Two trades as non-tender deadline looms


The Pirates today made two minor trades, acquiring right-handers Zach Stewart and Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson. The Boston Red Sox swapped Stewart for a player to be named later. Mazzaro and Robinson came from the Kansas City Royals, who got minor league pitchers Luis Rico and Luis Santos. To open space for Mazarro and Robinson on the 40-man roster, infielders Yamaico Navarro and Matt Hague were designated for assignment.

The addition of Robinson creates a little bit of a crowd first base — assuming Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez, who both are arbitration-eligible, are tendered contracts by the midnight Friday deadline — but he most likely will open the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. Robinson, 27, has been a productive hitter in the minors, batting .309 with a .889 OPS the past two years at Triple-A Omaha, but he’s blocked at the major league level by Eric Hosmer. Robinson, who bats left-handed, went hitless in four pinch-hit at-bats last year with the Royals.

Stewart, 26, would seem to fit with the Pirates as bullpen depth, probably at Indy. He bounced around with the Reds, Blue Jays and White Sox before being dealt to Boston in June as part of the Kevin Youkillis deal. He made two starts for the Red Sox and gave up 14 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings for a 22.24 ERA. In 33 outings (14 starts) in the majors, Stewart is 3-10 with a 6.82 ERA and 1.650 WHIP.

Mazzaro, 26, could be used as a No. 5 or No. 6 starter or long reliever — the sort of role filled the past couple of years by Jeff Karstens, who is also sweating the non-tender deadline. Mazzaro was Oakland’s third-round pick in 2005. In 2009, he began his career with 17 2/3 straight scoreless innings, the longest by a starter in A’s history. In 66 games (45 starts) in the majors, Mazzaro is 15-21 with a 5.22 ERA and a 1.622 WHIP. “He’s done multiple roles for Kansas City, but pitched more as a reliever toward the end of the season and had some success,” GM Neal Huntiungton said. “We’ll bring him to spring training with the idea that he can be a multiple-inning guy, but he’s also got some pitches that are very effective as a reliever. We’re not locking him into any role.”

»»» Prospect Gregory Polanco, who’s playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic, has 6 hits in 30 at-bats with one run scored and a .200 on-base percentage. He still might be trying to shrug off the ankle injury he sustained during the summer and then reaggravated during a workout a couple of months ago.

»»» My Hall of Fame ballot arrived the other day. This is the second year I’ve been eligible to vote, and it’s also a ballot I’ve sort of been dreading because of the steroids issue. I’ve pretty much made up my mind about Barry Bonds — more on that in a later blog — but am still listening to arguments, pro and con. If you want to share your view on this year’s HOF vote, I’m listening. Comment here, tweet me or send an email.