Pirates Avoid Arbitration With Michael Feliz

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Getty Images

Michael Feliz has avoided arbitration, the Pirates announced on Friday. According to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman, Feliz will get $375,000 in the minors, but can receive $850,000, if he’s with the big club.

Feliz was one of four players brought over by the Pirates from the Houston Astros in the Gerrit Cole deal last offseason. The first two months of this season was solid for Feliz. So much so, that he took over for George Kontos as the setup man to Felipe Vazquez.

It was from June onward however that Feliz began to really struggle, which included a demotion to AAA Indianapolis in late July. In 47 appearances with the Pirates, he put up a 5.66 ERA. His FIP was much lower at 4.13, which isn’t great, but certainly more respectable. He also posted a K/9 of 10.4. Feliz was first time arbitration eligible. It doesn’t hurt to bring him back for depth purposes, if nothing else.

 

 

 

 

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Pirates Tender Corey Dickerson and Keone Kela

By Jason Shetler

Friday was the deadline for MLB clubs to tender or non-tender players who are arbitration eligible this offseason. The Pirates announced that outfielder Corey Dickerson and pitcher Keone Kela have been tendered. 

Dickerson was acquired by the Pirates from the Tampa Bay Rays just prior to Spring Training. The 2017 All-Star had a terrific first season with the Bucs this year, hitting .300 and posting an .804 OPS in 135 games played. Defensively, he was superb, and was the recipient of the NL Gold Glove for left field, marking the third time in four years that a Pirates left fielder has received that award. Overall, Dickerson was nearly a four-win player, with a 3.8 bWAR. Because Dickerson is in his final year of arbitration, there’s been speculation as to whether or not the Pirates will try to extend him.

Kela came over from the Texas Rangers at this year’s trade deadline to try and help strengthen the Pirates bullpen. Prior to the trade, he had a 3.44 ERA, a 2.97 FIP and a K/9 of 10.8 in 38 appearances with Texas. Kela also pitched very effectively for the Pirates, as he registered an ERA of 2.93, while putting up a 2.96 FIP and a 12.9 K/9 in 16 games. Combined with both teams, he posted a 140 ERA+. Kela enters this offseason as arbitration eligible for a second time.

 

 

 

 

 

Pirates Reportedly Open to a Francisco Cervelli Trade

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Justin K. Aller – Getty Images

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the Pirates are open to the idea of trading Francisco Cervelli this offseason.

Cervelli enters 2019 in the final year of his three-year extension, which he signed in May of 2016. The 32-year-old backstop had a solid 2018 season offensively, as he put up a 2.9 oWAR, along with career highs in on base percentage (.378), OPS (.809) and home runs (12). 

The salary for Cervelli next season will be $11.5 million. While there is good value with him  from a numbers standpoint this year, he becomes a free agent after 2019, and that certainly affects the value in terms of club control. 

Elias Diaz was able to break out this past season, which would give the Pirates a reason to make Cervelli expendable, while allowing Diaz to be the regular catcher for 2019. Shortstop will likely be a need for the Bucs this offseason, so it’s possible they could acquire one in a potential Cervelli deal.

 

 

 

Pirates Sign Roberto Gomez

By Jason Shetler 

p/c: Victor Decolongon – Getty Images

The Pirates have signed pitcher Roberto Gomez to a minor league deal, this according to Pirates Prospects’ John Dreker. 

Gomez was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010. After five seasons in the Rays system, he was released. 

In November of 2016, Gomez inked a deal as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants. He was added to the Giants roster as a September call up in 2017. This past season, Gomez pitched mostly with AAA Sacramento, but was limited to 14 relief appearances due to a couple of DL stints. His ERA with the River Cats was 5.00 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He also appeared in five games with the Giants, posting a 7.71 ERA, but actually had a FIP of 2.09 and an extremely high .513 BABIP.

The scouting report on Gomez is a fastball that sits 92-93 mph, along with good command of a plus slider. His stuff is very similar to Richard Rodriguez, who the Pirates signed to a minor league contract last offseason, and was able to pitch very effectively at the big league level this year. Perhaps the Pirates could use Rodriguez’s 2018 success as a learning guide to help get Gomez back on track. AAA Indianapolis is probably where Gomez will begin 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex McRae Designated For Assignment

By Jason Shetler

After agreeing to terms with free agent outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall Monday night, the Pirates made the signing official today. In order to add Chisenhall to the 40-man roster, pitcher Alex McRae has been designated for assignment. 

McRae was a tenth round selection of the Pirates in the 2014 MLB Draft. The 25-year-old right-hander spent most of 2018 pitching for AAA Indianapolis, posting a 4.77 ERA, along with a WHIP of 1.57 in 117 innings. McRae joined the Pirates in early July, but made just two appearances, with a 5.68 ERA. He was not a September call up. McRae will most likely clear waivers.

Assessment of the Lonnie Chisenhall Signing

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Tony Dejak – AP

The Pirates made their first significant move of the offseason, agreeing to terms with outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on a one-year deal worth $2.75 million, which includes performance incentives, this according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Last week, Jason Rollison of Bucs Dugout had reported that the Bucs had definite interest in Chisenhall.

Pittsburgh will be the first different city that Chisenhall plays for, having spent eight seasons in Cleveland. Before joining the Indians, Chisenhall had been drafted by the Pirates as an 11th rounder in 2006, but chose not to sign.

The past couple seasons have been injury riddled for Chisenhall, however, he has shown the ability to reach base. Defensively, he’s been an above average right fielder, since making the move full-time to right field in 2015.

Gregory Polanco is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, and won’t be back until midseason at the earliest. A couple weeks ago, outfielder Jordan Luplow was traded to the Indians, hinting that the Pirates would get a right fielder outside the organization. 

When healthy, Chisenhall has shown the tendency to be an on base guy. The power numbers though are on the modest side. Chisenhall’s defense in right field gives the Pirates a quality defensive outfield, along with Starling Marte in center field and reigning NL Gold Glove winner Corey Dickerson in left field. The signing of Chisenhall provides the Pirates with a nice “low risk/high reward” stopgap option until Polanco returns.

 

 

 

Brandon Waddell Among Most Intriguing Rule 5 Eligible Players

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Adam Pintar

On Friday, MLB Pipeline came out with their list of prospects who will be the most intriguing for this year’s Rule 5 Draft. They named one for all 30 clubs, with Brandon Waddell being mentioned for the Pirates.

Since joining the Pirates organization in 2015, Waddell has been one of more underrated pitching prospects in the system. The 24-year-old southpaw throws a low-90’s fastball, along with a curveball, slider and changeup, the last of which is considered his best pitch.

Waddell began this past season with AA Altoona. He pitched 53.2 innings for the Curve, posting a 2.68 ERA and a 3.98 FIP, before getting promoted to AAA Indianapolis in late May. While with Indianapolis, he posted a 4.19 ERA and had a better FIP of 3.74 in 81.2 innings of work.

Prior to the 40-man roster deadline on Tuesday, the Pirates had three open spots, and added Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker and Jason Martin. They also traded Tanner Anderson to the Oakland Athletics in order to add JT Brubaker to the roster. Waddell is a decent candidate to be selected, since he’s a lefty who can command all four of his pitches. As always, the Rule 5 Draft will take place during the final day of the Winter Meetings.