SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Travis Snider, a force over the final two months of the 2014 season who stood to be pushed out of right field by Gregory Polanco's potential, was dealt on Tuesday by the Pirates to the Baltimore Orioles.
Since December's Winter Meetings, the Pirates have been looking for a way to turn Snider, 26, into prospects. Stephen Tarpley, a 21-year-old left-hander, and a player to be named later, possibly another lower-level Minor League pitcher, were acquired in the deal.
"We like the two prospects we are getting in return," said Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington. "Tarpley has a good, young arm, with the ceiling to be a left-handed starter at the Major League level. He does a lot of things we like -- throws strikes, has stuff, can get the strikeout or ground balls.
"We're dealing from a position of depth. This gives us some roster flexibility. Whether we use it this offseason, in Spring Training, early in the season or at the Trade Deadline -- it's always nice to have some flexibility."
Snider reached agreement a couple of weeks ago on a 2014 contract for $2.1 million, avoiding an arbitration hearing. He has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.
There is considerable irony in this swap, and in its timing. Snider, a Seattle-area native and a diehard Seahawks fan, is bound here for Sunday's Super Bowl. Tarpley came out of Scottsdale Community College as a third-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Tarpley spent the entire 2014 season with the Class A Short Season Aberdeen IronBirds, going 3-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 12 starts and one relief appearance.
Snider was one of the National League's most productive pinch-hitters early last season before leaving the bench for regular play in right field when the rookie Polanco faltered. Snider batted .288 after the All-Star break, with an OPS of .880 on the strength of nine homers and 13 doubles.
"We truly appreciate what Travis did and who he was," Huntington said. "We just felt like we had a chance to move from a position of depth."
The move may have also been a way for the Bucs to make greater use of the versatility of Jung Ho Kang.
Kang, an All-Star shortstop in Korea, has outfield experience. His strong arm makes him a particularly good fit for right field.
"Our focus [with Kang] is to get him set up at shortstop and third base, and see where that takes us," Huntington said. "Beyond Polanco, we have [Andrew] Lambo, [Corey] Hart, even [Josh] Harrison if we had to play him there. We've got a number of options internally."
As Spring Training opens next month, however, Lambo is most likely in line to succeed Snider as the fourth outfielder.
"It will be an interesting competition in camp to see who capitalizes on it, and with what fit we decide to go," Huntington said.
Tarpley: Ranked No. 14 on the Orioles' Top 20 Prospects list at the time of the trade, Tarpley has moved a bit slowly since Baltimore took him in the third round of the 2013 Draft out of the junior college ranks, as he hasn't yet tasted full-season ball. The left-hander does have a lot to like, with a three-pitch mix and some feel for pitching. He can run his fastball up to 94 mph, thanks to his loose arm, though he's struggled at time to find a consistent velocity. He has been a ground-ball machine in the early part of his pro career. Tarpley's curve is a solid breaking ball, and his changeup has the chance to be a Major League-average pitch as well. He has the stuff and pitchability to be a starter in the long run. Now, it will be interesting to see how he develops in a new system while giving full-season ball a try for the first time.