Joakim Soria gives Pirates needed bullpen boost


The Pittsburgh Pirates' move for Joakim Soria is minor but addresses a potential hole for the postseason, while the Detroit Tigers get a lottery-ticket prospect with athleticism that their system lacked.

The Pirates get a needed bullpen piece in Joakim Soria, who should be their capital-C Closer on merit but will probably be more valuable to the team as a setup man who can go more than just three batters or who can come into the game earlier if that's the high-leverage moment.

Soria has been throwing harder this year and throwing his fastball more than ever, and the only flaw in his performance to date has been his bizarrely high home run rate, mostly on four-seamers. Mark Melancon will remain the closer; he's a great ground-ball guy but has lost his fastball and isn't the guy you want on the mound when the situation demands a strikeout rather than a ball in play, so Soria gives Clint Hurdle another option for the ninth inning in the postseason as well. It's a tactical upgrade, but since the Pirates didn't give up a top-10 prospect it's a solid move.

The Tigers get back a project in shortstop JaCoby Jones, an outstanding athlete who should be a more productive player than he has been so far.

Jones can run and plays multiple positions well, including short and center, and has the strength and loft in his swing to hit for power. He's 23 now and has punched out in more than a quarter of his at-bats this year with a .313 OBP in high-A before a promotion this week to Double-A, an unsurprising outcome given the length in his swing and the difficulty he has had repeating it -- and the fact that his swing has changed a few times since high school. If it clicks for Jones, he could be a star, but his probability is low at this point given his age and poor performance to date.