The Pirates have announced that they've designated Vance Worley for assignment to clear space for Joe Blanton.
When the Pirates acquired Blanton last night, what wasn't clear to me was whose place Blanton would take on the 25-man roster, and I speculated that the move might be a prelude to a trade. Apparently not. Worley, like several other pitchers whose 25-man spots might have been in jeopardy, was out of options, so the only way for the Bucs to get him off the active roster was to expose him to waivers. He's making over $2 million this season, so maybe the Pirates are gambling that Worley clears waivers and accepts their minor-league assignment, and then they'll have both Worley and Blanton. I'm not sure I'd bet on that, though.
The Pirates know what they're doing with pitchers -- any analysis of a questionable move like this has to start there. If Worley's healthy, though, then I'm a little confused. Blanton's peripherals have been better than Worley's this season, but Worley is 27, is controllable beyond 2015, and has been at least decent in every year of his career except one. Blanton is 34 and has a sketchy track record, and even if things work out, he'll be a free agent after the season.
Maybe, though, the improvement Blanton has shown this year is real. At 34, he suddenly seems able to strike batters out and limit walks. And Worley might have been a non-tender candidate this offseason anyway, based on his out-of-options status, increasing salary and the fact that the Pirates probably won't want Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Worley to all be in their rotation next year. If Blanton is better than Worley down the stretch, and maybe he can be, then this swap will probably be worth it.