The Pittsburgh Pirates are starting to see their spring training calendar dwindle away. The Bucs regular season kicks off in just one week. Here are some recent news and notes from the last few days.
Daniel Nava was a minor league signing that occurred during the first week of February. At the time, it seemed that he would likely be part of the team’s outfield rotation. The Pittsburgh Pirates traded Andrew McCutchen earlier in the offseason, and the club needed to find a stop-gap for Austin Meadows. However, the Bucs did not sit on their hands, and they made a pair of other outfield moves as spring training got underway by bringing in Bryce Brentz and Michael Saunders. At the time, it was a little surprising as neither represented a quality upgrade over Nava.
However, it became clear because it was announced not long after the signing that Nava would undergo back surgery that would put him out until June. With Nava out of the fray, the team looked to be going with either Brentz or Saunders as their primary left fielders. Instead, they picked up Corey Dickerson, who does represent a quality upgrade over all three. Now Nava looks like a man without a spot going forward, even when he gets healthy. So it was announced that the team would be releasing Nava. However, Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that the team would like for Nava to rejoin the organization, and they view him as helping out in the second half of the season. Bloom goes on to say that, as of now, Nava should be resigning within the next few days.
Meanwhile, on the minor league front, the Pittsburgh Pirates made one of the more splashy moves on the international side. First reported by piratesprospects.com, and later confirmed by Adam Berry of mlb.com, the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to terms with South Korean shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae. Bae was considered the top international free agent from the Asian countries.
The 18-year-old originally signed with the Atlanta Braves. However, the Braves were forced to release Bae, along with 10 other minor league players, due to breaking international signing rules. The Braves originally signed Bae for $300K, but apparently paid him $600K off the record. Now, the Bucs panned out $1.25 million to bring in the talented middle infielder. Part of this money was from the San Francisco Giants, who sent $500K in international bonus room in the Andrew McCutchen trade.
Here is what Braves special assistant Chad MacDonald had to say on the type of player Bae is:
"“It’s an elite runner, top-of-the-scale runner,” MacDonald said. “He’s very athletic. He stays at shortstop, he’s going to be a solid to plus defender there. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. There’s more power in the bat. If everything clicks, we have a left-handed version of Trae Turner, who I signed in San Diego. Again, maybe not that much power, but certainly the impact speed and defense, with bat-to-ball skills and a left-handed hitter."
The last note is that the Pittsburgh Pirates have released minor league pitcher Shane Kemp. Kemp was a 26th round draft in 2015 out of George Washington. The reason he is a player of note is because Kemp has been a long time interview participant at Rum Bunter. He has done multiple interviews for us, explaining his offseason life, his preparation for the upcoming season(s), and draft/minor league processes. Kemp threw across three minor league seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Kemp posted a record of 3-2, along with a 4.13 ERA in 17 games as a reliever last season. According to piratesprospects.com, the team cut seven other minor league players as well.