer at him.

        Actually none of these guys thrill me. I’d guess giving up Romine for Mazzaro wouldn’t be the worst thing, but it seems like making a move just to make it, not that it improves the team. None of these guys seems to be a strong upgrade. I’d wait it out and see what else becomes available. If nothing does, I wouldn’t be too upset with them holding on to Romaine. Lettuce is always a good filler.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I honestly question even dealing Romine for him. Romine has options. I’d only really take that chance if it was for a low-level minor leaguer or someone equally out of options who didn’t make the team.

          I have interest, but I’m not interested. Think about that one for a bit.

          • I’m One

            Your responses are getting way to philosophical today.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        All I can picture is him wearing a pointy hat and boots.

  • Kosmo

    Pirates have Tony Sanchez to backup Martin. Stewart will return at the end of May. Don´t see much of a fit.

  • Fernando

    The team has plenty of bullpen options. None of these guys are significant upgrades over what the team has. They can just as easily claim Javy Guerra off waivers if they wanted another bullpen arm.

    Much better to save the catching depth to trade for middle infield help.

  • Amelia

    blake March 20th, 2014 at 12:20 pm
    RAB the website is good…..RAB the comments section is really bad

    Dude is a huge shit talker.

    • I’m One

      Seriously, we all know it sucks. That’s why there are so many of us that return here day after day. Sometimes, there’s real actualy exchange of opinions, facts and analysis even.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      So’s the person reposting it here.

      • Amelia

        Yeah and I will talk SHIT right to your damn face and call you out on the bullshit you talk. Don’t get mad at me for calling you out like the complete fraud that you are and always will be.

        Now go and O:S me before you ruin your computer by crying all over it. Dumbass

  • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks)

    “If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because Gomez threw a perfect game against Double-A Trenton back in May 2009.”

    Give me a break Mike. You think all we do all day is hang out on a Baseball blog?!? Sheesh.

    • The Great Gonzo


  • The Great Gonzo

    Yeah, I agree. I don’t see our position of depth really lining up with their positions of need. I would imagine they’ll ride out the Stewart situation for a month instead of trading for another catcher, even if it is in essence a ‘throw away guy’ like an out of options middle reliever.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Not true.

      The Pirates are always good for taking a spare minor league part from us who somehow winds up having a cup of coffee on their roster, drawing the ire of the Yankee fanbase, and then disappearing right back into the ether.

      • The Great Gonzo


  • mustang

    A bit off topic, but I think tonight is a pure audition for David Phelps.

    • mustang

      I think Nick Franklin.

  • frankie coffeecake

    Mazzaro is not from Hackensack, was born in a hospital there but he is from Rutherford