Pirates Acquire Jackson Wolf, Two Others In Deal With Padres For Rich Hill, Ji-Man Choi


Image credit: Rich Hill (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The Padres are 52-55 and five games back of a National League wild card spot, but given all the resources they’ve poured into this season, they’re going for it as buyers at the trade deadline.

The Padres acquired veteran lefthander Rich Hill and first baseman Ji-Man Choi from the Pirates on Tuesday in exchange for first baseman Alfonso Rivas, No. 20 prospect Jackson Wolf and rising prospect outfielder Estuar Suero. Hill joins a Padres rotation in desperate need of pitching depth, while Choi gets a chance for a fresh start after a poor, injury-plagued stint in Pittsburgh.

Wolf had a breakout year and made his major league debut this season, while Suero was one of the most intriguing prospects in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.


Rich Hill, LHP
Age: 43

The ageless Hill continues to show he still has something left in the tank. He went 7-10, 4.76 with 104 strikeouts and 47 walks in 122 innings for the Pirates this year while staying healthy and making 22 starts. Hill is a more of a reliable No. 5 starter at this point, but that’s all the Padres need. The top four in their rotation is set with Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and Seth Lugo, but with Michael Wacha on the injured list with shoulder inflammation, Hill gives the Padres needed rotation depth and insurance against further injuries. He is also a noted clubhouse presence renowned for his leadership. Hill is signed through the end of this season and will be a free agent at the end of the year.

Ji-Man Choi, 1B
Age: 32

Choi was a serviceable platoon first baseman over four seasons with the Rays, but he played only 23 games with the Pirates this year due to a left Achilles strain and hit .205/.224/.507 with six home runs and 11 RBIs and a 35% strikeout rate. He’s been better recently, batting .303/.333/.758 with four home runs in his last 12 games, so the Padres are hoping he’s on the upswing as he moves further away from his injury. He can play both first base and DH, two lineup spots the Padres desperately need help at, and should move into the everyday lineup. He is under contract through the end of this year and will be a free agent after the season.


Jackson Wolf, LHP
Age: 24

A fourth-round pick out of West Virginia in 2021, Wolf led the Padres system in strikeouts this season with Double-A San Antonio and got called up for his first major league start on July 22 against the Tigers. He went 8-9, 4.08 with 105 strikeouts and 22 walks in 88.1 innings at San Antonio and pitched five innings with three runs allowed to pick up the win in his major league debut. Wolf is a long, lean 6-foot-7 lefthander who is an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters. He generates tremendous extension to help all his stuff play up and gets ugly swings with the deception he generates from his long limbs. His fastball sits 89-92 mph but gets on hitters faster than they expect and his low-80s split-changeup is an above-average pitch that gets chase swings below the zone. His sweeping upper-70s slider lacks power, but he’s able to land it for a strike. Wolf has impressive control of his long limbs and is able to effectively locate and move his fastball around the zone. His three-pitch mix, control and deception give him a chance to stick as a back-of-the-rotation starter or valuable swingman.

Estuar Suero, OF
Age: 17

Suero signed with the Padres for $325,000 out of the Dominican Republic as part of their 2022 international signing class and immediately impressed with his physicality and tools. He’s an athletic, switch-hitting 6-foot-5, 180-pound center fielder with a picturesque physique and above-average speed. He’s twitchy, coordinated and fluid and runs down balls in center field with natural ease. Suero generates easy power that could become plus-plus as he matures. He’s still a raw hitter who is prone to swinging and missing and needs to smooth out his swing from both sides of the plate, but he has a chance to start making more contact as he gets stronger and improves his bat-to-ball skills. Suero is a pure upside play dependent on getting stronger and smoothing out his swing, but he has a chance to pay off big down the road if he can.

Alfonso Rivas, 1B
Age: 26

Rivas has long had good strike-zone discipline and a smooth, effortless lefthanded swing that makes a lot of contact. He has below-average power, a problem given he’s a first baseman, but can drive balls into the gaps for doubles. He’s a plus defender at first base with smooth hands and an above-average arm. Rivas doesn’t project to hit for power and likely won’t be able to play every day because of that, but he has an outside chance to hit for a high average with enough doubles given regular playing time to bat in the bottom third of the order.

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