Designated for assignment by the Angels last week, Brandon Wood has predictably been claimed off waivers by the Pirates, who had the No. 1 waiver position by virtue of their MLB-worst 57-105 record last year.
That the Angels couldn’t find a team willing to give up something of even marginal value for Wood shows just how far the one-time top prospect’s stock has fallen, but Pittsburgh is certainly an ideal destination.
Ronny Cedeno has hit just .170 through 18 games as the Pirates’ starting shortstop, so Wood should get a chance to wrestle playing time away from him there while also seeing action as a backup elsewhere.
He’s been historically inept through 173 big-league games, hitting .168 with 153 strikeouts versus 13 walks in 494 plate appearances, but despite seemingly being around forever Wood is still just 26 years old and has hit .283 with an .886 OPS over 330 games in the admittedly hitter-friendly environment at Triple-A Salt Lake.
Wood is certainly never going to be the superstar many people projected him to become just a few years ago and the complete lack of strike zone control means he may never even make it as a valuable role player, but there’s still some potential for usefulness and the Pirates can certainly afford to give him a few hundred plate appearances in an attempt to flesh it out.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.