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Bucco breakfast: Are waiver claims a waste of time?

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MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates under Neal Huntington have used the waiver wire pretty heavily. I got curious just how much production they’ve gotten from waiver claims since he took over, so I made a list of all of them. (This comes with the usual caveat that I’ve probably missed a couple, or more accurately MLB.com may have missed a couple.) This list includes only straight waiver claims, not instances where the Pirates claimed a player and then worked out a trade. Players who actually played for the Pirates are indicated by *, and the team the player came from is in parens.

2007 (starting after Huntington was hired)

OF Kevin Thompson (Oakland)
LHP Phil Dumatrait* (Cincinnati)
RHP Jimmy Barthmaier* (Houston)
RHP Ty Taubenheim* (Toronto)
SS Josh Wilson (Tampa Bay)

2008

SS Ray Olmedo (Toronto)

2009

RHP Virgil Vasquez* (San Diego)
RHP Steven Jackson* (New York Yankees)
RHP Jon Meloan (Tampa Bay)
RHP Anthony Claggett* (New York Yankees)
LHP Justin Thomas* (Seattle)
RHP Chris Jakubauskas* (Seattle)

2010

OF Brandon Jones (Atlanta)
RHP Hayden Penn* (Florida)
RHP Chris Resop* (Atlanta)
RHP Chan Ho Park* (New York Yankees)
LHP Aaron Thompson* (Washington)
RHP Chris Leroux* (Florida)

2011

LHP Garrett Olson* (Seattle)
SS Brandon Wood* (Los Angeles Angels)
OF Xavier Paul* (Los Angeles Dodgers)
C Matt Pagnozzi* (Colorado)
RHP Jeremy Hefner (San Diego)
C Brian Jeroloman (Toronto)
SS Gustavo Nunez (Detroit)

2012

IF Drew Sutton* (Tampa Bay)
2B Oscar Tejeda (Boston)
LHP Hisanori Takahashi* (Los Angeles Angels)
RHP Chad Beck (Toronto)
C Ali Solis (San Diego)

2013

(None)

2014

3B Brent Morel* (Toronto)
RHP Josh Wall (Los Angeles Angels)
RHP Wirfin Obispo (Atlanta)
2B Dean Anna (New York Yankees)
RHP Angel Sanchez* (Chicago White Sox)
IF Thomas Field (Los Angeles Angels)
C Ramon Cabrera (Detroit)
RHP John Axford* (Cleveland)
LHP Bobby LaFromboise* (San Diego)
RHP Chaz Roe (New York Yankees)
IF Jake Elmore (Cincinnati)
SS Pedro Florimon* (Washington)
RHP Josh Lindblom* (Oakland)

2015

1B Travis Ishikawa* (San Francisco)
Jorge Rondon* (Baltimore)
RHP Guido Knudson (Detroit)
RHP Yoervis Medina (Chicago Cubs)

2016

RHP A.J. Schugel* (Seattle)
C Eric Fryer* (St. Louis)
RHP Brady Dragmire (Texas)
RHP Nefi Ogando (Miami)

2017

RHP Jhan Marinez* (Milwaukee)
RHP George Kontos* (San Francisco)
LHP Jack Leathersich* (Chicago Cubs)
LHP Nik Turley (Minnesota)
LHP Sam Moll (Oakland)
SS Engelb Vielma (Philadelphia)

2018

RHP Shane Carle (Colorado)
LHP Enny Romero* (Washington)
LHP Buddy Boshers (Houston)

That’s 60 waiver-wire pickups and not much value. The players who made meaningful contributions were almost exclusively relievers. Chris Resop and A.J. Schugel were probably the best of the bunch. Resop appeared in 159 games over two and a fraction decent seasons. Schugel had a 3.19 ERA in 68 games before shoulder problems did him in. Steven Jackson had one fairly effective season, albeit with bad peripherals. Chris Leroux looked good for a couple of months but couldn’t stay healthy. George Kontos pitched well for a month or so after being acquired but collapsed the following year.

The position players were an especially useless lot. The only two who got significant playing time with the Pirates were Brandon Wood and Xavier Paul, both in 2011. Paul was more or less the fourth outfielder and Wood played a lot at third before Pedro Alvarez came up. Both hit poorly, although Paul did a lot better after moving on to Cincinnati.

The obvious question is whether this is normal. I’ll look at the other NL Central teams tomorrow.

Daily Links

  • This was referenced in the comments: Jeff Sullivan has an article up at FanGraphs making the point that the Phillies were Jean Segura’s entire market because all the contending teams already have a shortstop. That obviously raises the question, What about the Pirates? So from Sullivan’s rundown of potential landing spots for Segura:

If you want to get fringe-y, the Twins have a shortstop. And they’re not really a classic buyer. . . . The Pirates are sort of where the Twins are.

This isn’t exactly shocking. The rest of the world just doesn’t see the Pirates as a serious contender.

  • Kelvin Herrera anyone? A one-year deal makes sense for him, so the risk would be limited. Then again, MLBTR projects him to get $8M, which would eat up the Pirates’ pierogi costume budget.