Pirates and Twins exchange pitchers

The Pittsburgh Pirates today acquired right-handed pitcher Duke Welker from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for left-handed pitcher Kris Johnson. The announcement was made by Pirates Senior Vice President, General Manager Neal Huntington.

The 27-year-old Welker spent the entire 2013 season in the Pittsburgh organization, going 3-4 with nine saves, a 3.57 ERA (63.0ip/25er) and 65 strikeouts in a team-high 48 relief appearances with Triple-A Indianapolis. He also made two scoreless appearances (1.1ip) with the Pirates, making his Major League debut on June 23 at Los Angeles (AL).

Welker, Pittsburgh's second-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was sent to the Twins on October 5 as "the player to be named" in the Justin Morneau deal from August 31.
Johnson, 29, went 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA (135.2ip/36er) in 26 games (21 starts) with Indianapolis this past season. A mid-season All-Star, Johnson led the International League in ERA and the Indy staff in wins in 2013.

Signed by Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent on 12/14/11 after pitching six seasons in Boston's minor league system, Johnson made his Major League debut with the Pirates on August 18 and pitched 6.0 innings of relief in a 4-2, 16-inning loss vs. Arizona. He went 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA (10.1ip/7er) in four games (one start) with the Pirates in 2013.