By Jason Shetler
By Jason Shetler
On Monday, the Pirates and David Freese agreed to terms on a two-year extension, which includes a club option for the 2019 season. Freese has been very productive in his first season with the Pirates at both third base and first base. Now that Freese will return to Pittsburgh beyond this season, how much is that going to affect John Jaso?
The Pirates inked Jaso on a two-year deal this past offseason to be the first baseman this year, at least until Josh Bell’s arrival to the big leagues. Jaso displayed good on base ability in the first half, but has struggled to get on base post All-Star break. So much so, that he was taken out of the leadoff spot in favor of Josh Harrison.
With the recent recall of Bell, as well as Freese getting starts at first base to face left-handed pitching, Jaso is certainly going to have some at-bats taken away from him. He’ll be owed $4 million next season, which doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but also take into account that he probably won’t receive much playing time off the bench with the Bell/Freese platoon at first. The Pirates will probably look for bullpen help in the offseason, especially if they’re unable to re-sign Neftali Feliz and they decide to non-tender Jared Hughes, so Jaso could be looked at as a trade chip to obtain a bullpen arm. It’s fair to say that the Freese extension may have just sealed Jaso’s fate of returning to Pittsburgh next season.
By Jason Shetler
The Pirates have announced that they have agreed to a two-year extension with David Freese, which also includes an option for 2019.
Freese signed with the Pirates in Spring Training to be the third baseman during Jung-Ho Kang’s absence. The former World Series MVP has been terrific in his first season in Pittsburgh, as he’s posted a .792 OPS along with an OPS+ of 110 in 107 games. He’s been even more productive against left-handers, hitting .338 with a .998 OPS.
The extension of Freese is a great move, as he not only will provide the Pirates with a solid bat beyond this season, but also as an insurance policy at third base for Kang. His superb numbers versus lefty pitching should also find himself platooning at first base alongside Josh Bell. It’ll be interesting to see if the Freese extension leads to John Jaso possibly being moved in the offseason.
Update at 2:52 PM: MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman reports that Freese will receive $6.25 million for 2017, $4.25 million for 2018 and a $6 million club option or $500,000 buyout for 2019.
By Jason Shetler
Tyler Glasnow will be in Harrisburg tonight to resume his rehab assignment for the Altoona Curve.
Last Sunday, Glasnow began his rehab with Altoona. He pitched just three innings after manager Joey Cora and his coaching staff thought that something wasn’t right with his mechanics, so he was lifted from the game. What seemed to be something significant just turned out to be an overreaction, as Glasnow threw a couple bullpen sessions this past week and felt fine during each.
As mentioned, Glasnow is going to resume his rehab tonight for Altoona against the Harrisburg Senators. He’s scheduled to go either four innings or 65 pitches. Glasnow will probably make a couple more rehab outings after tonight. If all goes well, then he’ll likely be activated from the DL and rejoin the Pirates as a September call up.
By Jared Lankes
The Pirates had a dreadful series against the Marlins, getting swept in three close games. It went from what looked like there was going to be a wildcard tie with the Cardinals on Friday to being three back of the Cardinals and suddenly 1.5 back of the Marlins for that second spot. It’s a series that the Pirates could ill-afford, but it happened. But they have to move on and face an old familiar face in the Astros. While these are two different teams than when they were division foes, they get a chance to check in on each other once again.
Monday: Jameson Taillon (3-2 3.00 ERA) vs Doug Fister (11-8 3.76 ERA) 7:05 ET
Jameson Taillon suddenly finds himself needing to be a stopper. He’s been great in his young career but his role on Monday will be what shapes him. Will he be able to provide the Pirates with a great outing when they need a win? We will see. This Astros lineup is a tough one to navigate with Jose Altuve and now the sudden emergence of Alex Bregman and the recent call up of Yulieski Gurriel. Taillon will need to be at his best. For the Astros, bounce back pitcher Doug Fister gets the nod. Foster had a bad year in 2015 in Washington in a season where he looked to be staking his case for a huge contract. This year has been a nice rebound for him. While not being the Fister of old, he’s been rather effective. The Pirates bats will have trouble here.
Tuesday: Ivan Nova (9-6 4.83 ERA) vs Joe Musgrove (1-1 4.18 ERA) 7:05 ET
Ivan Nova will get a crack at a good lineup, and that may or may not be good. While Nova has looked good numbers-wise overall, he has been lucky. Teams have been hitting it hard off him and his ground ball rate is laughable since joining the club. Against this Astros lineup, he can’t be leaving juicy pitches up in the zone or they will get crushed. Astros send Joe Musgrove to the hill. He doesn’t have a lot of MLB experience under his belt yet, but he’s been good in his little time. Don’t let the numbers fool you. This guy has all the abilities to be an MLB starter, but the Pirates hope they don’t find out why.
Wednesday: Gerrit Cole (7-8 3.30 ERA) vs Colin McHugh(7-10 4.99 ERA) 12:35 ET
While Gerrit Cole has had good numbers this year, and is still an ace, he has struggled to find any sort of consistency. I say it every time he takes the mound: he has to start finding that gear he did last year if the Pirates are going to go anywhere. Hopefully this is the start that gets him going. Another underwhelming pitcher this year is on the other end, Colin McHugh. McHugh hasn’t enjoyed success this year. His ERA is close to 5 and hasn’t shown signs yet that’ll change. He was supposed to have a breakout season, but it just hang materialized the way anyone had hoped. He will figure it out eventually. The Pirates just hope he waits at least one more start until he figures it out.
This is a big series for the Pirates. They need to get back on the horse and wash out the taste of the series against the Marlins. It’s hard to call this series a “must-win”, but it’s about as close as you can get to that. Winning two of three would get this team to a spot where they can feel comfortable in the wildcard race, especially if the teams above them scuffle. Losing two of three or worse would make it tough.
By Jason Shetler
The Pirates farm system is really starting to bear its fruit now at the big league level, particularly on the pitching front. Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl were called up in June, and both have been key contributors in the rotation. Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault received their call ups in July. Although both aren’t in the rotation now, they each showed glimpses of what they’re capable of moving forward. Trevor Williams should join the Pirates as a September call up based on the solid numbers he’s put up this season with AAA Indianapolis. While 2016 has created excitement with the number of pitching prospects, more help is on the way next season. One prospect in particular will be Nick Kingham.
Kingham was a fourth round selection of the Pirates in the 2010 MLB Draft. His breakout season came in 2013 when he put up a 2.89 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.0 in 143.1 combined innings for High A Bradenton and AA Altoona. Prior to 2014, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus rated Kingham a Top 100 prospect. He had another good year in 2014, posting a 3.34 ERA in 26 starts combined with Altoona and Indianapolis.
Many baseball publications considered Kingham the Pirates third best pitching prospect behind Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon entering last season. He was projected to join the Bucs at some point in 2015, but experienced elbow discomfort and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Last month, Kingham began his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. He’s made six starts for the GCL Pirates with an ERA of 3.00 and just one walk allowed. On August 15th, he was assigned to Bradenton and pitched five scoreless innings in his most recent outing. During the rehab, Kingham has averaged 93 mph on the fastball, which is certainly encouraging. MLB Pipeline currently has him ranked as the Pirates 11th best prospect in the system. Injuries or struggles are things that always come into play with a pitching staff, so adding Kingham to the Pirates rotation depth next year will be a huge plus.