With the Pittsburgh Pirates suddenly having an abundance of starting pitchers to choose from, Jon Niese is emerging as a potential trade candidate.   

Continue for updates. 

Niese on Trade Block

Thursday, July 14

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune, the Pirates are “trying to move Niese and/or [Jeff] Locke” to make room in their starting rotation. 

News of Niese’s availability is hardly a surprise. Biertempfel reported on July 6, one day before Tyler Glasnow was called up from Triple-A, that the Pirates “quietly contacted” other teams around the league to gauge their interest in the 29-year-old. 

Niese has been a disappointment in Pittsburgh this season after being acquired in a trade with the New York Mets. He owns a 5.13 ERA with 124 hits, 20 home runs allowed and 71 strikeouts in just 101.2 innings pitched. 

The Pirates were forced to stick with Niese in the rotation because they didn’t have other options available or ready, but that’s quickly changing. Glasnow, who was sent back down to Triple-A on July 8, was not listed in the Indianapolis Indians‘ rotation on Wednesday, per Biertempfel. 

They also have Gerrit Cole coming off the disabled list for a start Saturday. They called up Jameson Taillon last month. Francisco Liriano and Chad Kuhl are slated to start in the first series with Cole out of the All-Star break. 

At 46-43, Pittsburgh is 1.5 games out of a playoff spot. It doesn’t have time to wait for Niese to figure things out, with teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals and Mets in the wild-card mix. 

Niese’s contract holds two team options for 2017 and 2018 with a $500,000 buyout, per Baseball-Reference.com. His lackluster performance this year will make it hard for those options to get picked up, but his experience would provide some insurance for a team in need of rotation depth to make it through the rest of 2016 without burning through a young arm.

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