The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday, hoping the veterans can bolster a struggling offense as the franchise vies for its first playoff berth in 21 years.
The Pirates, who began the day half a game behind St. Louis for the lead in the National League Central, sent the Mets minor league infielder Dilson Herrera and a player to be named in exchange for Byrd, Buck and cash considerations.
Byrd, 35, is hitting .285 with 21 home runs and 71 runs batted in and will give Pittsburgh needed depth in the outfield while leadoff hitter Starling Marte recovers from a wrist injury.
Buck, 33, is batting .215 with 15 home runs and 60 RBIs. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Buck's 63 home runs as a catcher rank third in the majors. He is expected to back up Russell Martin.
Byrd is hitting .311 with 11 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 20 RBIs in his last 38 games. His presence should help an offense that is batting only .244, including.223 with runners in scoring position, the second-lowest average in the majors.
Herrera, 19, was hitting .265 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs for Class-A West Virginia.
Jason Kubel is designated for assignment
Outfielder Jason Kubel was designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kubel, in his ninth major league season, had been limited mostly to pinch-hitting. The left-handed batter was hitting .220 with five home runs and 32 RBIs.
Kubel, 31, was signed as a free agent in December 2011 and got off to a strong start last season before tailing off in the late stages. Still, he hit .253 with a career-high 30 home runs and 90 RBIs.
Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was optioned by the Tampa Bay Rays to Class-A Charlotte to allow the him extra rest before the September stretch run.
Hellickson, whom Manager Joe Maddon says is healthy, is not expected to pitch in the minors and should rejoin the Rays early next month.
Hellickson (10-8) gave up five runs in 22/3 innings, his shortest start since June 2012, in Monday's 11-1 loss at Kansas City. The 2011 American League rookie of the year is 0-5 in his last six outings, making it through five innings only once in that span.
San Francisco Giants outfielder Andres Torres is scheduled for season-ending surgery Wednesday.
The operation will remove bone spurs that are irritating Torres' left Achilles' tendon. The 35-year-old Torres has been hampered by the sore tendon for much of the season and was put on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.
Torres hit .250 with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 103 games.
General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Manager John Gibbons will return in 2014, even though the Toronto Blue Jays are in last place in the AL East.
Asked about the possibility of replacing Gibbons, Anthopoulos said "there's never been any thought on that respect at all."
Touted as a World Series favorite after remaking their roster with a slew of winter trades and free-agent signings, the Blue Jays have struggled.
Gibbons was 305-305 as Blue Jays manager between 2004 and 2008. He was rehired in November.