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The Pirates grab Connor Joe from Rocky

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The Pirates acquired a first baseman/outfielder Connor Joe From Rocky vs. Minor League right Nick Garcia, as announced by both teams. To create room on the 40-man roster, Pittsburgh has appointed a right-hander Nick Mears to commission.

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The move represented something of a homecoming for Joe, who was drafted 39th overall by the Pirates in the 2014 draft. Joe wasn’t a good fit for the Bucs at the major league level, however, as Pittsburgh dealt him to the Braves for Sean Rodriguez in August 2017. After jumping to the Braves, Reds, Giants, and (twice) to the Dodgers over the next few seasons, Joe made it to the big leagues with 16 games with the 2019 Giants, but then left the 2020 season due to surgery related to testicular cancer.

Fortunately, Joe recovered and signed a minor league deal with the Rockies for the 2020-21 season. It was in Denver that Joe finally got an extended opportunity, appearing in 174 games and getting 678 starts over the past two seasons. Joe hits .285/.379/.469 with eight homers on 211 PA in 2021, and after getting off to a great start last year, it looked like Rox might have found a hidden gem. However, Joe cooled off, and finished 2022 with a .238/.338/.359 slant and seven home runs on 467 PA.

Pirates also added Carlos SantanaAnd the Ji Man Choiand catcher Austin Hedges To their mix around the diamond, Joe is now joining these other veterans in increasing the core of Pittsburgh’s younger players. Joe played first base and both corner positions in his short MLB career, with generally good defensive grades as a first baseman and left fielder. This makes Joe a good complement to Calvin Mitchell And the Jack Swinsky (both left-handed hitters) in the Bucs’ outside corner picture, and Joe can also join left-handed hitter Choi and ball-hitter Santana in sharing base/DH playing time.

Adding Joe would mean a separation from Garcia and possibly Mears, should another team claim rights on waivers or if the Pirates simply fire Mears once his DFA stint expires. Mears pitched 30 1/3 innings of a 4.75 ball ERA for Pittsburgh over the past three seasons, with 23 1/3 of those innings coming in 2021. After undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery to remove some scar tissue in March 2022, Mears did not make his first appearance. He continued the season with the minors through late May, and ended up getting in just two games with the Pirates at the MLB level.

Garcia never cracked the MLB Pipeline top 30 catcher spots list, though he did make good accounting for himself in two seasons in Pittsburgh’s deep farm system. A third round pick in the 2020 draft, Garcia has a 3.88 ERA over 187 2/3 innings pitched and 46 games (36 of them starts) as a pro.

Garcia turns 24 in April and is projected to move to Double-A after only pitching a career-high ball in 2022. Anthony Murphy of the Pirate Horizons He recently detailed Garcia’s improvements last season, and the fact that Garcia may still be an untapped resource definitely appeals to the Rockies who are forever looking for pitchers that can handle Coors Field. As noted before Daniel Allentock from the Denver GazettePerhaps the 30-year-old Joe was superfluous since he expected it Sean Bouchard Seeming ready to fill a similar role on the big league roster, the Rox thus moved the older player to bring a new young arm into the system.

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