CHICAGO -- Gaby Sanchez, a young right-handed-hitting first baseman with a recent history for powerful run production, was acquired on Tuesday from Miami by the Pirates, who soon thereafter solved their overcrowding at the position by dealing Casey McGehee to the Yankees for reliever Chad Qualls. Sanchez and Qualls are both expected to join the team here in time to participate in Wednesday afternoon's finale of a three-game series with the Cubs. Triple-A outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and the Bucs' sandwich pick between the first two rounds of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft went to the Marlins in a deal in which the Pirates also landed Kyle Kaminska, a 23-year-old right-handed reliever.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle has been seeking some more veteran hands for his bench, and eventually Sanchez could fill that bill. Sanchez was batting .202 in 55 games with Miami during a disappointing 2012 season, but has a productive past. The 28-year-old combined for 38 homers and 163 RBIs in 2010-11; he was picked for the National League All-Star team last season, after enjoying a solid first half (.293 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs). "We've kept tabs on Sanchez and inquired about him in the past," Hurdle said. "We couldn't get close to him the last couple of years. You don't get players when they're doing well. He's now in an excellent position to come back and help on the Major League level." The irony is that McGehee had been the Bucs' most productive pinch-hitter, going 6-for-14 (.429) with three RBIs in that role. Sanchez would provide a replacement bat off the bench, as well as platoon with left-handed-hitting Garrett Jones as the starter at first base. The Draft choice dealt by the Pirates -- a franchise first -- was won during Major League Baseball's recent inaugural Competitive Balance Draft Lottery, in which the Pirates were awarded the second choice; Kansas City gets the first pick between the two opening rounds. Qualls, a well-traveled 33-year-old right-hander, was dealt to New York by the Phillies earlier this month. Between the two teams, he had an ERA of 4.89 in 43 appearances. Qualls has experience as a closer, notching 36 saves in 2009-10 with the D-backs and the Tampa Bay Rays. "We get an experienced pitcher in the 'pen for multiple roles," Hurdle said. "He's been a closer, he's pitched the eighth, he's always been tough on right-handed hitters. He's had some success in New York; much better than earlier in the year in Philadelphia." Sanchez and Qualls completed a productive week for Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. A week ago, he reset the rotation for the stretch drive with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, and on Monday night, he finished retooling the club's starting outfield by acquiring Travis Snider from Toronto. Asked whether the Pirates -- beginning action Tuesday in second place in the NL Central, three games behind the Reds -- are in an improved position to challenge for a division title after the flurry of moves, Hurdle said, "I do think we are. "Time will tell. But we were able to change the direction of who we are and what we're trying to become. We're a better team to contend right now." Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player. The post-Trade Deadline buzz can generate comparable rumors -- and action. "A lot of deals are made after the Deadline that can add value in specific areas," Hurdle reminded. "But we're still not going to do anything out of panic or necessity; we're not in that mode." Both of the Pirates' earlier, higher-profile moves raised eyebrows, partly because of the alternatives the Bucs were known to have. Huntington settled on Rodriguez as his lefty, prompting Paul Maholm to shake his head in disbelief -- particularly since that deal went down the day after he had hurled a dominant game at PNC Park for his fifth straight win with an 0.94 ERA. The former Pittsburgh pitcher thought he had a good shot at a reunion, but he subsequently was dealt to Atlanta instead. Rodriguez, however, has pennant race and postseason experience. Huntington felt the Pirates had reached a point were those intangibles became relevant. The move for Snider was characteristic of Huntington. He could have had any of several veteran outfielders for the same central piece -- although Brad Lincoln would have had to be part of a bigger package for a Shane Victorino or a Hunter Pence -- but held out for someone with a lesser past but longer future. "The hardest one was Lincoln for Snider," Hurdle said. "But you have to rely on people in the organization who do this for a living, who go out and scout. And we got a young player many project as a middle-of-the-lineup bat, who is controllable [Snider becomes first-time arbitration eligible after the 2013 season, and free agency doesn't kick in until post-2016]. It was all about doing the right deal for us." Snider brings a strange dynamic to the Pittsburgh outfield: He becomes nearly the youngest outfielder on the team (Starling Marte also turns 24 this year), yet made his Major League debut (Aug. 29, 2008) before any of them.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.