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Pirates Release Cody Ponce To Pursue NPB Opportunity

The Pirates have released right-hander Cody Ponce, according to the team’s transactions log at MLB.com. The right-hander is pursuing an opportunity in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, reports Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Reports out of Japan have suggested he’ll be signing with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Ponce has appeared in the majors in each of the past two seasons, combining to work 55 1/3 innings over 20 outings. Most of that work has come as a multi-inning reliever, but Ponce did make a more traditional five-inning start against the Cubs in May. Altogether, he’s managed a 5.86 ERA. Ponce has only punched out 19.6% of opponents and struggled with home runs, but he’s also been quite stingy with walks (6.9%).

Transactions of this ilk aren’t uncommon, as players on the fringes of a 40-man roster can often make more in foreign professional leagues than they’d stand to earn as up-and-down players with a big league club. It’s not out of the question Ponce returns to the majors at some point down the line, particularly if he settles in as a productive member of the Fighters’ rotation over the next season or two.

The move clears a space on Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster. That’ll be needed for the signing of Roberto Pérez, who reportedly agreed to terms on a $5MM guarantee this afternoon.

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