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Pirates sign RHP Trey Haley

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

According to a team press release, the Pirates have signed right-handed reliever Trey Haley to a one-year, major league contract.  Haley is a former second round draft pick who's been with Cleveland since 2008.  He's made regular appearances on the Indians' top prospect lists, but has never pitched in the majors.  In fact, he's spent only one year on the 40-man roster.

Haley is a hard thrower, with easy mid-90s velocity, at times hitting triple digits.  He also reportedly has a plus curve.  He's been plagued for much of his career by minor injuries and control problems.  He's missed portions of every season since 2010 and has a career BB/9 of 6.5.  He misses plenty of bats.  His career K/9 is only 8.4, but that includes two years as a starter in the low minors, during which he threw half of his innings total.  Since moving to the bullpen he's had much higher K rates, including 10.0 in several stints in AA and 9.4 in brief AAA action.  Haley split last season between AA and AAA -- his first appearance at the latter level -- posting ERAs of 2.38 and 2.57, respectively.  The latter had a heavy component of luck, however, as half the runs he allowed were unearned.  His WHIP was 1.21 in AA and 1.81 in AAA, and his BB/9 was 2.9 in AA and an alarming 9.0 in AAA.

Obviously, the signing of yet another right-handed bullpen power arm will lead to more concern that the Pirates plan to deal Mark Melancon.  I don't know whether that's true or not; it may just be the team's way of being prepared in case they make such a deal.  Haley's thrown only 21 innings in AAA, so it's a stretch to see him as a replacement for Melancon, or Tony Watson or Joakim Soria, for that matter.  I also don't think Haley's contract -- details aren't available yet, but it's almost certainly not for much above the major league minimum -- would guarantee him a spot in the majors, unlike Neftali Feliz' deal.  The Pirates' plan may be nothing more complicated than taking their hordes of power arms to spring training and seeing who sticks.

The team will have to remove somebody from the 40-man roster to clear space.  That move hasn't been announced yet.