By Jason Shetler
Last year, the Pirates found themselves in buyer and seller mode. Ivan Nova was acquired from the New York Yankees for outfielder Tito Polo and pitcher Stephen Tarpley, while Mark Melancon was dealt to the Washington Nationals in exchange for Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn. Both Nova and Rivero have made a big impact for the Bucs this season. Another notable player who the Pirates dealt away in 2016 was Arquimedes Caminero.
The Pirates obtained Caminero in a cash deal from the Miami Marlins prior to the 2015 season. The flame-throwing righty played an integral role in a strong bullpen that helped the Pirates win 98 games that year. Caminero struggled last season however. Although he put up a 3.51 ERA, his Fielding Independent Pitching was 4.76, and he allowed a ton of batters to reach base with a 1.66 WHIP. He posted just a 7.0 K/9, which was significantly lower compared to the 8.8 K/9 he had in 2015.
On August 6th, Caminero was traded to the Seattle Mariners for two players to be named later. The Pirates got pitchers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez on September 1st to complete the deal. Caminero was released by the Mariners in December, so he could pitch in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants. Here is a look at the trade from the Pirates perspective.
Brentz was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The 22-year-old lefty was one of a few minor leaguers who was traded to the Mariners for veteran reliever Mark Lowe at the 2015 trade deadline. Brentz has been pitching exclusively in the Bradenton Marauders bullpen this season, posting an ERA of 4.05, but with a much better 2.24 FIP, a 10.8 K/9 and a 50% groundball rate. According to Pirates Prospects’ Tim Williams, the fastball for Brentz sits 96-99 mph, touching 100 on occasion.
Vasquez signed with Seattle out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. The 21-year-old right-hander has been terrific so far this year with Bradenton. In 59.1 innings pitched, he has posted a 1.97 ERA, which is currently the best mark among all starting pitchers in the Pirates system. He also has a 3.33 FIP, a 1.06 WHIP and a .299 BABIP, indicating that he hasn’t needed luck to be good. Although Vasquez’s fastball sits low-90’s, he has great command of it, to go along with a good changeup. While the value was low on Arquimedes Caminero prior to the trade, the return the Pirates received with Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez could pay some big dividends.