Pirates “have their eyes on” Justin Morneau

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The Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the Mets on Tuesday afternoon. Now they’re chasing a first baseman.

According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Pittsburgh decision-makers “have their eyes on” the Twins’ Justin Morneau, who cleared waivers earlier this month and is eligible to be traded to any team. Heyman says the Twins are “willing to pay some of the close to $3 million left on Morneau’s $14 million salary, depending on the prospect worth returned.”

Morneau has hit just .263/.321/.424 this season, but the 32-year-old impending free agent does have 15 home runs and 72 RBI and his power potential would likely shine much brighter away from Target Field.

The Pirates open play Tuesday with a half-game deficit behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.