With the annual Baseball Winter Meetings concluded, a handful of Altoona Curve players of the past were on the move between free agent signings and the Rule 5 Draft.
Starting with the more recent names to come through Curve, Pa., Jordan George (2017-18), Connor Joe (2017) and Jason Creasy (2015-16) were all moved due to the Rule 5 Draft on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
George was chosen by the Chicago White Sox with the third overall pick during the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He was the 2018 Altoona Curve Unsung Hero and contributed in various places on the diamond and throughout the lineup. On consecutive Saturdays at Peoples Natural Gas Field in 2018, George recorded a five RBI game on July 28 vs. Binghamton and notched his first multi-homer game with home runs in his first two at-bats on August 4 vs. Akron.
Joe was the lone Rule 5 pick of this trio taken in the Major League phase. Plucked out of the Dodgers organization by the Cincinnati Reds with the sixth overall pick, Joe must remain on the Reds’ active roster for a minimum of 90 days in 2019 or he will be returned to the Dodgers. He was traded by the Pirates to the Braves in early August 2017 for Sean Rodriguez and then flipped to the Dodgers about seven weeks later. He hit 17 homers and carried a .299 average between Double-A and Triple-A in the Dodgers’ system in 2018.
Creasy went from the Diamondbacks to the Braves with the 17th pick during the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. He was an Eastern League All-Star in 2015 with the Curve and won 12 games in 27 games pitched (25 starts). In 2016, he returned to Altoona for a handful of appearances and went 4-1 despite a 6.07 ERA. He pitched in independent baseball after the Pirates released him before opening day 2017 until the Diamondbacks scooped him up in late August 2018.
Andrew McCutchen may have made the biggest free agent splash by signing a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 2013 National League MVP and five-time all-star returns to the Keystone State after he split the 2018 season with the Giants and the Yankees. A fan-favorite in Pittsburgh, McCutchen is one of three outfielders on the 20th Season Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team.
Charlie Morton followed up a World Series title with Houston in 2017 as an American League All-Star in 2018. He was able to cash in on a two-year agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays during the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Morton spent seven years with the Pirates between 2009-2016 and came to the Curve in 2013, 2015 and 2016 on Major League rehab assignments.
Jordy Mercer filled a need a shortstop for a Central Division club but he’ll compete in the American League with the Detroit Tigers. Mercer was a third-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2008 and helped the Curve to the first championship in franchise history during the 2010 season. He returned to Altoona in 2011 and clubbed 13 homers in the first 72 games of the season before moving to Triple-A for good. Mercer’s contract with the Tigers is a one-year pact.
A few other former Curve players were transaction news in the weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings.
Pedro Alvarez has appeared in just 59 games during his last two years with the Baltimore Orioles and inked a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins in early December. Alvarez played for the Curve in 2009 and played six seasons in Pittsburgh.
Tanner Anderson was moved in a trade with the Oakland Athletics on November 20 in a move to make room on the Pirates’ 40-man roster. Anderson reached the big leagues during the 2018 season after pitching for the Curve in 2017.
World Series MVP Steve Pearce re-upped with the Boston Red Sox just a couple weeks after the Fall Classic ended in Boston’s fourth championship in the last 15 years. Pearce was a trade deadline acquisition by Boston from the Blue Jays and spent 2007 in Altoona.
Some of the biggest dominoes of the free agent market have yet to fall so the biggest activity could be on the way. Another aspect to consider heading into 2019 is the fact that the Pirates made their two biggest moves last January and each had an impact on the 2018 Curve roster.