The Pittsburgh Pirates had a pretty make shift rotation by the end of the 2023 season. The team made a couple of waiver claims to eat some innings the rest of the way after the Trade Deadline. One of those claims was used on right-handed pitcher Thomas Hatch. Hatch was designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays right after the Trade Deadline.
When the team picked up Hatch many wondered what his role would be. He ended up doing a little bit of everything, making two starts and 10 relief appearances for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second half of the year. He looked decent at times, but overall left a lot to be desired in terms of future potential. Hatch had a 4.08 ERA for the 2023 season, which is not bad, but he also has a career ERA of nearly 5. His WHIP in 2023 was on track with his career numbers as well at 1.55. Being his WHIP is so elevated still it is safe to assume that his ERA should have been worse.
The Pittsburgh Pirates must have thought the same thing. In late September the team sent Hatch to the Triple-A and recalled hard throwing pitching prospect Kyle Nicolas. So it was evident then that the team did view Hatch as much of an option for 2024. Well, he apparently will not be an option for the Pittsburgh Pirates at all. Hatch, who currently occupies a 40-man roster spot, is being released to sign a contract to play in Japan.
This has become a trend more and more for players. Hatch new there was a good chance that he would be designated for assignment at some point. So instead he will get a chance to establish himself with a team in the NPB. Furthermore, pitchers especially seem interested in going to the NPB. This makes sense, after all more and more pitchers are signing Major League contracts from the NPB each year.
Now the question is what will the Pittsburgh Pirates do to replace him on the 40-man roster. Removing Hatch puts the team's 40-man roster at 36.
This allows them to add at least 4 players without having to cut anyone. That is pretty significant, so let's hope the team is aggressive in acquiring players to fill those spots.