Pirates claim lefty Turley off waivers

Pirates claim lefty Turley off waivers

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added one left-hander to their roster and removed another on Monday, beginning the annual offseason shuffle on the day free agency officially opened.

The Bucs claimed lefty Nik Turley off waivers from the Twins and sent veteran Dan Runzler outright to Triple-A Indianapolis. Runzler, 32, will likely become a free agent.

After spending 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues, the 28-year-old Turley struggled in his big league debut this past season. Turley posted an 11.21 ERA in 10 outings, including three starts, as he allowed 22 runs on 30 hits and eight walks while striking out 13 in 17 2/3 innings for Minnesota.

Turley dominated in the Minors, however, racking up 124 strikeouts in 92 innings and recording a 2.05 ERA in 23 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester. He is out of Minor League options, so the Pirates cannot send him to Triple-A without running him through waivers.

"It's a guy we have interesting scouting reports on, as well as the performance at the Triple-A level. Obviously it did not translate as well at the Major League level," general manager Neal Huntington said. "We like the arsenal and felt like it was an area where he could come in to provide some depth and an option to potentially make our Major League club depending on how things play out this offseason and in Spring Training."

Huntington said Turley, a former 50th-round Draft pick by the Yankees, could serve as a starter or multi-inning reliever. Aside from closer Felipe Rivero, Turley and Jack Leathersich are the only lefty relievers on Pittsburgh's roster.

"Good pitching is always something we'll look to add," Huntington said. "Leathersich and Turley are options, but we'll continue to look to see what else is out there."

Runzler made eight appearances for the Pirates in September. Veteran lefty Wade LeBlanc, who had his 2018 club option declined, should soon become a free agent after being sent outright to Triple-A.

Around the horn
• The Pirates officially received a fourth Minor League option for right-hander Nick Kingham. That means if Kingham does not make the Opening Day roster, the Bucs can send him to Triple-A without running the risk of losing him on waivers.

While most players have only three option years, Kingham was granted a fourth due to the time he missed following Tommy John surgery. Kingham, the Pirates' No. 8 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation next spring.

• Huntington said Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows will not play winter ball. After being sidelined by injuries this year, both outfielders will focus their offseason training toward a healthy and productive 2018 campaign.

Starling Marte, who sat out 80 games while serving a suspension this year, recently began playing for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.

• Andy Barkett, who served as the Triple-A Indianapolis manager this year, was named the Red Sox assistant hitting coach on Sunday. The Pirates granted Barkett permission to interview with Boston and join the coaching staff of new manager Alex Cora, the younger brother of Bucs third-base coach Joey Cora.

"He brought energy, brought knowledge and helped our guys get better," Huntington said. "He's going to help those Red Sox hitters and that organization. We'll miss him, but we're excited for him."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.