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Pirates Acquire Antonio Bastardo From the Phillies For Joely Rodriguez

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are pursuing Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury.

This is not the first time the Pirates have been linked to Bastardo. They were also connected to him last July (which was also from Salisbury). Ultimately, the Phillies didn’t trade him. The Pirates have been reported to be looking at lefty relievers on the trade market, including briefly discussing a swap of Travis Snider for Brian Matusz.

Bastardo has been a solid reliever, putting up a career 3.72 ERA and a 3.78 xFIP. He also has an 11.3 K/9 and a 4.3 BB/9. He’s under control for one more season, and is projected to make $2.8 M in his final year of arbitration.

UPDATE 5:43 PM:  Robert Murray is reporting the deal is done, although there are no specifics yet.

Ken Rosenthal tweets that the deal is close. Expect more news shortly.

UPDATE 5:55 PM: Jon Heyman says it’s a done deal.

UPDATE 5:57 PM: Joel Sherman says it’s Joely Rodriguez going for Bastardo.

UPDATE 6:02 PM: Here is a report on Rodriguez from the 2015 Prospect Guide (a book which he will no longer be featured in after this deal). He was our #33 ranked prospect in the system, with an upside of an impact bullpen piece or a spot starter.

Joely Rodriguez has shown many forms in his minor league career. He looked dominant in his jump to the US in 2010, hitting 94 MPH out of the bullpen with good movement. He went down with an elbow injury in 2011, then returned in 2012 to poor results. The 2010 stuff returned in 2013, and he once again looked like a promising prospect, sitting 91-94 MPH and touching 96, while showing good command and good secondary stuff, with an above-average slider and a nice changeup.

The 2014 season was a rollercoaster that showed both versions of Rodriguez. He struggled in Altoona as a starter, and was eventually moved to the bullpen. The struggles continued in relief. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League during the off-season, where he suddenly was putting up strong results again. He followed that up by going to the Dominican Winter Leagues, where he got off to a great start in the rotation. The late-season improvements are good to see, especially in two leagues known for having good levels of talent.

When he’s at his best, Rodriguez looks like a guy that could be a starter in the majors — possibly a number three or a number four guy. Unfortunately, Rodriguez has been too inconsistent in his career to really pin down an upside. The off-season success gives hope that he’s on the right track. He should return to Altoona in 2015, but could move up to Indianapolis if he carries over the off-season results. He might have trouble fitting in to the Pirates’ rotation in the future, but has a very real shot of making the bullpen, where he could end up a dominant left-hander. He needs to become more consistent before that can happen.

Rodriguez has some upside, but the big problem here is consistency. I really liked what I saw from him in Bradenton during the 2013 season. He didn’t have that in 2014 in Altoona, but has been doing well in the winter leagues, and was named to the AFL All-Star team today. He’s not a guy who is untouchable. He’s also not a guy who projected to be in the Pirates’ rotation, and his likely upside with the team would be in the bullpen. They’re basically trading six years of a guy who could be a strong lefty reliever or better, and getting one year of a guy who has been a good lefty reliever in the majors.

UPDATE 6:20 PM: The 2015 payroll page is updated with the move. The Pirates are currently projected around $75 M, and that figure doesn’t include Francisco Liriano’s signing, which could take things up another $13 M (assuming he’s making an even amount each year). The Pirates had an open spot before this, but since Rodriguez was on the 40-man roster, they won’t need to use that spot to add Bastardo when the deal is official.

UPDATE 6:29 PM: The Pirates have officially announced the deal.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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