A.J. Schugel Leaves Game with Right Shoulder Discomfort

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates announced that A.J. Schugel left Sunday’s game due to right shoulder discomfort. 

Schugel made his first Spring appearance for the Pirates against the Detroit Tigers. He pitched the fourth inning, and had a hard time throwing strikes, so perhaps the discomfort in his shoulder played a part in that. 

It’ll be interesting how long Schugel will be out for with his shoulder issue, since he’s in competition for a bullpen spot. With the offseason additions of Michael Feliz and Kyle Crick, as well as the recent signing of Kevin Siegrist, the odds of Schugel making it appear to be lesser. Should that become the case, the Pirates would have to have Schugel clear waivers, being that he’s out of options. 






Pirates Sign Kevin Siegrist

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Keith Allison

The Pirates have announced that Kevin Siegrist has been signed to a minor league deal, and has been given an invitation to MLB camp.

Siegrist was drafted in the 41st round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008. The 28-year-old left-hander joined St. Louis in 2013, and was lights out as a rookie that year, posting an 0.45 ERA and a WHIP of 0.89 in 45 appearances. After struggling in 2014, he performed extremely well in both 2015 and 2016, combining to put up a 2.47 ERA, along with a 164 ERA+. 

Last season, Siegrist regressed, as he posted an ERA of 4.98 and a 4.41 FIP in 39 appearances with St. Louis. The Cardinals wound up designating him for assignment in late August, and he was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies a few days later. In a small sample size (seven games) for the Phillies, he had a 3.60 ERA. Siegrist joins Steven Brault, Jack Leathersich and Josh Smoker as lefty relievers looking to make the club. Based on track record, Siegrist could emerge as a favorite now.







Pirates Release Michael Saunders; Signs with Royals

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that they have released outfielder Michael Saunders in order for him to sign a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals.

Saunders agreed to a minor league deal with the Pirates on Wednesday. With the acquisition of Corey Dickerson on Thursday, the odds of Saunders being on the team became more difficult. He is coming off a down year last season, this after being named an All-Star for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016.

Saunders’ agent, Barry Meister, commended the Pirates for giving his client a better opportunity to compete elsewhere. Outside of Alex Gordon, the Royals are lacking left-handed hitting outfielders, so this now gives Saunders a much greater chance to crack their Opening Day roster.






Assessing the Corey Dickerson Trade

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Dan Hamilton – USA Today Sports

Last Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays made a deal with the Los Angeles Angels to acquire first baseman C.J. Cron. What followed was one of the most shocking moves of the offseason, as 2017 All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson was designated for assignment by the Rays. Just five days after getting DFA’d, Dickerson has been traded to the Pirates in exchange for veteran reliever Daniel Hudson, minor league infielder Tristan Gray and cash. Here is my assessment of the deal. 

Dickerson as mentioned was named a first time All-Star last year with the Rays, as he put up an .815 OPS, a 120 OPS+ and hit a career high 27 home runs. During his five seasons in the big leagues, he has an .829 OPS, along with an OPS+ of 119. The Pirates will have Dickerson under team control until after the 2019 season.

Hudson signed with the Pirates last offseason on a two-year deal for $11 million. The hope was that he would bounce back from a rough 2016, but that didn’t happen, as he posted  a 4.38 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 71 appearances last season. Hudson will be owed $5.5 million in 2018.

Gray was selected by the Pirates in the 13th round of last year’s MLB Draft out of Rice University. The 21-year-old performed well in 2017, with the Pirates short season affiliate West Virginia Black Bears, posting an .815 OPS. 

Analysis: The Pirates were able to obtain a bonafide left fielder in Corey Dickerson, while the Rays get a veteran arm in Daniel Hudson to add to their bullpen mix. By moving Hudson, it opens up another spot in the bullpen for the Pirates to give to a younger reliever. The fact that the Pirates acquired an All-Star level outfielder, without giving up a top tier prospect, makes it a really solid trade. 






Pirates Sign Michael Saunders

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Bernard Weil – Toronto Star

The Pirates have announced the signing of outfielder Michael Saunders. It’s a minor league deal, which includes an invite to MLB camp, and a chance to compete for a spot as the Pirates reserve outfielder. 

Saunders was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round of the 2004 MLB Draft. The 31-year-old native of Canada spent the first six years of his big league career with the Mariners, before being dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for J.A. Happ prior to the 2015 season. 

In 2016 with the Jays, Saunders was named an All-Star for the first time, as he hit 24 homers and posted an .815 OPS, both of which were career best. Last offseason, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a one-year deal worth $9 million. Saunders struggled mightily for the Phillies, posting just a 617 OPS and getting released by them in June. He returned to Toronto on a minor league contract about a week later, but only had three hits in 18 at-bats. The Pirates signing of Saunders comes just one day after they acquired former top outfield prospect Bryce Brentz from the Boston Red Sox. 











Pirates Sign Fabricio Macias

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have signed outfielder Fabricio Macias out of Mexico, this according to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects. 

Macias is a 19-year-old, who is listed at 6’0, 188 lbs. The Pirates had scouted him for quite awhile, and he even said that they were one of four teams who showed heavy interest in signing him. Macias is a highly touted amateur. As a matter of fact, he was named the top player in Mexico under 23 years old last year. Macias batted .318 in 73 games for Saraperos de Saltillo of the Mexican League in 2017, which is really impressive considering that it’s the AAA level in Mexico. He also stole 18 bases in 25 attempts. Macias appears to be a very advanced player for his age. 






Pirates Acquire Bryce Brentz

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Chris O’Meara – AP

The Red Sox have announced that outfielder Bryce Brentz has been traded to the Pirates for cash considerations. In a corresponding move for putting Brentz on the 40-man roster, the Pirates placed pitcher Nick Burdi on the 60-day DL. Burdi is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 

In the 2010 MLB Draft, the Red Sox selected Brentz as a first round supplemental pick. At one point, Baseball America had him as the fifth best prospect in the Red Sox system, while MLB.com rated him a Top 100 prospect overall in 2012. He had cups of coffee with Boston in 2014 and 2016. 

Brentz spent all of 2017 playing for AAA Pawtucket. In 120 games, he hit 31 home runs to lead the International League, and his .863 OPS was second highest in the IL. He now joins Daniel Nava, Jordan Luplow and Jose Osuna as players looking to become the Pirates fourth outfielder. Brentz is out of options, so if he doesn’t make the team, he would have to clear waivers first, before being sent to AAA Indianapolis.