Bucs trade Nova to White Sox, pick up Lyles

Pittsburgh receives righty Rosario, international bonus pool space in deal

December 11th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- The Pirates opened a spot in their starting rotation and unloaded one of their largest salaries on Tuesday by trading veteran right-hander to the White Sox. They also added to their pitching staff by agreeing to a deal with free-agent right-hander .
Pittsburgh received 19-year-old right-hander Yordi Rosario and $500,000 in 2018-19 international bonus pool space in exchange for the 31-year-old Nova, who will earn $8.5 million next season. General manager Neal Huntington said the Pirates will use that salary "in different areas." One of them may be Lyles.
"My job is to maximize the dollars that we allocate to payroll, to maximize the dollars that we allocate to everything else in baseball operations," Huntington said. "As we looked at our projected production for Nova, as we looked at the actual salary for Nova, we felt that we could redistribute that other places on the club and meet and/or exceed the production level that we expect out of Nova."
The Pirates have not officially signed Lyles, but industry sources confirmed to MLB.com that Lyles has agreed to a deal, pending a medical review later this week. Financial terms of the deal are not yet known. The 28-year-old right-hander could fill a number of roles for Pittsburgh as a starter or long reliever.

Pittsburgh was particularly intrigued by the changes Lyles made late last season. He increased his curveball usage during the second half and saw his four-seam fastball velocity tick up. Overall, he posted the highest strikeout rate (22.6 percent) of his career last season while holding hitters to a .249 average.
Lyles should enter camp as one of several candidates to replace Nova in the rotation. Huntington said the Pirates will consider internal possibilities -- out-of-options right-hander and lefty -- while remaining open to another addition via free agency or trade. They might even use an opener, Huntington said.
"We will absolutely continue to explore the free-agent market," Huntington said. "Is there this year's version of [A.J.] Burnett, [Francisco] Liriano and [Edinson] Volquez out there? Is there this year's version of a pitcher that's turned a corner that we feel we can continue to help and reestablish himself? Or do we go with one of our young starters? Or do we get really creative and go with the opener? There's a variety of potential solutions out there."
The White Sox needed a veteran starter to eat innings, and Nova fit the criteria after putting together a 4.19 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 161 innings over 29 starts last season. Nova will be a free agent after next season, and trading him dropped the Pirates' projected payroll for next season to about $71 million.
Nova, the Pirates' Opening Day starter this past season, more realistically slotted in behind Pittsburgh's other four starters: , Chris Archer, and Joe Musgrove. Whoever takes Nova's spot in the rotation might not hold it for long, as top prospectMitch Keller could reach the Majors next summer after starting the season in Triple-A.
The Pirates acquired Nova from the Yankees prior to the 2016 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The right-hander thrived in his first stint with the Bucs, posting a 3.06 ERA over 11 starts down the stretch in '16. He settled in as a durable mid- to back-end starter, putting together a 4.16 ERA in 60 starts over the past two seasons.
"Ivan Nova was a pro while he was here, and he did some really good things for us," Huntington said. "He took the ball, kept us in games. I don't want to downplay what Nova did. He helped us. That stability has a certain value."
The Pirates' return from the White Sox won't make an impact in the Majors anytime soon, but the move gave international scouting director Junior Vizcaino the ability to spend up to $500,000 more during this signing period. Rosario is the fourth projectable teenage pitcher the Bucs have acquired this offseason; they received 19-year-old righties Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza in a five-player trade with the Indians and added 18-year-old Wilkin Ramos when they sent Tanner Anderson to the A's.
"We've added four young arms this offseason that'll just help replenish the pitching that you never have enough of," Huntington said.