Jeff Clement has gone from No. 3 overall pick and top-rated prospect to bust and Triple-A veteran, but rather than make a fresh start somewhere else the 28-year-old first baseman has re-signed with the Pirates on a minor-league contract.
Once upon a time Clement looked like a future star as a power-hitting catcher, but his defensive weaknesses forced a move to first base and his bat simply never developed as expected.
He’s hit just .223 with 14 homers and a .664 OPS in 129 games as a big leaguer and even his Triple-A numbers aren’t anything special, with a .282 batting average and .859 OPS in 423 games.
Clement will get an invitation to spring training, but don’t count on him winning even a bench job. He missed most of this past season with a knee injury and the Pirates already have more than enough first base depth after trading for Casey McGehee to go along with Garrett Jones.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.