The Pirates have requested release waivers on pitcher Rick VandenHurk to allow the right-hander to sign for a foreign team, possibly the Samsung Lions in Korea. This will clear a spot on the 40-man roster, meaning that no further moves will be required when Francisco Liriano finally signs with the club.
VandenHurk was projected to be in the mix for the long reliever role out of the bullpen after a strong season at Triple-A Indianapolis. He had a 2.92 ERA (3.33 FIP) in 123.1 innings, striking out 21.7% and walking 6.7 % of batter faced (3.23 K/BB). He was called up in September and made four appearances out of the bullpen, giving up four runs over 2.2 innings.
VandenHurk was also out of options so if he had survived the cut when the Liriano deal becomes official, so he would have had to make the club out of Spring Training or would have been designated for assignment. Originally from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, VandenHurk would likely have been an outsider for a role in bullpen if he elected to represent his country in this year's World Baseball Classic (the move probably ensures that he will pitch in the WBC). This means that Chris Leroux and Vin Mazzaro, who are also out of options, now have a better shot at making the club; although I do believe that one of the remaining spots should be filled by a left-hander.