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Pirates designate James McDonald for assignment

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have promoted Brandon Cumpton and designated James McDonald for assignment.

I saw this in my Twitter feed and was a bit surprised, but I probably shouldn't have been. McDonald is making $3.025 million this year, and probably would have received a similar salary if the Pirates had taken him to arbitration this offseason. After getting bombed in six big-league starts this year, the Pirates placed McDonald on the DL, then sent him on a rehab assignment, where he was even worse. And, of course, all this follows McDonald's collapse down the stretch last year.

There wasn't much reason for the Pirates to hope for McDonald's shoulder to just go back to normal, and, while he had more than his share of promising stretches in the Pirates' rotation, he was never that consistent to begin with. I wouldn't mind if the Pirates brought him back on an incentive-laden contract or a minor-league deal, and it seems like he'll be an interesting project for somebody. But he was very likely to be non-tendered here in a couple months anyway, so for now, there wasn't much reason for them to keep him on the roster.

Cumpton hasn't pitched since August 28, so he'll likely pitch in long relief if Jeff Locke struggles tonight.