Pirates Acquire LHP Jesse Biddle For Yoervis Medina, DFA Schugel

According to Jim Salisbury, the Pittsburgh Pirates are about to acquire left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle from the Philadelphia Phillies. Other sources have confirmed the deal. No word on what they will give up for the former top prospect. Biddle had Tommy John surgery in mid-October, so he is out for the entire 2016 season.

Update 12:00 PM: Biddle was designated for assignment by the Phillies last week. He was added to their 40-man roster in November 2014 and with him not pitching at all in 2016, he will use his second option this season if the Pirates keep him on the 40-man roster. Biddle was once a top prospect, getting selected in the first round in 2010 out of high school. At 6’5″, 235 pounds, he’s a big lefty, who was a reliable workhorse type starter before the surgery, though he did miss some time during the 2014 season due to an injury to his non-throwing arm. He also had a concussion early in the year, which they say had an effect on his performance into June. He turned 24 in October.

Biddle split this past season between AA and AAA, posting a combined 4.95 ERA in 24 starts, though his ERA in AAA was 6.25 in 44.2 innings. He has been a high strikeout pitcher in the past, including 154 in 138.1 innings with Reading(AA) in 2013. He has also had his issues with walks, topping out at 82 that same season. Biddle has a career .240 BAA and he’s been a fly ball pitching most of his career, posting an 0.95 GO/AO ratio.

Baseball America twice had him among the top 100 prospects, ranking #89 in 2012 and #71 in 2013. During that same time, he was the Phillies top ranked prospect in 2012 and second best in both 2011 and 2013. Both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com had him in their top 100 each year from 2012 until 2014, topping out at #53(MLB, pre-2014).

He throws his fastball low-90’s, with a mid-70’s curve that has been called a plus pitch. BA calls his slider “mid-80’s with bite” and he has a changeup with good fading action. If he returns to that form after he recovers from the TJ surgery, then his upside is as a back-end of the rotation starter.

Update 1:47 PM: The Pirates gave up RHP Yoervis Medina to acquire Biddle. Medina just cleared waivers last week and was sent to Indianapolis, so the Phillies didn’t like him enough to use a 40-man roster spot on him, but now they get him as a minor leaguer. The Pirates had to make a move to clear a 40-man spot for Biddle, so they designated RHP A.J. Schugel for assignment. He was picked up on January 19th, which was the same day the Pirates DFA’d Medina.

  • I guess the Pirates don’t have enough of their own pitchers recovering from TJ, so now they have to pick up pitchers from other teams. Maybe the Bucs want to be the leaders in TJ rehabilitation,

  • John … Do you know how soon a player can be put on the 60-day DL? Is it the start of the season? Or earlier?

  • JoseGuillensArm
    February 3, 2016 6:31 pm

    Speaking of low risk guys, what are the chances the Bucs could make a play for Matt Thornton? Up there in age at 38, but pretty strong numbers for Washington last year and only made $3.5, which is relatively cheap even for the relievers we’ve paid for this winter. Pretty strong splits against lefties with a .484 OPS and not too bad against righties either at .690 OPS. Best case he can take on a non-platoon role as the second lefty or if he gets knocked around by righties he could take on a loogy/situational role for later innings freeing up Watson. Fits the bill of a hard thrower as well, even if his 93.5 mph fastball would be considered slow for our current staff.

  • Like the pickup but those bullpen options to piggyback those awful starters r dropping like flies lol

  • Biddle has been injured numerous times. Once getting a concussion by way of falling hail. Let’s temper our enthusiasm until he shows up to play.

    • His potential is better than Medina’s or Schlagel’s.

      Worth a flier. Not enthusiastic at all, but I’d rather have him than either of those two relief guys.

      • Yes all I’m saying is everyone gets excited but this guy has issues. Maybe he will correct them in the 18 month period that they can assess him.

      • PS I’m glad Brendan Ferns chose WVU over PSU. Better Petroleum Engineering program.

  • Pirates dfa’d LaFromboise to make room to pick up Medina. Phillies dfa’d Biddle to make room to sign LaFromboise, who in the meantime had been picked up from the Pirates by the Angels and then dfa’d again.

    • yea ,why didn’t the pirates and phillies trade lafromboise for biddle 3 weeks ago.

      • Nothing else to do in February, right?

      • That was actually before Christmas that they DFA’d LaFromboise. This off-season is just flying by

      • It does seem a little odd to me as well. They could have claimed LaFromboise when we originally DFA’d him, as they certainly had a chance to claim him before the Angels.

  • Really nice pick up, I rather place him on the 60 day and give him 1 season of service time so we dont have to use up the 40 man roster spot all season.

    • If he was on the Major League DL, he would get paid MLB minimum all season

      • Just a guess, but I think Biddle would be okay with that.

        • I would sure hope so. I can’t imagine he could find fault with that unless getting paid that much to do nothing gives him such guilt that he gets ulcers thinking about it. Other than that, he would be crazy not to want to spend the entire year on the MLB DL.

          • Not for nuthin’, but I’d take a couple of seasons there myself if the Pirates wouldn’t mind obliging….

            • Assuming nothing happens between now and the season, he will get paid about $81,500(2015 total, not sure it’s the same) to rehab with Casey Sadler down at Pirate City this year. They are basically on the same schedule with their TJ operations being so close. I could think of worse things

    • That is a really smart comment Aa!
      Considering he will be coming back in 2017 100% with about 6 months of throwing behind him and a year of studying pitching from the sidelines, he will either be ready to be all he can be… or he will be ready to cut bait. Either way, no reason to spend the spot for a whole year on spec. By year 6 he has either been a big Carpenter size win or a Lincoln like loss.

  • Of the 3 I’d rather have Biddle over two AAA relief arms.

  • Traded for Medina?

    This trade went from a shrug to a confused look.

    • Why?

      • A reliever with good success, albeit a bad last season, with four more years of control…

        But with Biddle…a guy with control issues, just having had TJS, probably on restricted innings in ’17…so, best case, he might be available mid ’18?

        Who knows, it may work out if Biddle…definitely not a trade that will be bring down the franchise.

        • Medina just cleared waivers, meaning they could have lost him for nothing. They were willing to risk that to get A.J. Schugel on the 40-man roster and now Schugel was let go, though he could still stick around.

          • Ahhhh…okay, that clears it up…thought he still could be optioned.


          • Hold on now I’m confused. Seriously:


            How was the team going to lose him?

            • They could have lost him I said. He was designated for assignment, meaning anyone could have claimed him

              • I may just extra stupid today…wouldn’t be the first time…if he was DFA’d on the 19th, cleared on the 29th, and was assigned to Indy. How could they have lost him?

                For real…these transactions always lose me a bit.

                • Between the 19th and 29th, someone could have claimed him. If you get DFA’d, it means everyone has a shot to claim you, but no one was willing to give him a 40-man spot. Since they didn’t lose him, they sent him to Indianapolis. That comment was part of the bigger picture though. They were willing to risk losing Medina just to add Schugel and now they are taking that same risk with Schugel two weeks later, which tells you the value of either of them.

                  • Okay…thanks…now I see what you are saying. I thought you were saying someone was at risk of snatching Medina between the 29th and when the Pirates traded him. That’s what lack of sleep will do. Thanks.

    • Neal is making a bet that this guy is gonna fix his control and get his strikeout stuff back. He’s betting with pennies and he could get a few dollars if a few things go right.

      • Yeah…I’m with ya…if the baseball gods are smiling, Biddle, one day, makes the roster as a starter and the trade is probably a win at that point. Medina was a make or break player for this team, but it seemed like there would be a role for him.

        On the other hand, I’d give greater than 50:50 odds Biddle never sees the majors. That said, I’ve bought lottery tickets πŸ™‚

        • Even at his “best” Medina was the most fungible asset in baseball, a RH middle reliever. Even if Biddle only turns out to be a left handed equivalent, that’s still something the Pirates lack.

          • Yeah, not thinking the trade will sink the team πŸ™‚

            Just seemed odd to dump a guy who probably would have had a role with a guy that’s a huge question mark. But, I agree, if Biddle makes the majors, the Pirates won…if he doesn’t…I doubt Medina turns into Chapman.

            • I dont think its clear Medina had a role on the ML team. Lotta arms right now that are without options ahead of him for the bullpen.

              Melancon-Watson-Caminero-Hughes-Feliz-Nicasio. You’ve got 6 guys almost assured a spot over Medina, leaving room for maybe 1 more arm and with a clear need for a lefty over a righty (not insinuating Biddle is used this year but a different lefty over Medina).

              He’s fine depth to be sure, but not really a defined role.

              • Hence my probably…I agree, he was depth…

                …but I’m also assuming the Pirates would have needed depth at some point this season.

                I don’t hate this trade…I’m 85% indifferent. It just seemed a little odd to trade a low-floor/low ceiling guy for a no-floor/mid-ceiling guy…when the former can have an impact within two years.

                Either way, it’s not a major deal…but it’s February πŸ™‚

                • We need something to argue about!

                • You’re absolutely right on this one…Medina did represent one of the very few depth options the Pirates had, and they’ll obviously need them.

                  It’s sad they need to go outside the org for these guys at this point, but at least they shouldn’t take more than a waiver pickup or minor trade once arms get shaken out in the spring.

              • Hard-throwing Matt Thorton still is available.

  • John, if I’m not mistaken if Biddle spends the entire season on the 60-day DL he would not burn an option year (since he would technically be on the major league DL), correct?

    • He doesn’t have any Major League time, so he doesn’t have to go on the 60-day DL. He can be optioned, then go on the minor league DL. Basically, the same exact thing as Jameson Taillon this year.

      If he was on the MLB DL, they would need to pay him league minimum($500k+ and he would get a year of service time), so it’s not really worth it to save an option.

      Brandon Cumpton already had MLB time before his injury, so he got the year of service time and league minimum in 2015.

  • Neal is far from perfect… But with the financial obstacles he deals with in Pittsburgh… He and his staff do great things (whether this transaction ever works or not) on finding buy low candidates who immediately or eventually pan out. I think too often we combine our frustration of ownership spending with Neal.

  • A lefty throwing 4 average+ pitches (90s fastball, a plus curve, a slider “with bite”, and a “changeup with good fading action”). Seems like his upside should be more than back-end starter if he can get his control…under control.

    • That back-end prediction is based on him getting back to where he was, not getting back to where he was, plus improving his control issues.

      • Maybe I don’t understand “up side” then. I’ve always read that as “realistic hopeful outcome”. Improving control would be part of any pitcher’s development and should be considered when talking projection, I would think.

        • Well, his upside would be slightly higher, but it would involve him recovering well first, then shaking off rust from the time off to get back to where he was pre-2014, then adding the command. That isn’t a likely outcome from someone who will lose their entire age 24 season, while coming off a poor showing at AA.

          The 2015 Biddle looked like a #5 starter at best, but also someone who could just be a AAAA guy. A back-end starter would be a solid #4-5 guy, which is where you would rank someone with his stuff, who has command issues. It’s really going out on a limb to predict that he could be more than a solid #4 at this point.

  • The 40-man is full. Does someone have to be dropped in order to stash him or can he immediately go to the 60-day DL route.

  • can they put him on the 40 ,and then put him on the 60 day dl?

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    February 3, 2016 1:04 pm

    awesome – I just mentioned this kid the other day, after it was announced the Phillies were DFAing him…good pickup – low risk, but potentially a much higher reward. Just 2-3 years ago, he was considered the best pitching prospect in the Phillies organization. If memory services me correctly, he is also a PA kid?
    Smart move and investment…

  • I remember reading years ago that he pitched quite a few innings in the low minors, definitely more that Pirates pitchers. According to Baseball Reference his innings by age
    18 – 43
    19 – 133
    20 – 142

    Whether this contributed to his current arm woes, who knows.

  • Hard to complain about this one. Let’s see his results in 2018.

  • Seems like a low risk opportunity to rebuild his mechanics as he comes back from injury. It probably will amount to nothing in the end, but I like how NH is trying to be creative with acquiring talent.

    • This!

      I wonder what what the Yinzer chorus had to say when Huntington traded Snider for Brault and Tarpley?

      We now have three LH starter prospects for the MLB equivalent of pocket change and an expendable player. This is the kind of move that makes NH a great GM. If these moves please the Baseball Gods, the Pirates could have gained a good LH starter and two quality relief pitchers without expending a draft pick for any one of them.

  • Wow, I’m really interested to see the return on this. Living out in the Philly area, I follow the Phillies a bit and Biddle was viewed like Taillon just a few years ago. This could be a nice low risk, high upside move. Seems like NH is making some under the radar trades to acquire LHP depth.

    • I saw him with Reading and he was NOT at Taillon’s level. But as many have already commented, guys like him are always worth a shot.

  • I just don’t see the value in this move. He is not going to pitch this year and you don’t know the outcome of the surgery at this point. Will have to revisit this once the prospect(s) are known. At this point and with the young pitching the Bucs have coming, this seems like an unnecessary move.

    • A complete list of baseball teams who have had too much good pitching:

    • Depends what we gave up, which I assume is not a whole lot, since he was DFA’d. Possibly cash considerations, as a future LHP flier I think it’s a great move. We’ll see what went back.

      • I assume the cost is low. He is coming off a poor performance in 2015 and he’s missing this entire season. I’ve seen him pitch multiple times, about five times in 2011 and wasn’t too impressed, though he was clearly a better pitcher in 2012 and 2013. When I saw him he was sitting 89-90 and had mixed results. Lefties tend to do better with lesser stuff in the low levels, especially if they have a plus curve. By 2012, he was sitting 91-93.

        I saw him against Taillon in 2011 and there was a clear difference in stuff at that point. It was fun to watch though. I was taking notes for this site and for a Phillies site, so I was a busy bee that day.

        • I saw him pitch in Reading against Altoona in 11 or 12. The only one to touch him was Marte.

    • I liked it. When I saw he was DFA’d I was hoping the Bucs would swing some kind of deal.

      • It cannot hurt to have a kid like this working hard for 2017/2018. Based on the circumstances, I doubt NH would have given very much.

    • You bring up a good point about Tim. Although I hope and believe he will recover from this ailment and survive for the next few years at least, does he have a succession plan in place for this site? Considering many of us have entered into an agreement to receive information and a unique perspective on the Pirates organization for the next 3 seasons, I certainly hope he has given this some thought.

      • Meant for that reply to go to deacs and not you, Joe.

      • You will all be under my power, but the good news is that I’ll probably be at 150 minor league games per year

      • tim is day to day and to quote charlie steinert ‘ than gain aren’t we all”

      • Please……..quit burying Tim. I don’t think these comments have any business being discussed. And. Some are only interested in there $30 bucks. That’s sick. Let Tim get well, you are getting great value for your money.

        • Scott Kliesen
          February 3, 2016 5:23 pm

          I can see how my comment could be seen that way, but I can assure you I’m not burying Tim. And yes, this site is of great value for the money.

      • They have other quality writers to keep us entertained while Tim is sick! Let him get better.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      February 3, 2016 1:07 pm

      I disagree, when you consider he is a left-hander and the general uncertainty regarding all young pitchers….before the 2014 season, it seemed like the Pirates had an obscene amount of starting pitcher depth between the big club and Indy…then we had 4-5 pitchers go down with TJS. Assuming the cost of this move is minimal, why not take him?

    • A lefty that can throw 94 for a DFA…I’d take it a no risk – potential high reward move.

  • Someone called this within the last 5 days. I’m sure they’ll make themselves known. I forget who it was.

  • I’m assuming we won’t give up a lot considering he won’t pitch at all this year while recovering from T.J.S….even with him being a former top prospect. If we can get him back to healthy this could be a great project.

  • he will be a nice project for Benedict, oh wait! But seriously why the Phils wouldn’t want to keep him? Is it a 40 man spot? Isn’t he hurt?

    • TJ, out for all of this year. Chronic walk issues during his career.

      Pretty minor move overall, but if he moved into a relief role he has some decent upside. Always had good strikeout stuff. Needs to get healthy and work on his control (likely as a relief arm going forward).

    • Phils get someone they can use now and Pirates get a nice young prospject.