Pirates, RHP Gustave agree to deal (source)

August 17th, 2020

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates will not be signing former All-Star Henderson Alvarez, as previously reported, but they are on the verge of signing another right-hander with Major League experience.

Pittsburgh has agreed to a Minor League deal with reliever . Once a top 30 prospect in the Astros’ system, Gustave reached the Majors with Houston in 2016 then missed most of '17 and all of ’18 following Tommy John surgery. After an uninspiring campaign in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season, Gustave pitched well for the Giants down the stretch, as he put together a 2.96 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 24 1/3 innings over 23 appearances.

The 27-year-old right-hander throws a fastball that averaged 96.1 mph last season along with a slider. Opponents hit just .167 with a .292 slugging percentage against his slider a year ago.

Gustave did not pitch for San Francisco this season. He was designated for assignment by the Giants on Aug. 2 and sent outright to their alternate training site on Aug. 9, an assignment he had the right to decline because he had previously been outrighted by the Astros. Thus, Gustave was able to elect free agency.

With their pitching staff racked by injuries, the Pirates have been seeking Major League-ready depth options like Gustave. They agreed to a similar Minor League deal on Aug. 9 with Alvarez, the former Marlins starter, but Alvarez tweeted on Sunday night that the agreement fell through.

Alvarez wrote on Twitter that the deal “did not materialize” because Pittsburgh “signed another player.” Alvarez, 30, will return to pitch for the Milwaukee MilkMen of the independent American Association.

Roster moves

The Pirates optioned right-hander Cody Ponce to their alternate training site in Altoona, Pa., on Sunday. Ponce made two appearances after being activated from the taxi squad on Aug. 2, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out three over 3 1/3 innings. Ponce has not pitched since Aug. 6.

The Pirates will call up another pitcher before Tuesday’s series opener against Cleveland at PNC Park. The most likely candidates are right-hander Tyler Bashlor, who was acquired from the Mets on Aug. 2, and right-hander Nick Tropeano, who was claimed off waivers last Tuesday. General manager Ben Cherington said on Aug. 8 that Bashlor was nearly ready to pitch in game situations in Altoona and had been throwing the ball well in bullpen sessions.

Additionally, left-hander Miguel Del Pozo cleared waivers and was sent outright to Pittsburgh’s alternate training site over the weekend. The Pirates designated Del Pozo for assignment on Thursday to make room on the 40-man roster for closer Keone Kela.