The Pirates have traded RHP Frank Duncan to Arizona for infielder Phil Gosselin. To make room on the 40-man roster, they designated RHP Nefi Ogando for assignment.
The 28-year-old Gosselin became available when the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment to clear space for Daniel Descalso. Gosselin has a pretty solid career 283/331/385 line in 501 plate appearances with the D’backs and Braves, spread over the 2013-16 seasons. He saw the most action in 2016, when he got into 122 games and made 240 plate appearances with Arizona. He profiles as a utility infielder and has spent most of his major league time at second and third, with brief action at first, short and in the outfield corners. In the minors he was also primarily a second baseman. He has a 317/354/432 line in 159 AAA games, mostly in the International League rather than the high-offense Pacific Coast League.
Gosselin’s acquisition doesn’t bode well for Alen Hanson, who’s out of options, or for the recently acquired Chris Bostick. With Adam Frazier seemingly set for a utility role with the Pirates, Hanson needs to win what’s probably the last bench spot, or he’ll have to go through waivers. Gosselin does, however, have two options left. He’s been outrighted once already, so if the Pirates try to get him through waivers he’ll have the option of becoming a free agent.
Duncan was arguably the biggest surprise in the Pirates’ farm system in 2016, pitching his way from a long relief role in Altoona to a strong stint as a starter at Indianapolis. He finished with a combined 1.19 WHIP and 2.34 ERA across both levels. He was stuck behind considerable depth at the upper levels of the system, though, and figured to have to continue proving himself due to borderline stuff, including a fastball that sat only in the mid-80s for much of the season.
Ogando was another off-season pickup, claimed off waivers from the Marlins. He figured all along to provide relief depth, as he has an option left. The Pirates no doubt are hoping he’ll clear waivers and can be outrighted to AAA.