The Pittsburgh Pirates have “quietly contacted clubs” to gauge the market for left-hander Jonathon Niese, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review. Could one of the calls be to Orioles vice president Dan Duquette?
Pittsburgh is auditioning several young pitchers and has called up top prospect Tyler Glasnow, who will make his big league debut on Thursday against the Cardinals. Biertempfel reports the Bucs' rotation “could have a fresh look” after the All-Star break and one of the options would be to shop Niese, who is 7-6 with a 4.87 ERA.
Niese is making $9 million this year. His contract has club options of $10 million in 2017 and $11 million in 2018.
Duquette has made no secret of his desire to improve a rotation that ranks 28th in the majors with a 5.18 ERA. "We've been looking around. There's a lot of teams chasing a few pitchers, it looks like,” Duquette told Barry Bloom of MLB.com.
Among the Baltimore hurlers on shaky ground is Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 6.95 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP.
The O’s also do not have a southpaw in the rotation, a void they could fill with Niese or with Francisco Liriano, another Pirates lefty who could be shopped.
Duquette is casting a wide net in his search for pitching, and could look for a bargain with the 29-year-old Niese, who owns a career 3.99 ERA. Niese returned to Pittsburgh this week to have his left knee examined, but he is not expected to miss his next start.
“I always comes down to whether there’s a match. The Pirates gladly would take more young pitching,” writes Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. “How much more can the Orioles surrender?"