The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired right-handed pitcher Allen Webster from the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations. The 25-year-old Webster was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks last week. He had a 5.81 ERA in five starts and four relief appearances with Arizona in 2015. He has spent parts of three seasons in the majors(the first two with Red Sox), posting a 6.13 ERA over 120.1 innings. From 2012-14, both Baseball America and MLB.com had him as a top 100 prospect each year, ranking as high as 46th in 2014. With this move, and the earlier signing of Jake Goebbert, the 40-man roster is now full.
Webster has never come close to his potential in the majors, but he’s still young enough to reach his upside of a mid-rotation starter, or power reliever if that fails. Baseball America has ranked him as a top 20 prospect for his league six different times. He was the Dodgers #2 prospect in 2011 and the Red Sox fourth best prospect each of the next two seasons. His change-up was voted the best in the International League last year and twice it was voted the best in the Dodgers’ system. He mixes that plus pitch with a fastball that sits mid-to-low 90’s and touches 98 with heavy sink. Webster has put up strong ground ball numbers, while striking out nearly a batter per inning during his minor league time.
Webster has not only struggled in his time in the majors, he had a very difficult 2015 season pitching in Reno, which is a high-offense ballpark. In 15 starts, he posted an 8.18 ERA and batters hit .350 against him. He looks like a project at this point, though one with high upside. It appears he doesn’t have any options remaining, getting sent down each of the last three years after being added to the Red Sox 40-man roster in November, 2012. That could mean that the Pirates try to sneak him through waivers at some point this off-season if they need a roster spot.