By John Perrotto
All indications in recent days have been that any moves the Pirates make before Friday afternoon’s non-waiver trading deadline will be minor.
That was the case with the early Thursday morning deal in which they acquired veteran right-hander Joe Blanton from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations. Blanton, who will be used in relief, was designated for assignment Tuesday by the Royals.
The Pirates have been trying to strengthen their middle relief pitching in recent weeks and feel Blanton will slot nicely into their bullpen in front of closer Mark Melancon and set-up men Jared Hughes and Tony Watson.
Blanton, 34, had a 2.74 ERA and two saves in 11 relief appearances for the Royals after being moved from the starting rotation. He struck out 23 in 22 relief innings while issuing just three walks.
This is the first time Blanton has been a full-time reliever since making his debut in 2004 with the Oakland Athletics.
The Pirates will make a move prior to Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati to open a spot on the 25-man roster for Blanton. They already have one open spot on the 40-man roster after designating infielders Justin Sellers and Brent Morel for assignment last weekend.
Sources indicate that the Pirates would like to add one more middle reliever before the deadline as they are not satisfied with the quartet of left-hander Antonio Bastardo (3.90 ERA in 36 games) and right-handers Arquimedes Caminero (4.47 ERA in 45 games), Deolis Guerra (3.14 ERA in eight games) and Vance Worley (3.78 ERA in 20 games).
The Pirates have shown interest in Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Neal Cotts in recent days, in addition to Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Oliver Perez and San Diego Padres right-hander Shawn Kelley.
The 35-year-old Cotts has a 3.40 ERA in 41 games, allowing 36 hits in 39 2/3 innings with 41 strikeouts and 15 walks.