PITTSBURGH—Despite the presence of four lefthanded relievers on the 40-man roster, the Pirates selected another one in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft.
Pittsburgh chose 26-year-old lefty Tyler Webb from the Yankees and will bring him to big league camp, where he will compete with veteran southpaws Tony Watson, Antonio Bastardo, Felipe Rivero and Wade LeBlanc.
Webb spent 2016 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he recorded a 3.59 ERA in 72.2 innings to go with 10.2 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings. He allowed 67 hits.
“We felt like, of the guys available in the draft, he was the guy most available to come compete to help the club win,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “He fits in our mix well.”
Webb handcuffed lefthanded batters in 2016 by holding them to a .215/.267/.291 batting line with 30 percent strikeouts.
The Pirates envision the 6-foot-6 Webb serving in a long-relief capacity, and their scouts like the deception in his delivery. He also has a four-pitch mix with a fastball, slider, cutter and changeup.
The Yankees selected Webb in the 10th round in 2013 from South Carolina.
Being able to eat innings out of the bullpen could prove to be valuable, especially since the Pirates have many question marks in their rotation. In 2016, lefthander Jeff Locke led the staff with just 127.1 innings.
“The multi-inning aspect is intriguing to us,” Huntington said. “You never know in the Rule 5. The Yankees have a deep and talented farm system, and there’s a reason they chose not to protect him.
“In our minds, this is the ultimate beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder part of our game. We’ll see how it plays out this spring.”
• The Pirates signed 29-year-old righthander Josh Lindblom and invited him to big league camp after he spent two seasons in Korea. The 2008 second-round pick from Purdue worked mostly as a reliever early in his major league career but pitched exclusively as a starter in Korea, where he went 23-23, 4.33 in 61 starts.
• The Pirates hired Gary Varsho and Andrew Lorriane as professional scouts. Varsho was an outfielder with the Pirates from 1991-92 and again in 1994 then served as their third-base coach from 2008-10.