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Pirates Trade Jordan Luplow, Max Moroff To Indians To Clear 40-Man Roster Space

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Jordan Luplow (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

With the Rule 5 draft less than a month away, the wheeling and dealing to clear 40-man roster space has begun.

In the first major move with Rule 5 implications, the Pirates traded outfielder Jordan Luplow and second baseman Max Moroff to the Indians on Wednesday night for infielder Erik Gonzalez and minor league rigthanders Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza.

By subtracting Luplow and Moroff and adding Gonzalez, the Pirates opened a 40-man roster spot. Top prospects Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker both need to be added to the 40-man to be protected from the Rule 5 draft, as do promising outfielder Jason Martin and righthanded starter J.T. Brubaker.

With the trade, the Pirates now have 37 players on their 40-man roster.

The Indians, meanwhile, fill a need for extra outfield help by acquiring Luplow, with Michael Brantley and Melky Cabrera both expected to leave in free agency. Moroff replaces Gonzalez as the Tribe’s potential utility infielder.

Even by adding the two players, the Indians still have five open spots on their 40-man roster.

INDIANS ACQUIRE:

Jordan Luplow, OF
Age: 25

A third-round pick out of Fresno State in 2014, Luplow quickly climbed through the minors but was blocked by Andrew McCutchenGregory PolancoStarling Marte and Corey Dickerson in the Pirates' outfield the last two seasons. He reached the majors in 2017 and 2018 as a callup, and now he has a chance at more playing time in Cleveland. Luplow lacks huge tools but does a lot of little things well. He is a contact hitter with good feel for the barrel, quick hands and the pitch recognition to consistently get on base. He is not a burner, but he’s a smart baserunner who takes the extra base with his savvy. Luplow can ably play both corner outfield spots and cover center in a pinch, with a plus arm that plays anywhere.

Max Moroff, 2B/SS
Age: 25

Moroff has made cameos in the majors each of the last three seasons, working at second base, shortstop and third base as a Pirates depth infielder. He doesn’t offer much with the bat as a career .252 hitter in the minors and .193 hitter in the majors, but he can plug in as a switch-hitter with defensive versatility.

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PIRATES ACQUIRE:

Erik Gonzalez, SS
Age: 27

Gonzalez has the raw tools to play shortstop in the major leagues and impressed evaluators in the minor leagues with his ability to make highlight-reel plays. But he wasn’t able to break into the Indians’ crowded infield as an everyday player and spent the last two seasons as a utility player, appearing at six different defensive positions. He’s an aggressive hitter and an above-average runner, giving him an intriguing skill set whether he makes the jump to become an everyday regular or not.

Tahnaj Thomas, RHP
Age: 19

A native of the Bahamas, Thomas began his career as a shortstop and converted to pitching before signing with the Indians in December 2016. He’s spent the last two seasons in the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he has shown some exciting raw tools. His fastball sits 92-96 mph, and he’s tightened his breaking ball to make it more of a true slider. Listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he’s physical and athletic, and at this stage of his career he largely just needs to get more experience on the mound.

Dante Mendoza, RHP
Age: 19

The Indians’ 12th-round pick in 2017 and a cousin of lefthanded reliever Zach Britton, Mendoza has spent the last two years in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Listed at 6-foot-5, 186 pounds, he is long and projectable and gets good extension on his delivery. He throws his fastball 86-90 mph and needs to refine his secondary offerings while continuing to get stronger.

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