By John Perrotto
The Pittsburgh Pirates were unexpected busy in the hours leading up to Saturday’s non-waiver trading deadline in Major League Baseball.
General manager Neal Huntington pulled off three trades in which he shipped five players who were eligible for free agency at the end of the season and likely not to return in 2011 and got six players back.
Reliever D.J. Carrasco, infielder Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ryan Church were traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for catcher Chris Snyder and Class AAA infielder Pedro Ciriaco.
Closer Octavio Dotel was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Class AAA left-hander James McDonald and Class AA outfielder Andrew Lambo.
Left-handed reliever Javier Lopez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for right-hander Joe Martinez and Class AAA first baseman/outfielder John Bowker.
“Truthfully, no,” Huntington said when asked if he thought he would be so active at the deadline. “Some opportunities presented themselves that might have been somewhat unexpected and the relief market was very late to develop in general. So it ended up being a busy time.
“It’s tough to trade away five really good people like we did. We brought them in over the winter to help us on and off the field and they did. It was not our intention to sign them with the idea of trading them at the deadline. That is just how it happened to work out and we feel good that we were able to get an established major-league catcher and five prospects back.”
Snyder will have the most immediate impact when he joins the Pirates on Monday night for the opener of a three-game series against Cincinnati at PNC Park. He will become the Pirates’ starting catcher, which will push incumbent Ryan Doumit to the bench once he recovers from a concussion and comes off the disabled list, which is likely to be Friday. Doumit will serve as the backup to both Snyder and right fielder Lastings Milledge.
McDonald is expected to join the Pirates on Monday. He will be initially used in relief but Huntington said the Pirates envision McDonald’s long-term role as a starter.
Meanwhile, with Dotel gone, the Pirates are leaning toward giving set-up relievers Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek both opportunities to close games.
Ciriaco, Martinez and Bowker were assigned to Class AAA Indianapolis. Huntington said all three had a good chance of getting called to the major leagues before the end of the season.
Lambo was assigned to Class AA Altoona.
Here is a capsule look at each player acquired in the trades:
The 29-year-old catcher, who is expected to join the Pirates on Monday night when they host Cincinnati, made 58 starts behind the plate for Arizona this season and hit .231 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 65 games overall. He had a 240-game errorless streak snapped on June 6, the third-longest in major-league history behind Mike Redmond (253, 2004-10) and Mike Matheny (252, 2002-04).
Snyder’s .778 OPS ranks ninth among major-league catchers with at least 225 plate appearances and his .774 OPS ranks seventh among major-league catchers with at least 1,200 plate appearances since 2007. Since the start of the 2007 season, he leads all major-league catches in fielding percentage (.999), having made two errors in 2,456 chances.
Background:The 25-year-old left-handed pitcher, who is expected to join the Pirates today for their game at St. Louis, went 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 12 starts for Class AAA Albuquerque this season and also pitched in four games, including one start, for the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 0-1 with an 8.22 ERA. He made his major-league debut with the Dodgers in 2008 and has a 5-6 lifetime record with a 4.11 ERA in 53 games, five starts, in three seasons.
The 24-year-old shortstop, who was assigned to Class AAA Indianapolis, hit .259 with 15 doubles, seven triples, six home runs, 51 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 44 runs scored in 87 games with Triple-A Reno this season. He also played in the All-Star Futures Game at Anaheim on July 11.
Baseball America ranked Ciriaco as having the best infield arm in the Diamondbacks’ infield arm in each of the last four seasons. He was selected to the Southern League post-season All-Star team last season when he hit .296 with 139 hits for Class AA Mobile while being chosen as the league’s best defensive shortstop by Baseball America.
The 27-year-old right-hander, who was assigned to Indianapolis, pitched in four games, including one start, in three separate stints with San Francisco this season, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA.He also pitched in 14 games, 13 starts, for Class AAA Fresno and was 5-3 with a 3.32 ERA. Martinez made his major-league debut last season with the Giants and has a 3-3 career record with a 6.80 ERA in 13 games, six starts.
The 27-year-old outfielder, who was assigned to Indianapolis, played in 41 games for San Francisco this season and hit .207 with three home runs and eight RBIs. He also hit .310 with 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 51 games with Fresno. Bowker made his major-league debut in 2008 and has a .238 lifetime batting average with 15 homers and 58 RBIs in 183 games. He was selected to the Pacific Coast League’s post-season All-Star team last season when he hit .342 with 21 homers, 83 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 104 games for Fresno.
The 21-year-old outfielder, who was assigned to Class AA Altoona, hit .271 with 11 doubles, four home runs and 25 RBIs in 47 games for the Dodgers’ Class AA Chattanooga farm club this season and also was suspended 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy. Baseball America rated him as the Dodgers’ No. 7 prospect and best outfield prospect coming into this season. Lambo was named to the Midwest League post-season All-Star team in 2008 when he hit .288 with 15 homers for low Class A Great Lakes.
—-John Perrotto is editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and baseball columnist at the Beaver County Times—-