By Jason Shetler
A couple weeks ago, Jared Lankes did a post on which pitchers could be trade targets for the Pirates rotation. Now it’s my turn to identify pitchers who the Pirates could look to acquire in an effort to upgrade the bullpen. Here are five possible trade candidates for them to consider.
Fernando Abad: The 2016 season for the Minnesota Twins has been a huge disappointment, and resulted in general manager Terry Ryan being relieved of his duties this past week. One of the few bright spots for them however has been Fernando Abad, who was signed to a minor league deal last offseason. The 30-year-old left-hander has made 36 appearances for the Twins, posting a 2.61 ERA, a 164 ERA+ and a good strikeout ratio of 8.1. Abad would be under team control this offseason, as he’ll be in his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Jeanmar Gomez: It was reported last week by ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Pirates are among the teams having some level of interest in Jeanmar Gomez. Gomez pitched in the Bucs bullpen during the 2013 and 2014 seasons with pretty decent success. This year marks his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he’s been outstanding as their closer, putting up a 2.76 ERA, an ERA+ of 149 and a 1.12 WHIP in 43 games. Gomez this year is making $1.4 million, which is very team friendly. He’ll be arbitration eligible this offseason.
Luke Hochevar: Ten years ago, Luke Hochevar was selected as the #1 overall pick by the Kansas City Royals in the MLB Draft. The 32-year-old right-hander struggled mightily as a starter, but to his credit, has turned his career around as a reliever. This season for the Royals, Hochevar has posted an ERA of 3.86 along with a 116 ERA+ and a 1.07 WHIP in 40 appearances. He’s due to make $5.5 million for this year and has a 2017 mutual option worth $7 million with a buyout of $500,000. The Royals might be sellers at the deadline, so Hochevar could be a trade possibility.
Tyler Clippard: The Arizona Diamondbacks pulled out all the stops to make themselves a contender for 2016. They won the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, acquired Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves by giving up their first round pick from last year Dansby Swanson and signed Tyler Clippard to a two-year deal worth $12.25 million. Despite these noteworthy transactions, the Diamondbacks are sellers this season. After trading Brad Ziegler to the Boston Red Sox a couple weeks back, Clippard could be another Dbacks reliever to be moved before the trade deadline. The two-time All-Star has made 39 appearances this year, while posting a 4.17 ERA and a 105 ERA+. Clippard however has been racking up the strikeouts with an 11.0 K/9.
Zach Duke: In 2005, Zach Duke had arguably the best rookie season by a Pirates pitcher in franchise history. With expectations being sky high for him, he struggled in the rotation and his time in Pittsburgh ended following the 2010 season when he was dealt to the Diamondbacks for next to nothing. Just like the situation with Luke Hochevar, Duke has resurrected his career as a relief arm, which began in 2014 putting up terrific numbers for the Milwaukee Brewers. That season earned him a three-year deal with the Chicago White Sox for $15 million. 2016 has been another been solid year for Duke out of the bullpen, as he’s posted a 2.72 ERA, an ERA+ of 151 and a 10.4 K/9 in 50 appearances. He’s also put up an impressive 59% groundball rate. The White Sox will be in seller mode, and Duke has been mentioned as a trade candidate.