Pirates get three for Grabow, Gorzelanny
Pittsburgh sends southpaws to Cubs for touted prospects
PITTSBURGH -- In their fourth trade in a little more than a week, the Pirates acquired three players -- right-handers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio and infielder Josh Harrison -- from the Cubs on Thursday for left-handers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny. The deal was not finalized until after the ninth inning of the Cubs' 12-3 win against Houston, which Hart started and won.
General manager Neal Huntington sees the duo as immediate rotation candidates. Huntington said the pitchers have the ability to be placed into the rotation right away, if there were openings for the both of them.
As it is, Hart will join the Pirates immediately while Ascanio will head to Triple-A Indianapolis. Harrison, whom Huntington regards as a potential future mainstay at second base, will go to Class A Lynchburg.
Huntington said he hasn't had the chance to sit down with manager John Russell and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan to decide how the rotation shapes up moving forward with Hart joining the Pirates.
"We like the slider, we like the curveball, both Major League caliber pitches," Huntington said as the Pirates' busy week leading to Friday's 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline winds down. "The changeup is something we think we can help. And now we got a Major League pitcher with a big, strong, physical frame with a four-pitch mix that can fit in a rotation, but he also has the ability go get mid-to-upper 90s velocity to be able to pitch at the back end of a bullpen."
Hart earned his third win of the season on Thursday to move to 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA in eight games, four of which were starts.
Huntington sees Ascanio similarly to Hart in terms of his versatility. He thinks Ascanio has the ability to be a Major League starter but also has the stuff to pitch in the bullpen. Huntington pointed out Ascanio's ability to get to the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball, while also getting ground balls with a quality sinker.
Ascanio, 24, was 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 14 relief appearances for the Cubs this year, the last coming June 27. He also went 2-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts for Triple-A Iowa.
The only position player in the deal was Harrison.
The 22-year-old was hitting a combined .327 with Class A Daytona and Peoria. Harrison played left field, third base and second base this season and was drafted by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2008 Draft.
"Versatile defense that we're excited to, at some point, see here in his near future, lock him in at second base," Huntington said. "But in his development time at Lynchburg, he's going to play second, third and continue to play the outfield."
In the past nine days, Pittsburgh has also traded first baseman Adam LaRoche to Boston, dealt shortstop Jack Wilson and pitcher Ian Snell to Seattle and traded second baseman Freddy Sanchez to San Francisco. In return, they have acquired 11 young players: a catcher/first baseman in Jeff Clement, seven pitchers: Hart, Ascanio, Tim Alderson, Hunter Strickland, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock; and three infielders: Harrison, Argenis Diaz and Ronny Cedeno.
Although he said there were some other competitive offers for Grabow, Huntington singled out the depth of the Cubs' package as the difference. Chicago general manager Jim Hendry said getting Grabow wouldn't have been possible without surrendering Hart and that he was talking with Huntington for some time.
Grabow was 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA in 45 appearances this season. Joining Grabow in Chicago is Gorzelanny, who spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he went 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts.
Despite getting traded, Hart is optimistic about what he can do in a Pirates uniform.
"It's one of those things, you never want to get traded, especially from a team that's in first place and a team that's playing so well," Hart said. "A lot of these guys I came up with. I've been through it before and that helps a little bit. It's a great opportunity for me in Pittsburgh."
Wayne Staats is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.