Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill – looting the Cincinnati Reds


Welcome to another addition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we discuss all of the latest rumors, transactions, signings, promotions, demotions, injury updates, and other minor news and notes from around the Pirates’ organization. This week, we break down which Cincinnati Reds’ players could be had, Corey Hart‘s placement on the disabled list, and a minor trade that may have gone unnoticed. First, we focus on a tweet sent out by David Todd, radio host on 970 ESPN, before Wednesday night’s game against the Reds.

The Pirate killer himself, Todd Frazier, is following his breakout season as the Reds’ third baseman with another all-star caliber year. This season, Frazier is batting .291/.357/.631 with a .988 OPS (heading into Wednesday night). He also has 23 home runs and 49 RBIs and has been worth 3.9 wins above replacement. He is 29 and is signed through 2016, making $3 million this season and $7.5 million next season (in addition to a $1.5 million signing bonus). He made the all-star team last year, will most likely make the team for the National League again this year, and seems to have become a star third baseman in the league.

The Reds are stuck in no-mans land. They have a bunch of players in their late twenties who are in their prime and under-performing, as well as multiple players who have expiring contracts in the next season or two. Frazier falls into the latter category, but a team would have to give up a good amount to get him. He’s in his prime, he’s making next to nothing for a star third baseman, and he only seems to be getting better. Would Frazier be a player the Pirates could target?

Talent-wise and cost-wise, this is a no-brainer for Huntington. But would he part with the prospects necessary to acquire him? Probably not, even though Frazier has outperformed Harrison greatly this season. Both players had a WAR of 5.3 last year, and Harrison was just signed to a contract extension at the beginning of this season.

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Todd suggests one idea could be to part with Harrison as part of a package to get Frazier. Again, talent-wise, this might make sense for both teams. Harrison is younger than Frazier, which would be beneficial to Cincinnati (also Harrison’s hometown), and Frazier has been better than Harrison this year from a run production standpoint, which would greatly benefit the Pirates. But clubhouse chemistry is a real thing, and sending away Harrison after rewarding him with an extension could send a bad message to the team. Harrison has also become a loved baseball player in Pittsburgh and the clubhouse. It would definitely be a tough move to make. If it were me, I wouldn’t make this move if Harrison were a part of the package.

What other players could the Pirates target from the Reds? Jay Bruce is one name that stands out. Bruce has been worth 1.3 wins above replacement in right field this season and would bring much-needed power to the Pirates’ lineup. However, he’s signed through 2016, so he would block Polanco in the future unless he was traded away again in the near future. Marlon Byrd‘s name may attract some Pirate fans, and while he does bring power in the form of 12 home runs, he’s only batting .223 on the season with an OBP of .289. Billy Hamilton could be one option as a fourth outfielder for his speed off the bench, if nothing else, but the Reds likely won’t move him.

Johnny Cueto will most likely be dealt before the trade deadline, but he would cost a lot, and unlike someone like Cole Hamels, he isn’t under team control after this season. If the Pirates feel the need to sure up their starting staff (which could be due for some regression), Cueto will be one of the best options available.

In any case, the Reds will most likely be sellers in some way, shape, or form come July 31st, and they have some attractive options that the Pittsburgh Pirates will certainly look into. Now for some minor notes from around the organization.

Angel Sanchez promoted to Triple-A

Angel Sanchez, a 25-year-old right-handed starting pitcher in the Pirates’ organization, was recently promoted from Double-A Altoona to Triple-A Indianapolis. This season in Double-A, Sanchez had a 2.79 ERA in 13 starts across 77.1 innings pitched, along with 49 strikeouts and 19 walks. In his first start in Triple-A, Sanchez was roughed up, giving up four runs over five innings pitched.

Corey Hart placed on disabled list; Chris Volstad called up

Many Pirates’ fans could see a move like this coming for a long time. Corey Hart was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday afternoon, and Manager Clint Hurdle stated that Hart has dealt with shoulder issues for some time now. Hart was three-for-three last Friday night against the Chicago White Sox and had a two-run home run on Sunday against the Washington Nationals. It’s fair to wonder if Hart has seen his last at-bat as a Pirate.

Instead of calling up a position player, the team called up right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad, a 28-year-old journeyman who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. With Andrew Lambo on the disabled list, the Pirates are now short two first base options that they had off the bench at the beginning of the season. On the same night he was called up, Volstad pitched two innings of no-run ball in relief.

Casey Sadler placed on disabled list

Right-handed pitcher Casey Sadler was recently placed on the Triple-A disabled list due to forearm strain, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With Jeff Locke‘s continuing woes as the fifth starter, Sadler could have been looked at as a depth option to replace him should the time come. This injury should just be a minor setback for Sadler, however.

Pirates trade RHP Collin Balester to the Reds for a PTBNL

In a minor trade that didn’t grab headlines, the Pirates traded right-handed relief pitcher Collin Balester to the Reds for a player to be named later. As Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Balester had a 2.31 ERA in 21 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012.

As the trade deadline approaches, the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill will be churning out more and more juicy rumors for you to help us break down and analyze. Make sure to check us out here at rumbunter.com every Thursday for our weekly edition of the rumor mill.

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