The Pittsburgh Pirates added a former starting pitcher late Wednesday night. The key is the word former, as the team reportedly signed relief pitcher Brent Honeywell. Honeywell is being added on a Minor League deal, which makes this a solid pickup for bullpen depth. Jon Morosi of MLB Network had the news on X:
Honeywell was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft, after a successful high school career where he displayed exceptional upside. Throughout his minor league journey, he consistently impressed scouts and coaches quickly becoming one of the top prospects in all of Baseball. Starting in 2016 he was rated as an overall top 50 prospect by MLB Pipeline. In 2018 he actually ranked 12th, the highest he would reach.
However, Honeywell's path to the major leagues has been hindered by injuries. In 2017, he underwent Tommy John surgery, a common procedure for baseball pitchers, which sidelined him for the entire season. Just as he was nearing a return to form, he faced another setback in 2019 when he suffered a fracture in his right elbow, further delaying his progress. Because of this Honeywell would not get much of a chance at the Big League level with the Rays making just 3 appearances in 2021.
Last offseason Honeywell became a free agent and signed a split-deal with the San Diego Padres. This allowed him to be sent down to Triple-A but also guranteed him a better salary at the Big League level. The Padres decided to have him focus on pitching out of the bullpen rather than as a starter. Which this decision made sense given his arm's history.
One of the first things that put Honeywell back on the map was his effective use of a screwball. This obviously is not a common pitch but Honeywell had made it good enough to use against lefties. In 46.2 innings of work he pitched to a respectable 4.05 ERA. He then was sent to the White Sox and appeared in 4 total games which did not go well. He gave up 7 runs in 5.2 innings of work. r
For the Pittsburgh Pirates the pickup of Brent Honeywell is a low-risk move that could provide a good return.
The fact that he signed a Minor League deal makes this even better and no risk at all. If Honeywell pitches like he did for the Padres then he will be a decent depth piece to be able to call up. Furthermore, the soon-to-be 29-year-old has potential upside to tap into. This is a quality depth signing, and while I like the pickup, the Bucs have much more important needs at this point of the offseason.