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Giants Trade Hard-Luck Pitcher to Pirates

The San Francisco Giants have traded pitcher Daulton Jefferies to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for outfielder Rodolfo Nolasco. The Giants designated Jefferies for assignment on Monday, giving them a week to trade or release him or try to pass him through waivers. Apparently, the Pirates think highly enough of Jefferies to take a flyer on the hard-luck pitcher.

The Pirates need offense, not more starting pitching, so it’s not a trade that fills an immediate need. Jefferies has one minor league option remaining, meaning the Pirates can send him to Triple-A Indianapolis without exposing him to waivers. That’s likely where Jefferies is headed, to serve as organizational depth. Say what you want about Pirates general manager Ben Cherington. But nobody can deny he is a firm believer in pitching, pitching, and more pitching. In Triple-A, Jefferies will join veterans Domingo Germán and Eric Lauer along with a host of hot mound prospects.

Pirates Trade for Pitcher Jefferies

Jefferies was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft. The right-hander put up fair minor-league numbers, but his talent has yet to translate to the major leagues. In parts of four major league seasons, he’s 2-10 in 40 games, with a 6.64 ERA, 1.508 WHIP, and 4.64 FIP. Opposing hitters have touched him up to the tune of a .299/.347/.508 slash line. His career strikeout rate of 15 percent is well below the major league average. On the plus side, his 5.8 percent walk rate indicates above-average control. The exit velocities and percentages of hard-hit balls and line drives against him are eerily close to the major league average.

While he’s had a rough go of it in the majors, bad luck with injuries has prevented him from putting together a full season. Jefferies spent most of 2022 and all of 2023 rehabbing from Tommy John and thoracic outlet surgeries. The Giants signed him as a minor league free agent last December. The 28-year-old made two appearances with the Giants, which didn’t go well, giving up 13 runs (nine earned) in 4 2/3 innings. Despite the small sample size, the Giants deemed Jefferies expendable when they called up prospect Mason Black.

Jefferies features sinking and cut fastballs along with a changeup and curveball. He also has a four-seamer and slider, although both are seldom used. In 2024, he’s thrown the sinker at 92.6 mph and the cutter at 90.8. These velocities sit at his career averages, apparently unaffected by his health issues. Jefferies has enough as a pitcher that the Pirates were obviously intrigued.

Giants Trade for Outfielder Nolasco

In Nolasco, the Giants get an outfielder who was the Pirates’ No. 21 prospect as recently as 2022. He plays all three outfield positions. Last year at Single-A Bradenton, he hit .215/.351/.440 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI while stealing 11 bases. However, as of this writing, he’s hitting .173/.264/.293 with Single-A Greensboro this season. Even so, his performance last year indicates there may be some power, speed, and on-base skills there. He won’t take up a spot on the 40-man roster and is worth the Giants giving him a look.


Photo Credit: © Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports


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