I just found something out that I didn't know before. Gaby Sanchez has an option remaining so that is another potential opening. So if you assume Jones sticks around and Snider and Tabata make the team due to lack of options that leaves Sands and Sanchez battling for the RH part of the 1B platoon.
I would find it hard to believe that Sanchez would go to AAA. I know he could but even if Sands beat him out performance wise in ST, I don't see them sending him down.
As for the utility player, I don't really care either way. We have Harrison and Mercer if need be, although I would like to see Mercer get a few more starts at SS this year
I've read a few people suggest the Pirates could carry 3 1B/OF types on the bench to begin the season. Really that never occured to me as a real possibility but if they would that could make for an interesting arrangement. If we say Jones and Snider are the 1B and RF starters respectively that would leave us with Sanchez, Tabata, Presley and Sands for the bench.
Tabata seems like a sure bet since he is out of options and Sanchez seems likely to be Jones platoon partner at 1B. That leaves Presley and Sands and I would think Presley would have the inside track as he is LH and the Pirates probably want Sands to get consistent ABs somewhere.
All of this would leaves either Harrison or Mercer as the only backup for 2B/3B/SS. It isn't unthinkable a team would do this but the Pirates have shown no willingness to do this in the past even when it meant carrying Ciriaco or Mercer on the team for so long without an appearance that we all forgot about them. Also this would make it necessary to have some sort of emergency plan. Could Sanchez play 3B? Could Walker play SS? Could Martin really play 2B or SS (he was kind of campaigning to do so for team Canada in the WBC this year)? I guess you can also throw McKenry out there as we have had him play 3B for us already.
All of those (except maybe Sanchez at 3B) would be on an emergency basis only of course but would the Pirates be willing to risk that? I still think they carry 2 MIs on the bench but this is a possibility I really didn't give too much thought too.
I've been thinking about something these last few days. There is one player on the FA market who I'm surprised hasn't received much attention yet who I think could really help the Pirates. He has some definite pop in his bat, is a MI and would be the LH bat I think we need for the bench. I'm pretty sure there is no way he settles for a utility role but I haven't seen anything suggesting there is much if any interest in him after what was a down year.
Kelly Johnson is still available. Since 2007 he has not played a position in the field other than 2B but strangely enough in his minor league career he never played 2B except for a rehab stinit in 2009. In the minors he was primarily a SS and while I wouldn't count on him playing there anymore I think it is possible that he could dust off his old OF glove (debuted in the majors in 2005 in LF) and maybe even take some reps and become a passable 3B. He could also be the emergency shortstop should push come to shove.
Now I see no way he takes a utility player contract but unless interest picks up he may have to. The Pirates are obviously set at 2B but Walker's back injury is at least a little bit of concern and when you pair that with the roller coaster which is Pedro Alvarez and the mess we have in the corner OF it is very easy to find playing time for Johnson if he is willing to work on becoming versatile. Perhaps something like a 1 year, 3-4 million dollar contract would be enough to convince him to come here and try to boost his value.
The Justin Upton saga which the Pirates were for a brief time a part of appears to be over. Like most big trades I've been trying to figure out an equivalent Pirates value but I'm having a hard time doing so. Pirates Prospects breaks down the value of each player involved although I think he is too high on Delgado as he has his value alone pretty much equal to Upton.
The toughest player to find a match for his Prado. Value wise we could probably do it but trying to match him up with someone the Diamondbacks would actually want is challenging. We know they were looking for immediate help on the left side of the infield. Well Barmes, Mercer, Harrison, d'Arnaud and De Jesus do not even come close so we are left with Walker and Alvarez. The years of control each has remaining makes either one much more valuable but we have to start somewhere so we will go with Walker since he is most similar to Prado playing wise (ie he can play 2B, 3B and probably even the OF with a little work).
Next up is Delgado on a pure value standpoint I think the closest match is Taillon but we have a fair amount of surplus value from Walker > Prado. So perhaps one of our near major league ready middle of the rotation guys like say Locke or McPherson could fit here.
Finally there are the prospects Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury. Spruill is a B- prospect (according to Sickles) who had moderate success pitching in AA last season. We don't have on of those but we have a few B- pitching prospects a level or two lower in Holmes, Glasnow and Kingham. Someone like Holmes probably fits here. Nick Ahmed is a defensive first middle infielder which profiles him more like Gift Ngoepe than anyone is our system but Sickles gives him a B- so his value may actually be closer to a Dilson Herrera. Finally Drury is a young player with a lot of power potential who struggled in A ball last year he sound somewhat similar to Willy Garcia to me.
So I think the best Pirates comp we can come up with is Walker, McPherson/Locke, Holmes/Glasnow/Kingham, Herrera/Ngoepe, Garcia
That isn't a ton for Upton and Johnson but I'm not sure I give that up. Johnson is kind of useless to us as we couldn't use him to replace Walker but he is also useless to the Diamondbacks as he doesn't do them any good if they are planning to play Walker at 3B. In reality this doesn't make a whole lot of sense as the Pirates really don't have comprable pieces to what the Braves gave up but its a fun exercise nonetheless.
That's about right. You could maybe try and swing Jones/Taillon to equal Prado/Delgado and then McPherson/Locke + Ngoepe + Garcia.
I'm still having issues trying to figure out Upton's true value. How good of a player is he really? Are the shoulder issues more than we think?
I was thinking about Taillon because I think he is the most comparable to Delgado but then that leaves me with an OF type like Jones as you suggested and that isn't really what the Diamondbacks were looking for so I tried to build it around either Alvarez or Walker. You are right though Upton's value is hard to peg.
I'd say I'm pretty pleased with it. We all know we aren't going to attract the big name free agents (like Josh Hamilton... oh wait, we were rumored to be in talks with him ) but we did manage getting mid range guys like Martin and Liriano. We were also able to get a decent return for Hanrahan and got his replacement back in Grilli. Karstens returning added some depth as well.
My thoughts... Picking up Martin should be an improvement (how could it not be.) Liriano could be a great pick up but who knows. Other than that all the other moves / signings are pretty much a push. Overall I think they deserve a C.
We picked up 3 free agents who were in MLB Trade Rumors top 50 free agents and in fact none of them ranked lower than 33rd. For a small market team like the Pirates that is no minor accomplishment. Resigning Grilli and picking up Liriano and Martin is more than I expected.
On the trade front we had the Hanrahan deal which while the return wasn't great it still brought us back a relief pitcher with 4 years of control and closing experience plus three other interesting players. I can't really call it a win but it was a fair price for 1 year of Hanrahan. The only other trade worth mentioning in my mind is the Oliver-Cabrera swap. We gave up a fairly good catching prospect but I guess with the Martin signing we were able to afford to do so. Oliver seems a lot like Justin Wilson to me and having 2 players like that isn't a bad thing, the upside is there.
Outside of that we have the arb players and of the 8 we had we kept 6 dealing the other two (Hanrahan and Resop) away in trades.
I'm a little disappointed we didn't do more to address out lack of OBP problem in the lineup and that we didn't do more to shore up out bench but overall it was a fairly decent offseason. I'll give it a solid B-.
What do you guys think we have in Clint Robinson? I just got to checking his minors stats and they're quite intriguing as a very solid player. Im sure we all know he was blocked in KC so that is why he never got a chance in the majors. I'm gonna be watching him specifically in ST and beyond