Pirates acquire Soria from Tigers
Bucs bolster bullpen with righty, who was also on Cardinals' wish-list
CINCINNATI -- The National League Central race still has 10 weeks to go. But the Pirates have already beaten out the Cardinals on one count: Joakim Soria.
Swinging their second deal of the day to solidify the bullpen, the Bucs on Thursday acquired the Tigers' closer -- who had been also on the wish-list of the Cardinals, looking to bolster their own bullpen even after last week's acquisition of Steve Cishek from the Marlins.
The Tigers get shortstop JaCoby Jones -- who had been promoted by the Pirates from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Double-A Altoona last week. Jones, a third-round pick in the 2013 Draft, is a strikeout-prone (once every four at-bats) power hitter (33 homers in 834 at-bats in 2014-15). The Pirates will have to make a corresponding roster move when Soria joins the club. According to general manager Neal Huntington, Soria is expected to report in time for Friday night's game against the Reds.
Soria will team with left-hander Tony Watson in a righty-lefty setup bridge to closer Mark Melancon, who is working on a streak of 30 consecutive save conversions.
"Mark will continue to be our closer," confirmed Huntington, who said he had discussed the situation with manager Clint Hurdle. "We now have a nice setup combination of 'Watty' and Soria."
Earlier Thursday, the Pirates injected Joe Blanton into their shaky middle relief corps, acquiring him from Kansas City for cash considerations.
"We've made two acquisitions to help solidify our bullpen," Huntington said. "Soria is a veteran closer, a late-inning reliever who's been there, done that. The moves lengthen and deepen our bullpen."
Soria cost, and will be paid, slightly more. But the 31-year-old native of Mexico has a superior bullpen pedigree, with 201 saves, including a 23-for-26 conversion rate this season. He has two months remaining on his $7 million contract for the 2015 season.
"It wasn't easy to trade [Jones], but Detroit was strong on wanting him as the return," Huntington said. "We hated to give him up. JaCoby has got an interesting tool set and was making quality progress in our system."