Originally written on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Astros_vs_mets_41b4

Acquired LHP Wandy Rodriguez and cash from the Astros for OF-S Robbie Grossman, LHP Rudy Owens, and LHP Colton Cain. [7/24]

All month long, rumors had the Pirates seeking another starter. To list some of the pitchers named at various points: Jon Lester, James Shields, Paul Maholm, and Francisco Liriano. Rodriguez’s name seldom appeared, but in the end, he appears to be Pittsburgh’s man.

The Pirates’ acquisition of Rodriguez is surprising because of the money involved. Rodriguez is due $17 million over the next season and a half. This trade turns over control of a $13 million option for the 2014 season from the team to Rodriguez. Meaning, in short, Rodriguez will make $30 million between now and his contract’s expiration.  According to Rob Biertempfel, the Pirates will pay Rodriguez $17.7 million of that sum.

Money aside, Rodriguez is a good get for the Pirates. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Rodriguez has recorded a quality start in 66 percent of his attempts. Only A.J. Burnett can claim a better ratio on this year’s Pirates staff. With at least 60 more innings this season, Rodriguez will have his fourth consecutive 190-plus inning season. Long story made short: when Rodriguez takes the mound—and he typically does every five days—he usually gives his team a chance to win.

Rodriguez relies on wit rather than muscle to get outs. His fastball sits around 90 miles per hour and he relies heavily on a curveball and changeup to keep batters off his tail. The game plan is simple: get ahead, throw strikes, and keep the ball on the ground. It’s not a sexy package—and to be clear, it’s a package better suited for the middle of a rotation rather than the front of one—but there are a number of ways to get outs. Rodriguez’s methods are tried and true.

Which is more than you can say about Kevin Correia, whom Rodriguez will likely replace in the rotation. Correia is suffering from the indignity of allowing more earned runs per nine innings than strikeouts, thus telling you all that you need to know about his value. It is worth noting the reports earlier in the summer indicating the Pirates’ willingness to trade Correia. Whether any teams showed interest is unclear. But, if someone did, they should go ahead and give Neal Huntington another call.

The Pirates entered the day with playoff odds of more than 57 percent. Acquiring Rodriguez pushes them upward. Buying players in July, potentially playing meaningful games in October—welcome back to relevancy, Pittsburgh. —R.J. Anderson

Acquired OF-S Robbie Grossman, LHP Rudy Owens, and LHP Colton Cain from the Pirates for LHP Wandy Rodriguez and cash. [7/24]

Owens is the most big league ready of the trio, and will likely see time in Houston this year. The 24-year-old lefty had to overcome the stigma of being a 24th-round pick, but he's found success at every level and won over scouts as a potential back-of-the-rotation piece. He has no star potential, but there's no reason he can't be a successful strike-throwing battler. His fastball is average to a tick below, and he'll mix in an average curveball and decent changeup. But all of his stuff plays up due to outstanding control, as he ends the Pirate portion of his career with a career rate of 1.8 walks per nine innings.

An 8th-round pick in 2009 who received a seven-figure bonus, Cain is the upside play in the group, as his 4.20 ERA at High-A Bradenton, with 51 strikeouts in 75 innings, don't cover his potential. At 6-feet-3-inches, 225 pounds, he's a physical left-hander with good command of an average to slightly above fastball that sits at 88-92 mph, but he's far from a finished product. Scouts have noted an improved changeup from him this year, but his curveball still flattens out often and lacks bite. He's just 21 years old, and his future and his future role will come down to how his secondary pitches develop.

Grossman is an intriguing outfielder who received much attention from the statistical community when he hit .294/.418/.451 at High-A Bradenton while leading the minor leagues with 104 walks. That was enough to make him the no. 6 prospect in the system entering the year, but scouts had mixed reviews of him due to some questions about his power potential, and the ability to stay up the middle. At .262/.374/.403 in 94 Double-A games, it looks like he's regressed, but he's recovered from a slow start to hit .316/.439/.477 in 43 games since the calendar flipped to June. The 22-year-old has no star-level tools, but also no weaknesses, as he runs well, has a bit of pop, and obviously works the count exceedingly well. Strikeouts have been an issue for him throughout his career, but he has made minor improvements in that area. If he stays in center, he'll have tremendous value, but that's a big if, as he lacks the quickness for up-the-middle play and most see a future corner outfielder. —Kevin Goldstein

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Belichick: Garoppolo has better understanding of NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lionel Hollins: 'Honored and blessed to coach Kevin Garnett'

Curt Schilling gives Johnny Manziel advice on Twitter

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

Andre Johnson willing to take pay cut with Texans?

Mets star David Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

Frank Gore: Colin Kaepernick is 'not broke'

The story of Morgan Bulkeley and birth of National League

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things the world learned about the NBA on Christmas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Year's most notable sports media stories

'Roberto Gronkowski wishes fans Feliz Navidad

Are the Seahawks back on track?

Wright reaches out to slain officer's sons

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.