The Pittsburgh Pirates were pretty active at the trade deadline, adding five players in the final week of July. They didn’t make any huge trades, but added guys to fill a few of their minor needs. Some of the guys that were added were more of the waiver wire quality, including Joe Blanton and Michael Morse, who didn’t have much trade value at all.
So it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Pirates continued looking for help into the August waiver trade period. They’ve done this in the past, with the most notable trade being their addition of Marlon Byrd in 2013. I don’t know if they will be that aggressive this time around, but Neal Huntington said to the media on Sunday night that the Pirates have been active on the waiver wire.
“The number of guys who aren’t even getting to us seems much larger than it has in the past,” Huntington said. “We absolutely continue to place claims, and in the rare instance that we are given the claim, we work hard to add that player to our system. Obviously, we have not been able to so far.”
The Pirates currently have the 14th priority for players who are waived by National League teams, and the 29th priority for players who are waived by American League teams.
As for who they might target, the trade deadline saw them upgrading the bullpen and bench, while also filling some holes for injury replacements. Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer start their rehab work on Tuesday, and when they return, the lineup and bench won’t have many holes.
The rotation was an area that they worked to upgrade at the deadline, although the addition was minor, with J.A. Happ looking like a mid-season reclamation project. Since that addition, they learned that A.J. Burnett would return this year, and that Vance Worley cleared waivers. Worley still hasn’t officially accepted his assignment to Triple-A, although Neal Huntington said yesterday that they were getting near the end of that process. (Updated 5:34pm: Worley accepted his assignment to Indianapolis this afternoon according to Chris Cotillo on Twitter)
“Obviously, our hope is that he will, but as a guy with more than three years of service, he does have the ability to refuse an assignment and go somewhere else,” Huntington said. “We made it clear that we would love him to stay here, and our plan is to send him to Indy to get him stretched out so he is a viable option for us out of the rotation.”
It would be unlikely that Worley would decline his outright assignment. He does have that right, but he doesn’t have enough service time to make his salary guaranteed. He just cleared waivers, which means no team in baseball wanted him for free at his current salary. So it would be difficult to get his salary from another team if he does elect free agency. All signs point to him sticking around as rotation depth, or a bullpen option in September.
Overall it doesn’t look like the Pirates have any big needs to fill. Their bench will be full by the end of the month, to the point where they will have a tough decision to make with some of their guys like Pedro Florimon, Sean Rodriguez, and/or Travis Ishikawa. Their lineup is clicking right now. The bullpen received two upgrades with Joe Blanton and Joakim Soria, and is another area where they don’t have room for more additions. The rotation is hurt in the short-term with Burnett gone, but they should be fine with a combination of Happ and Worley.
If the Pirates do make any additions, I’d expect it to be more depth moves like they made at the deadline. But looking at this team, I don’t see many available roster spots to add more depth pieces.