The Pittsburgh Pirates have made two trades today, per a team press release. They acquired Zach Stewart from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. They also acquired Vin Mazzaro and Clint Robinson from Kansas City for minor league pitchers Luis Rico and Luis Santos.
Stewart was once the top prospect in the Toronto system, and has been involved in several trades over the last few years. His value has fallen, with a career 6.82 ERA in 103 innings in the majors, along with a 5.6 K/9 and a 1.9 BB/9 ratio. He should be given a chance to make the team out of Spring Training, although he does have one option remaining, so he could serve as depth out of Triple-A. He throws a fastball in the low-90s, reaching 95-96, and has a mid-80s slider which is his best pitch. He has been working on developing a changeup, but the pitch hasn’t come along like his other offerings. He could be a guy similar to Brad Lincoln, better used as a reliever due to the lack of a changeup. In his career in the majors he has a 7.51 ERA in 74.1 innings as a starter, and a 5.02 ERA in 28.2 innings as a reliever. His K/BB ratio as a reliever is 3.67, compared to 2.63 as a starter.
Mazzaro has pitched for the Royals the last few years, spending time as a starter. In 286 innings he has a 5.22 ERA, a 5.5 K/9 and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio. In his best season, coming with Oakland, he had a 4.27 ERA in 122.1 innings, with a 5.8 K/9 and a 3.7 BB/9 ratio. He throws a hard sinker in the low 90s, touching 95. Both Mazzaro and Stewart get a lot of ground balls with their sinkers, so these are two similar pitchers at this point. The Pirates seem to prefer sinker ball pitchers, as that’s a growing trend in their minor league system. They’ve had some success with guys like Jared Hughes and Charlie Morton.
Robinson is a guy who a lot of Pirates fans were talking about last year. The first baseman has shown some power in the minors, but was seen as a blocked prospect in Kansas City, with Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer in the majors. In his career in Triple-A he had a .309/.396/.493 line in 990 at-bats, with 36 homers. Those numbers came in the PCL, which is the most hitter friendly league in the minors. Robinson has only had four at-bats in the majors in his career, all coming last year. He’s a good gamble to take, with the hope that he becomes the next Garrett Jones.
The Pirates didn’t lose much in the Kansas City trade. Luis Rico and Luis Santos were both in the DSL last year. Santos had some interesting numbers in the DSL, posting a 2.44 ERA in 62.2 innings, with a 10.6 K/9 and a 2.9 BB/9. That came at the age of 21, which is pretty old for the DSL. Rico was signed last year for $280,000. He throws a fastball that touches 92 and has shown improvements with his curve and changeup. However, he saw a big decline in his control numbers in the DSL this year, with an 8.2 BB/9 ratio. That led to a 7.04 ERA in 23 innings.
The Pirates also designated Matt Hague and Yamaico Navarro to make room on the 40-man roster for the new additions. They previously had one open spot on the 40-man. Hague is about the same age as Robinson, but Robinson has more power potential. Navarro wasn’t really cutting it in the majors after being acquired from Kansas City last year. The Pirates can still retain Hague and Navarro if they clear waivers.
Overall the Pirates didn’t really give up anything for these trades, assuming the player to be named later is a marginal prospect. They didn’t get any guarantees here either. Mazzaro hasn’t had impressive numbers, and looks like a bullpen guy/rotation depth option. Stewart is interesting because of his previous top prospect status and the potential he could have out of the bullpen. Robinson is interesting because of his power in the minors. These aren’t really earth shattering moves, but they are moves that have a chance of paying off, and came with almost no cost. Those are the types of moves the Pirates should be making, although I doubt this is the extent of their off-season plan.