Pirates Release Ernesto Frieri

The Pittsburgh Pirates have released right-handed pitcher Ernesto Frieri, according to Matt Eddy’s minor league transactions on Baseball America. Frieri was outrighted to Triple-A last month after struggling with the Pirates. If he would have declined his outright assignment, he would have given up the remainder of his $3.8 M salary. Now that the Pirates have released him, he is guaranteed that salary, which is no different than his situation when he accepted an outright assignment. The difference is that he’s now free to sign with any team.

If he signs a major league deal, the Pirates would save the pro-rated portion of the league minimum for the amount of time he’s in the majors with another team. The Pirates, or any other team, could also sign him to a minor league deal for the 2015 season, or a MLB deal. The benefit here would be that he could receive a salary lower than his arbitration rate, which is above what he would be worth after this past year.

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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R Edwards

Its heard to believe he was pitching in high leverage situations just a month ago….just goes to show, the Pirates don’t have the secret formula for reclamation projects. For every Liriano (for one year at least) and Volquez, they have also had their Jonathan Sanchez and Frieri.

John Lease

About a month late, but at least he’s gone.

S Brooks

So moving into next year that’s Melancon, Watson, Wilson, Hughes and presumably Holdzkom. Axford is arb-eligible and even if his salary remains flat, at $4.5M he’s a non-tender candidate – especially since Hurdle has him 5th (or worse) on the depth chart. I’d be fine with Gomez OR Stolmy as an innings soaker at the back end, but not both. Sadly, that may be exactly what we get.

dr dng

I would really like to see if they can sign Volquez. I would think that he is player that teams would like to play behind because he always seems to credit his defense when they make a nice play. What do you think it is going to cost to sign him and what are our chances of signing him?

S Brooks

Good question. While this season he’s been an above average starter, his FIP is actually worse than it was last year when he sported a 5.71 ERA. Career FIP is 4.36, ERA is pretty close to that. He has a TJS in the rearview mirror, missing parts of ’09 and ’10, but has been pretty durable the last 4 years.

He has definitely bought into the Book of Ray – getting ahead of hitters (high first pitch strike %), then inducing weak contact out of the zone (high contact % out of zone, high GB %, low LD %, low BABIP). It definitely helps that he’s not walking as many hitters. The only red flag is he’s stranded a few more runners than you would expect, so instead of being a 3.30 ERA guy he might be more of a 3.80 ERA guy.

But that’s still useful. I think he is what he is, a dependable #4 starter who, in front of the right defense, can pitch up to a #3 . So you put that together with the moderate injury risk and his age (31 opening day, turns 32 mid-season), and you’re looking at comps like Ricky Nolasco, Jason Vargas and Scott Feldman.

Based on that, he’s likely to get something in the 3 years/$27-$30M range. I doubt the Pirates would go for that, not because they’re cheap but because they probably see Volquez as a league-average #4 and know they can find the next one on a 1-year deal. Which is what I think they’ll do to fill that 5th spot behind Cole/Morton/Worley/Locke until Taillon and Kingham join the show next summer. Brett Anderson, Paul Maholm, Dice-K, Capuano, Scott Baker, etc.

John Janesko

I feel like a Pimentel, Cumpton, Kingham competition for the 5th spot in the rotation is likely. Whichever one would come out on top would be a pretty nice 5th starter, and it would be nice to save the money to go after other people. Also I doubt they would give someone a few million dollars with the intent on them losing a rotation spot mid season

S Brooks

And yet last offseason they signed Volquez when they already had a starting 4 of Liriano, Cole, Rodriguez and Morton, with Locke and Cumpton having ML experience, Pimentel out of options and on the roster and Taillon – who had not yet incurred his injury – expected to be called up in June/July. And as we saw, 4 of the 5 on the Opening Day rotation went down with injury and Taillon had TJS, so it was a damn good thing they signed Volquez.

If they did it last year, what makes you doubt they would do it again?

John Janesko

I see Stolmy getting an opportunity to start, with them potentially losing both Volquez and Liriano. I really would like to see that, I think he has great stuff and if given the chance would be a pretty effective back of the rotation guy. I mean his best pitch is his changeup and I don’r think its nearly as effective in a bullpen role. Of course they’ll probably get their annual value lottery ticket as well, so who knows


Relief pitchers are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.


i think they gave up on Grilli too early, but i didnt mind the move at the time.

tim m

there had to be some behind the scenes stuff going on with Grille for them to give up on him so quickly but they again everyone thought the change of scenery would do Frieri good but it didn’t move on

IC Bob

Both Frieri and Grilli needed a change of scenery Unfortunately for us it didn’t work out for Frieri. I thought the deal was a good deal at the time but not all deals work out.This


I think the ideal situation would have been to pitch Grilli in the 7th and less high leverage spots, to see if he could get the walks down and strikeouts back up, he has done the former in LA. But based on his comments to the media that would have been a very difficult move to make.


Honestly, I wonder how much Grilli’s book had to do with him leaving. We’re not privy to what goes on the clubhouse, but man, some of Grilli’s quotes were over the top in terms of ego and narcissism.

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