Monday, November 25, 2013

Bucs Dealin'; Garrett Jones & Kyle McPherson DFA'ed, Dickerson Traded

Well, it's not exactly like a Jhonny Peralta signing, but the Bucs have begun to reshape their roster. The Pirates have picked up OF Jaff Decker and RHP Miles Mikolas from San Diego in exchange for minor league 1B/OF Alex Dickerson.

Decker, 23, was a sandwich pick (42nd overall) in the 2008 draft, and was the #82 Prospect per Baseball America by 2010. He put up a decent slash last season (.286/10/40, 415 PA) for AAA Tucson, although we're always leery of counting numbers from the Pacific Coast League.

He  had picked up several awards in the lower levels, but hit a wall in AA during the 2012 season when the lefty was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis early in the season and then tore his plantar tendon on May 31st. Still, he didn't fall entirely off the radar, as BA had him pegged as the Friar's #23 Prospect.

Decker does have a decent eye; he'll swing through a few pitches, but had a .381 OBP last season and a .402 OBP in his five year minor league career. He can plan all three OF positions and has a chance make the active roster, per Neil Huntington. He has two option years remaining, so he can still spend a season or two at Indy as last year was his first season at the AAA level.

The OF'er is an interesting selection. He provides a LH alternative to Travis Snider in RF as a fourth-outfielder type and frees up Andrew Lambo to move to first, so he allows the FO some wiggle room in the market. But he's no slam dunk. In a small sample size of 26 MLB plate appearances, he hit just .154. But he does make camp a little more competitive and helps to firm up the positional battle lines.

Mikolas put together a  4-2-26/3.25 ERA in 61 IP/54 appearances for AAA Tuscon. The righty has worked a few frames in the show, too, going 2-1/3.44 ERA, with 25 of his 27 outings coming in 2012. In 34 career innings in the majors he has a 3.44 ERA, a 6.4 K/9 and a 4.2 BB/9 ratio.

The 25 year old has a lot of things the Bucs like - he's 6'5", tosses bullets (he sits at 93-94, touching 98) with a ground ball rate of 50.9% per Fangraphs. He couples his heater with an average or better curve. As a plus, he's got one option left, so the Bucs have a chance to look and tinker.

His fastball has a lot of velocity but not much movement. And while his minor league walks per nine was quite good at 2.0, in the show it's jumped to 4.2. Scouts project him not as a future closer, but as a middle reliever or setup man. Unless, of course, the Pirate mechanics can turn that flat four seamer into a heay sinking two seamer...

Neither Decker nor Mikolas were on San Diego's hot list, as both had been DFA'ed on November 20th.

Dickerson, 23, was drafted by the Pirates in the third round of the 2011 draft and was named the Eastern League Rookie of the Year in 2013 after hitting .288/17/68 RBIs for AA Altoona and a post-season All-Star. He was the Bucs #13 Prospect according to BA.

The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he hit well (.290) but played only the corner outfield, not at first base. AIf the Pirates saw him as an OF prospect, well, there was quite a line he'd have to leapfrog to sniff PNC Park. It's possible that they were trying to spiff up his versatility to make him more attractive, too. In either case, the FO didn't see him as an everyday guy .

That caused a couple of secondary moves to clear space on the 40-man roster. Garrett Jones, widely expected to be non-tendered this season, was DFA'ed along with injured RHP Kyle McPherson, who is recovering from TJ surgery.

Jones made $4.5M in 2013 and would have earned $5M+ in his third year of arbitration, making him virtually untradeable after hitting .233 with 15 homers and a .708 OPS in 144 games. The Pirates, we're sure, already have Jones' 2014 salary targeted, maybe for a new first baseman. At age 32 and capable as an outfielder, he should have no problems landing another MLB gig, though he has painted himself into a platoon corner and the paycut that comes with that tag.

Kyle McPherson would have opened the year on the 60-day D, though his release was a bit of a surprise, especially given some of the other guys on the 40-man. It doesn't necessarily mean that the Pirates will cut ties with him. He's not supposed to be ready to pitch until July, so the FO could be trying to squeak him past waivers and then sign him again, but to a minor league deal, for 2014.

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