PITTSBURGH -- Since asking to be demoted on June 25, right-hander Ian Snell has dominated at the Triple-A level. He's allowed only one earned run in 26 1/3 innings (four starts) while walking eight and striking out 34.
Those numbers would seem to justify an immediate promotion, especially considering Virgil Vasquez's recent struggles in the Pirates' fifth rotation spot. But as has been the case when it comes to Snell, the situation is a lot more complex than the numbers might indicate.
"It's an odd situation," general manager Neal Huntington said on Sunday. "You often worry about a player being a malcontent when they go back down and how that's going to affect your other players around. Ian has actually fit in well down there and has gone about his business as well as can be expected."
Snell has reiterated his desire to stay in Indianapolis and at one time said publicly that he has no interest in returning to Pittsburgh. That stance, Huntington said, has left the organization in a tough place.
"It's tough to bring a player back into a clubhouse with 24 other players when he's been adamant he doesn't want to come back," Huntington said. "There may come a point in time where we bring him back regardless and hope the increase in stuff and increase in performance will translate here at the Major League level. There's no doubt he's gone down there and thrown well. It's hard to argue with the results. Will that translate up here? Time will tell."
The Pirates are more than willing to deal Snell, who is set to make $4.25 million next season. But they have not received any offers that they deem appropriate for Snell's ability. A number of teams have expressed interest in the 27-year-old starter, but none have been willing to offer more than a marginal return in exchange for Snell.
While Huntington admitted to not knowing what course of action the organization plans to take with Snell should he continue to be dominant in the Minors, the Pirates GM did stress that he is not ready completely give up on Snell and trade him away for little to no return.
"Teams are still hoping to bottom fish and we're still not ready to just give the guy away," Huntington said. "At this point, his four or five strong outings haven't increased his value [externally]. We're not talented enough and deep enough as an organization to just give away a player that has Major League ability, as challenging as it can be sometimes."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.