Pirates make three trades, including Dotel to L.A.
Newcomer Snyder is starting catcher; relievers, bench players sent out
August 1, 2010 8:00 AM
Peter Diana/ Post-Gazette
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates repeatedly had stated they expected this Major League Baseball trading deadline to be different, less active, than those of the previous two years.
By the time 4 p.m. passed, 20 percent of the roster was gone, a catcher had supplanted mainstay Ryan Doumit, a closer needed to be found to replace Octavio Dotel, and the upper levels of the minor-league system had received a needed infusion of talent.
Was this how general manager Neal Huntington had envisioned it?
"Truthfully, no," he said from Pittsburgh. "We had hits here and there for guys along the way. For the most part, three, four days ago, it was relatively quiet. Things certainly picked up in the last 48 hours."
In three multiplayer trades, the Pirates:
• Acquired veteran catcher Chris Snyder to become the new starter at the position, as well as minor-league shortstop Pedro Ciriaco and $3 million in cash, from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for reliever D.J. Carrasco, outfielder Ryan Church and infielder Bobby Crosby.
• Acquired two minor-leaguers, right-handed starter James McDonald and outfielder Andrew Lambo, from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Dotel.
• Acquired two minor-leaguers, right-handed starter Joseph Martinez and outfielder John Bowker, from the San Francisco Giants, for reliever Javier Lopez.
Also noteworthy was what did not happen Friday: Starter Paul Maholm stayed put, this despite management entertaining offers from Los Angeles and, to a lesser extent, the San Diego Padres and others. The Dodgers ended up with another left-hander, Ted Lilly, from the Chicago Cubs.
"Holding our starting pitchers is something we feel good about," Huntington said. "We expect these guys to bounce back."
"I'm just relieved it's over," Maholm said.
In all, five players were sent out, three from the bullpen and two from the bench, for six players the Pirates hope will be able to help either right away or soon: Snyder and McDonald will join the Pirates, today or tomorrow, with McDonald going to the bullpen. Ciriaco, Martinez and Bowker will join Class AAA Indianapolis, and Huntington said all three could be September callups. Lambo will join Class AA Altoona.
The top two levels of the minors had been left mostly dry by the promotions this summer of the Pirates' top prospects to Pittsburgh.
"We wanted to add depth, and the return we got on these trades caused us to move forward," Huntington said. "We feel it's a solid return and another step for us as we build depth and try to return winning ways to the major-league level."
Snyder is the headliner of the newcomers, at least for now, because of his experience.
Snyder, 29, was batting .231 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 65 games for Arizona, his career average at .233. But he also has been one of the majors' most effective defensive catchers over the past three years, with a .999 fielding percentage and a 30 percent rate of throwing out runners attempting to steal. He had been the Diamondbacks' starter until missing the final three months of 2009 to a back injury that would require surgery, and he lost his job to Miguel Montero.
As soon as Snyder arrives, Huntington and manager John Russell said, he will be the regular catcher. Doumit will be the backup, as well as seeing some duty in right field and a little at first base.
"Chris Snyder is a solid major-league player who will provide us with a quality catching option for this year and next," Huntington said. "He brings leadership, along with game-calling and receiving that will help our pitching staff mature."
Snyder is due $1.69 million the rest of this season, $5.75 million next season, plus a club option worth $6.75 million for 2012 with a $750,000 buyout. The Diamondbacks, eager to cut costs, made the $3 million payment to help cover the guaranteed money.
Doumit is due $5.1 million in 2011, then has two club options for 2012 and 2013, with a buyout of the first possible at $500,000.
That means, barring a trade, the Pirates could be spending more than $10 million on their catchers, more than a quarter of the current payroll. Still, Huntington said he was not pursuing a Doumit trade.
McDonald, 26, is a hard thrower who spent most of 2009 in Los Angeles' bullpen, with a 4.00 ERA in 45 appearances, then made four more this year. Most recently, he was in Class AAA Albuquerque's rotation, 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 12 starts.
He will pitch long relief for the Pirates, along with Sean Gallagher, but ...
"We see him as a major-league starting pitcher," Huntington said. "We'll make evaluations as we move forward."
Lambo, 21, might have the highest ceiling of the group: He was Los Angeles' No. 1 prospect in 2009, as ranked by Baseball America, then No. 7 entering this season. A 6-foot-3, 193-pound left-handed batter, his average with Class AA Chattanooga was .271 with four home runs, 11 doubles and 25 RBIs in 47 games.
"It's a sweet, left-handed swing," Huntington said. "It's a qualtiy hitter, and we think there's some developing power."
On May 1, Lambo was suspended 50 games following a second positive test for a "drug of abuse" under baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The drug was not specified, but many media outlets, including ESPN and Baseball America, have documented that Lambo has a history of trouble with marijuana. The issue was not one of performance-enhancing drugs.
"We did our due diligence," Huntington said of Lambo's suspension. "We do feel comfortable that it was a mistake a young man made, he's moved on from it, and he's ready to take on bigger challenges."
Martinez, 27, made four relief appearances over three cameo stints for San Francisco this season, with a 4.91 ERA. Most recently, he was in Class AAA Fresno's rotation, 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA.
He will be stretched out to start.
"In Martinez, we have a guy we believe can be a major-league pitcher," Huntington said.
Bowker, 27, had a strong rookie season for San Francisco in 2008, batting .255 with 10 home runs in 111 games, but he failed to stick with the Giants. A 6-2, 200-pound left-handed batter, he batted .207 with three home runs in 41 games in the majors this season. In 51 games for Fresno, he batted .310 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs in 51 games.
"John has done terrific work at the Triple-A level and suffered in his major-league exposure," Huntington said. "It's a good bat that we wanted to add to our minor-league system, and he could fit on the club as an extra outfielder. We also have scouting reports not too long ago that had John Bowker as an everyday major-league player."
Ciriaco, 24, was batting .256 for Class AAA Reno, with six home runs, 51 RBIs and 14 steals. He is considered a superior runner and defensive player, the primary reason he was chosen as one of Arizona's representatives in the All-Star Futures Game last month.
"We're going to give him every chance in the world to show us that he can be an every-day major-league shortstop," Huntington said.
Agreement on the Snyder trade was reached late Friday night, and completion came early Saturday morning upon approval from MLB on the cash aspect, required anytime more than $1 million changes hands. The Lopez trade came within the final hour before the deadline, and the Dotel trade in the final minutes.
Thus, all of the departing players except Dotel were gone before the Pirates had gathered in the Busch Stadium clubhouse before their game against the St. Louis Cardinals. Dotel learned of the trade when a few players saw the crawl on MLB Network, and right fielder Lastings Milledge shouted out to tell him.
Dotel, who appeared to genuinely enjoy his camaraderie while with the Pirates, nonetheless showed and spoke of his excitement at joining Los Angeles in a pennant race. He will go from being a revitalized closer -- 21 saves in 26 chances -- back to a setup role for the Dodgers' closer, Jonathan Broxton.
"It's always hard to leave good friends, good coaches, where you get along," Dotel said. "But it's a business, and I'm going to go to the Dodgers and do my best to help them go to the playoffs."
Dotel was making $3.5 million and has a club option for 2011 worth $4.5 million.
Overall, when counting all guaranteed money that the Pirates sent out and took in with these three trades, as well as the $3 million payment from Arizona, the Pirates will be adding $450,000 in guaranteed payroll commitment for this year, and an additional $3.5 million next year.