The route to Pittsburgh may have had several detours along the way, but Connor Joe, at long last, will suit up for the black and gold.
The Pirates acquired Joe from the Rockies in exchange for Minor League right-handed pitcher Nick Garcia, the team announced on Sunday, bringing Joe back to the organization that drafted him eight years ago.
To make room for Joe on the 40-man roster, RHP Nick Mears was designated for assignment.
Joe, 30, posted a slash line of .238/.338/.359 and had seven home runs, six steals and an 87 wRC+ across 111 games with the Rockies in 2022, his first full season as a Major Leaguer. Joe was one of baseball’s most disciplined batters last season, ranking in the 90th percentile of walk percentage (11.8%), 87th percentile of chase rate and 72nd percentile of whiff percentage. Joe provided defensive versatility as well, playing 375 1/3 innings in left field, 132 innings in right field and 162 innings at first base.
The Pirates hope Joe can tap into his 2021 form. Across 63 games that season, Joe slashed .285/.379/.469 with eight home runs and a 115 wRC+. Despite playing less than half a season, Joe ended 2021 with the seventh-highest bWAR on the Rockies (1.6).
Joe is Pittsburgh’s latest addition in what has been a busy offseason for the Pirates. They have struck deals with Hedges, Jarlín García, right-handed pitcher Vince Velasquez and first baseman Carlos Santana; traded for first baseman Ji-Man Choi and right-handed pitcher Dauri Moreta; and selected left-handed pitcher Jose Hernandez in the Rule 5 Draft.
Nick Garcia, 23, was a third-round selection by the Pirates in the 2020 Draft. In 2022, he had a 3.66 ERA and 4.89 FIP with 109 strikeouts across 113 innings.
Joe was selected by the Pirates with the 39th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft but was traded to the Braves on Aug. 5, 2017, in exchange for Sean Rodríguez.
Joe bounced around several organizations after being traded by the Pirates. On Sept. 24, 2017, the Braves traded Joe to the Dodgers. Joe was taken by the Reds in the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, then traded to the Giants right before Opening Day in 2019. Joe made his MLB debut with San Francisco but appeared in only eight games before being designated for assignment. He subsequently returned to the Dodgers and spent the remainder of the season with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate.
In 2020, Joe opted out of the season and announced in March that he had undergone surgery for testicular cancer. On July 20, exactly five months after his original diagnosis, Joe was declared cancer-free.
Now, following two seasons with the Rockies, Joe returns to his first professional organization.