With Brady Dragmire already having been Double Dragmired, the Pirates cleared roster space for Ivan Nova by designating outfielder Willy Garcia for assignment.
Garcia has always been intriguing due to a combination of good power and the best outfield arm in the team’s farm system. He’s always been held back, though, by an extreme lack of patience, with a career walk rate of just 5.5%. Garcia got on the 40-man roster with an encouraging 271/311/478 line in AA in 2014, then returned there and posted a 314/353/441 line in the first half of 2015. He continued to show power potential after moving up to AAA in the second half, batting 246/285/424. In 2016, though, he took a significant step backward, as the power disappeared and he batted just 245/293/366 while spending all year at Indianapolis. He did not get a September callup, making the DFA move unsurprising.
The late announcement of the move — Nova officially signed four days ago — may have been a product of the holidays. It’s also possible that the Pirates were trying to clear a spot by trading Antonio Bastardo or Tony Watson. (There’s a time frame for making moves like this that I think may be tied to the three-day reporting period when a player is traded in-season, but I’m not totally sure.) It does appear, though, that the Pirates would strongly prefer to retain all the players they currently have on the 40-man roster, as we saw when they took the opportunity to reacquire Dragmire. It seems unlikely that they’re through making additions, so there could be a stepped-up effort to deal a reliever in the coming days. Of course, they still may retain Garcia, as his 2016 struggles won’t make him an attractive candidate for a waiver claim.