By Jason Shetler
As we head into the Winter Meetings, here is a recap of the moves and rumors from this week.
Monday: The Pirates are open to trading Josh Harrison, this according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. This past season, Harrison was subpar offensively with a .699 OPS, but was one of the better defensive second basemen in the National League.
Tuesday: It was announced by the Pirates that Jeff Locke had been designated for assignment. Locke was acquired from the Atlanta Braves in 2009 as part of the Nate McLouth deal. He spent parts of six seasons pitching in Pittsburgh, and was an All-Star in 2013.
Also on Tuesday, the Pirates signed pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla, as well as added him to the 40-man roster. Bonilla spent 2016 in the Los Angeles Dodgers system, pitching for AA Tulsa and AAA Oklahoma City, where he posted a combined 3.97 ERA along with a 1.34 WHIP and a 9.6 K/9. General Manager Neal Huntington said Bonilla will compete for a rotation or bullpen spot in Spring Training.
Wednesday: The Pirates signed pitcher Jason Stoffel to a minor league deal. Stoffel spent this year pitching in the Baltimore Orioles system, posting a 2.44 ERA with an impressive strikeout ratio of 11.9 combined for AA Bowie and AAA Norfolk.
Ken Rosenthal reported that Matt Joyce agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Oakland Athletics worth $11 million. Joyce signed a minor league deal with the Pirates last offseason to be their fourth outfielder. The 32-year-old is coming off a career year, in which he put up an .866 OPS with a 131 OPS+. Joyce was arguably the best pinch-hitter in baseball this year, as he posted an OPS of .873 in that role.
Friday: The Pirates avoided arbitration with Wade LeBlanc by signing him to a one-year deal for $750,000, which includes a 2018 club option at $1.25 million. LeBlanc was acquired by the Pirates from the Seattle Mariners in September, and pitched very well in a small sample size (0.75 ERA in eight relief appearances). It’s possible that the Pirates could use him in a long relief role in 2017.
The Pirates tendered Gerrit Cole, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Juan Nicasio, Drew Hutchison and Jordy Mercer. Jeff Locke and Eric Fryer however were non-tendered, and both are now free agents. Fryer was claimed off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals in July, once Chris Stewart was placed on the disabled list. In 36 games played with the Pirates, Fryer had just a .569 OPS, and struggled to throw runners out from behind the plate, with a 14% caught stealing rate.