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Friday, December 2, 2022

Pirates Call Up Jaff Decker, Option Brandon Cumpton

The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up outfielder Jaff Decker and have optioned right-handed pitcher Brandon Cumpton to Triple-A. Cumpton started last night, but the Pirates won’t need a fifth starter until July 22nd, due to the All-Star break. If Gerrit Cole is able to return on that date, then he would fill out the rotation. If he’s not healthy by then, Cumpton would be eligible to return to the majors.

Until that point, the Pirates can carry an extra bench or bullpen arm, which is where Decker comes in. Matt Hague was called up yesterday to replace Starling Marte for a few days. It will be interesting to see who goes down when Marte returns. Both Decker and Hague have been hitting well in Triple-A lately.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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S Brooks

We also got him for nothing, so there’s that.

R Edwards

Jaff Decker – not a move that generates any excitement. He looks like John Kruk’s son, but doesn’t hit like John Kruk. Bringing up Rojas would have made more sense, if you want to field the best possible team and add a guy who can actually help.

I just don’t get this front office and some of their decisions. They wouldn’t bring Polanco up until mid June, yet they just sat back as the RF tandem of Tabata and Snider failed miserably. All the while, Chris Dickerson – a guy with major league experience who has shown to be a productive player at times – is hitting the cover off the ball in Indy. They wouldn’t do the right thing – which was DFA’ing Snider and add Dickerson to the 40 man roster and bring him up. Why have these guys in your system, if you are not going to use them? Then, they trade him to Cleveland for what is likely to be essentially nothing.

They just seem to hang to certain players as if they were great assets to not lose, when they have better options in their own system. This applies to Snider, Gomez, Pimentel, and Stewart. And now, add Frieri to that list.

The front office has really hamstrung this team with some terrible player personnel moves this year.I just hope they don’t do something really stupid by trading some of their best prospects for some marginal rentals, in the hopes of making the playoffs. What they need is a first baseman who can actually hit, and I don’t know of any that are; (a) likely available and (b) a significant enough of an improvement to justify a trade. Can we trade Ike Davis for Garrett Jones? Even with Jones horrible recent slump, his numbers are far superior to Davis.

They also need to bolster their bullpen, since they have 3 guys who cannot be trusted to pitch in close games – Gomez, Pimentel, and Frieri. – and another who has just been awful – Wilson. The right decisions would be (a) send Wilson down (assuming he has options), and replace with Oliver and (b) release Frieri and call up Mazzaro.

S Brooks

Wow, some rant. Amazingly, I think I disagree with almost everything you wrote.

– Bringing up Rojas makes no sense. Decker is already on the 40-man, is the same age, has the same OPS as Rojas and has more than 40 games above AA. Plus why would you add Rojas to the 40-man just to sit him on the bench and burn one of his option years?

– The reasons for the team not recalling Polanco have been discussed to death. It’s not great, but as long as there’s Super 2 Arbitration, the low revenue teams will be making these decisions to save potentially $25M down the road.

– That said, knowing Polanco was going to be up in June, I wonder when you would have DFA’d Snider and recalled Dickerson? In April, when Snider had a .700-ish OPS (about equal to Martin, Walker and Pedro, and miles ahead of Marte and Mercer) and Dickerson was just a 32 year-old journeyman free agent who had his last decent season in 2009? Or in May, when Harrison took over RF and Tabata and Snider were both on the bench? Really in the best case scenario you’re talking about a few starts in mid-May and then the same crap pinch hitting Snider has been getting the last 8 weeks.

– What should the Pirates get back for a Quad-A player who at best would have been their 5th OF? Whatever it is, it’ll be more than they gave up to get him, which was NOTHING. 29 other teams could have signed him over the winter.

– Hanging onto players – do you realize this team has discarded over $11M in non-performing players (Wandy – $7.5, Tabata – $2.75, Mazzaro – $950k)? I don’t understand why this tired meme of “they hang onto certain players” comes from. Snider will be gone very shortly – probably once Lambo is proven to be capable of hitting with authority. Gomez had an 0.75 ERA in June and a 3.86 ERA in May – after a shaky start he’s been one of the most consistent guys in the pen. Pimentel is an asset, he just has the misfortune of being too far down the SP depth chart but out of options. He’s an ideal trade piece for a team that needs a starter. And Frieri has been with the team for TWO FREAKIN’ WEEKS.

– Garret Jones is no improvement over Ike Davis, by any measure. And he has a guaranteed contract through 2015, which Davis does not, so even under the worst case scenario, Davis gives the Bucs more freedom to hunt for a 1B next year.

– Wilson has options. However, the remaining relievers at AAA on the 40-man are Wirfin Obispo, Josh Wall, and I guess you could ask Sadler to relieve again. Mazzaro and Oliver are not on the 40-man and would each require someone be DFA’d.

It’s not as easy as fantasy baseball, is it?

R Edwards

Amazingly, I think you are wrong on almost every point you tried to make.

(1) Decker inclusion on the 40 man is a joke – he’s a AAAA player at best. The fact that he was/is on the 40 man is part of the problem – Dickerson has and is a far superior player than Decker ever would hope to be. Who started at Indy when both were playing there, and Polanco was also there?

(2) If I was the front office and knew I did not want to field the best team possible, starting in April (by having Polanco in RF at the start of the season), I would have re-signed Byrd. Since they did not do that, I certainly wouldn’t have started the season with a RF platoon that included Travis Snider – another AAAA player at best. We already knew what he can and cannot do. He’s a .230 hitter, with occasional power, who does hustle and gives all he has. That is it. In April, he hit .238. Certainly not deserving of playing in RF on a regular basis. Dickerson, paired with Tabata, was a far better option – next to re-signing Byrd.

(3) Yes, Harrison did start playing a lot in RF in May – but he also got plenty of his at bats in LF, 3B, 2B, and SS. He is also a right handed batter. Dickerson presence would have not been an impact on Harrison – he would have just taken Snider’s spot. Dickerson did not command much in a trade, because he is 30+ years old and a fringe player – but, he was far more valuable to the Pirates. He could be filling in for Marte and spelling Polanco from time to time – and not some combination of Snider and Decker.

(4) Wandy never should have been brought North with the team in April in the first place – he wasn’t right in Spring Training. Yet, the Pirates stubbornly did and they insisted on pitching him. As a result, we likely lost 3-4 games that at the end of the season be the difference in making the playoffs or not. So, I am not going to give the Pirates credit for making a decision to eat his contract, when they did it a month too late. They did not eat Tabata’s contract, they just sent him down. Mazzaro and Morris should still be in Pittsburgh, instead of stiffs like Gomez, Pimentel, and Frieri. But, the Pirates will continue to stubbornly hold on to these “assets” and hurt the team in the process.

(5) Jones vs Davis

Mighty Ike Davis – in 200 at bats in Pittsburgh – .243 avg, 4 HRs, 23 RBIs, and .350 SLG.

Garrett Jones – in 300 at bats, .256 avg, 10 HRs, 36 RBIs, and .425 SLG.

How someone can possibly say Davis is the better option for 1B, defies logic.

(6) Gomez – You can play with stats to try to justify his existence on the roster, over better options like Mazzaro (or Morris before him), but this year his full body of work shows that hitters are hitting .280 against him and he has a 3.53 ERA. Thankfully, he is used sparingly – but, because of that, other pitchers in the bullpen are getting over used.

(7) So, to bring up Oliver and Mazzaro, they need to be added to 40 man roster – so, 2 guys would need to be let go. Okay, do it! Let go of any two of this group – Frieri, Gomez, Snider, and Decker!!!

S Brooks

Well it’s no surprise that you disagree with my disagreement with you.

Whatever issue you have with Jaff Decker, calling him a “AAAA player at best” is premature – he’s 24 and has barely a full season of AB in AAA. Dickerson, on the other hand, is 8 years older, spent parts of 8 seasons at AAA and has washed out in the show time and again. His lifetime stats at AAA are only marginally better than Deckers’ – and with nearly 3x the number of PA, you’d certainly hope they would be. When he’s 28 and has a track record that looks like Dickerson’s, THEN you can call Decker a AAAA player.

You would have re-signed Byrd with Polanco waiting in the wings. Interesting. Byrd signed for 2 years. Where would you play him and his $16M for the next year and a half?

There was zero reason on April 1 to think Dickerson would be a better option for the LH RF platoon than Snider, based on their relative performance and age. I think we can agree that Snider isn’t working out, the only question is when you make that call. Hitters with Snider’s profile, breakout potential and age don’t get DFA’d in April, it just doesn’t happen. The one team in recent history that made knee-jerk decisions like that – the 1982-1990 era Yankees – is a testament to why. Besides, you can’t throw a dead cat around here without hitting someone who bemoans giving up on Brandon Moss or Jose Bautista. Should Snider be gone now? Yeah, definitely. I’d love to see Lambo in Pittsburgh after the ASB. And I would much rather have Lambo on the roster than Dickerson, for that matter.

Wandy Rodriguez had a 3.08 ERA in spring training. Contrary to what you’ve written (made up?), there was no indication anything was wrong with him in any of his ST appearances, including his last two on March 19 and 25. every quote from every source – Hurdle, Searage, Huntington – indicated he was fine, in shape, the forearm was good, the curve was biting. He spun a quality start in his first outing of the regular season April 3. It was only after his next 2 starts that the drop in fastball velocity was identified as a concern. And it’s worth noting that in his first start off the DL, he pitched well against Milwaukee and the velocity was back up. We now know the knee – which put him on the DL in April and for which he had surgery last month – was the issue. We don’t know when it first became a problem, but there isn’t any evidence that it was affecting him in Bradenton.

Davis vs. Jones. Both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference WAR have them as identical (identically replaceable). Davis gets on base more and has better defense. He is experiencing the worst isolated power of his career and as a 27 year-old is a good bet to regress back to his career norms in that category, and to improve overall. At 33, and with 2 of his last 3 seasons looking more or less the same as he’s currently producing, Jones is what he is. And since he’s under contract for next year, he’ll be that (or worse) for another year as well. Now, if you want to look at the 19th century counting stats and claim Jones is the better player, go right ahead. You won’t be alone.

Gomez leads the team in relief innings pitched, so your claim that his sparing usage leads to overuse by other relievers has no basis in reality. A 3.53 ERA is league average for a reliever, and middle of the pack for the Pirate bullpen. But even those numbers are skewed by his first 3 appearances of the season. Since then – his last 24 appearances, or the vast majority of his body of work, he’s been absolutely reliable, and a mirror image of what he was in 2013. I guess you can call that playing with stats, but I would bet on the 24 most recent appearances as being more indicative of Gomez’ talent than the 3 from way back in April.

Relax. The team is in the playoff race. One of the best records in the league over the last 3 months. It has a Top 5 offense in the NL, a rotation that is rounding into shape, and a bullpen that, despite blowing 4 saves and serving up 3 walk-offs against our division rivals, is still 6th best in the NL. Help is on the way. We’re quibbling about what? The left handed pinch hitter? The #6 guy in a 7-man bullpen? The backup catcher? AAA outfield depth?

These guys know what they’re doing. Enjoy the games.

R Edwards

Setting your arrogant and condescending tone aside – just because I disagree with you – let me respond to a couple of things….

Rodriguez – Okay, he may have an ERA of 3.08 in Spring Training – which was comprised of 4 appearances and 11 innings. He gave up more hits than innings pitched, so hardly effective. Probably would have had much worse results if he was pitching to a regular lineup.

Now, season starts in April – and he was getting crushed from the word go. By end of April, his ERA 7.65 and teams were hitting over .300 against him. But, we gave him 2 more starts in May before finally letting him go. His best start – 5 innings pitched and two runs given up – that is the game you said he pitched “well” in. I would call that mediocre.

Ike Davis – my favorite subject – Now, I don’t blame last night’s blown loss to the Reds on Davis – let me make that clear. He didn’t even start. But, he had a chance in the 8th inning to impact the game – bases loaded – and he struck out. Now, if this wasn’t an often repeated situation with him, I wouldn’t mention. Looking back over the 2-3 months he has been in Pittsburgh, I can only remember 2-3 games where I thought he truly impacted the game and made a difference. The Mets are thrilled they found a team dumb enough to trade for him. If we waited another 2-3 weeks, we may have been able to get him for nothing via waivers.

Garrett Jones, at his worst, was much more productive than Davis.

R Edwards

Gomez leads the team in relief innings pitched because he is the designated “garbage time” pitcher, not because he is used frequently or has been effective. Look at his number of APPEARANCES and compare to the other relievers. Even Wilson who has been horrendous, has 12 more appearances than Gomez.

You guys throw around certain stats to try to make a case, while conveniently choosing to ignore others that may paint a different picture – and call them “19th century stats”. Yeah, like stats like ERA, BA, SLG percentage, RBIs, are now suddenly irrelevant in this sabermetrics obsessed world. Like, using OPS as the ultimate measure of a hitter – while ignoring all other stats – its really amazing to me.

This isn’t fantasy baseball or a computer games – its actually played by real players.


Too many facts Brooks, Edwards don’t need no stinkin’ facts !


Your points are garbage and flawed- Brooks is right. Look at how many likes his rant got compared to yours…..

1. Your point is just plain wrong. His age, the fact that he has speed, good OBP, and is a good outfielder, and even ranked by some media outlets as a top 20 prospect make you wrong
2. signing byrd would have wasted money and blocked polanco LONG term. Byrd wouldn’t sign a 1 year deal, hence again you are wrong
3. The value of a 5th outfielder period is extremely low- dickerson vs. snider really makes no difference, so yet again, you are wrong because your argument is irrelevant
4. Wandy pitched okay in spring training, i was there. You don’t eat that amount of money until you are sure there is nothing else, we gave him a shot, but didn’t hold on to him once we realized he was done…..so again, you are wrong

5. You are leaving out other important information such as defensive value, and OBP, how about the % of at bats jones strikes out? Giving one sided stats to try to prove a point is not cool. I’m not saying davis is fantastic, but we HAD to non-tender Jones or pay him millions MORE than he got to go to miami. You are ignorant as usual because we didn’t have the choice to sign him to a 1 year deal at 5 million.

6. Gomez is fine, an ERA of 3.53 is fine for what he does (compare his stats to similar role pitchers on other teams and tell me how he pairs up). If anything, Pimentel is the example of this issue, not Gomez. Not only wrong, but actually silly
7. I’m not even going to talk about this- since its based on all the other wrong crap in 1-6

R Edwards

If the great Jaff Decker was such a great prospect, how come he couldn’t get a sniff of the outfield in San Diego when they are STARVING for any decent position players including outfielders? Why did he sit on the bench in Indy, when Polanco, Dickerson were both there?

Only people who try to defend the stupid Alex Dickerson trade for Decker consider him a top 20 prospect in the Pirates system. To even suggest he is one is silly at best. You are wrong – and obviously cannot see what was pretty obvious – Dickerson was a player to hang onto – in case we need another OFer.

To suggest Davis is anything but terrible, is again a sign of wanting to still defend that asinine trade. Made only worse when we traded one of our better pitching prospects for him. His hitting numbers are akin to a light hitting middle infielder.

I’m sorry that I refuse to accept the company line and try to be objective about the team’s decisions. I will say I was wrong about Volquez – I thought he would have pitched his way off the team by now, but he has shocked me. I hope he keeps it up all season – we will need him.

Keep those blinders on and have a great day!


Nobody said Decker was great. Only that he’s younger and has more potential than the much older Dickerson– who, in spite of his current success at AAA, has proven himself to be the epitome of a AAAA player over his much longer career. He may have finally found his groove now, but his track record says the odds are against it; whereas the track record on Decker has yet to be written.

R Edwards

Actually, IMO, the track record on Decker has already been written. He’s one of many former first round picks who have been busts. He was in the SD system for 5-6 years – and never could break into a SD lineup that is completely devoid of quality position players – especially outfielders.

His stats in the minors, which were not all that impressive, were over inflated by playing in very hitter friendly leagues. While at Indy, he sat while Dickerson was a regular. Now, anything is possible, but given his track record to date – and the Pirates depth in the outfield – I see no reason to believe he will ever be more than Matt Hague. Choose to believe otherwise – and you can remind me if I turn out to be wrong.

Forbes 66

Uh… Mr. Edwards. You have been schooled badly on this thread and it might be wise to just admit it and stop trying to rescue a dubious debating position.

R Edwards

I have been ganged up on by those who just support the company line, but schooled? No.

Nuke Laloosh

Good rant.

Timothy Wolfe

In the land of immediate gratification, you would definitely rain supreme, we’d make the playoffs this year and then before you know it, we are either banktupt from your decisions, or we go back to 1993-2013. This team is being ran better than it has for the last 30 years plus, so just give it a rest. There is a balance of now vs. future that you just don’t get.

R Edwards

If “now” is Frieri, Snider, Gomez, Decker, Stewart – I want to sign up for “future” instead.

Timothy Wolfe

My god- shut up already. If you don’t even know who has options and who doesn’t, or understand the concept of player control for long term success of a small market team, just don’t post on issues which involve those topics. You just make yourself look ignorant.

R Edwards

No, you are ignorant. You don’t keep a terrible pitcher – like Frieri – or a mediocre player – like Snider – just because they don’t have options!!!! Who cares, its likely no one would even claim them. Even if they did, so what – no loss in either case.

This front office needs to decide if it wants to field the best team possible with the best chance at winning – not hanging on to stiffs like they are gold!!!!

William Wallace

Can we also send Hurdle out to the DL? Man he has been making some poor decisions! Maybe it’s the pain medicine.


Hind sight is always 20-20. But it looks like Chris Dickerson is taking advantage of the playing time he is getting for his new Indians team (.364/.364/.728). He was hitting his stride in Indy. Now with Marte down in the DR on bereavement leave shows you never have to many OF bats. I’m sure Jaff will do just fine, but I must say I was looking for that Chris Dickerson call up that will never happen.

Timothy Wolfe

why would you want to call up a guy who is over 30 years old and a career AAAA player?

R Edwards

Dickerson was a very effective player for the Orioles a couple of years ago, when they had injuries in their outfield. No one said he was a potential all star, but as a stop gap measure, he is a very capable outfielder, has speed, and has shown to be a competent hitter.

Younger doesn’t mean better. If it did, Decker would have been starting for Indy and Dickerson sitting – when both were there together.

Nuke Laloosh

Because Snider is no help and Dickerson is better.

R Edwards

Its not hindsight – I posted on here numerous times that Dickerson needed to be in Pittsburgh, and release Snider. Now, we just give him away for essentially nothing.

John Lease

You’re sure Decker will do fine? Based on what? He’s 4 for 29 career in the majors, 3 singles and one homer. He’s had a season and a half of AAA, and is a ,278 hitter there. He hit 4 HRs in 71 games in Indy this year. I agree, I’d also preferred to have taken a look at Dickerson.


Let me give that an Amen brother.

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