Tyler Gaffney Returns to Pirates Organization

By Jason Shetler

After being drafted by the Pirates in 2012, Tyler Gaffney has returned to the organization, this according to Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects. 

Gaffney was chosen by the Pirates in the 24th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Stanford University as an outfielder. He spent 2012 playing for the State College Spikes, the former short season affiliate of the Bucs, where he posted an astounding .483 on base percentage in 38 games. Pirates Prospects at that time had him Top 50 in their prospect rankings. 

In February of 2013, Gaffney made a surprising decision to leave the Pirates and returned to Stanford to play football as a running back. The Carolina Panthers selected him as a sixth round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. While in training camp that year, Gaffney suffered a torn lateral meniscus. Because of the injury, he was waived by Carolina and claimed by the New England Patriots a couple days later. After three years with New England, mainly on the practice squad or injured reserve, he was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in August of last year, but didn’t receive any playing time. 

According to Pirates Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway, Gaffney told them that he was done with football and wanted to get back into baseball. He turns 27 in April and has never played a full season of pro ball, so he would be a long shot to reach the Majors.







Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

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. 






Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler