In the seventh inning of last night’s game in Seattle, John Farrell removed Travis Snider from the game and replaced him with Yan Gomes. As soon as this happened, Twitter exploded with reports of Snider’s imminent trade. Most fans (myself included) thought that maybe Snider was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Matt Garza or maybe even Ryan Dempster. Instead we found out he was sent to Pittsburgh for long reliever/spot starter Brad Lincoln (wait, who?)
Brad Lincoln was the 4th overall pick in the 2006 Draft, which is the same draft that saw Travis Snider get picked 14th overall by the Blue Jays. I don’t know much about Brad Lincoln, but Adam Bittner from SB Nation Pittsburgh has written a nice scouting report on him:
Brad Lincoln was the Pirates’ first round pick in 2006 and was a starter most of his way through the minors. He’s had stints with the big club since 2010, but it wasn’t until he was moved to the bullpen early this season that he really carved out a role for himself as a long reliever. His command has improved significantly from where it was in 2010 and 2011, and he gets his fastball into the 93–94 range out of the pen, where he’s been mostly in the low 90s as a starter. He also likes to throw the curve, but that’s basically it on the repertoire front. He’s thrown a changeup in the past, but he’s pretty much abandoned it this season, probably another reason his numbers have improved. He’ll probably have to figure it out if he’s going to have a future starting with the Blue Jays, though, because his fastball doesn’t get nearly the velocity in extended outings for him to be able to lean as heavily on it as he does in relief.
At 27 and with parts of three big league seasons under his belt, Lincoln is probably out of the “prospect” range. At the very least, Toronto is picking up a dependable-to-above average arm out of the bullpen. There have been murmurs in these parts about him taking over the closer role if the Bucs were ever to move Joel Hanrahan. Not sure what the situation at the back of the pen is up there, but my guess is that must have been part of the conversation. But he could still have a future as a starter, too, if he can develop the changeup into something approaching functional.
Stat wise, he’s been pretty good this year for the Bucs. He’s pitched in 28 games (5 starts) for 59.1 innings, and compiled a 4–2 record with a 2.73 ERA, 1.096 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 9.1 K/9, and 4.29 K/BB. His defense independant pitching stats are about league average, with a 3.57 FIP and .276 BABIP.
I have no idea what the Blue Jays are going to do with him, but he’ll probably pitch out of the bullpen for now. I can see him being like Carlos Villanueva—long reliever, makes the occasional start. Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar, who was also aquired last night when the Jays sent Eric Thames to the Mariners—may even be part of another deal in the next hour or so. We’ll just wait and see, but right now it looks like Pittsburgh got the best of this transaction.