Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill – A peek at the waiver deadline


Welcome to a post-deadline version of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we break down all of the latest rumors, trades, signings, promotions, demotions, and other minor news and notes from around the Pirates’ organization. The July 31st trade deadline came and went, and we saw the Pirates make a few minor moves before the deadline hit. Huntington didn’t make any splash moves, but he still made improvements to the current club, and not improvements that came at a great cost. But there are still needs on this club, and we’ve seen Huntington make moves after the July 31st trade deadline and before the August non-waiver deadline in the past. Will he do that again? Possibly. Let’s take a peek at the upcoming non-waiver trade deadline, first by looking at some areas where the Pirates could look to improve.

Starting pitching

The Pirates lost A.J. Burnett for the next month or so, and essentially got J.A. Happ to take his spot in the rotation for the time being. If Burnett comes back healthy and pitching close to his pre-All Star form, then the Pirates will have a great three-man rotation for the postseason. But if he returns and pitches like he had post-All Star break, then the Pirates will have a problem. They won’t have a quality third starter, and that will hurt them greatly in their hunt for a World Series.

Let’s say Burnett does come back to the form he pitched at for most of the season. They’ll still need a fourth starter if they decide to go with a four-man postseason rotation. Charlie Morton seems like the favorite to be that pitcher because he has the talent to pitch at an above average level, as he showed in his last start. But he’s been so inconsistent this season, he’s still a risk in that role.

Depending on the cost, Huntington probably should have added a better starting pitcher at the deadline. But he didn’t. The cost for one could have been high, but even if it was moderate, he should have jumped at that opportunity. Now it’s a waiting game to see if any quality pitcher reaches them on waivers.

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Relief pitcher

The Pirates did add a couple relief pitchers at the deadline in Joakim Soria and Joe Blanton, but is that enough? Blanton essentially is a veteran Vance Worley and will be the Pirates’ long reliever moving forward. Soria is a big upgrade to the back of the pen next to Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. The Pirates still have Antonio Bastardo and Arquimedes Caminero, who aren’t very good middle relief pitchers. Bastardo is a lefty, so he has that going for him, and Caminero has been better of late. But a decent relief pitcher that’s an upgrade over either of those two could be snuck through waivers and may not come at a great price.

Depth outfielder

If Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, or Gregory Polanco go down to injury, the Pirates don’t have an adequate replacement for any of them. And the team still doesn’t have a platoon partner for Polanco against lefties. They might not need another good outfielder, but a depth option wouldn’t hurt. This would also provide another bat off the bench, and maybe move someone like Sean Rodriguez to the back end of the bench. After all, Rodriguez shouldn’t be getting as many starts as he has been lately, so upgrading over him wouldn’t hurt.

So, who are some options that may be out there?


In terms of starting pitchers, there are many players that could be available in August. The Padres still have James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy. Deepending on their contracts, a few of those players could reach the Pirates. One realistic option for the Pirates could be Bud Norris, who already cleared waivers. In terms of relief pitchers, the Rays still have an option in Brad Boxberger, and Francisco Rodriguez for the Brewers could help make the Pirates’ bullpen even more fantastic (okay, that one’s just me dreaming). One outfielder that stands out is Jeff Francoeur, a player who the Pirates have been connected to before and who is having a good offensive season. Marlon Byrd would also be the perfect platoon partner for Polanco, but I don’t know if he’s a fan of the Pirates right now.

It’ll be very interesting to see if Huntington makes any more moves this month. Many waiver trades come without rumors, as you often don’t know if/when a deal is going to happen until a player gets claimed.

In other news…

This was a move that was coming eventually. The Pirates had too many arms in the pen, and Deolis Guerra was the odd man out. He was recently placed on waivers, and was scooped up by the Indians. He had a 6.48 ERA in his debut major league season, and he won’t be a loss for the Pirates.

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill! As the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, we’ll break down any rumors that arise and make note of any waiver claims or waiver news that comes about. Make sure to tune in next week for this weekly piece!

Next: How is Gregory Polanco improving as of late?