|During Neal Huntington’s first two summers as general manager of the Pirates in 2008-09 he traded veterans approaching free agency, such as Jason Bay, Adam LaRoche, Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady, for young players with upside who could help the next contending Pittsburgh squad. Four years later, Huntington has carried out the process in reverse, trading three Pirates prospects to the Astros for veteran lefty Wandy Rodriguez.
The acquisition cost Pittsburgh Triple-A lefty Rudy Owens, Double-A center fielder Robbie Grossman and high Class A lefty Colton Cain. The Astros also will send as much as $17.7 million to the Pirates to help cover the approximately $30 million owed Rodriguez through 2014.
|Robbie Grossman, cf
Age: 22. Born: Sep 16, 1989 in San Diego.
Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 205.
Bats: B. Throws: L.
School: Cypress-Fairbanks HS, Cypress, Texas.
Career Transactions: Selected by Pirates in sixth round of 2008 draft; signed Aug. 14, 2008.
Grossman led the Eastern League with 58 walks at the time of the trade, a familiar position for a player who led both the Florida State and Arizona Fall leagues in the same category a year ago. That plate discipline has been Grossman’s calling card in the minor leagues, and scouts who like him see the potential for four average tools, with the exception being power. That lack of home-run power might work for him because he runs well and covers enough ground to play center field, though he won’t win any Gold Glove awards there. Grossman took up switch-hitting as a high school senior, and this season with Altoona he batted .242/.376/.399 from the left side. In fact, he has hit for a higher average from his natural right side in each of the past three seasons. Grossman lacks a carrying tool, but he could play center or right field on a daily basis as long as his team receives power from at least one other outfield position.
|Colton Cain, lhp
Age: 21. Born: Feb 5, 1991 in Waxahachie, Texas.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 225.
Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Waxahachie (Texas) HS.
Career Transactions: Selected by Pirates in eighth round of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 7, 2009.
Signed for $1.125 million out of the eighth round of the 2009 draft, Cain throws strikes with three pitches but none grade as better than average. He creates deception and movement on a high-80s fastball because he throws across his body, and he’s not afraid to work batters in or out with the pitch. Cain’s curveball shows occasional biting action, if not excess power, while his changeup sometimes sinks and fades away from righty hitters. Nevertheless, he allowed 10 home runs to Florida State League batters, one off the league lead, with nine of those surrendered to righthanders.
|Rudy Owens, lhp
Age: 24. Born: Dec 18, 1987 in Mesa, Ariz.
Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 230.
Bats: L. Throws: L.
School: Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC.
Career Transactions: Selected by Pirates in 28th round of 2006 draft; signed May 30, 2007.
Though his ceiling is modest, Owens can step right into the Astros rotation and help to cover for recent trades of Rodriguez and J.A. Happ. He pitches at 88-91 mph with a fringy slurve and changeup, but he has shown an aversion to walking batters with Indianapolis, handing out just 1.9 walks per nine innings over the course of 19 starts. That’s not far off Owens’ career average of 1.8 per nine.
|Wandy Rodriguez, lhp
Age: 33. Throws: L. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for $10 million this season (approximately $1.7 million per month), $13 million in 2013 and then $13 million in 2014 because his option vested with the trade. The Astros will cover as much as $17.7 million of the remaining outlay.
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.