Pittsburgh Pirates: Team Adds Nick Franklin and Tom Koehler
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been very quiet this offseason in terms of signings. However, today they handed out a couple minor league deals.
One thing that every Major League Baseball team does is add players in minor league deals. To the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is an important part of how they operate. The team hopes that they can catch lightning in a bottle and find a productive major league player on a cheap minor league deal. Well, the team has handed out a couple minor league deals today.
First came a signing early this afternoon. The announcement came via the Pittsburgh Pirates Twitter page that the team had come to a minor league agreement with former notable prospect Nick Franklin. Franklin is most famous for being one of the headliners in the 2014 David Price trade. The three-way trade that sent Franklin from Seattle to Tampa Bay along with others.
Franklin, a utility infielder, has not done much at the major league level. He is a career .214/.285/.359 hitter who has struck out 26% of the time while only walking 8% of his plate appearances. He has been a much better hitter in the minors having a career minor league line of .283/.360/.452. Franklin will likely be at Triple-A Indianapolis and serve as depth in case of injury for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He likely will be the Max Moroff of this season.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also agree to a deal with a right-handed starter. However, this veteran righty is also coming on a minor league deal. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic, Tom Koehler will be signing with the Bucs.
The downside to the Koehler signing is that he is recovering from shoulder surgery that he had last July. According to Adam Berry of MLB.com, Koehler will be reporting to minor league camp as he is still has a good amount of time for rehab.
Koehler spent many years with the Marlins before signing a one-year deal with the Dodgers last offseason. He has a career 4.39 ERA with 604 strikeouts in 784.1 innings pitched. He has produced a sold 44% groundball rate which could be a point of interest for the Bucs. The team has done a good job of taking average groundball pitchers and turning them into very good ones.
Both are minor league signings so they are purely for depth this season. Still, it is interesting to see them adding veterans on minor league deals which should give them a little more confidence in their depth at the major league level.