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Morning Report: The Market For Controllable Pitchers is Going to Be Competitive


The Pirates are off today, and with tomorrow’s game being at 7:05, they have played their last game before the non-waiver trade deadline.

The deadline is tomorrow at 4:00 PM EST, and as I wrote yesterday, I could see the Pirates making a move to add to the team. That’s not a huge prediction, as they’ve added players in some form or another in every season since 2011. The question is what type of addition they make.

My feeling is that the best move they can make would be an addition of a pitcher with years of control beyond 2018 — either a late inning reliever or a starter who is better than their current back of the rotation options. That seems to be the route they’re taking, or at least the route they’re most often linked to.

It’s always difficult to tell with the Pirates. When rumors come out, they typically come out from other organizations, or from talks that have broken down. The Pirates are very secretive about their plans, which is why you don’t hear many rumors originating from their side. It’s also why almost all of their trades each year come from out of nowhere, with no actual rumor coming out until the deal is about to be finalized.

We also have very few examples of the Pirates making a move for a controllable starter. They’ve added guys like that before, with the only trade deadline example being Wandy Rodriguez in 2012. That trade sent out three prospects, with Robbie Grossman headlining the package, and Rudy Owens and Colton Cain also going in the deal.

A trade this time around would probably cost more. For one, there are about eight teams alone in the NL who could be buyers, which will certainly drive the price up. The Pirates have been linked to Rangers reliever Keone Kela, but so have the Braves and Dodgers, who were reported to be the two most aggressive clubs right now. The Diamondbacks, Cubs, and other teams have been linked to Kela as well.

That’s just one player, and the story is the same for the other players. Even the Padres, who are 42-66, are linked as buyers when it comes to a starter with years of control like Chris Archer.

This doesn’t mean the Pirates can’t make a deal. They have the prospects to get something done, and they can make a deal without really sacrificing any key parts of their future. At worst, they would have to transition from a future with Austin Meadows to a future with Corey Dickerson/Jason Martin/Bryan Reynolds.

We just haven’t seen them make a deal yet of this magnitude. And since they’re a secretive organization, don’t expect many rumors to give a good indication ahead of time of what exactly they will do. If they do make a deal for one of these controllable guys, then it would probably end up being one of the biggest deadline trades they’ve made in terms of sending out prospects.

I’d expect the team to look different in some way by the time they play the Cubs tomorrow night. It would be a pleasant surprise if the new additions ended up being guys who will also be part of future Pirates teams.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 1-0 to the New York Mets on Sunday. The Pirates have off today, then they play a two-game series against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Jameson Taillon will get the start, coming off of his last outing on July 25th when he gave up two runs over seven innings against the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs will counter with left-hander Jon Lester, who has a 3.06 ERA in 120.2 innings, with 96 strikeouts and a 1.23 WHIP. His last start against the Pirates was seven shutout innings on one hit back in June. Before that, Lester allowed eight runs over 11 innings in two starts versus the Pirates.

The minor league schedule includes West Virginia’s Domingo Robles, who has allowed more than two runs in just one of his last nine starts. JT Brubaker allowed one run over seven innings in his last start, which is his best since joining Indianapolis. Sixth round pick Michael Flynn goes for Morgantown tonight. He has allowed one run over his last nine innings. Altoona, Bradenton and Bristol all have off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (55-52) vs Cubs (60-44) 7:05 PM 7/31
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.73 ERA, 114:32 SO/BB, 118.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (58-48) @ Columbus (55-50) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (3.74 ERA, 62:32 SO/BB, 79.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (56-47) @ Harrisburg (53-51) 6:30 PM 7/31 (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.21 ERA, 41:11 SO/BB, 53.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (48-51) vs St Lucie (40-62) 6:30 PM 7/31 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (52-49) @ Columbia (49-53) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (3.23 ERA, 83:22 SO/BB, 103.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (16-26) @ Auburn (21-19) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Michael Flynn (5.94 ERA, 17:4 SO/BB, 16.2 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (17-20) vs Bluefield (23-16) 7:00 PM 7/31 (season preview)
Probable starter: Oliver Garcia (9.00 ERA, 15:19 SO/BB, 22.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (13-17) vs Phillies East 12:00 PM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (23-25) vs Red Sox2 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (19-29) vs Giants 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Altoona on Saturday, Cole Tucker’s fourth home run of the season


7/29: Ben Bengtson and Rodolfo Castro placed on disabled list. Raul Siri and Jhoan Herrera added to West Virginia roster.

7/29: Erich Weiss activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/28: Pirates sign Justin Morris.

7/28: Josh Smoker claimed off waivers by Detroit Tigers

7/28: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Jose Osuna recalled from Indianapolis.

7/28: Corey Dickerson placed on disabled list. Austin Meadows recalled from Indianapolis.

7/27: Pirates option Michael Feliz to Indianapolis. Recall Alex McRae

7/27: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/26: Deon Stafford placed on disabled list. Rafelin Lorenzo activated from West Virginia DL.

7/26: Francisco Cervelli activated from DL. Jacob Stalling optioned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Pirates recall Adam Frazier. Casey Sadler optioned to Indianapolis.

7/24: Erich Weiss assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/23: Cody Bolton placed on disabled list. Oddy Nunez demoted to West Virginia.

7/23: Pirates select contract of Casey Sadler. Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis. Josh Smoker designated for assignment.

7/23: Nick Burdi assigned to Altoona on rehab.

7/23: Jacob Webb promoted to Bristol. Juan Henriquez assigned to GCL Pirates from Morgantown.

7/23: Will Gardner promoted to Morgantown.

7/22: Bralin Jackson placed on Altoona disabled list.

7/21: Christopher Bostick activated from Indianapolis disabled list. Alfredo Reyes assigned to Altoona.

7/20: Sean Rodriguez activated from disabled list. Tanner Anderson optioned to Indianapolis.


Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus four trades of note and another birthday mention. Before we get into the players, current manager Clint Hurdle turns 61 today. With all the players and trades, I’m only going to list their names and then you can just check the link above if you want to read about Johnny Rizzo holding the club record for homers in  single season, or what it was like when Chuck Ward took over at shortstop for Honus Wagner in 1917.

Mickey Mahler- Lefty reliever for 1980 Pirates

Bill Hall – Catcher, who played for the team in 1954, 1956 and 1958

Johnny Rizzo – 1938-40 outfielder, set club record with 23 homers in 1938.

Hal Finney – Catcher from 1931-34, 1936. He went 0-for-35 and didn’t reach base once that final season.

Chuck Ward – 1917 shortstop. How hard could it be to replace Honus Wagner?

Casey Stengel – 1918-19 outfielder. Yes, that Stengel. He was a fairly good baseball player before becoming a Hall of Fame manager.

Bill Merritt – Catcher from 1894 until 1897.


2011: Derrek Lee acquired from Orioles for minor league first baseman Aaron Baker.

2009: Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow sent to Cubs for Josh Harrison, Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio.

2004: Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger sent to Mets for Ty Wigginton, Jose Bautista and Matt Peterson.

2001: Jason Schmidt and John Vander Wal dealt to Giants in exchange for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong.

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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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