Pittsburgh is reportedly making Steven Brault available, and he’d be a great fit for the San Diego Padres.
Given that Mike Clevinger will miss the entire 2021 season and the uneasy feeling amongst Padres’ fans about Dinelson Lamet‘s ability to pitch healthy, there’s a good chance that a starting pitcher is acquired this offseason. General manager A.J. Preller reassured the Friar Faithful Lamet would be ready for spring training, resuming his throwing program in early December.
Regardless, the Padres need to add another arm to the mix for the 2021 season. And adding a lefty in an otherwise right-handed rotation makes a lot of sense.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, teams have been checking in on Pirates’ southpaw Steven Brault. Drafted in the 11th round by the Baltimore Orioles of the 2013 MLB Draft, Brault came over to Pittsburgh as the player-to-be-named-later in the Travis Snider deal.
The native of La Mesa attended Grossmont High School and would easily welcome a change of scenery and a return home. Brault grew up a Padres fan and certainly loves what he is seeing from the current Padres team in terms of play.
It’s been a mixed bag for Brault, ever-slowly being integrated into the Pirates’ starting rotation. 2018 was his first season where he had a full workload. He made 45 appearances, including five starts, posting a 4.61 ERA while fanning 82 batters in 91.2 innings. Brault also walked 57 batters, which is the primary culprit from him reaching his full potential.
Trade market update: #Pirates LHP Steven Brault is one name to follow closely in the weeks ahead. Teams have been calling the Pirates about him, source says, and for good reason. Brault carries 3 years of control, and he had a career-best 3.38 ERA in 2020. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 18, 2020
In the shortened season, the 28-year-old posted a 3.38 ERA with 11 appearances, including 10 starts, striking out 38 batters in 42.2 innings. He also allowed 22 free passes but danced around them, limiting opponents to a .195 average.
In his pitching arsenal, Brault features a five-pitch mix, although he rarely utilizes the curveball. His two best pitches are the four-seam fastball and changeup, yielding a .149 and .152 average against in 2020, respectively. He dropped the cutter from last season and saw a noticeable improvement in his sinker fastball.
As Morosi notes, Brault is under team control for another three seasons. According to BaseballTradeValues, a trade sending Hudson Head to Pittsburgh appears to be fair for both sides. The Padres need a rotation arm, and the Pirates’ farm system is top-heavy on infielders.
Perhaps Brault is part of a larger trade between the two teams, but the improvements he made in the magnified shortened season make him one of the most economical trade targets. Nearly every pitch in his arsenal saw a 100 RPM jump in spin rate from the 2019 season.