The Pittsburgh Pirates continued adding to the 2023 roster Sunday night.
The Pirates announced they have re-acquired first baseman/outfielder Connor Joe from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Nick Garcia. Garcia was a third-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, general manager Ben Cherington’s first draft in Pittsburgh. He owns a 3.88 ERA in 46 games, 36 starts, totaling 192 strikeouts, and a 1.26 WHIP in 187.2 minor-league innings.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed reliever Nick Mears was designated for assignment. Mears shifted between Pittsburgh and Triple-A Indianapolis, pitching two scoreless innings in 2022. He owns a lifetime 4.75 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 30.1 career innings.
Joe was selected by the Pirates No. 39 overall in the 2014 MLB Draft, being picked in the Competitive Balance Round A. He played first base and catcher at the Univerity of San Diego before entering the organization.
The Bucs traded Joe to the Atlanta Braves in 2017 in exchange for utilityman Sean Rodriguez. Joe bounced around between the Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers (twice), Cincinnati Reds, and San Francisco Giants before landing on his feet in Colorado.
He became a fan favorite at Coors Field, slashing .238/.338/.359 with 20 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, and 28 RBI in 111 games. A right-handed hitter, Joe hit .285 in 179 at-bats spanning 63 games for the Rockies in 2021 before seeing his at-bats more than double. The 30-year-old hit eight homers and drove in 35 runs two years ago.
"GREATEST ROCKIE EVER."— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 25, 2022
Connor Joe home run on the first pitch of the game pic.twitter.com/JrEJffVUAa
Making his debut in 2019 at the age of 26 with San Francisco, Joe only played in eight games after being sent back to the Dodgers. He did not play in 2020 and signed a minor-league deal with Colorado prior to 2021.
Joe remains pre-arbitration eligible for the next two seasons and can not become a free agent until the 2028 campaign. Drafted by Neal Huntington and traded back for by Cherington, Joe’s experience in the outfield and at first creates a potential utility role for a Pirates team that continues to add pieces.
Pittsburgh also signed starter Vince Velasquez, first baseman/designated hitter Carlos Santana, left-handed reliever Jarlin Garcia, and catcher Austin Hedges, while trading for first baseman/designated hitter Ji-Man Choi as the first transaction. Cherington noted earlier this offseason the desire to begin adding players to assist the Pirates’ rebuild. With moves almost every week, the Bucs’ GM is compiling veterans to complement a young roster that awaits top prospects set to potentially debut in 2023.