Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington talked Juan Nicasio, Josh Harrison‘s injury & more on his weekly radio show

Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington makes a weekly radio hit on the team’s flagship radio station 93.7 The Fan. Each Sunday, Pirates Breakdown will bring you a recapping of Huntington’s show, picking out the best tidbits from the show, hosted by Greg Brown. Let’s get started.

All quotes are direct from Neal Huntington as told to host Greg Brown.

On the decision to put Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio on waivers

We wanted to be transparent in the thoughts behind it. As I said in the statement, he was claimed on trade waivers by a competitor; that competitor’s motivation was to block us from trading Juan elsewhere; our decision was to hold him and play him the rest of the year with the knowledge that we want to pitch other guys in Juan’s role. He’s done everything we’ve asked for him over the past two years — and yes, there is a money component to it. $600,000 is a significant amount of money — we wanted to let him go. There were teams that had interest in Juan that were higher in priority than that contender that claimed him. So that was a part of the motivation – clear the money, move him to a contender, pitch in a high leverage role, and then the Phillies swooped in and claimed him.

Brown followup: “Why wouldn’t a team save $600,000?”

Part of the motivation was…instead of getting someone’s 52nd-best prospect who has a chance to be a major leaguer in theory, we decided to push him to an American League team, who again is higher than National League teams in terms of waiver claims, trades, etc. …we knew the move would be unpopular, we antcipated that internally and externally, and we still felt as an org. that it was the right thing to make.

On Josh Harrison‘s propensity to get hit by pitches, which led to his season-ending injury

Much like Anthony Rizzo or Starling Marte, there are guys who seem to get hit a bunch; Rizzo is right on the plate and dares you to come in on him; Josh in a different way is right on the plate and dares you to come in on him. Those guys tend to get hit by a lot of pitches. Much like Rizzo, the trade off in taking that kind of stance is your stride towards home plate, but you will get hit more often.

On the decision to unplug struggling Pittsburgh Pirates starter Ivan Nova from the rotation

Guys don’t want to come out of the lineup, don’t want to be taken out of the rotation. IN our situation, it’s two-plus months where it’s bee na challenge. There are times when fatigue or injury can play a factor; we don’t believe it to be an injury and do not want fatigue to cause an injury. We’ve had great success in unplugging players when the time is right. Unfortunately we have a few in our rotation now that are struggling, so we may look to get Steve Brault some starts in September, Tyler Glasnow some starts in September in case we want to unplug pitcher X or Y, perhaps a six-man rotation, get an extra day.

On the Pittsburgh Pirates playing Jose Osuna at third base in September

You’ve been hammering me on this for months….those are the conversations that are ongoing, it’s one thing to take perfectly hit groundballs of off a fungo than to do it in a game with game speed..game speed is tough for a player to at this level for the first time. I think we’d rather have him — in a perfect world — you’d like the player’s first game [at a position] to be somewhere other than in the major leagues. We are hesitant to do that — not saying we won’t — but we are very hesitant to do that.

Jason Rollison

Jason Rollison has been analyzing baseball and the Pirates in one way or another for 4+ years. Jason's previous stops include rumbunter.com, Pittsburgh Sporting News, Call To The Pen and several print publications. He also covers the State College Spikes for the Centre County Gazette (State College, PA) When it comes to analyzing baseball, he likes to take a middle-of-the-road approach, with one foot on the analytics side of the fence and the other on the old-school side. Having said that, he is a sucker for pitchf/x. Jason has appeared as a phone-in and in-studio guests in numerous outlets, including Trib Live Radio and 93.7 The Fan (CBS Sports Radio)
  • Mike Wadowsky

    I really question what was said by Huntington. My issue is specifically with “Part of the motivation was…instead of getting someone’s 52nd-best
    prospect who has a chance to be a major leaguer in theory, we decided to
    push him to an American League team, who again is higher than National
    League teams in terms of waiver claims, trades, etc.”

    1) What team ranks up to 52 for another team’s prospects? Even if the player only MIGHT become a major leaguer, that is still better than getting nothing at all.
    2) Either Huntington doesn’t know Major League waiver rules, or he’s just feeding BS that he hopes people will believe. American League teams have priority for AMERICAN LEAGUE players. They do not have priority for National League players.

    August 1 through November 10: The club with the worst
    won-loss record in the current season has priority, but American League
    clubs have priority for AL players, and National League clubs have
    priority for NL players