Bucs deal Hill, Choi, Hedges, Castro in busy Deadline day

August 2nd, 2023

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates’ 40-man roster underwent quite the transformation in the hours leading up to Tuesday’s 6 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.

Pittsburgh executed a trio of trades, the first of which sent left-hander and first baseman to the Padres in exchange for left-hander , outfielder Estuar Suero and first baseman . In the hour prior to the Deadline, the Pirates also dealt catcher to the Rangers for international cap space and additional international bonus pool money, and infielder to the Phillies for left-hander .

Pittsburgh executed its first move ahead of the Trade Deadline on Thursday, sending Carlos Santana to the Brewers for shortstop prospect Jhonny Severino. All in all, the Pirates traded nearly every healthy veteran on an expiring contract other than Andrew McCutchen. 

As important as who the Pirates traded is who they didn’t trade. Despite receiving interest in Mitch Keller and David Bednar, Pittsburgh elected to keep both of its All-Stars. 

“They’re Pirates, and we’re excited about that,” said general manager Ben Cherington. “Also excited about the other work we were able to get done.”

Rivas, 26, played eight Major League games with the Padres this season. The first baseman has spent most of this year at Triple-A El Paso, with whom he hit .332/.462/.582 with nine home runs and a 154 wRC+. Cherington said Rivas will likely join the team during its upcoming series in Milwaukee.

Pirates get: LHP Jackson Wolf (Pirates' No. 17 prospect), OF Estuar Suero and 1B Alfonso Rivas
Padres get: LHP Rich Hill, 1B Ji Man Choi

Pirates get: International cap space, additional international bonus pool money
Rangers get: C

Pirates get: LHP
Phillies get: IF

In his big league career, Rivas has a .245/.330/.323 slash line with four home runs and an 88 wRC+ in 127 games. On the defensive end, Rivas owns six defensive runs saved but -3 outs above average across 718 1/3 innings.

With Choi headed to San Diego and Santana traded to the Brewers, Rivas stands to slot in as the Pirates’ new everyday first baseman. Connor Joe, who has played 410 Major League innings at first base, will continue serving as the backup.

Wolf, 24, made his Major League debut on July 22 against the Tigers, allowing three earned runs across five innings with one strikeout and one walk. The left-hander skipped Triple-A on his way to the Majors after posting a 4.08 ERA and a 3.87 FIP across 18 starts with Double-A San Antonio. Per Cherington, Wolf will likely report to Double-A Altoona.

Suero, a 17-year-old who stands at 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds, signed with the Padres in 2022 as part of the organization’s international signing class. Between the Dominican Summer League and Arizona Complex League, Suero, a switch-hitter, has hit .234/.327/.371 with seven home runs and 21 steals in 82 games since joining San Diego's organization.

Hill, 43, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Pirates in January and had a 4.76 ERA and a 4.45 FIP across 22 starts. At the time of the trade, he had thrown the second-most innings on the Bucs (119), trailing only Keller (133 2/3).

“The time here was unbelievable,” Hill said. “Looking forward to the future here in Pittsburgh, it looks pretty good.”

With Hill gone, the Pirates will have to figure out how to cover Major League innings in August and September. Heading into the season, the Bucs had eight starters on their 40-man roster who stood to cover innings: Keller, Hill, JT Brubaker, Vince Velasquez, Roansy Contreras, Johan Oviedo, Luis Ortiz and Mike Burrows. As things stand, Hill is a Padre; Brubaker, Burrows and Velasquez have undergone season-ending surgery; Contreras is with the Rookie-level Florida Coast League Pirates; and Ortiz is struggling in Triple-A after being optioned.

With Hedges headed to Texas, Henry Davis, who has primarily played right field during his brief Major League career, stands to receive more playing time at catcher.

Cherington said on 93.7 The Fan on Sunday that assuming Davis is healthy, he would see time behind the plate following the Deadline. Manager Derek Shelton confirmed that Davis, who has caught one Major League inning, will catch more, but the team has yet to determine the volume.

Falter, 26, has pitched for the Phillies over the course of three Major League seasons, owning a career 4.56 ERA and a 4.49 FIP across 158 innings. The left-hander began the season on Philadelphia’s Opening Day roster, but was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in mid-May after posting a 5.13 ERA in eight games (seven starts). In 11 starts with Lehigh Valley, Falter has a 4.21 ERA and a 5.51 FIP across 47 innings. Cherington did not specify whether Falter would immediately join the team, but he stands to contribute Major League innings going forward.

Castro, 24, began the season on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster. The switch-hitting infielder had a .795 OPS with five home runs through May, but was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis in mid-July after posting a .429 OPS since the beginning of June. Castro has continued to struggle in Indianapolis, hitting .192/.246/.346 with a 38 wRC+ in 12 games.