The Pirates shipped Frankie Liriano to Toronto, along with OF Harold Ramirez and C Reese McGuire in return for Blue Jays AAA RHP Drew Hutchison. Both sides had eyeballed the principals for some time, dating back prior to the season. Clearing some salary and a rotation spot makes sense, but the Bucs also cleared out a couple of capable prospects.
Ramirez is a good hitter (.304 as a MiLB'er) with no power, and was blocked from Pittsburgh and behind at least Austin Meadow in the system, so he was always going to be trade bait. McGuire has a MLB skill set on defense, but big questions regarding his stick. His value took a hit when Fran signed his extension; some think he'll develop at the plate while others think he's mini-Jake Stalling.
|Drew Hutchison (photo Gene Puskar/AP)|
Both were Top Ten Pirates prospects, although not elite and not in the Bucco plans. So our uneducated guess is that the Pirates ponied up so they didn't have to send the Blue Jays any loot - Frankie does get the remainder of $13.667M this year and the same in 2017. Another theory is that prospects were Toronto's main target all along, and Frankie was a toss-in deal-sealer. We're skeptical of that as the Jays were said to have him in their sights for a couple of years, so we'd follow the money.
Sad to see Frankie leave like this, tho. His contributions from 2013-15 were huge. Maybe a deeper-pocketed team could afford to see if he'd rally in 2017, but it was just too big a bet for the Bucs.
Hutchison was once a top Toronto prospect but his glow has dimmed. Once a back-ender in the Jays’ rotation, he's spent most of the 2016 season with Buffalo. In his four-year big-league career, he's 30-21 with a 4.92 ERA (4.23 FIP). Hutch is under team control through 2018, and the Bucs have liked him for awhile. We'd guess he ends up in Indy for some evaluation and tweaking, at least until September, tho he could slip into the crowded back end of the rotation.
|Antonio Bastardo (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)|
The Bucs and Mets swapped Jon Niese and Antonio Bastardo. The homecoming clears a spot in the rotation and gives ther Pirates a little more depth in the pen if Bastardo returns to his 2015 form (he has a 4.74 ERA this year). He's not cheap, altho less costly then Jon, making $5.75M this year (Pirates share: $1.75M) and $6.5M in 2017.
|Ivan Nova (photo USA Today)|
The first move of the day was picking up rental RHP Ivan Nova (he's a free agent after this season) from the New York Yankees for a pair of PTBNL. Nova hasn't pitched very well since TJ surgery, but has been decent this month and sports a 54% ground ball rate, so he looks like a back end plug-in.
Prior to that, the club sent The Shark to DC for reliver Felipe Rivero, who will become the seventh inning man, and took a dice roll on fireballing youngster Taylor Hearn, who is toiling in Low A.
|Felipe Rivero (photo Partick McDermott/Getty)|
Neal Huntington also spent time window shopping Tampa pitchers Chris Archer, Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi. The Rays asked for top prospects such as Josh Bell, Kevin Newsome and Austin Meadows, so those discussions went nowhere fast, and we're kinda glad of that.
The Bucs may have a couple of new names, but not much has changed. The position guys and bench are the same. Tony Watson was handed a large pair of spikes to fill while the middle of the pen was deepened. The rotation looks like Cole, Taillon, Nova, Locke and Kuhl/Vogelsong, so take that for what it's worth. They did pocket some loot for next year, mainly through losing Liriano's contract, and we hope they have plans to invest that largesse during the off season.
- As part of the Jay Bruce deal with the Reds, former Bucco 2B prospect Dilson Herrera is going to Cincinnati. He was part of the package the Bucs sent to NY for Marlon Byrd in 2013.
- The Orioles got Steve Pearce from Rays. He was a Bucco off and on from 2007-11; too much time in the tub dost him here.
- The LA Dodgers acquired Jesse Chavez from Toronto. He pitched for Pittsburgh from 2008-09 before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Akinori Iwamura in 2009.