By John Perrotto
The only Pirates player drawing any measurable amount of interest with baseball’s July 31 non-waiver trading deadline a little more than three weeks away is closer Octavio Dotel.
The Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies have all inquired about his availability, though the Pirates aren’t close to making a deal at this point.
While none of those four teams needs a closer, all have had problems with their set-up relief and believe the hard-throwing Dotel could help strengthen that weakness.
Dotel is 2-1 with 19 saves and a 4.28 ERA in 34 games this season after being signed as a free agent during the winter. The 36-year-old has given up 27 hits in 33 1/3 innings while striking out 41 and walking 17.
Dotel has been pitching very well since a shaky start to the season. He has made nine consecutive scoreless appearances, all for one inning, and allowed just three hits in that stretch with two walks and eight strikeouts.
Dotel has also converted seven consecutive save opportunities since his last blown save on June 13 at Detroit and has saved each of the Pirates’ last seven victories and 10 of their last 11 since May 25.
There is a $4.5-million club option for next season in Dotel’s contract that can be bought out for $500,000. The option becomes a mutual one if he is traded. However, that shouldn’t be an impediment as any team acquiring Dotel would almost certainly look at him as a solution for only this season.
What could work against the Pirates in their effort to trade Dotel is that a number of other closers from non-contending teams are also available, including Cleveland’s Kerry Wood, Toronto’s Kevin Gregg and Seattle’s David Aardsma. There is also an outside chance that two other closers, Houston’s Matt Lindstrom and Washington’s Matt Capps, could be moved before the deadline.
John Perrotto is editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and baseball columnist at the Beaver County Times