The Pittsburgh Pirates have designated right-handed pitcher James McDonald for assignment, according to an announcement from the team. The move clears a roster spot for right-hander Brandon Cumpton, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday.
McDonald, 28, has been on the disabled list since April 30th with shoulder issues. In six starts on the season before landing on the shelf, McDonald pitched poorly, posting a 2-2 record and 5.76 ERA in 29.2 innings of work. Due to the success Pirates' starters A.J. Burnett, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke and Francisco Liriano this season, the team decided that it would be best to cut ties with McDonald instead of trying to slot him into the rotation for the last month of the season.
After being selected by the Dodgers in the eleventh round of the 2002 draft, McDonald ascended through the team's minor league system and made his major league debut in 2008. He was used primarily as a reliever throughout the next three seasons in Los Angeles, and was shipped to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline in 2010 in a move that sent Octavio Dotel to the Dodgers. McDonald has been used as a starter ever since, and has been relatively successful in his time with the Pirates. In four seasons with the Bucs from 2010 to 2013, McDonald was 27-24 with a 4.21 ERA in 435.2 innings, and is the owner of a 32-30 record and 4.20 ERA in his six-year major league career.
Because McDonald has shown flashes of success in the past and is under team control through the 2015 season, he will likely be picked up by a team looking to add a back-of-the-rotation starter. The Pirates now have ten days to trade, release or waive the right-hander, who may earn a spot in a major league rotation for the rest of the season.