The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed pitcher Trey Haley on a one-year deal, per a team press release. Haley is a hard thrower who was previously in the Cleveland Indians’ organization. He was a second round pick in 2008, and can throw 100 MPH, but has dealt with control problems throughout his career.
Last year he pitched in Double-A and Triple-A in the Indians’ organization, putting up great numbers in Double-A, but struggling in Triple-A. He had a 2.38 ERA in 34 innings in Double-A, with a 10.1 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9. That did come in his fourth year at the level, as he also spent time in 2012-14 at the same level. He made his first jump to Triple-A, and the results didn’t go well. He did have a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings, but more importantly, he walked 21 batters, which doesn’t lead to the same results over the long-term.
Haley has a plus fastball that sits mid-90s and can hit triple digits. He also has a plus curveball. That combination makes him a high upside arm to watch for the bullpen, although the control makes him far from a guarantee. This is just another guy in what is becoming a trend this year for the Pirates to add high velocity right-handed relievers who have dealt with control problems. After signing Neftali Feliz yesterday, and Haley today, they have the following options who have hit 97 MPH or higher: Neftali Feliz, Juan Nicasio, Arquimedes Caminero, Rob Scahill, Yoervis Medina, John Holdzkom, Jorge Rondon, Trey Haley, and Curtis Partch. Six of those nine players were acquired this off-season, and they acquired Allen Webster as another option earlier in the off-season, before letting him go to Korea.
Haley was a minor league free agent, but the Pirates signed him to a MLB deal. This is the second minor league free agent they’ve signed to a MLB deal. The other was Jake Goebbert, who was signed earlier in the off-season as a bench option. These deals are pretty much the equivalent of waiver claims, with the exception that these guys have options remaining, allowing them to easily be placed in Triple-A. Haley has two options remaining.
There have been some injury problems with Haley, as he’s spent time on the disabled list every year since 2012. All of his injuries were minor, but that is something to watch, along with his control.
Overall, Haley is a high upside arm with no risk taken by the Pirates. That’s a common trend this off-season, and the hope is that one or two of these guys will step up to give the Pirates a really strong middle of the bullpen.
Update 5:00 pm: It looks like a roster spot was already open on Tuesday for this move(or Perez) as pitcher Guido Knudson was released two days ago. When he was picked up on waivers, he seemed like the type who would probably be put on waivers later in the off-season to open up a spot. Knudson didn’t have much of a chance to make the Pirates and they have picked up a lot of big arms this off-season since claiming Knudson, so he fell even further down the depth chart.