Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2 Moves Bring Depth to Key Areas of Roster

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

2 Moves Bring Depth to Key Areas of Roster

Article excerpt

Within a matter of minutes Wednesday, the Pirates announced a trade and a free-agent signing, both aimed to help address areas of uncertainty for 2016 - but neither offering a sure upgrade.

They acquired right-hander Allen Webster from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for cash considerations and signed outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert. Their 40-man roster is now full.

The deal for Webster, a 25-year-old who is not far removed from being a well-regarded prospect, could bolster a pitching staff in flux. A.J. Burnett retired, and the Pirates might not re-sign J.A. Happ; they currently don't have a fifth starter behind Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. Their bullpen lost Antonio Bastardo, Joe Blanton and Joakim Soria to free agency, and trading All-Star closer Mark Melancon is a possibility as he enters his final year of team control.

"Allen is a prospect that we've liked in the past, we liked in a scouting look this season," general manager Neal Huntington said.

The Los Angeles Dodgers originally drafted Webster in the 18th round in 2008 before sending him to the Boston Red Sox in the 2012 salary-dump trade involving Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. The Red Sox traded Webster to the Diamondbacks after the 2014 season in the deal that brought Wade Miley to Boston.

In nine games, for the Diamondbacks in 2015, Webster had a 5.81 ERA. He walked 20 batters and gave up 10 homers in 31 innings, and the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment Friday to clear space for prospects they needed to protect from the Rule 5 draft. He is out of minor-league options, meaning the Pirates can't send him to the minors without him clearing waivers and making it more likely he starts the season in the majors.

"He pitched in an amazingly friendly hitter's park, and it can do some things to a pitcher, mentally as well as physically," Huntington said. "We still see signs of stuff."

Webster showed promise in the minors. In 2013-14, in the Class AAA Pawtucket rotation, he had ERAs of 3.60 and 3.10 with at least 100 strikeouts, and Baseball American ranked him the No. …

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