Juan Nicasio and Wade LeBlanc Placed On Irrevocable Waivers

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Francisco Cervelli
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Francisco Cervelli /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have placed relief pitchers Juan Nicasio and Wade LeBlanc on irrevocable waivers.

Juan Nicasio has been one of the best relief pitchers for the Pirates this season, posting a 2.99 FIP and striking out 24.7 percent of hitters.  Wade LeBlanc started the season off hot, but the south paw now posts a 4.51 FIP on the season, and his lack of an out pitch – striking out only 18.5 percent this season – was a real concern.  Nicasio is a free agent to be, and LeBlanc has a $1.25 million option for 2018 with a $50,000 buyout.  However, the Pirates have placed both on irrevocable waivers today.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette broke the Nicasio news:

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune confirmed the Nicasio news, but also added that Wade LeBlanc has also been placed on irrevocable waivers:

Irrevocable waivers means there is no trade that can be done, and that the claiming team will pay the prorated portion of the salary.  For Nicasio that equates to $600,000 and for LeBlanc it is $125,000.  Nicasio will certainly get claimed by a contending team, more than likely either Milwaukee or Chicago.  LeBlanc, given his injury, is less likely, though he is a left-handed reliever, and they have nine lives.

The only possible explanation for a head scratching move, is this allows the Pirates to call up Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow and give them playing time, something that hasn’t always been the case for young players.  But if that’s the direction the Pirates intend to go, it makes zero sense to continue to pay John Jaso $666,666.67 and Chris Stewart $233,333.33.  Jordan Luplow and Elias Diaz are clear options that can replace Jaso and Stewart – Jaso is on an expiring contract with Stewart holding a $1.5 million team option – and those two need Major League plate appearances to continue to develop.

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Putting both Nicasio and LeBlanc on waivers is beyond questionable in a rather questioning season of moves.  It saves the team money if/when either or both get claimed.  In all likelihood, both players were claimed earlier in the month but no deal was struck.  The team should’ve traded Nicasio at the deadline, but they didn’t, and now they have to deal with this public perception mess that they created.