The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first move about 20 minutes before the 4pm trade deadline, sending former closer Tony Watson to the Los Angeles Dodgers
Tony Watson‘s time in Pittsburgh has come to an end. A stalwart of the Pittsburgh bullpen for the last seven years with an especially dominant period from 2013-2015, he was unable to lock down the closer’s role after Mark Melancon was traded at last year’s deadline. He was given the the opportunity to hold the job again this year, but again failed to do so and lost the role to Felipe Rivero.
The Pirates announced both trades. Tony Watson for IF Oneil Cruz and RHP Angel German. Joaquin Benoit and cash for RHP Seth McGarry.
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) July 31, 2017
Both of the players coming back to Pittsburgh are younger and will not be in Pittsburgh any time soon. Oneil Cruz ranked as the 21st best prospect in the Los Angeles system entering 2017. Cruz is an 18 year old third baseman who was playing with Great Lakes Loons at the time of the trade. With a slash line of .240/.293/.342 and eight home runs in 342 at-bats, Cruz is by far a finished product. He also has a whopping 110 strikeouts in those at-bats, a facet of his game that he will need to get under control as he moves up the minor league ladder.
Like Cruz, Angel German was playing for the Great Lakes affiliate of the Dodgers at the time of the trade. German had been used out of the bullpen and had posted a 1.91 ERA in 33 innings of work. He was sporting a 14/33 BB/K before being dealt to Pittsburgh and he also had not surrendered a home run this year.
Watson’s career with the Pirates
It should be a surprise to no one that the team moved Watson. He was only under contract for the remainder of this season and they were not going to resign him given his decline on the mound and impending salary increase. This move certainly does not show that the team is giving up on 2017, but rather they feel they can still compete while taking advantage of the market for left handed relievers.
With the announcement that Cruz and German are the return for Watson, this deal certainly looks like the Pirates wanted to get at least something for Watson since he was destined for free agency. Given that both of these players are so young and Cruz was ranked in the team’s top 30 prospect, there is a chance that both of these guys help the Pirates. But don’t plan on either of them being in Pittsburgh for at least two to three years.
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