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Pirates Trade Back-End Starter to Yankees

The Pittsburgh Pirates have traded starting pitcher JT Brubaker to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later. The right-handed Brubaker is on the 60-day injured list due to last year’s Tommy John surgery. He sat out all of 2023. Brubaker, 30, is targeting a return to the mound around the All-Star break.

Pirates Trade Brubaker to Yankees

In three seasons with the Pirates from 2020-22, Brubaker is 9-28 with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.384 WHIP. He has struck out 23.3 percent and walked 7.9 percent of batters faced, a bit better than the major league average in both categories. Hits against him have averaged an 88.5 mph exit velocity and a hard-hit rate of 39.2 percent, both figures right around the major league average. However, the slash line against him is .263/.331/.450, indicating a below-average pitcher.

Brubaker relies heavily on a sinking fastball that he threw 41.8 percent of the time in 2022. His three primary pitches show good separation. The sinker comes in at around 93 mph while he features an 87-mph slider and an 80-mph curve. The University of Akron product also throws a little-used four-seamer and change-up that opponents have hit for high averages.

What the Yankees are Getting

The Yankees are getting a back-of-the-rotation type starter who battles hard and still may reach his potential. In 2018, Brubaker was 10-6 with a 2.81 ERA in 28 starts across Double-A and Triple-A. He followed that up with a 2.28 ERA in the minors in 2019, albeit in only six starts before another injury.  The Yankees will hope to unlock what made him successful in the minor leagues. Improving the four-seamer and the change-up, or ditching them altogether, may be part of that program.

Although the timing is surprising, it’s no shock that the Pirates have decided to move on from Brubaker. Most of their top prospects are pitchers, and they have several expecting to make their major league debuts in 2024. Jared Jones is already with the big club. Last year’s number-one overall pick, Paul Skenes, is a once-in-a-lifetime talent expected no later than June. We may also see Anthony Solometo, Bubba Chandler, and Tom Harrington before 2024 is over.

Despite their well-documented need for starters, the Yankees were a surprising trade partner as well. With the Pirates having traded Brubaker, it will be interesting to see how the Yankees employ him once he’s healthy.


Photo Credit: © Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports


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