By releasing starter Ross Ohlendorf Wednesday night, the Pirates opened up a spot on the 40-man roster to make a selection in the Rule 5 draft.
Ohlendorf went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA in 21 starts in 2010 before going 1-3 with an 8.15 ERA in 9 starts last season. Ohlendorf missed the final weeks of the 2010 season with a strain in his shoulder, and was placed on the disabled list in early 2011 due to another strain in the same spot. The 29-year-old missed much of 2011 with the injury, pitching just twice in April then twice and not returning until late August.
I believe Ohlendorf is a viable fifth starter on most teams, but the Pirates’ likely rotation of Erik Bedard, James McDonald, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Kevin Correia should be feasible, at least for the Pirates’ standards.
With Ohlendorf’s spot on the roster, the Pirates chose short stop Gustavo Nunez in the Rule 5 draft.
A background on Nunez from Jenifer Langosch:
“Nunez was available after being left off the Tigers’ 40-man roster last month. He began the 2011 season in high-A, where he batted .304 with 20 extra-base hits and 14 stolen bases in 62 games. He played another 34 games in Double-A before his season ended prematurely with an ankle fracture. Nunez underwent surgery in September and continues to rehab his ankle this offseason.”
Nunez, ranked the Tigers’ 23rd-best prospect before last season, must remain on the team’s 25-man roster for the entire 2012 season or the Pirates must offer him back to the Tigers for half the $50,000 fee the team paid to select him.
The 23-year-old plays a good defensive short stop and will be a candidate to stick with the team as a backup middle infielder. However, the Pirates still owe the San Diego Padres a “player to be named later” as part of the Ryan Ludwick trade, and some are speculating Nunez could simply become that player.