Clement most intriguing in M's-Pirates deal

July, 29, 2009

There isn't a whole lot of fantasy interest in the big Mariners-Pirates trade because the players involved aren't generally owned in mixed leagues. Jack Wilson doesn't hit enough, Ian Snell hasn't pitched well enough and Jeff Clement ... well, what about Clement?

The Pirates figure it's worth a shot to take this former No. 3 overall pick from 2005, and I agree, it is. Even if Clement is no longer a catcher, as many suspect to be the case, he always has been able to hit, at least in the minor leagues. Clement didn't figure to be in Seattle's plans any more, despite producing an OPS that hovered around the .900 mark most of this season at Triple-A Tacoma.

Jeff ClementPeter G. Aiken/US PresswireJeff Clement hit just .227 in 2008 in Seattle and has spent all of 2009 in the minors despite a load of injuries to Mariners catchers.

The Pirates will send him to their Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, see for themselves whether he's an option behind the plate and probably give him some major league at-bats in September. From a fantasy aspect, there's no need for Ryan Doumit owners to panic, and Garrett Jones is in no danger of losing at-bats. Steve Pearce might not play as much in September if Clement comes up, but if he would just hit, playing time would be assured somewhere. There is opportunity on the Pirates, that's for sure. Clement does have catcher eligibility for this season in fantasy but probably will not in 2010.

Will Clement be any better than the recently traded Adam LaRoche was? Probably not, but the Pirates get a younger option who does have upside. Who knows, maybe Clement can catch some, maybe he can hit 30 home runs. Most people are skeptical, as am I, but he should be a major leaguer soon. The Pirates have made a decent investment, similar to the Lastings Milledge one in that they get a once-interesting prospect on the cheap.

The Pirates pick up Clement, shortstop Ronny Cedeno and three minor league prospects who aren't deemed close to contributing at the major league level for Wilson and Snell. For financial reasons, it made sense to move Wilson, an expensive, flashy fielding shortstop who really needs to hit eighth -- or ninth -- wherever he goes. Snell obviously was not going to pitch for the Pirates again. Some say it was his wish to be demoted to the minors, but rumors abound. Cedeno isn't much of a hitter, but he costs a lot less than Wilson and doesn't embarrass himself in the field. So from the Pittsburgh perspective at the big league level, Cedeno replaces Wilson, and there's not much fantasy adjustment to be made.

The Mariners probably will use Snell in the rotation right away. In 2007, the right-hander was a valuable fantasy asset despite winning only nine games, as he fanned 177 hitters, and had a 3.76 ERA and usable 1.33 WHIP. He was awful last season, though, as his ERA jumped to 5.42. Could it be he just didn't want to be a Pirate anymore? He wouldn't be the first.

Snell was terrible this season, too, got demoted and then was awesome in six minor league starts, allowing four earned runs in 37 1/3 innings. That's a 0.96 ERA, and he struck out 47 hitters along the way. Snell still has a potentially electric arm and is a sleeper pickup the rest of this season, I suppose, but make sure you have a bench in case he's bad. As for Wilson, he's an upgrade on offense and defense from what the Mariners have, but he still is not a valuable fantasy asset.

Eric Karabell | email

ESPN Senior Writer



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