Pirates Send Buddy Borden to the Rays to Complete the Sean Rodriguez Deal

The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded right-handed pitcher Buddy Borden to the Tampa Bay Rays to complete the Sean Rodriguez trade. We had Borden ranked 13th overall in our upcoming prospect guide. He pitched for Low-A West Virginia this year, where he had a 3.16 ERA in 126 innings, with 122 strikeouts, a 1.18 WHIP and a .220 BAA. The 22-year-old was a seventh round draft pick of the Pirates in 2013 out of UNLV. His player page can be found here.

UPDATE 4:47 PM: Since he won’t be in the Prospect Guide, here is his player profile from the book:

Most college pitchers in the Pirates’ system end up in Bradenton during their first full season, either right away, or in a mid-season promotion. That wasn’t the case with Borden, despite strong numbers in Jamestown during the 2013 season. He has a fastball that hits 96, and a curveball that works as a strikeout pitch. He also has a changeup that can be average one day. The one thing he lacked heading into the 2014 season was good control of his fastball.

Borden struggled early in the season with his control, posting a 3.7 BB/9 ratio through the month of May. The overall numbers were good, and he had a good strikeout rate, but needed to see some improvements in that one area. This prevented him from a promotion, but allowed him to improve at the same level. He eventually posted a 2.3 BB/9 over the final two months of the season, including four walks in 27 innings in August. He also dominated down the stretch, with a 10.1 K/9 to go with the reduced walks.

If the control holds up, then Borden could be a starter in the majors, with the upside of more than just a back of the rotation guy. He has a projectable frame and a clean delivery, and while he hits mid-90s now, he could one day sit in that range with added strength. Right now he sits in the 89-93 MPH range. He has a curveball that has put up some impressive strikeout numbers, sitting in the low 80s. The curve will only be more effective with better fastball command to set up strikeout counts.

One thing Borden needs to improve is his changeup. The Pirates have shown a trend of really pushing the changeup development when pitchers reach Bradenton. That is where Borden is slated to go in 2015, and the pitch will almost certainly be a focus. He’s got a feel for the pitch, and with some improvements it could eventually be an average offering.

Borden has a chance to be a number three starter in the majors, especially if his fastball command continues to improve. He doesn’t really need the added velocity, as he keeps the ball down in the zone, but a jump to the mid-90s would be a nice bonus. The Pirates could take things slow with his development until he learns the changeup. At that point, he could move quickly through the system.

UPDATE 5:04 PM: I’m not a fan of this deal. We are probably higher on Borden than most, but even without that, the trade value on Rodriguez seemed small. He was designated for assignment, giving the Rays no choice but to deal him. He only has one year of control left, and is coming off a down year. That type of profile doesn’t usually land an actual prospect.

The thought was that the Rays would be getting a Rule 5 guy who wasn’t picked. Borden wasn’t in that situation. Those types of prospects are guys who could be utility players, bench outfielders, or bullpen guys. They are guys like Mel Rojas and Stetson Allie. That type of move would have made sense, because you’re selling low on a bench player in the final year of his deal to get a guy who could be a future bench player, and possibly more. Borden has much more upside than that, and I don’t think the situation surrounding Rodriguez warranted this type of value.

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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Kevin Anstrom

The trade should help the Pirates in 2015.

The Rays have rebuilt their farm system into the deepest and perhaps best in baseball. The recent acquisitions of Borden and Urena from the Pirates will only increase their depth.


I don’t like it either , way to much give for what we got .

R Edwards

The infamous PTBNL always seems to bite us….same with Ike Davis trade last year. I like Rodriguez and I think he is an underrated utility player – but he is still just that, a utility player. I liked the trade originally, as I was concerned with having guys like Sellers, Elmore, or Florimon on the team as a utility player – but with the disclaimer that it depended on the PTBNL. Now, I don’t like the trade at all. Rodriguez was DFA’d a few days before the trade, so this is a very high price to pay IMO.

Borden showed a lot of promise, and looked like the kind of college pitcher who would zip through the system quickly. This is way too high a price to pay for a utility player. TB has to be thrilled. So, we have now traded three promising young starting pitchers in the past 9 months (Taylor, Rodriguez, and now Borden) for a utility player and one year of a middle of the road LH reliever.

Huntington has done a great job of building a strong farm system, and he is now doing a good job of trading away some good pieces for fringe players. Not long ago it seemed we had a seemingly unlimited number of strong starting pitching prospects, but almost all of them are now at the AA or AAA level, with not much opportunity to get a slot in Pittsburgh. Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton, Sadler, Glasnow, Sampson, Creasy, and the other kid who had TJS last year – I forget his name. From the A+ level down, who do we have that shows a lot of promise? Dickson? Maybe. Heredia? He’s been awful and really hasn’t shown much in the past 2 years. Who else?

I guess an argument can be made that we have an abundance of starting pitching prospects and should trade 1-2 of them for pieces we need, and I understand and agree with that. But, IMO, we didn’t get enough for Borden. We overpaid. If it was Sadler or even Sampson, I would not have felt quite the same way since they are both older and seemed like they are both blocked.

In the past 3-4 years, what has been Huntington’s great trades where it seemed like we fleeced another team? I can’t think of one, but maybe I am overlooking one?


As usual, you have no clue. Follow along. GMs don’t try to ” fleece ” each other. They try to fill their team’s need ( or needs ) by swapping players they and their staff feel will not be needed in the future, for a player they can utilize at the time. The best trades are beneficial to both sides.

R Edwards

As usual you are both pompous and arrogant. Yeah, in the competitive world of MLB I am sure GMs only want to help each other and not exploit another team on a trade. ….yeah right.


Pompous, arrogant me again. Are you really ignorant of the fact that if a GM had any hint that another guy was about to shaft him he would be still be willing to deal with that guy ? If so, you are about as clueless as they come.


A little surprised it was Borden but I disagree that he is a higher price than either Allie or Rojas. Upside often just means that a player hasn’t had a chance to be challenged. 3.16 for a college arm in the Sally League doesn’t impress me. I would have gagged if they sent Allie instead.


In order to win in the pending season, the Pirates are trading prospects for veterans. The Srod dea has the qualities seen in the Byrd and Davis deals. The Pirates are willing to trade the lesser prospects for vets who can help now.

I’d rather have Herrera, Taylor and Borden. On the other hand, the Pirates have not traded a high profile prospect for a veteran stop-gap. So, there’s that to appreciate.


I do not get the Love for Rodriguez. I hope he shows me why. That was a pretty high price to pay.

Lukas Sutton

60 posts on this. 60. Just point that out, considering its a guy about 4 years away from the majors and a backup IF option.


Face it, this site has become a juggernaut of speculative male fan fiction.

Monsoon Harvard

They won’t miss Borden. They’re doing what they should be doing, trading from strengths or at least trading from their perceived strengths to the rest of the league.


Minority Report –

Well, apparently nobody likes this deal. I am ambivalent on it. We have a lot of Buddy Bordens in our system. Further, I think it likely the Pirates think they have just got a very good Super Utility guy, a-la JHay.

With JHay going every day we need another one and the Pirates targeted and got the guy they thought would fill the roll with a good chance of success.

I have no problem with the deal.
Hey! This aint Pismo Beach! I knew I shoulda made that left turn at Albuquerque.”


I agree with Tim, this was a high price to pay. Seeing this makes me believe we will get a top 5 prospect for Tabata one day. Yes, I’m kidding.


Any chance we could trade for the Ray’s club house guy? I understand he’s not all that good but he is available.


More seriously, at least, S-Rod hit 12 HRs last year.


Unlike every other Pittsburgh fan, I’m actually a fan of Tabata. I’m really hoping he comes in having lost some weight and is ready to play this year.

Ben Swogger

It strikes me as odd that NH would make a deal like this when someone like Bonifacio was available for just cash.


I will confess to very mixed feelings on this one. I saw Borden pitch in the Spring at Pirate city and thought he had potential – but what do I know. But this level of prospect for someone who could have easily been released sounds very pricey. S-Rod has a lot to prove to get rid of the rotten smell surrounding this one.

I do think that Borden was at least two years away from having any chance at pitching in Pittsburgh – more likely 3. If adding a solid utility guy who might bounce back in a new setting works out it will have been a good deal for the Bucs. As I have said before – if you have no need for or use for a player – try and move him for things you may find helpful in winning. Hopefully this is what the Bucs did.


It’s a tough subject.. I admit I have campaigned over the last year to part w pieces from our deep and rich farm system to supplement the 25 man roster..

I also admit , now that they are doing exactly that .. I shake my head and say – NO , NO , NO…
I am sure this is why NH has delayed using this method. I am also sure it isn’t easy to pull the trigger , but I will remind myself what I suspect he must to follow thru … That we may be parting w a real potential value but doing so from a position of great strength.


I hate to be a party pooper – but what “great strength”?

We have Polanco in Pittsburgh – with mixed results from last year…

The “best” pitcher in the farm system underwent TJ surgery. The pitcher with the most potential – Glasnow – is at least a full year and super two months away from seeing the mound at PNC. Lots of “good” players at AA who are maybe two years aways from helping the the Pirates – if that.

Cards are better
Cub are better now and will be better still in a year
Reds actually may be ok next year – their was great post over on Fangraphs about how the Reds great defense made Sampson look a lot better than he really was. They should get Bailey back and they have an ace – the Bucs do not.
Brewers are going to hang around and annoy.

The NL Central is a moving target and unless the Bucs do more than they have thus far they risk being left behind.

B Thomas

who’s Sampson? You mean Simon?

Lukas Sutton

Heaven forbid a rookie, no matter how great, doesnt become an all star in 80 games. Mixed results, lets act like he isnt a top prospect. Your entire post doubles as a “everything is bad, we arent really that good” post from any Steelers thread. Cubs are better, yeah no way ALL those rookies struggle as opposed to our more talented and more experienced team.


I have to hand it to you. You are unbelievable ! Bob Smizik couldn’t have said that better.


We are the epitome of ‘small market’… This regime has built a balanced structure . from the very top .. Strategies for locking up our best ML talent all the way to the very bottom .. In South America , Australia , the draft and Independent ball… And every aspect of baseball operation in between is Gold Standard… In order to repair their respective farm systems , the Reds and A’s , for example , have had to have MLB level fire sales…. I am grateful and proud for what we’ve got and who we are.. LETS GO BUC’S ! !


And all of that led to how many World Series appearances in the last 35 years?
The Reds and As have a plan – not sure the BMTIBB does based on the last three years.


What’s the Reds plan??


I don’t think Billy Beane has any plan.. Maybe in the past .. He seems a bit untethered . He is full of hubris… Drunk of his own cool-aid… NH is very grounded and clearly deliberate w every decision.


Ah… I won’t dismiss you as sour grapes cus I have seen you post worth while thoughts multiple times.. We all get frustrated … It’s a unique fandom we all share… This management team has delivered our redemption.. We didn’t only own the losing seasons record… We were a shell of an organization… Decimated . The prior mismanagement ran it up on the rocks, there was nothing left.


Please state for me that ” Reds plan ” . If you have it figured out, you are way ahead of a lot of observers who do it for a living.


Go over to Fangraohs – nice suumary of how they reconfigured – who would you prefer as your 1 and 2 starters
Or pick 2 of the 3

they also have two wild cards – Votto
and Bruce are 4/2 WAR guys when healthy and one of them will probably bounce back next year


” Will probably…. ” ? And the SS will find a magic cure for not being able to hit much. And their leadoff hitter will probably improve his OPS. And Tony Cingrani or Robert Stephenson might actually be MLB pitchers. And their bullpen besides Chapman might actually pitch like they are major leaguers to make up for the loss of 40 % of the rotation. Yeah, that sounds like a plan to me.


Lonley your post are all a familiar exercise in confirmation bias. Is it really accurate that the Pirates will enter 2015 with a weak middling under-capitalized team, with glaring defensive deficiency, and an overrated little impact farm system?

Here are projected four starter for the Reds and Pirates and their performance from 2013-14, I don’t see evidence for your rankings. And remember Bailey is returning from a flexor tendon repair, and it is common for forearm muscle isssues lead to elbow ligament issues.


As far as the Reds plan, got to Fangraphs depth chart pages and look at the 2015 projects, the Reds sit at 76 Wins, the Pirates 87, a game behind the Dodgers, Nationals, and Cardinals in the NL. Is the future really that bleak?



Two year perspective is interesting – but in 2014 Cueto pitched like a true ace – I think most GMs would take him and Baily – or Leake over any two from the Pirates top 5 rotation options.

As for the totals – Reds will add at least two wins with a LF move – and as with all projections guys like Frazier and Mesoroco [and yes Marte] tend to get conservative numbers at this point in their career. Frazier had a 4.7 actual – proj 2.7, Mesaroco 4.4 proj 2.6. Some regression is possible – but both guys are still under 30 and could actually get better.

I do think the Bucs are the better team overall – but with some luck along the way the Reds can compete in 2015. But they will also be in a position to add quality players and prospects if they are out of the running at the trade deadline – Cueto and Chapman will draw very nice offers should the decide to trade one or both of them


Andrew – I really hope I am wrong – i do want the Bucs to do well – and do WAY better than I fear they may. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven very wrong on every criticism i have actually made heck even on the ones that I have been accused of making and never actually did would be great.
I often post to try and offset what I see as…
1. A bit of rose colored glasses in looking at this team and this farm system – they are good – but the are NOT
‘super’ or “superior” like I hear them being portrayed at times.
2. Ignoring the “elephant in the room” – the Bucs is poor overall defense – as Fangraphs pointed out, The Reds led the majors last year in DRS and it can be argued that Simon became a “good” [2+ WAR pitcher] because of that AND that losing Simon is not that big a deal if they can plug in a 1 WAR pitcher and do the same in 2015.
3. Accepting the lack of a true ace to put up against the Baumgartner/Kershaw/Wainright/Cueto/Lester’s of the NL is actually tied to point 2. I believe – can’t prove it – but believe that 4-5 wins a year can be easily had via a couple of changes to the defense AND that the type of pitchers the Pirates like/have could approach that “Ace” level if they were backed by a really good defense – Liriano certainly has that potential – maybe Cole does – Morton is not going to rise to Ace level – but he would be the biggest beneficiary of improved defense when he is “Ground Chuck” mode.


The strength is The RH power arms… We have a remarkable number of them.. I won’t argue being a bit thin w position players..and there was an intent to have OF depth to work from now too… But we have , what 7 ranked in the top 100.. Moreover, RH power hitting is at a premium… a current trend… But Big body young RH power arms are the classic unending crown jewel… We have the market cornered…

Do you realize there are ML clubs that don’t have a single body in their whole system that could break our top 20?


Top 20 What?
Players who could be good someday but will little or no impact on getting the ML team to the World Series for at least. Two years?

B Thomas

Everybody has that, players who “could be”. That’s why they are prospects. And according to almost everyone, the Pirates have some of the most talented of those “prospects”. Do you understand how that works? And last time I checked we will have 3 top 100 prospects in AAA this year, Taillon, Kingham and Hanson. Those are clear talent upgrades over what you had last year as call ups because your prospects weren’t ready yet.


I appreciate the skepticism .. Beyond the actual value as future baseball players they are equally if not more valuable as bargaining chips…

You think the Boston Red Sox don’t envy our top 20 and our entire system? They would already have acquired Cole Hamels if they possessed our assets .


The Red Sox have a terrific system, probably a bit better than the Pirates.


C’mon Leo , You’re better than that.. Go take a hard look at how he experts bare it out.


I have. Take a better look.

Chris Hale

Building a strong farm is the only way a small market team can content consistently. It’s the very reason we are even relevant right now. I’d like it to stay that way


Haha. You are a party pooper!




Tim , when the PTNL is agreed upon initially , how is it typically structured? There must me some sense of the value on return… Is there a general level of talent or pool of players that can be chosen from ?


Thank you. I don’t expect an answer… How did this kid make the list ? One I don’t even know I would want the answer to : Who else was on that list?


Just moving to the St Petersburg area last December I got to see a lot of Rays hitters struggle last year. Maybe none more than S-Rod. He had a horrific .568 OPS and .173 average in the second half last year. Hopefully he can get it going. Looking at him, if he can hit around .240-.250 he is a .700 OPS player. Problem is his walk rate has been decreasing the last few years and his defense was at about his career worsts last year too. Not really worried about that because I know he can defend. I can see PNC draining his HR power too. I guess we just have to hope for the best because it definitely seems a player of his caliber could have been had for less.


freddy : think names like Michael Martinez, Jayson Nix, Brent Morel and….yes, Clint Barmes. See, now does Rodriguez look a little better ?


Rodriguez’s numbers against LHP in 2014 were .221/.295/.434/.729 . The slugging and OPS numbers were much better than Gabby Sanchez’s production last year. Expect to see Sean relieving Pedro a lot at 1B this year in addition to his super utility appearances elsewhere on the diamond against RHP. This made Sean an important get for the Pirates, made them willing to pay more than others to make the deal happen.


Very well stated – SRod has played every position in the infield including 1B in the majors. He has fielded very well at 1B and 2B, and OK at SS, 3B in addition to playing a lot of games in the OF. JHAY did all of that except 1B, and having SRod removes the need for the Pirates to find a RH hitting 1B.


Sort of except Harrison is no longer their super sub. So they need Harrison to have another good year and Pedro to rebound for this all to work out.


I was comparing Rodriguez to those guys. With no disrespect to any of those four guys as players, they can’t hit. Rodriguez worst OPS is better than any of them are capable of currently.


Agreed. Although Barmes had a solid year in 2014 and S-Rod is replacing what Harrison in the Super Util. I would be surprised if he played more than a handful of games at SS.


Beware NH and the PTNL …..


Or….maybe the Pirates didn’t have Borden ranked as high as Tim does. Borden is 3+ years away from the majors. And if he’s lacking secondary pitches as the reports say, that screams middle relief pitcher to me (a la Justin Wilson). We should not be losing sleep over this. We’ll surely find another Buddy Borden this year.


Agreed, it’s not like Borden was the only pitching prospect in the farm system. Still a lot of other potential prospects.


I wonder if this is a sign that MLB teams (including the Pirates) have vastly different rankings of prospects than Tim and other outside sources. The Phillies trade Bastardo for Joely Rodriguez (who Tim had ranked 33rd overall), and we now see that the Pirates traded Borden (ranked 13th by Tim) for Sean Rodriguez. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to trade a 13th rated prospect for Bastardo and a 33rd ranked prospect for Sean?


I dunno, Borden is all of 5 months younger than Joely and 2 levels behind him. College pitchers with a lot of upside generally don’t spend a full year in the SAL.


I would say the fact that Borden was being blocked by guys like Shane Carle and John Kuchno supports the idea that the Pirates didn’t think a lot of his upside. Neither of those guys is much of a prospect.


I should note that I could be completely off the mark. It probably just came down to what the other teams wanted/needed rather than simply comparing how good prospects are in a certain farm system. Joely probably is a better bet to at least make it is a bullpen arm, where as Borden is not as far along in development so is a higher risk. Joely might be less risk, which is more valuable than perceived high risk of Borden.


Maybe this was an issue where it was agreed they’d take oliver unless oliver was taken in rule 5, in which case they would take borden…..thinking it was unlikely someone would grab oliver, we agreed to the deal and got stuck. Is that possible?

Chris Hale

Nah, I don’t think Oliver was their type of pitcher. Borden just fits the bill of a deal like this. They weren’t going to get the Taillon,Glasnow,Kingham,Sampson’s so Borden fits in the next category

Joe Sweetnich

We all tend to overvalue our prospects. Fair deal in my opinion.


Kinda feeling we had a need for Rodriguez this year and Borden wasn’t gonna make the team outta spring training. I’m with you. Prospects are prospects and players that help a team that is a playoff countender today have more value. Chips in a poker game This ante gives a card we can win the hand with. Tomorrow we play again with different cards.

Andy Prough

Agreed. I would be upset, but honestly I’ve never even heard the name Buddy Borden before. This system is sure loaded with pitching prospects.

Chris Hale

Unless you are a newcomer to this site then you have heard of him. Tim has mentioned him many times on this site . He had the upside of a back end starter/middle reliever at the top level. But this was a very fair deal


I think it was a good deal for both sides.. We likely were not the only club giving them an offer for S-Rod , they could only speculate what offers they are competing with… So when we offer lesser prospects and Tampa says , Eh , and shrugs… Maybe it’s a bluff , but they obviously wanted this guy.

Most teams could never part w a guy like Borden w/o flinching. It is really cool to have the amount of depth of big body RH power arms…. We won’t give another thought to this talented subtraction again…. Too many like him to continue being excited about.

Andy Prough

Well, I’m not a newcomer to this site, been around for a few years, so I don’t know how that is a point of argument. But I’ll take your word for it – if he’s the #13 prospect in the system, then I’m quite sure Tim has been tracking him regularly. I just can’t recall ever hearing his name for some reason.

Mick Kraut

I can only figure that with weaker secondary pitches they didn’t view Borden as anything more than a potential middle relief guy and that’s IF he makes it to the big club…Otherwise it seems like an overpay…


Strikeout rates from a 22 yo college sign in low-A aren’t very predictive.

Not trying to belittle Tim’s opinion, plenty of room for differences in scouting, but other outlets have written that his velocity is only effective in the low 90s because of poor command and fastball is straight. Couple that with no third pitch and you have a reliever profile unless a lot breaks right in the next couple years.

Still can make the argument that even that would be too much for Rodriguez, I suppose, but not sure there’s much reason to worry about losing the prospect in particular.


The SO rate at the same level is a more effective tell on a HS kid , if he was 18 , not 22 , agree?

John Dreker

I think it matters when the scouts saw him. He was having control issues early on, but was a much better pitcher the second half, so there were clear improvements in his game. When I saw him, he looked okay, but that was during his worst streak of the season. Some scouts don’t realize that the Pirates don’t care about results on the board, they care about making better pitchers. I’ve seen guys throw almost exclusively fastballs for 3/4 innings and I’ve seen guys that need work on pitches, throw it over and over and get hit hard or work themselves into bad counts because they aren’t throwing it for strikes. Borden’s numbers are a pitcher with a good fastball beating up on lower level guys. He’s the type that can throw a lot of innings and probably move to AA mid-season next year, putting him on pace for where he should be.

I’m not a fan of the deal, which also included the Pirates sending the Rays cash. It’s not just Borden though, it’s the fact they are getting Rodriguez for one year, the role he will have and his salary vs the prospect/cash they gave up. They traded from an obvious strength and someone that is far away, but that only makes the deal easier to handle, doesn’t make it better.


You may like it better when Walker or Mercer or Harrison need a break and you don’t have to see Jayson Nix or Michael Martinez coming to bat with 2 on and 2 out in the 8th inning. I know I will. Buddy Borden was a true lottery ticket.


Awesome ! Now I can risk voicing my objection of paying not twice as I thought , but sending money as well… We paid 3 different ways, for as you said , one yr rental.. That is high rent !

Also , I really appreciate the value in this assessment because I often attempt to bother you into giving more personal feelings on moves… If John is volunteering a personal lean on a deal … Then I say , Ugh !


Tim: I saw him follow Jeff Locke in an “A” game at Pirate City and he looked good. I liked his upside, but that has to be measured against him being a 23 year old in 2015 and just getting to Hi A. There were three RHSP’s at Hi A last year who did well (Glasnow, Kuhl, Creasy), and getting 18 year old RHSP Prospects Mitch Keller, Gage Hinsz, and Trey Supak in last year’s draft probably meant that Borden was headed to the Bullpen. His 0.88 GO/FO was against him also. I was shocked at first, but the numbers were not in his favor.

Sean Epstein

Maybe it is just me, but that seems a bit pricey.


Ouch is right. Wasn’t he Dfa’d? Must have been a bit of a bidding war? #30 + for Bastardo and #13 for SRod. Saw Borden pitch in short A and always thought he could be good…



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