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Pirates Announce Four Minor League Free Agent Signings; Sign JT Riddle to Major League Deal

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The Pittsburgh Pirates announced four minor league free agent signings on Friday afternoon. We already heard about left-handed pitchers Robbie Erlin and Derek Holland. They also added catcher Andrew Susac and outfielder Charlie Tilson. Details on Erlin and Holland are linked above. All four received Non-Roster Invites to Spring Training. More on the other two below.

Susac, who turns 30 years old during Spring Training, has played parts of five seasons in the majors, with a majority of his 113 big league games coming during the 2014-15 seasons. He played a total of 26 games during the 2016-18 seasons, splitting time between the Brewers and Orioles. He missed the majority of the 2019 season with a broken wrist. Susac has a career .221/.283/.373 slash line in 300 plate appearances in the majors. He was a top 100 prospect prior to losing that status during the 2015 season (due to time in the majors). He has spent time on the disabled/injured list in each of his eight seasons in pro ball.

Tilson has played parts of three seasons in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, though that includes one game in 2016, followed by 95 games over the 2018-19 seasons. He hit .229/.293/.285 in 157 plate appearances in 2019, which was a slight drop in all three categories from his 2018 numbers. Tilson has played all three outfield positions, with half of his time coming in left field. He’s been a -1.6 dWAR during his career. He had 46 stolen bases during the 2015 season, but just 40 steals since then, including minors, majors and his two stints in the Arizona Fall League.

He turned 27 in December, but in baseball terms, he’d be considered young for that age. He missed the entire 2012 season with a shoulder injury and the entire 2017 season with a stress fracture in his right foot. In 2016, he missed the last two months of the season with a hamstring strain, which occurred in his big league debut. So there was a lot of lost development time.

UPDATE: Pirates have added JT Riddle to the mix. The 28-year-old SS/CF played the last three seasons with the Miami Marlins, where he hit .229/.269/.368 in 223 games. He played above average defensively at shortstop for the 2017-18 seasons, then split last year between center field and shortstop. His offensive numbers dropped, with a .189 average and a .601 OPS in 51 games. Riddle received a Major League contract.

MLB Trade Rumors is reporting that Riddle will receive $850,000 this year. It’s a one-year deal, but he will still have three more years before he reaches free agency after this season.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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