UPDATE, 7:21 p.m. ET: A “high-ranking” Pirates official told beat writer Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that there are currently no plans to call up Polanco on Friday. This just took an odd turn.
As first reported on Wednesday afternoon by Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com and then later confirmed by FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates will call up top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco before their series-opener Friday night at home against the NL Central-leading Brewers.
Polanco, rated a Top 10 prospect this winter by Baseball America, has hit .351/.410/.547 with six home runs, 47 RBI, and 14 stolen bases in 57 games this season at Triple-A Indianapolis. He should provide an immediate boost to a Pirates offense that currently ranks 22nd in the majors in runs scored.
Pittsburgh opens play Wednesday evening with a 28-30 record and -22 run differential.
The only reason Polanco isn’t already in the bigs was threat that he might achieve Super Two status. His callup Friday means that he will finish the 2014 season with 115 days of service time. The projected cutoff for Super Two status — according to Williams’ report at PiratesProspects.com — is two years and 128 days.
MORE FROM HBT: Top prospect Gregory Polanco rejects seven-year contract from Pirates
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.