Pitching for his seventh major league team in six seasons, Wade LeBlanc was nearly unhittable in his eight outings (12 innings, one earned run) for Pittsburgh in 2016. He owns a career 4.39 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in parts of eight seasons, but the 32-year-old lefty has pitched a bit better coming back from Japan after the 2015 campaign. Most likely, he'll continue to toil as a LOOGY for Pittsburgh or another team in 2017, given that his fastball -- 87.8 mph average before Japan, 86.9 mph after Japan -- hasn't appreciably changed, and he hasn't uncovered a new pitch. LeBlanc threw his changeup at a career-high 30 percent clip, but that isn't enough to change his profile to anything more than that of a situational reliever.
LeBlanc agreed to a one-year deal with the Pirates on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. There were talks that the big left-hander would be non-tendered by the Pirates, but the sides came to an agreement likely due to LeBlanc taking less money than he was projected to make in an arbitration case. LeBlanc was a solid bullpen arm for Pittsburgh last season after coming to the National League in September, although his numbers could see a downturn if his home run woes he had during his tenure with the Mariners (2.5 HR/9) follow him into the 2017 campaign.
LeBlanc earned his first save with three scoreless innings in Saturday's 10-4 victory over the Reds. He gave up a hit and struck out two. The veteran southpaw has taken to Pittsburgh well after being dealt from the Mariners on Sept. 13, now having hurled five scoreless frames of three-hit ball over two outings. LeBlanc has five whiffs over that span as well and looks poised to serve as a valuable innings-eating lefty arm out of the bullpen for the balance of the campaign.
LeBlanc was traded to the Pirates on Tuesday in exchange for a player to be named later, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. LeBlanc was DFA'd last month before clearing waivers and landing at Triple-A Tacoma. The 32-year-old made 11 appearances (eight starts) for Seattle, amassing a 4.50 ERA and 1.22 WHIP across 50 innings. Rather than making a move to add Leblanc to the 40-man roster, Seattle will send him to Pittsburgh, where he figures to add depth to the bullpen over the final few weeks of the season.
LeBlanc is expected to rejoin the Mariners on Tuesday, Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune reports. LeBlanc cleared waivers after being designated for assignment last week, so the Mariners outrighted him to Triple-A Tacoma for the time being. The team will have to remove a player from the 40-man roster in order to add LeBlanc back onto it, and it's not yet clear who that player will be.
LeBlanc was designated for assignment by the Mariners on Thursday. The return of Taijuan Walker from Triple-A cost LeBlanc his spot in the Mariners' rotation, and the return of James Paxton from the disabled list will cost him his spot on the roster. LeBlanc held his own with the Mariners, posting a 4.50 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 41:9 K:BB over 11 appearances, so he could garner some interest on the waiver wire.