The Pirates have traded right-handed reliever Bryan Morris to the Miami Marlins in exchange for the Marlins' competitive balance pick, No. 39 overall, in next week's draft.
The 27-year old Morris appeared in 21 games for the Bucs this season, his third in the majors, posting a 4-0 record with a 3.80 ERA. In 2013 Morris outperformed his peripherals but never developed into the dominant power pitcher many hoped he would become. In 55 appearances he posted a 3.46 ERA, but he also had a 1.308 WHIP, 4.89 FIP and a lower-than-expected 5.1 K/9. Much was made of Morris' improved velocity this spring, but the results didn't translate to improved performance. He continued to post a sub-standard K/9 at 5.3 and his BB/9 increased to 4.6. He has a WHIP of 1.563 and FIP of 5.86.
I never bought the hype that the Pirates were "grooming" Morris for a future closer role and with the depth of arms in the Pirates' bullpen, the No. 39 pick is a solid return for a guy who didn't figure in the team's long-term plans. The trade does raise more questions about the move to DFA Vin Mazzaro last week. I'm assuming Neal Huntington didn't feel that a deal was imminent at the time. From the Marlins' perspective they obviously see more upside in Morris. Mazzaro is making $950,000 and the Marlins could have claimed him off waivers with no compensation. Instead they opted to move the draft pick and take on Morris' $511,000 salary.
This is the second deal of competitive balance picks between the Bucs and Marlins. In July 2012 the Pirates sent the No. 33 pick to the Marlins in the Gaby Sanchez deal. Competitive balance picks are the only ones that can be traded. With today's deal the Pirates will have four of the top 73 picks in the draft: Nos. 24, 39, 64 and 73. Their draft pool increases $1,457,600 to $7,063,700 (up from 21st to 13th).
The trade officially closes the book on the 2008 Jason Bay deal in which the Pirates received Morris, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen in a three-way deal involving the Dodgers and Red Sox.
EDIT: Casey Sadler will take Bryan Morris' spot on the 25-man roster.