Pirates select left-hander Webb in Rule 5 Draft

Bucs lose pitchers Pimentel, Smith and Brewer in Minor League phase

December 8th, 2016

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Pirates added another left-hander to their bullpen competition Thursday morning at the Winter Meetings, selecting Tyler Webb from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft.

Webb, 26, is the first player the Pirates have selected in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft since they took in 2011. Webb has spent parts of three seasons in Triple-A, and he went 4-3 with one save, a 3.59 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 72 2/3 innings over 36 appearances in 2016.

Rule 5 Draft results

"Multi-inning left-handed pitcher with some deception. We like the fastball-changeup combination. He's shown a solid slider-cutter at times," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "[We] felt like, of the guys that were available in the Draft, probably the one most equipped to come in and help the club win. Fits in our mix well."

Webb's peripheral numbers are intriguing. He has averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings while only walking 2.7 per nine, and the 6-foot-6, 225-pounder boasts a career 1.18 WHIP in four Minor League seasons despite a 3.48 ERA.

But the addition of Webb presents some offseason intrigue. Per the conditions of the Rule 5 Draft, Webb must remain on the Pirates' big league roster for the duration of the 2017 season or be offered back to the Yankees. There is also the possibility that the two clubs could work out a deal in which the Bucs keep Webb without leaving him on the active roster all year.

Webb is the fifth left-handed reliever penciled into Pittsburgh's Opening Day bullpen, joining closer , setup man Felipe Rivero, veteran and the recently re-signed . However, LeBlanc is on a non-guaranteed deal and either Watson or -- more likely -- Bastardo could be traded this winter.

"In our minds, this is the ultimate 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' part of our game," Huntington said. "You see different players selected for different reasons. We'll see how it plays out this spring."

The Pirates didn't have anyone selected during the Major League portion of the Draft, but they did lose three players in the Triple-A phase: left-handers Cesilio Pimentel (Braves) and Josh Smith (Red Sox), and right-hander Colten Brewer (Yankees).

The Bucs held on to third baseman Eric Wood, who was considered a candidate to be selected after a productive season in Double-A Altoona and a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Pittsburgh did not protect Wood by adding him to the 40-man roster, anticipating he would go unselected or ultimately be returned to the organization.

"We're pleased to have him come in and continue to progress on a normal progression, a normal path with us," Huntington said. "We saw some great signs out of him this year and we look forward to continuing those."