The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in a new player late last night. The team had to make a corresponding roster move today to make it official.
Late last night it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a deal with now former Cleveland Indian Lonnie Chisenhall. Chisenhall is coming in to fill the void in right field while Gregory Polanco recovers from shoulder surgery. He signed a one-year deal worth a base salary of $2.75 million and many other plate appearance incentives. After Polanco comes back, it is likely that Chisenhall will be the team’s fourth outfield and back up corner infielder, although he will likely play far more outfield.
To make room, the Pittsburgh Pirates had to designate a player off of their 40-man roster. It is unfortunate, but a move that many teams will have to make as they start to acquire players. The Pittsburgh Pirates officially announced the signing of Chisenhall early this afternoon. With the team announcing the signing, they also announced that right-handed pitcher Alex McRae would be designated for assignment. Many expected this to be the move and it has now been made official. He will now head to waivers. If he clears waivers, the team likely will assign him to Triple-A Indianapolis.
McRae had been apart of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization since he was drafted in 2014. The righty was taken in the 10th round out of the University of Jacksonville. It was an odd pick as McRae have a tough senior season posting an ERA just above 5.00. However, the draft report on him was that he had a fastball that could reach into the 90s and a potential plus slider.
Although he worked his way up the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system, he never really had an impressive season. All in all, he threw 626 minor league innings across 113 starts at a total of 124 games. In his 4.5 minor league seasons, he posted an ERA of 4.47 along with a 1.44 WHIP. Also, he struggled striking batters out only producing 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with 429 sit downs in his 626 innings. He also did not ever produce a groundball percentage above 49 percent, showing that he not only struggled to punch batters out but also did not produce a lot of weak groundouts.
If a pitcher struggles to strikeout batters and/or produce ground outs, chances are they are going to have a tough time at the big leagues. McRae finally got his chance at the big league level last season and it did not go particularly well. In total, McRae threw 6.1 innings across two games and finished with a 0-1 record. He had an ERA of 5.68 with four earned runs given up along with five free passes and five strikeouts.
While his big league stay was a small sample size, McRae looked very underwhelming in his major league début. He struggled with command, his pitches looked very average, and he simply did not show anything different from what his minor league numbers suggested. There is a good chance that McRae could clear waivers and stay with the organization, although it could be possible a rebuilding team may take a waiver on him is he is young and under cheap control.