"We've talked to Oliver about starting or relieving," said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. "We'll have him come to camp to compete as a starter; if [that is] not [going to happen], we'll look into the bullpen, and then, if not that, have a conversation about going to Triple-A."
Oliver is a 6-foot-3, 215-pound hard-thrower, with both the prototypical "big arm" and the proverbial "left-hander's disease." He has had growing control issues.
Oliver sipped cups of big league coffee with the Tigers in both 2010 and '11, combining to go 0-5 in seven starts with 21 walks in 31 2/3 innings. A second-round choice in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Oklahoma State, Oliver was 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA in Toledo last season, his third in Triple-A. He struck out 112 in 118 innings, but also issued 88 walks.
"We couldn't get him to throw strikes on a consistent basis," noted Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski. "We think a change of scenery is not a bad thing for him. If he does throw strikes, with his arm, he has a chance to be a very fine pitcher. It's a good gamble on their part, and I hope it pays off for them."
"He seems capable of filling a lot of roles for us," Huntington said. "We like the arm, like the fastball, like the breaking ball, like how he does things, and as tough as it is to give up a young switch-hitting catcher that we like, a lot, we felt Andrew was a good addition to our club."
Cabrera, 23, went on the Pirates' 40-man roster for the first time a couple of weeks ago. He has a considerable upside -- he was the Florida State League batting champ in 2011 with a .343 average for Bradenton -- but the recent signing of free agent Russell Martin gave the Pirates a catching surplus. Tony Sanchez, the 2009 No. 1 Draft pick, is stacked behind Martin and Michael McKenry.
"We think he is a prospect, and he gives up good catching depth in the organization," Dombrowski said.