Welcome to the weekly Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we update you on all of the latest Pirates trades, signings, rumors, injury news, promotions, demotions, and the like from the past week.
The Rumor Mill surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates has certainly been churning this past week. Francisco Liriano to the Orioles? Andrew McCutchen to the Indians? We’ll take a look at these trade rumors and give you some updates on injured Pirates as well as some roster moves from the past week.
Gerrit Cole still remains on the 15-day disabled list, and won’t be making his start on Sunday, even though he is eligible to come off the disabled list that day. Hopefully Cole is close to returning to game action soon, because the Pirates certainly need him.
Francisco Cervelli also remains on the 15-day DL, and he should be back with the Pirates before the end of July. Even though Cervelli hasn’t had the best offensive season, his absence has led to Eric Kratz and Jacob Stallings getting time at catcher, which certainly isn’t ideal.
Ryan Vogelsong and Elias Diaz remain on the 60-day disabled list. It’s hard to envision Vogelsong returning to action with the big league club, and with Diaz’s injury, I don’t see him making an impact in the majors this year either.
This week saw a lot of roster moves, similar to last week. With the bullpen and starting staff being as bad as they are, these moves make sense. First, Jason Rogers was optioned back to Indianapolis, and Jacob Stallings was called up to make his major league debut. Then, the Pirates optioned Curtis Partch back to Indy and recalled Wilfreo Boscan. After making a start, Boscan was then sent back down to Indy and Kyle Lobstein was called up. Finally, in a bevy of moves today, Jorge Rondon and Cole Figueroa were designated for assignment, Stallings was optioned back down to Indy, Juan Nicasio was reinstated from the restricted list, and Adam Frazier was called up from Indy.
Frazier and Stallings both made their major league debuts this week, which was cool to see.
Nicasio to pen full time
This is a move that was long overdue. Now we await to see who starts Sunday, as Jameson Taillon seems to be the replacement for Nicasio in the starting rotation. Speaking of Sunday…
Chad Kuhl to make major league debut on Sunday?
Chad Kuhl now seems like the most likely pitcher to replace Nicasio on Sunday. Tyler Glasnow isn’t an option as he’d be going on less than five days rest, and while some speculate that Kyle Lobstein could be an option, but the Pirates probably want to go with a proven starter first. If it is Kuhl, he’d be facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday Night Baseball in his major league debut. That’d be quite a debut.
Liriano to O’s?
The first big trade rumor involving the Pirates has officially come into the fold, as Jon Morosi recently reported that the Orioles have shown interest in Francisco Liriano:
It makes sense that teams are interested in Liriano. He wouldn’t cost a lot in terms of prospects, based on his performance this season, and he’s a big contract that the Pirates could get off the books. Honestly, if I were a contender, I wouldn’t try to trade for Liriano. He’d be a risky buy and certainly far from a sure thing to improve a rotation. If I’m the Pirates, I wouldn’t trade him unless I’m blown away. With the rotation in disarray, keeping Liriano and hoping he improves either this season or next year would be ideal. Gerrit Cole is the only quality starter in the rotation right now, and outside of him, only Jameson Taillon should be guaranteed a roster spot next season. If anyone can return Liriano to high-end starter form, it’s Ray Searage after all.
#TradeMcCutchen in full swing
The Pirates will be fielding offers from every team about Andrew McCutchen if the team continues to play poorly. And even with McCutchen’s poor year, the Pirates should still be able to fetch a haul for him. Here’s one recent trade proposal from Mark DeRosa on MLB Network:
This is intriguing. Trevor Bauer and Brady Aiken obviously headline the package coming back from Cleveland, but Bradley Zimmer is MLB.com’s #22 overall prospect. Bauer was drafted the same year as Gerrit Cole, and pitched on the same UCLA team Cole did. Aiken is a former #1 overall pick, but Tommy John surgery delayed his development. The upsides of Bauer and Aiken are tremendous, and would help solidify the rotation of the Pirates moving forward. Imagine a rotation of Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Bauer, and Aiken. That would rival the Mets super-rotation. That would also leave guys like Liriano, Jon Niese, and Nick Kingham as safety nets for injuries and the like. Zimmer would also be a hedge in case Austin Meadows doesn’t work out in the majors. And imagine if Zimmer and Meadows live up to their potential. Having him as a fourth outfielder behind Meadows, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco would be absurd.
This is certainly a tempting offer, but their is risk involved. Aiken hasn’t thrown a pitch in the minors yet, and Bauer hasn’t lived up to his billing as an ace yet. And with Tony Watson being included in the deal, the Pirates bullpen only gets worse. With Mark Melancon also likely out the door, who would the Pirates future closer be?
Well, it will definitely be fascinating following the trade rumors this season as they continue to flood in.