Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill – Clint Barmes and an upgrade at first?
Welcome to the second-to-last edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Every week the Rumor Mill gives you the latest rumors, trades, signings, promotions, demotions, injury updates, and other news and notes from around the Pirate organization. In this week’s piece, we talk about the Pirates potentially looking to upgrade first base, Clint Barmes as a potential replacement for Jordy Mercer, Justin Upton, and a slew of recalls and injuries.
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Pirates looking into Clint Barmes, Ben Zobrist, and Cliff Pennington
According to Bill Brink, Pirates’ beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pirates have asked the Arizona Diamondbacks about infielder Cliff Pennington and the San Diego Padres about shortstop Clint Barmes. They have also expressed interest in utility man Ben Zobrist for the Oakland A’s. You can check out Brink’s full write-up here.
We are all familiar with Barmes and his time with the Pirates. We often hated him for his offensive struggles but loved him for his defensive stability at short. As Brink points out, he’s been much better with the Padres this year, batting .281/.322/.437 heading into Wednesday night’s action. He’d come cheap, as he’s only making $1.3 million this season and has a club option for next year and is 36 years old. He’d be a decent fill-in until Mercer returned.
Cliff Pennington is having a poor offensive season, batting .243/.320/.290, and he’s making too much money to warrant this production ($3.275 million).
And we broke down Ben Zobrist earlier this week as part of our 12 Days of Trademas. He’d be the perfect pickup for the Pirates if they could get him for a reasonable price. Make sure to check out our piece on him here.
Notes from Jon Heyman
In a recent post by Jon Heyman, baseball writer for CBSSports.com, he highlighted some players the Pirates have been linked to (you can read the full piece here). Here’s what he had to say:
"Pittsbugh has been linked to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, but many think they are aiming higher. Marlon Byrd, ex-Pirate Aramis Ramirez and Zobrist are among others who’d fit. With Jordy Mercer out six weeks and Josh Harrison out another four, they do need to shore up the left side of the infield in some way."
We’ll break down these players as part of our 12 Days of Trademas as the week goes on.
Jordy Mercer to miss six weeks due to injury
By now, we all know about the injury Jordy Mercer sustained when Carlos Gomez slid into him running to second base recently. Mercer was diagnosed with a lower leg contusion and an MCL sprain in his left knee.
With this injury, the Pirates placed Mercer on the 15-day disabled list and had to make a couple other moves.
The Pirates have shifted Jung Ho Kang to shortstop a lot recently, and Brent Morel clearly isn’t an ideal option at third base, nor should he be looked at as such. In Triple-A this season, Morel was batting .266 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs. Corey Hart was also transferred to the 60-day disabled list, which means his time in Pittsburgh is all but over, even though he took the trip with the team to Milwaukee after the All-Star break.
Are the Pirates looking to move on from Pedro Alvarez?
Jayson Stark sent out a tweet recently about the Pirates and what they may be looking to do in a trade:
This is the first talk we’ve heard about the Pirates looking to upgrade at first base this season. It’s been speculated for a while, however, that the Pirates do want to move on from Pedro Alvarez. This morning we went in depth about Adam Lind as a potential first base option for the Pirates, so make sure to check that out here.
Are the Pirates interested in Justin Upton?
Jon Morosi sent out an intriguing tweet recently, but fan reaction seemed negative towards Justin Upton being an option for the Pirates. For one, Polanco’s been on a hot streak while Upton’s been playing poorly recently. And the Pirates have other needs due to their injuries that seem much more pressing at the moment. For our complete breakdown of Justin Upton, make sure to check out our piece on him for 12 Days of Trademas here.
Francisco Cervelli injury doesn’t seem serious
Francisco Cervelli was injured in the first game of this past series against the Royals towards the end of game one. He hasn’t played since, but he hasn’t been placed on the disabled list either and his injury doesn’t seem too serious.
Francisco Liriano should return for next start
Francisco Liriano missed his first start after the All-Star break due to neck tightness, and Vance Worley had to come in for a spot start. Luckily for the team, he should be ready to go for his start against the Washington Nationals.
Gorkys Hernandez injured, to begin rehab assignment
Gorkys Hernandez recently had shoulder issues, and was placed on the 15-day disbled list. He was the sent to Triple-A to begin a rehab assignment.
Jaff Decker recalled from Triple-A
With Hernandez down, the Pirates needed another outfield bat for their bench. Jaff Decker, who was competing with Andrew Lambo at the beginning of the season for that fourth outfielder spot, was finally recalled to the majors.
In Triple-A this season, Decker was batting .275/.364/.388 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. Some would argue that his call-up has been long overdue.
Pedro Florimon recalled from Triple-A
To add to the flurry of moves made by the Pirates recently in order to combat all of their injuries, Pedro Florimon was recalled from Triple-A as well.
Florimon spent time with the major league club earlier this season, and has been known during his career for his defense, not his offense. At Triple-A this season, Florimon was batting .254/.324/.384 with two home runs and 18 RBIs.
2016 Draft news
In some news that may have gone unnoticed, the Pirates received the sixth pick in Round A of the competitive balance round of the 2016 MLB Draft. The team didn’t have any competitive balance pick’s in this year’s draft, but did in 2014.
Thank you all for tuning in to yet another Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill. Next week’s Rumor Mill will be the final one before the trade deadline, so you don’t want to miss it! Maybe the Pirates will upgrade first base, or maybe we’ll see the return of Clint Barmes. In any case, make sure to follow us on twitter @rumbunter for all of the action leading up to the deadline, and keep checking rumbunter.com for our daily #12DaysOfTrademas pieces, where we cover potential trade targets for the Pirates leading up to July 31st.
Next: Pittsburgh Pirates 12 Days of Trademas - Day 2 - Troy Tulowitzki