Pirates Acquire RHP Brady Dragmire From Toronto, DFA Phil Coke

The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired right-handed pitcher Brady Dragmire from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations, according to a team press release. To make room on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Phil Coke has been designated for assignment.

Dragmire was a 17th round pick by Toronto in 2011, signing for $250,000, and made it up to Double-A this year, working as a reliever. He didn’t have the best results, with a 4.38 ERA in 72 innings, along with a 5.1 K/9 and a 3.5 BB/9. The strikeouts were better last year in High-A, where he had an 8.1 K/9, and continued with an 11.5 K/9 in the Arizona Fall League over 11 innings.

The appeal with Dragmire would be his fastball, which sits 93-96 MPH, touching 97, and has sinking action. He pairs that with a slider and a mid-80s changeup. The changeup is his second best pitch, and has sinking action, probably due to him throwing it with a two-seam grip. He’s been working on upgrading the slider the last few years, but the pitch is below average.

Dragmire rated as the #16 prospect in the Toronto system heading into the 2016 season, according to Baseball America. They noted that Blue Jays officials felt he could reach the majors on his sinker alone, with a Seth Maness comp. He might have fallen a bit since then, as they’re giving him up for cash and clearing him off the 40-man roster. He still has two option years remaining, so look for the Pirates to give him a shot as future bullpen depth, hoping the pitch-to-contact and fastball/changeup combo works better for him going forward.

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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I am happy NH was able to make a trade with Toronto early this offseason. It feels like there is a quota of moves NH has to make with them every year. Maybe this kid can be as good as Robinson Diaz or Dana Eveland.


The Pirates FO getting an early jump on collecting other teams’ junk…..that was the 2015-16 off-season strategy. It worked so well, lets try it again!


Its annoying seeing the same snarky comments every time the Pirates make a minor move. Its not clever or proving any point other than many people on this site are ignorant about baseball.


Those comments are the result of NH making a multitude of stupid trades and signings over the past 12-18 months – we’ve all grown to become very cynical of anything he does now…

Bruce Humbert

So enlighten us oh wise one – what are we missing and not understanding?

Robert R

When will bucs1971 stop his stupid posts in all caps with exclamation points when he knows nada. OK Liriano was not much this year but to give up Reese and Harold was too much. The small market teams have to produce with baby steps. That trade sucks any which way.

IC Bob

As for Dragmire I would say its 50/50 he is still on the forty man roster by February


Can we get through one article without Liriano coming up? My god.

As to Dragmire…any better than Duncan? Would seem suspect.


Don’t know why I’m wasting space by commenting on the actual article, but he sounds like Hughes replacement.

Joe P

Neal, Pirates try to dig out of Quagmire, sign Dragmire. Sounds like the saying if you throw enough crap on the wall, some of it will stick.


Giggity Giggity


Wow years of control!


I’m just glad to see the Pirates are already starting the bullpen rebuild for next season. No reason to wait for free agency for that.


Is there any way that this had anything to do with the Liriano trade? Just askin as I run for cover.


Without Coke on our roster, I will lose my memory of the drug scandal in the 80s. That was the time period when some of the out of shape Pirates looked like the biggie size pictures of Oprah before one of her diets.

William R. Maloni Sr

Just the piece we needed. Look out GCL.

Oh, Liriano won the playoff game last night. Shucks.


And the inevitable posts from the peanut gallery have begun.

IC Bob

That Liriano guys looks like the perfect reclamation project. Three years of good to great pitching and then two months of lousy pitching. I bet a good management team would be able to get him back on tract in no time. He also seems to be pretty clutch.


People on this site need to get over Liriano, stop acting like the Pirates traded Walter Johnson reincarnated, in his prime, and face the fact that his performance in black and gold in 2016 STUNK TO HIGH HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ADDITIONALLY, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, HE WAS NOT WILLING ANY LONGER TO ACCEPT WHAT RAY SEARAGE WANTED HIM TO DO IN ORDER TO CORRECT HIS PROBLEMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyone who thinks that Neal Huntington just threw up his hands and decided to make that deal on a whim is sadly mistaken. We as average fans will never know the extent of the details that went into the reason he was traded, but I would bet my bottom dollar that it was more about him not being receptive to coaching anymore than any other factor. Yes, the ability is still there, but what good was it going to do the Pirates if, for whatever reason, he was going to give us his best rendition of Derek Bell?


We are acting like we traded a highly rated catcher for NOTHING just to get RID of Liriano. Get with it.

michael cassidy

how do your personally know this when Tim doesn’t know it?


Most people weren’t upset about trading Liriano, it was the fact that the all wise NH had to throw in two very good prospects as well, and then he turns around and tries to convince the fans that Drew Hutchison is something more than a mediocre AAA pitcher….

Mallorie D

Theres so many other deals that were bad as well. I had no problem with the Melancon trade. He got okay return.

But trading Walker for an over the hill Niese. He was at best a low ceiling, maybe Morton level pitcher. An okay #4 if things went well. So they traded Walker for Niese…Walker was great up until his injury in the last month and Niese stunk. He was worse than what even most people thought, not to mention speaking of an attitude problem, Niese definitely had an attitude. So being terrible as he was, they trade him for Bastardo, which actually wasnt bad return at that point, but they could have signed Bastardo this past winter. NH could have kept Walker and signed Bastardo, but instead he ends up in the end trading our starting 2nd baseman for a middle reliever we could have signed anyways.

And ofcourse the context of this entire thing is about money and cost control.

One last thing…remember this. Happ is getting paid 13 mil per season. That’s 3 mil more than what they were paying Niese. So Niese at 10 looks better than Happ at 13…really?

NH has made some shrewd moves in past years, this year has largely been really bad. Its not just money, he made some illogical decisions in my opinion.


This. The 2016 off season /season was a terrible failure for NH and the front office and NOW the team basically HAS to overpay for Nova because there are virtually no other options…except that a deal last year would have eliminated that necessity this year.

Thomas H

They won’t overpay for Nova. Not a chance.


Happ got a three year deal, whereas Niese was a series of one year club options. Very different contract structures.

Mallorie D

In other words…financial flexibility. Its really killing this team. This isnt all on NH. The budget he has isnt enough to compete to year in, year out. He cant create magic out of nothing. It only works so many times buying low on undervalued players and hoping they over perform. Not every player is going to over perform their contract and when they dont, you cant always give up on them. Based on the budget he has, there’s little room for error and he has little financial wherewithal to wait for players to come around.


Having to work with a small budget isn’t a problem…the problem is that the incessant focus on “financial flexibility” instead of putting the best team within the payroll demands on the field crippled this team and led to really really poor decisions. Yes, not having to be tied to Happ for 3 years at 13 is more flexible than Niese on a series of 10M deals…except Niese was the much less desirable of the two pitchers.

Liriano gets traded away for “flexibility” and then you see him pitch more like himself again and you go “damn we cannot get THAT type of pitcher on the market this year for that type of money”….it’s not a small budget that is the problem, it is the inability to manage that small budget productively and rely on “flexibility” over production.

Mallorie D

I agree, but to do that requires NH to be really efficient and on his game all the time. Very few GMs are going to get it right every time. He was bad this year and made some illogical moves…totally. But even at his best, its tough. Just like its unrealistic to expect a player to be consistently at their best every year, its unrealistic to expect NH to be at his best all the time. The difference is that some teams can withstand a bad signing here and there, Pirates cant. NH cant miss, otherwise the team will suffer. Pirates path to succeed is much narrower than the Cubs or Cardinals.

Look at the move the Cubs made with Heyward…has he matched the value theyre spending on him? No. Regardless if they win or not this year, they’ll be riding it out with him for 2-3 years to see if things improve before trading him, dumping etc. There’s no way, Pirates could afford to make a commitment that large and have the player under perform that much. Cutch might get traded for having 1 down year and he’s not even getting paid what Heyward is getting.

Stephen Brooks

If Jon Niese is over the hill at (almost) 30, then what do you call 31 year-old Neil Walker?

Of all the legitimate reasons to question the trade, age is not one of them.

Mallorie D

Over the hill isnt a reference to age, its a reference to performance. Niese was taken out of the Mets rotation and was not doing well the year before Pirates acquired him. He was at his best in 2011-2012. Morton’s best year was better than Niese’s and Morton was a #4 . They were banking on Searage (probably too much) that he could fix Niese’s problems. What we learned this year is that Searage cant fix everybody. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Probably hasnt helped that they also lost Benedict.

IC Bob

You know so much but then you say we will never know. Interesting. Let you in on a secret I am not upset we traded him I am upset we paid to get rid of him when if we waited until the off season or were shrewd we could have gotten something or at least not paid to get rid of him. I do feel sorry for Hutchinson as well since he with the overblown ERA will be forever compared to Liriano (who by the way did listen to our coaches for at least three years).


McCutchen was worse this year than Liriano….tell me your thoughts on that. Liriano had 3 straight pretty damn good years for this team.


My thoughts are that number one, you are spot-on correct that Liriano did have three great years for the Pirates. No one could argue otherwise. In fact, that underscores my problem with Liriano. He did have those three very good seasons, Then, when he ran into problems this year, reports surfaced that he was at odds with Ray Searage. My impression from what was reported, and again, it’s just my impression, is that Liriano behaved like a spoiled child who could not get his own way. In short, he was no longer coachable because he did not want to be coached, at least not by Ray Searage.
As far as Cutch is concerned, I am as bewildered as everyone else as to what to conclude. Are his skills declining at what would be considered a premature age? Was he injured? If so, what was the big secret? But, to answer your question, I think that Liriano is a head case and an attitude problem. I do not think that Cutch is a head case and an attitude problem.


Again you are obtuse and speculative. Cutch made MULTIPLE statements to the media that AT BEST prove that he was disgruntled. He made multiple statements publicly that are indicative of his dissatisfaction with Hurdle. Yes you SPECULATE that Liriano was a cancer and had a problem with his pitching coach? How about stick to the facts?


Cutch was less valuable than Liriano to this team.

Cutch saw huge declines in a lot of his peripheral/skill numbers, whereas Liriano velocity was the same, GB% was up and was really only struggling in one key area (control).

Cutch made clear statements indicating displeasure with the team.

Based on your logic the Pirates not only MUST trade Andrew McCutchen but also should include Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow to get that deal done.

I get it. You get to come on here and sound off and act like you know a lot about baseball screaming at the top of your longs to defend a terrible NH trade based on God knows what non-sense you’re saying about the 1970s. Hell, maybe you actually knew about baseball in the 1970s. But ALL you’ve proven lately is that you should stick with 1970s baseball trivia and that you’re annoying, wrong, and obtuse when it comes to THIS team and THIS trade/situation.

The Liriano move was a terrible move. One that didn’t need to be made and shouldn’t have been made. Liriano DID bounce back…and the Pirates SHOULD be held accountable for the fact that they couldn’t get him to do that.

You do realize that a bounce back Liriano is better than ANY available SP on the market this winter (including Nova). For 3 straight years Liriano was one of the top lefties in the NL and when he went to Toronto he pitched a LOT like that guy again. So get over your idiotic view about him and stop it with the illogical “he’s not xxxxx (player from the 70s that no one gives a shot about)” and look at facts.

No one is claiming he is xxx (see above)…what people ARE claiming is that it was idiotic to give him away and that he was too good of a pitcher to simply not only salary dump but trade away prospects to salary dump. And guess what? Liriano proved that in Toronto. Fact.


You’re speculating a lot at Liriano’s expense despite his history of recruiting other pitchers to the Bucs. That’s not fair to him. I don’t buy the “not coachable” argument. He was pretty coachable when he came here.


Especially since he called Nova when the deal was announced I do believe to tell him how awesome the pirates were. Yeah, sounds like a real asshole.

Mallorie D

Doesnt justify giving him away for nothing, in fact giving away quality prospects just because they cant bear not to have a player on the team who underperforms for a period of time. Even some of the best teams in baseball ride out with players with bad seasons because they know they could still maybe good again and financially its a not big deal to pay him to ride it out for a bit.

That’s what should have happened. Liriano should have been kept in the bullpen, benched if need be and then just ride it out for awhile, try again next year. Its not as if he was signed for another 5 years. Could NH and Nutting not bear to handle that for a little while longer? This is at the core of the problem. Every other team has under performing players, Pirates are one of the few, if only one, who would handle the situation the they way did. It was a salary dump maneuver…nothing else. Guaranteed, they wont be spending 13 mil on a pitcher this offseason, let alone on a pitcher of Liriano’s capabilities.

Stephen Brooks

“Could NH and Nutting not bear to handle that for a little while longer?”

You have to assume not, because there was no BASEBALL reason to make that trade. Not a single asset coming back that would help in 2016.

The point of the trade was to cut bait on Frankie’s contract BEFORE the trade deadline. Why the first trade deadline? Why not the second? Why not after the season? All you can assume is that those options weren’t on the table.

It’s a shame that the team and its finances are run in such a way that the only move to be made was a bad trade, but that’s about as worked up as I can get over it.


For a pitcher of Liriano’s capabilities of 2013-2015 you are easily in the $20-$25 million per year range.

Mallorie D

They were getting a deal for what Liriano produced during that time…the moment Liriano is no longer a good deal to them…meaning paying less market value than what he’s producing…gone. Cutch may be the same way…and no, I dont trust NH to handle a deal that big correctly. They’ll get less return than they should and then explain thats all they could get. Will be another example among many where if that is the case, then dont trade the players. If nobody is taking Liriano straight up…dont trade him. If NH doesnt get a boatload in return for Cutch…dont trade him. If the best you could get for Walker is a washed up Jon Niese…ride it for one more year, dont trade him. NH makes these trades because he has to, because of financial flexibility.


But that is why I think that there was a bigger problem with Liriano than we as average fans will ever know the details of. You make valid points, but because Liriano remaining on the team became such an untenable arrangement, HE HAD TO GO!! I really believe the situation was that bad, largely because the Pirates traded him with an apparent blind eye to the points that you articulate here.

Mallorie D

Would be comforting…a little if that were true. I just have a feeling its not. If youre asking to trust NH and Nutting to be honest with us, that’s a bit a stretch for most fans. From the recent reports out there, alot of people in baseball including GM’s from other teams inquired about the move. It was that obviously bad that other teams inquired with MLB about it.

It stinks worse because Nutting and the Pirates take revenue sharing from other clubs, so for them to go and take additional revenue from larger markets and then shed payroll just looks really bad. Its indefensible. Players on the Pirates commented privately how much they didnt like it.

Theres just so many moves made by them this year that make you really question if they really want to bring home a championship (which should be the goal for any team) or just be competitive enough to keep business going. I would never say Nutting doesnt want a World Series, but he’s not going outside his comfort level to make it happen. Just isnt happening. Its really unfortunate for one of the oldest franchises in baseball to be mishandled this way. Sorry to vent, but after 3 winning seasons, I and I think many fans (and some players in the clubhouse) are disillusioned and question if management has what it takes.




Nope, not Walter Johnson, just a #4 starter AND JUST a potential starting catcher and OF. I don’t care if you say they were blocked it’s still the principal – we will never make it over the hump if we stockpile our system only to trade them away when they make one financial mistake – not a very big one to just about every team on the MLB except us. Not upset over giving up on Liriano (would have understood him for Hutch)- it’s the other parts since we couldn’t eat some salary like every other team does on many occasions.


” we will never make it over the hump if we stockpile our system only to trade them away when they make one financial mistake – not a very big one to just about every team on the MLB except us. Not upset over giving up on Liriano (would have understood him for Hutch)- it’s the other parts since we couldn’t eat some salary like every other team does on many occasions.”
Let’s take a look at this. First of all, you are implying that Neal Huntington is going to make a long list of similar trades, and thus take this, by all indications, very strong farm system and return us to 1994. I think that parting with McGuire and Ramirez was just what N.H. had to do to get rid of someone (Liriano) who had become a MAJOR PROBLEM, AND NOT JUST HIS CRAPPY PERFORMANCE IN 2016.
Secondly, you only reinforce and emphasize my point even more when you point out that the Pirates ostensibly could not eat the remainder of Liriano’s contract. Yes, many other teams could do just that. Whether true or not, we are constantly told that the Pirates are operating on a shoe string budget. We as average fans can’t prove or disprove that notion one way or the other. We can only speculate. Given the limited budget that Neal Huntington and his staff have been given all along, my speculation is that Huntington had no alternative. Bob Nutting was not going to approve of eating the remainder of Liriano’s contract.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the trade either. I don’t think that the Pirates got fair value in return. Believe me, I had hoped as much as you and everyone else that Liriano was going to turn things around this year, and if he did, we would possibly/probably be playing tonight. In many respects, this deal brings back memories of Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs. But, unfortunately, that’s what the absurd salary structure in MLB has led us to, at least in Pittsburgh. Neal Huntington can only work with the budget that Bob Nutting gives him. It really is as simple as that.


Thanks Neil…

Stephen Brooks

The thing that irks me the most about criticism of the trade is the insinuation that there was a better deal available to be made and NH either passed it up, didn’t shop around or was somehow outsmarted.


Stephen, there was no need to make this trade. The Pirates could have afforded to take FL into next season with the hope he turned it around. If he didn’t, they could have discarded him. That is a much better scenario than dumping 2 good prospects for minimum salary relief – at least as it pertains to MLB teams.

Stephen Brooks

Keeping Liriano at least through the end of the season CLEARLY would have been the better option on August 1, and not just in hindsight. Liriano’s trade value had already cratered, it could only go up. He would either have passed through waivers allowing for an August trade, or some team would have claimed him, allowing the Pirates to save the money AND keep McGuire and Ramirez. And it’s hard to believe this was the only way the Pirates could have acquired Hutchison, whom they did not promote until September anyway.

And yet the trade happened. Which tells me the scenario you described, in which Liriano would be kept through the season, was not an option. It’s the simplest explanation. So while there was no BASEBALL need to make this trade, the fact that the trade was made at all is an indication to me that there was a business need to make it.


Same with the Neil Walker trade.


I cannot fault the logic behind the Walker trade. The Bucs were not going to resign him, and thought Niese would work out with a couple option years tacked on. If Niese returned to form, we would not be complaining about that deal today. That’s on Niese.


I would rather that the team wasn’t so cheap and didn’t make the trade at all – and took the loss on the Liriano contract. Instead, they throw away two very good prospects that they invested 3-4 years in developing….that is just plain stupid.

Stephen Brooks

Yes, sure. Would be great if the owner were more willing to spend money. What else is new?

eric i

Wish I could upvote this 100 times!

michael schalke

Thank you for that! So many forget how bad he was this year but just can’t let it go .Move on people.


And Cutch? How does your logic apply to that?


Yeah, really!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It just stupefies me that so many people hold the sentiment that Liriano was providing ace-like performances this season. To read some of these posts, you would think that Liriano was all four of the Orioles 20 game winners of 1971, all rolled into one. Given that he pitched very well from 2013-2015, and there was no indication of injury this year, as I said earlier, I would bet my bottom dollar that his whole dismal, failed 2016 in black and gold had more to do with him no longer being coachable than it had to do with anything else. I did not like having to part with McGuire and Ramirez either, but, as I said in an earlier post, given the salary structure in MLB, the players have their management by the short hairs. They get the guaranteed, multi-million dollar a year contract, and they can turn it on and off whenever they want to, for whatever reason, and THEY ARE STILL GOING TO GET PAID. Neal Huntington in this case had to do something creative to rid that pompous, east bound end of a west bound horse, from the Pirates clubhouse. GET OVER IT PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GOOD RIDDANCE TO FRANKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s hope that the money can be better appropriated during this off season.

William R. Maloni Sr

Wasn’t a big critic of the move, but it seems that many players–as reported at the end of the season–point to Liriano’s trade as the moment they believe management stopped believing in the team. (Of course that likely happened in the off season before the 2016 stanza began.)

Like it or not (and I don’t but am powerless to change it), BN won’t spend on building this team from FAs or trades which brings quality vets for kids.

Just sayin.

IC Bob

I like to believe his sudden resurgence has to do with coaching. I also believe we have one of the top pitching coaches in the league. I also know for fact that he did take coaching quite well from our pitching coach in the past. I also believe its not the pitching coach that makes a pitcher in the majors its the pitcher. The pitching coach only really helps them tweak their talent. So I am not buying it.


This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in some time. No one was saying he was great for us this year…that trade was universally idiotic and terrible and Liriano was worth keeping. Period.


Why was Liriano worth keeping? On the possibility that he could rebound in 2017 and find his 2013-2015 form and success? Well, we will never know. All I am saying is that I believe that Neal Huntington had a very good reason, and most likely, reasons, for making that trade. Your assertion that “no one was saying he was great for us this year” is simply not accurate. While they may not have said as much in those exact words, it has been more than implied and more than suggested that the trade of Liriano has somehow caused the sky to fall in on the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
“that trade was universally idiotic and terrible and Liriano was worth keeping. Period.” It was terrible from the standpoint that the Pirates gave up two, at least, mid-level prospects in order to jettison big Frankie’s salary. I absolutely hate that. I would love to turn back the calendar to this past December, and trade those two prospects, along with Neal Walker, to get a pitcher than Jon Niese. So, in that sense, the trade is terrible. You can label it idiotic, or whatever similar adjective that you choose. It does not change the fact that Liriano had worn out his welcome, and his usefulness in Pittsburgh. Whatever the details are that led to the decision to trade Liriano, THE PIRATES DID NOT TRADE AWAY THE EQUIVALENT OF A 25 YEAR OLD JIM PALMER. He stunk in 2016, and clearly Neal Huntington felt that retaining his services for 2017 was not in the best interest of the Pirates, either on the field or on the financial ledger.


I think what has some of us upset with that trade – still – is the club tossed away two of our better prospects for a roll of the dice in Hutchinson. For years, all we heard was how the key to sustaining our winning ways was developing talent from within. The then toss two of our better prospects away for financial relief. The move contradicted their reasons for not making better moves during past seasons or offseasons to get us a step or two closer to a championship. Ownership has hamstrung NH with one of the smallest budgets in MLB, so this is what we get.
I’m sorry, but there is no way this trade can be defended and I’ve been a die-hard fan for more than 40 years – through the good and bad times.


You have to be one of the most obtuse and uninformed fan out there. You see what you want to see while dismissing the rest. For HALF of this season (with Toronto) Liriano was, basically, Liriano again. So guess what? He was NOT irredeemable. He WAS able to find his success again.

Guess what that means? That you are WRONG.

David N

You have identified the cancer at the heart of baseball. And no, I’m not defending the bad old days when it was the management who had the players by the short hairs. But it seems like we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. There’s got to be a middle ground that’s fair to both sides. We haven’t found it yet, imo.

IC Bob

Heres a scary thought for you. Bob Nutting does not want a salary cap and he never has. If we had that he would actually have to spend more money and he doesn’t want to do that.


I could not agree with you more. Unfortunately, that train left the station far too long ago, and unlike the NFL and the NBA (I don’t follow hockey, so I cannot reference the NHL), MLB missed the boat, and we have this terribly imbalanced mess that is not likely to be corrected for a long time, if ever.

Bill Harvey

Clutchness is immeasurable.

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