The New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates completed the John Buck/Marlon Byrd trade last night. New York receives right-handed pitcher Vic Black from Pittsburgh. Earlier this week, the Pirates sent second base prospect Dilson Herrera to the Mets as the first part of the transaction.
I wrote a Prospect Note for Black last week. Here is a revised version with updated statistics and a final summary of the trade.
Pittsburgh Pirates relief prospect Vic Black is having a fine season down at Triple-A Indianapolis: 17 saves, 2.51 ERA in 46.2 innings, 63 strikeouts, 21 walks, only 28 hits allowed. He's held International League hitters to a .169 average. He's had a rough patch over his last few games, giving up three runs in three innings with four walks, but overall it has been a very successful season.
The Pirates got a brief look at Black in late July when he made three relief appearances out of the big league bullpen, giving up six hits, two walks, and two runs in four innings of work, fanning three.
Unlike many minor league closers, Black does not want for stuff: he has one of the best fastballs in the system, clocked as high as 101 MPH in the minors; he hit 98 during his major league trial and averaged 95. A supplemental first round pick in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist, he struggled with control problems, a substandard change-up, and persistent arm trouble early in his career and at one point looked like a bust.
He revived his career by converting to relief, posting an excellent 1.65 ERA with an 85/29 K/BB in 60 innings with 13 saves last year in Double-A, followed by consistent success this year. He's had fewer problems throwing strikes and staying healthy with relief use, doesn't have to worry about the change-up, and can just come in and blow people away for an inning or two with his fastball and a slider that can touch 90.
Black clearly has closer possibilities down the road if his command holds up. At worst he should be a good middle reliever.
Overall, I think this was a good trade for both clubs. New York swapped a pair of excess veterans in Buck and Byrd and received a major league ready arm with Black and a very good second base prospect in Dilson Herrera. From the Pirates point of view, Herrera is a long way from the majors, they are trying to win the division now, and they have other bullpen options down the stretch, making Black expendable in the short run.
It is a reasonable trade for both clubs given their respective positions in the competition cycle.