Bucs trade Rich-Rod, add Chavis and arms
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates made a minor morning trade on Friday -- the day of the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline -- but then went quiet for hours, leading all the way up to the threshold for deals to be struck between teams.
Then, a few minutes following the Deadline, the details came about of two buzzer-beating trades turned by general manager Ben Cherington and the Pirates’ front office.
The club dealt Richard Rodríguez, its biggest relief trade chip, to the Braves on Friday afternoon shortly before acquiring former Top 100 prospect Michael Chavis from Boston for left-hander Austin Davis. Pittsburgh acquired right-handers Ricky DeVito and Bryse Wilson in the deal with Atlanta.
Thanks to quick decision-making “within minutes” of the cutoff, as Cherington put it, the Pirates were able to net three young players on top of the eight they acquired in four earlier trades made with plenty of time to spare.
The most high-profile player of the additions is Chavis, a 25-year-old infielder/outfielder who was ranked the No. 69 prospect in baseball in 2018 before making his Major League debut the next season. Things have steadily gone downhill at the plate for Chavis, who posted a .549 OPS in 79 at-bats this season with the Red Sox, but he’s got great power potential in his bat, which he showcased with 18 homers in 95 games in his first MLB season.
Perhaps the best person to ask about Chavis’ upside is Cherington, who was general manager for the Red Sox when they selected the slugger at No. 26 overall in the 2014 Draft.
“Maybe a bit of a fresh start for him, coming out of the organization that drafted him originally,” Cherington said. “I think initially we'll get him to [Triple-A] Indianapolis, get him settled in there and get him playing, but [I’m] looking forward to reconnecting with him and getting him in a Pirates uniform.”
From the deal with Atlanta, the Pirates got a Major League-ready arm in Wilson. The 23-year-old was the No. 6 prospect in 2019 for the Braves, per MLB Pipeline. He has a 4.83 ERA in seven starts with Atlanta this season and a 4.23 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Cherington said he expects that Wilson should be in Pittsburgh and active for tomorrow’s game against the Phillies at PNC Park.
“We feel like he can come in and be part of a group of young starting pitchers we're growing and developing … and be a strong part of that,” Cherington said, “so look forward to getting to know him.”
The youngest player in Friday afternoon’s haul is DeVito, who will turn 23 in August and owned a 2.66 ERA in five starts with the High-A Rome Braves before he was placed on the injured list with an elbow issue on June 9.
“We're aware of that, and we'll work with him to continue his rehab from that,” Cherington said. “So two guys [from Atlanta] -- obviously, at different points in their career -- but two guys we think have a chance to be starting pitchers in the Major Leagues for us.”
Rodríguez was solid as the Pirates’ closer in 2021, recording a 2.82 ERA while completing 14 of 17 save opportunities. His 1.17 walks-per-nine-innings rate is fifth best in the Majors among relievers (min. 100 batters faced), and his expected ERA of 2.86 is in the top 9% of MLB.
Davis, 28, appeared in only 10 games for the Pirates this season, recording a 5.59 ERA, but manager Derek Shelton said the club planned to use him in high-leverage situations to see how he fared going forward when eighth-inning reliever Kyle Crick was released last week.
On Friday morning, the Pirates traded Triple-A pitcher Braeden Ogle to the Phillies for Low-A catcher Abrahan Gutierrez -- a player they had previously targeted in a deal for left-hander Tyler Anderson with the cross-state club, but which fell apart late in talks before the veteran was traded to the Mariners.
Gone also are All-Star second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier (Padres) and right-handed reliever Clay Holmes (Yankees), which means it’s been a busy week of goodbyes for Shelton and the Major League team. But they trust the process of what Cherington and the front office are building with these moves in one of the most hectic periods on the MLB calendar.
“It's difficult when you trade guys,” Shelton said. “It's difficult when you trade guys that you have professional and personal relationships with, but I'm excited about the guys that we brought in.”
“We respect the guys who are traded, what they’ve done with the Pirates,” Cherington said. “Then [we have to] be really, really clear that … the only reason we make any decision is if we think it puts us in a stronger position to win over time. Period. That’s the only reason we would do anything.
“That’s our obligation to them, to do whatever we can to build a winning team in Pittsburgh."