The Philadelphia Phillies agreed on Wednesday to send former first-round pick Jesse Biddle to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for right-hander Yoervis Medina.
Biddle, 24, underwent Tommy John surgery in October and will not pitch in the 2016 season. The No. 27 overall pick in 2010, Biddle's ascent up the Phillies organization has been consistently halted by terrible luck. He dealt with whooping cough in 2013 and was diagnosed with a concussion after a hailstorm in 2014 before last year's elbow problems.
Those issues were enough for the Phillies to place Biddle on waivers Friday, expediting the trade process with Pittsburgh.
"It hurts, but I'm not stupid," Biddle told Bob Brookover of the Inquirer. "I was not going to be able to help the team the entire year. I totally understand. I haven't really performed consistently the last couple years and nobody understands that better or is more frustrated about that than I am."
Pitching across every minor league level, Biddle is 40-45 since 2010. He was 9-6 with a 4.95 ERA in 2015 while splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A. Seven of his wins came in the lower level, and Biddle posted a 6.65 ERA in nine starts in Lehigh Valley. The Pirates nonetheless see potential in the hard-throwing lefty, who struck out more than a batter per inning in 2012 and 2013.
“This wasn’t a move made to benefit the 2016 club,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said, per Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This is a move made to benefit us three years down the road.”
The Pirates have had plenty of recent success rebuilding talented young arms. Francisco Liriano is perhaps the best recent example, arriving in Pittsburgh at a time when his career was on the brink of a collapse. The 32-year-old is now a staple in the Pirates' rotation and has avoided major injuries.
“We recognize that as you trade for a player that's in the early stages of a Tommy John rehabilitation, there’s risk,” Huntington said, per Nesbitt. “We recognize that, but we felt the upside this young man brings to the organization is worth that opportunity.”
Medina, 27, is a veteran with next to zero ties to the Pirates organization. The club picked him up off waivers in December and shipped him off without him ever throwing a pitch. Medina made just 17 appearances at the MLB level last season, posting a 1-0 record with a 4.71 ERA with the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs. In three MLB seasons, Medina is 10-9 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.
The Phillies may wind up using Medina in the back of their bullpen, but he'll have to prove himself to be more than a replacement-level talent in spring training. This is more of a dump of two players neither organization had much of a vested interest in at the moment.
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