Pittsburgh Pirates make pair of trades


Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington was busy today making some roster moves, but nothing that will improve the on field product for the 2013 season.

The first move saw the Bucs acquire right-hander Zach Stewart from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later. The Red Sox had designated Stewart for assignment on November 20th.

Stewart is 26 and has pitched at the MLB level in both of the past two seasons. In 103 innings he has a 6.82 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.  He was a former third-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 and has been traded four times already, being included in deals for big names such as Scott Rolen, Colby Rasmus and Kevin Youkilis, so other teams have seen something in him as well.

The Pirates only had 39 players on their 40-man roster so they did not have to make a corresponding move to make room for Stewart.

Huntington also swung a separate deal with the Kansas City Royals in which the Pirates acquired right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson from the Royals for minor league pitchers Luis Rico and Luis Santos.

Both Mazzaro and Robinson had been designated for assignment on November 20th. Mazzaro, 26, had a 5.73 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 44 innings with the Royals this past season. Robinson made his MLB debut in 2012, but spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he posted a .292/.393/.452 batting line in 570 plate appearances.

Rico, a 19-year-old left-hander, has a 5.29 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 5.8 BB/9 in 20 appearances as a professional. Santos, a 21-year-old right-hander, has a 2.51 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 24 minor league appearances.

To make room for Mazzaro and Robinson, the Bucs had to designate both Yamaico Navarro and Matt Hague for assignment.

This trade is a bit peculiar from the standpoint that Mazzaro isn’t very good, to be kind. He’s a guy that likely would have cleared waivers and could have been signed to a minor-league contract without giving anything up. It’s not that the Bucs parted with much here, but I don’t like the idea of taking Hague off the 40-man to make room for these two guys.

I’m not as down on Robinson.

With the Bucs badly needing an everyday first baseman, Robinson is a guy that has shown power in the minors, hitting 29 homers with 98 RBI in 2010 (AA) and clubbing 223 homers with 100 RBI in 2011 (AAA). However those power numbers slipped to 13 homers and 67 RBI last season.

Hague is by no means the first baseman of the future, but does have the potential to have a better bat than pretty much anyone else that will be on the Pirates’ bench. Considering how bad the Bucs were pinch-hitting a season ago, Hague might have actually had some value during the season.

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