Neal Huntington's only regret over the decision to place Juan Nicasio on outright waivers is that "confidential information was leaked and someone acted unethically."
"Anytime you see trade waivers leaked, or anytime you see outright waivers leaked, someone breached confidence and someone acted unethically," Huntington said Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
The Pirates general manager addressed the two main criticisms fans and observers have made of move: It was done to save money and the Pirates received nothing in return.
On the first point, Huntington admitted that there was a "money component" to the move. "$600,000 is real money," Huntington said on his Sunday radio show.
On the lack of a return, Huntington said he "gets ... people are going to be upset because we just gave away a player." Speaking to the Pittsburgh media later in the afternoon, Huntington explained the organization was unwilling to trade Nicasio while the team was "still in the hunt and still believed we could fight our way back into it." After the Pirates dropped out of the race, Huntington received a low-ball offer from a competitor (a 52nd best organizational prospect) and he did not want to help that club "win in the postseason and generate revenue for next year."
The goal was to find Nicasio a team in the American League that was still in the playoff race, while also clearing money and giving younger pitchers who are under contract next year a chance to compete for Nicasio's role. "It was a calculated gamble, and obviously a club stepped in that we knew could, so we didn't fulfill that part of it, of getting him to the American league." Huntington said.
Harrison and Meadows out for year
Huntington said that both Josh Harrison (broken bone in his left hand) and Austin Meadows (oblique discomfort) were unlikely to return this season.
McCutchen decision looms
The Pirates have to decide whether or not to exercise a $14.5 million team option for Andrew McCutchen for next season. Asked if the center fielder's recent struggles will play into that decision, Huntington demurred, "It's a matter of time and how it plays [out] and what's the best decision for the organization."
"99.9 percent of teams wait until the day they have to make a decision on an option in baseball," Huntington added. "The same way that a player waits until the very last minute to make his decision whether to pick up an option. It's just the way things are done. There is nothing Andrew McCutchen will or won't do in September that will affect our decision to exercise the option ... We still believe he continues to be a great major league player and will be again."
One can't imagine the Pirates not picking up McCutchen's option if he is still with the club when the decision has to be made. Trading him, however, remains a possibility.
Ivan Nova isn't happy about being skipped over in his next scheduled start, but Huntington said that giving players some down time is a move that's reaped benefits in the past.
"The move with Nova is something we've done a handful of times, if not several times in the past seven years - to take a guy that has had an extended period of struggles and give him a breather," Huntington said. "In some cases, it's worked very well, even when the player may not acknowledge it."
It looks like Nova won't be the only starter to skip a turn over the next month. Citing a desire to give Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault a couple of starts in September, Huntington expects there will be more tweaking to the rotation, which may include going stretches with a six man rotation.