As first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Pirates have acquired catcher Francisco Cervelli from the Yankees. Joel Sherman at the New York Post confirms the news and says left-handed reliever Justin Wilson is headed to the Yankees in return.
This likely signals the end of the Russell Martin era in Pittsburgh, if that wasn’t already apparent. The free agent backstop reportedly wants something similar to the five-year, $85 million deal that Brian McCann received from the Yankees last winter.
Cervelli had an excellent .301/.370/.432 batting line this past season with New York, but that high-level production came in just 49 games. He was a .271/.343/.367 career hitter heading into 2014.
Wilson was one of the most effective relievers in baseball in 2013, posting a 2.08 ERA across 73 2/3 innings, but the 27-year-old southpaw regressed to a 4.20 ERA in 60 innings this past summer for Pittsburgh.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.