Earlier Sunday, Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects wrote that the team will likely make a trade involving one of four relief pitchers who are out of options and are competing for the three available bullpen spots, so long as Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli are all healthy come opening day.
The pitchers in question are Bryan Morris, Vin Mazzaro, Stolmy Pimentel and Jeanmar Gomez. Morris, Pimentel and Gomez are all slated to make $500,000 while Mazzaro will make $950,000 after being arbitration eligible for the first time.
Gomez, Mazzaro and Morris all spent significant time with the big league club in 2013, and Pimentel was a highly regarded prospect who the Pirates pried away from the Boston Red Sox in the Joel Hanrahan trade. Morris had a 3.46 ERA in 65 innings last season, although he only struck out 37 while walking 28. However, his stuff is reportedly stronger this spring, and he is the only player remaining from the 2008 Jason Bay trade that netted the Pirates Craig Hansen, Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche in addition to Morris. After coming over in a minor trade with the Cleveland Indians, Gomez thrived as the Pirates' swingman. He maintained a 3.35 ERA over 80 innings, starting 8 of the 34 games he appeared in.
Mazzaro, who was acquired from the Kansas City Royals, worked the sixth and seventh innings with proficiency, notching a 2.81 ERA in 73.2 innings, going 8-2 in the process. Lastly, while he only pitched 9.1 innings at the big league level last season, Pimentel allowed just two runs and struck out nine. Based on his potential alone, it would be very hard to imagine the Pirates giving up on him.
Williams believes Mazzaro will garner the most interest, and could likely end up being the one traded. However, it's unlikely the Pirates would trade someone who performed as well as Mazarro did the year before while he comes relatively cheap, even though he is now in his arbitration years. The most likely man out would seem to be Morris, who would likely provide a good return and would be missed the least out of the four options.
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