Pirates Searching the Trade Market For Lefty Relievers, Also Like RHP Pat Neshek

According to Jon Morosi, the Pittsburgh Pirates are searching the trade market for left-handed relief help.

As Morosi points out, the team dealt away Justin Wilson, leaving Tony Watson as their only remaining lefty in the bullpen. They’ve got some internal options like Bobby LaFromboise, Andy Oliver, and possibly Jeff Locke. They also signed Clayton Richard to a minor league deal, with the possibility that he could be a lefty option out of the pen, or starting depth out of Triple-A.

Rob Biertempfel says that the Pirates are looking at relievers, and like Pat Neshek, who isn’t a lefty.

Neshek is currently a free agent, so that doesn’t fit with Morosi’s rumor.

After the Francisco Liriano agreement, it was also rumored that they were turning their attention to Edinson Volquez. If Volquez was signed, that would make a rotation of Liriano, Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Edinson Volquez, and either Vance Worley or Jeff Locke. If they did bring in Volquez, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to shift Locke to the bullpen and see if he could become the next Andrew Miller/Zach Duke type lefty reliever.

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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Michael B

Love all the potential here. What’s up with the LIZ deal…he is the icing on the cake. And although we have Taillon and Kingham on the way we need to be careful . I like adding Neshek….we would have a lights out BP and take the stress off of the starters. They could throw harder and not be stretched more than 5 or 6 unless on their games. This team is going to to a tough out !!

William Wallace

Papa Francisco! Il Papa!


A bit surprised that the team doesn’t seem interested in bringing back John Axford, although when I say “doesn’t seem interested” I’m really saying I haven’t read anything of the sort MLBTR. Which is to say I really don’t know much about their search at all.


I haven’t seen much said about Axford at all by anyone. He was making $4.5 mill and I think is a Super Two as he’s not eligible for FA until 2017. The money is probably the primary reason he was released to begin with. That they’re seemingly not interested at this point may be because they found things they didn’t like.

Brian K. Rhodes

I like Neshek. He would give opponents a different look on the right side and sometimes that makes all the difference. Plus it takes someone good away from the Cards.


Where is Bucco_Joe to tell us how cheap Nutting is after signing Liriano?

Chris Hale

Jeff Locke could turn into one of the better lefty specialists in the game


His ERA under RISP conditions is appalling. Could be a problem as a reliever.


Is there anything that actually points to this being possible, or is it more of a “hey, these other guys did it” type of comment?

Locke’s best (and only above average) secondary pitch is his changeup, which is typically far more effective against righties. And his track record to date supports this, as he’s only struck out 12% of the lefties he’s faced in his career.

Lukas Sutton

To be fair, his velo would likely increase a bit which could allow him to play off his fastball a bit more effectively with his change. I dont see him as a great reliever, but he could be a fine middle bullpen option.

William Wallace

Excellent post.


Lefty vs lefty changeups aren’t very effective in general, though.

I definitely think he’d be a fine middle reliever, just wasn’t specifically sure why lefty specialist was a likely outcome.


I know everybody says that relievers grow on trees, but I would really like to take a gamble here on an established name.
I like Antonio Bastardo from the Phillies, he is only going to make 2M on his last arbitration year, so my guess he won´t cost much in return. He had a solid 3.10 FIP and 3.81 xFIP. Like every hard throwing left hand reliever he had problems with control with 4.78 walk rate, but an 11K/9. He sounds like a more expensive Justin Wilson, but heck, thats the price for getting a catcher.
With Neshek it is a different story, he is going to be 35 years old and someone is going to overpay for him on a 3 year contract, so I don’t think the Pirates are going there. Besides, they do have more options from the right side to find a reliever on a tree (Lindblom, Lincoln, etc)


I don’t think Locke makes a good reliever. Relievers normally only have two pitches BUT have control. Locke has 3 pitches but doesn’t have the control. I’d keep him as a starter and see if he gets the BB down to <3.5 per 9 innings.


If Zach Duke can go from super hittable, junk ball LH starter to high K dominant loogy by simply shifting his arm slot, then anyone can do it. I mean 11.4K/9 last year, seriously, our Zach Duke?!


Just throwing this out there. John Holdzkom, Wesley Wright, Pat Neshek, Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon is a pretty solid bullpen.

Chris Hale

Don’t forget Liz as a possible closer if Searage/Benedict can impose their will. He has top notch stuff.


I’m not sold on Wesley Wright. I know his overall numbers look OK, but I seem to recall I always looked forward to him coming in from the Cubs pen because it meant good things for the Bucs. Probably because he had a 10% BB rate and 5% HBP rate against Bucs.


Bucs really need another lefty, that’s why I threw Wright out there. I like Neshek a lot, but would be surprised to see them spend what it would cost to get him. Spending on relievers not their MO, and I don’t totally blame them for being that way.

Lukas Sutton

The Pirates dont use LHP as LOOGYs, so why do they need a LHP? Since the team clearly doesnt use them in such a limited role, they should prioritize the best option over throwing with his left hand. One can disagree with how they use LHP in the pen, but it is what it is.


Given that left on left is a distinct measurable advantage for the pitcher, maybe the Bucs should rethink that stance.

Probably closest they’ve come to a LOOGY was Beimel in 2011. 42% of his batters faced were LH.

Lukas Sutton

Im not really arguing i agree with their stance, but pointing out that they are unlikely to change it. They dont like wasting a bullpen spot on a guy that throws 90% of his value into so small a situation. They, for their reasons im sure, want guys that can take an entire inning if needed.


I think Richards is the man for that job. Beimel was a reverse lefty- hilarious that they tried to use him in that role. Richards has always had pronounced splits.


I don’t have a prob w Neshek . I don’t know off hand projections for length of contract , but not a lot of miles on that under-handed arm… If they get Volquez and feel the funds are available … I will not object.


Do they actually need another lefty, though? Wilson faced two righties for every lefty over his career as a Pirate.


Not to second guess Clint Hurdle , even in these terms , I appreciate the way he values his gut over what the numbers may dictate. Don’t tell me I was the only fan made crazy at times , notably down the stretch , end of September , by his use of the bullpen.
*Not to mention , I made the realization after 2 years , that my problem wasn’t with Gaby , it was the less than fortuitous situations the skipper’s personnel choices granted him.
* All that said , It is easy for some dick sitting at home to post-dict every potential misstep of the best manager in baseball… So don’t ask me the point. * If I had to pinpoint purpose for this rambling : Lets get a quality lefty and use him against a lefty now and then. … But , again… I don’t feel all that strongly…


Maybe I just need a nap.

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