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Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target Profile: Fernando Abad

As part of our Trademas in July series, we’ll take a look at potential trade targets for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As the rumors swirl around the Pittsburgh Pirates and their seeming pursuit of a starting pitcher, the need for a left handed relief arm remains.

We’ve previously profiled Marc Rzepczynski as a viable option, and today we will take a hard look at another one – Minnesota Twins pitcher Fernando Abad.

Profile and Performance

Abad broke into the majors in 2010 with Houston and has played for four teams in his career. He carries a classic Pittsburgh Pirates reliever arsenal, with four-seam and sinking fastballs with a changeup and curveball. At various points, he has mixed in an infrequent cutter. Primarily, he is a two-pitch hurler with the four-seam and curve accounting for over 75 percent of pitches thrown.

Here now are Abad’s career statistics:

2010 HOU 2.84 22 6 19.0 14 6 6 3 5 12 4.66 1.000 6.6 1.4 2.4 5.7 2.40
2011 HOU 7.32 29 1 19.2 28 18 16 5 9 15 6.33 1.881 12.8 2.3 4.1 6.9 1.67
2012 HOU 5.09 37 8 46.0 57 27 26 6 19 38 4.57 1.652 11.2 1.2 3.7 7.4 2.00
2013 WSN 3.35 39 17 37.2 42 14 14 3 10 32 3.26 1.381 10.0 0.7 2.4 7.6 3.20
2014 OAK 1.57 69 17 57.1 34 11 10 4 15 51 3.25 0.855 5.3 0.6 2.4 8.0 3.40
2015 OAK 4.15 62 17 47.2 45 23 22 11 19 45 5.50 1.343 8.5 2.1 3.6 8.5 2.37
2016 MIN 2.73 35 7 29.2 23 10 9 2 13 27 3.52 1.213 7.0 0.6 3.9 8.2 2.08
7 Yrs 3.61 293 73 257.0 243 109 103 34 90 220 4.28 1.296 8.5 1.2 3.2 7.7 2.44
162 Game Avg. 3.61 67 17 58 55 25 23 8 20 50 4.28 1.296 8.5 1.2 3.2 7.7 2.44
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2016.


The Case For Abad

  • Abad’s contract is agreeable. He earned $1.25 million this year in arbitration. He will have another arb-eligible year before becoming a free agent for 2018.
  • Abad 2016 usage mimics the 2015 version of Antonio Bastardo‘s. Looking through game logs for this year, we can see several full inning apperances, many appearances with 1/3 or 2/3 innings pitched. There are even a few two inning appearances to be seen. Abad is capable of filling a matchup role if needed. That versatility is something Clint Hurdle sorely misses in his bullpen.
  • Though none of his career numbers are particularly striking, Abad has just been a steady reliever more often than not in his career. He has had several years with a bloated ERA, but in those years his FIP has also swollen. He actually out-pitches his FIP more often than not.
  • For the most part, Abad has kept the ball in the ballpark over the past four years, save for an outlier year last year in Oakland.
  • Abad’s changeup drops over 10mph on average from his heat, and opponents hit just .158 against it. It’s tempting to see what Ray Searage could do with the pitch, which is not a current focus for the veteran. Abad has different gears in his changeup, making it avery effective pitch.

The Case Against Abad

  • If Abad is solid at best – but not spectacular – is it fair to wonder if the Pittsburgh Pirates can do better elsewhere?
  • Though he strikes out 8.2 hitters per nine, he also has a BB/9 of 3.9 in 2016.
  • Opposing hitters have no issues attacking Abad with two strikes. In x-2 counts, all of his pitches carry a swing rate above 55 percent. SO far, the damage has been mitigated, but with ball rates of 25.14 and 37.5 percents against the four-seam and changeup respectively in two strike counts, this may come back to haunt the southpaw. Hitters can easily get back into the at-bat against these pitches.
  • Abad has appeared in just five games since Jun 22nd due to a creaky back, but that issue seems to be behind him.

What it Might Take…

The Twins recently fired their general manager Terry Ryan. Multiple outlets report that the club will look outside the organization for his replacement.

This may help the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the incoming brass may have a view of the team’s outlook that is very different from their predecessor. Thus, they may be more apt to reshuffle the deck, lowering the price tag on players such as Abad.

The Twin’s farm system is headlined by right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios, the 15th overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He is followed by left-hander Tyler Jay. In fact, the Twins’ system is riddled with pitching, and has but two true outfielders in its top 30. The Twins are set in right field with Miguel Sano, but the debate rages on Byron Buxton in center. Their left-field options this year were both below replacement level.

The Pirates would absolutely not give up Austin Meadows for a reliever of any pedigree, but their glut of outfielders right below the major league level could be put in play. Willy Garcia has no conceivable path to an everyday role with Meadows blocking him, and he has more worth as a trade chip than an eventual fourth outfielder.

I can easily see the Pittsburgh Pirates putting together a package of Garcia plus a low level prospect for Abad’s services. That may seem expensive on the surface, but it is not unheard of for a solid left handed reliever with a year of control.


While the starting pitching grabs the headlines, a left handed reliever could do wonders for Hurdle’s late game management. Having a left-hander not named Tony Watson to use for matchups when needed opens many possibilities to maximize this bullpen’s effectivcness.

Provided the price is right, Abad could be a solid fit for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Follow along with our Trademas in July coverage with these other trade target profiles:

[irp posts=”7823″ name=”Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target Profile: Jake Odorizzi”] [irp posts=”7768″ name=”Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target Profile: Matt Moore”] [irp posts=”7720″ name=”Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target Profile: Matt Shoemaker”]

Featured Image Credit – Keith Allison via Flickr Creative Commons

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