Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Potential DFA Candidates To Monitor

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: Mike Tauchman #39 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: Mike Tauchman #39 of the New York Yankees at bat against the Texas Rangers during the second inning at Yankee Stadium on September 3, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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Jul 24, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Javy Guerra (8) pitches during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 24, 2020; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Javy Guerra (8) pitches during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports /

Relief Pitcher Javy Guerra

Javy Guerra was formerly one of baseball’s top middle infield prospects. Going into 2016, he was a consensus top 60 prospect with the San Diego Padres. Guerra was one of the multiple pieces that went from the Boston Red Sox to the San Diego Padres in the Craig Kimbrel trade and many considered him the best prospect going back.

However, Guerra’s bat never developed. He posted a sub-.600 OPS in 2016 and sub-.700 OPS in 2017 and 2018. But Guerra wasn’t done just yet. Guerra had an extremely strong arm, one that could fire high-90s baseballs across the plate and so he began his transition to the mound in 2019.

Guerra pitched a total of 21.1 innings with the Padres’ High-A and Double-A affiliates and despite never pitching professionally up until then, he put up some really solid numbers. Overall, he had a 3.38 ERA, 3.58 FIP and 1.17 WHIP. Guerra did struggle with control a bit with a 1.3 HR/9 and 11.6% walk rate, but he struck out nearly 35% of all the batters he faced. Guerra also had a 3.10 xFIP at High-A ball where 17 of his innings came from. He has struggled in the big leagues, having an 8.18 ERA through 22.1 innings. Last year, despite giving up 15 earned runs in 13.1 innings, he still had a very solid 3.72 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, 4.11 SIERA and league average DRA.

Guerra has an elite sinker, one that FanGraphs sees as a 65-grade pitch. Although he doesn’t put much spin on it, he can sling it through the zone at an average of 98.5 MPH which would be the 4th hardest thrown sinker in all of baseball. He also uses a slider, another plus offering with a 55-future grade.

The Padres have many different relief pitchers ahead of Guerra on the depth chart. Drew Pomeranz, Emilio Pagan and former Pittsburgh Pirates closer Mark Melancon and Keone Kela are all potential late inning and closer options for the team.

Michel Baez is another young and highly talented late inning option. Pierce Johnson had a successful return from Japan in 2020. Matt Strahm and Craig Stammen are two very solid mid-relief arms who can provide multiple innings, along with other mid-relief options like Tim Hill and Dan Altavilla. Then there’s the chance they could see young arms like Mackenzie Gore, Ryan Weather and Adrian Morejon in the Majors.

Guerra’s time with the Padres could be nearing its end, but next season will still only be 25 years old most of the 2021 season. He ended 2020 as the Padres’ 19th best prospect on FanGraphs, which is pretty good considering the Padres were ranked with a top 3 farm system at the time. Guerra could solidify himself as one of the Pittsburgh Pirates long-term bullpen arms with the likes of Nick Mears, Blake Cederlind, David Bednar and Luis Oviedo.

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