This may seem a little out of place as we don't even know what the 2014 Pirates will look like but I'm curious about the make up of the 2015 squad. Chances are the Pirates will for the most part send out a team in 2014 that closely resembles what we seen in 2013. They will make an attempt to bring back Byrd and of course AJ Burnett has an offer to come back if he wishes. Not a whole lot is likely to change and thats ok but doing little this offseason will likely mean doing a lot before 2015.
Just let's try to figure out what the team may possibly look like:
C: T Sanchez, M McKenry, C Paulino
- With Russell Martin gone the job figures to be Tony Sanchez's to lose but this still marks a transition.
1B: A Lambo, A Dickerson
- Will either of these guys step up? Will a long term solution be acquired? Surely both halves of the Jones/Sanchez platoon will have moved on
- Seems straight forward but Walker despite his popularity is only a solid major leaguer not an elite one. Come 2015 he will be entering his final two arbitration years and will likely be earning a salary of between 6-7 million dollars. He is also not an exceptionally young player and has had back injuries. The Pirates likely could sign him to an extension but if they don't by this point it might be time to move on
- Another one that looks straight forward but again Alvarez is only a solid major leaguer. Yes the home runs are great but his OBP is frighteningly low and his K rate is abysmal. Arbitration pays power well so it isn't crazy to think he could making approximately 8 million with a big raise coming. Boras isn't likely to sell any free agent years either so cashing in on Alvarez will need considered.
SS: Mercer, Hanson
- Has Mercer established himself? Does Hanson arrive? Is a long term solution acquired?
OF: Marte, McCutchen, Polanco
- Sure its possible Polanco flops or Marte has a sophomore slump but this seems to be the most stable group on the team. Some rearranging might occur but expect this to be the OF for 2015.
SP: Cole, Taillion, Locke, Cumpton, Kingham, Pimentel, Irwin, McPherson
- This is where it gets dicey. Chances are none of Liriano, Burnett, Rodriguez or Morton will be back in 2015 so right now its Cole and a bunch of unknowns. Sure there will probably be a free agent added to the mix but that is a lot of uncertainty.
- Huntington will cobble this together out of something. Wilson and Watson may still be around but Grilli's contract will be up and he will likely not be brought back and Melancon will start getting pretty expensive for a relief arm.
A lot of players are going to be moving on either this offseason or next the Pirates have some ability to control that flow. Do they go for a small purge now and a small purge after 2014 or just wait and do a large purge after 2014. There are a lot of questions to be answered about the future.
Of course but the lack of continuity of that 2015 pitching staff worries me some. Cole is the only player currently slated to play a major role in 2014 who projects to be part of the 2015 rotation. That is a bit nerve racking.
True, but it's not like the other guys you listed will be making their first appearance either. Locke, Cumpton, Pimenentel, Irwin (although only 1 game I believe), and McPherson have all made an appearance or start in the majors already. I know their time has been limited and 2015 may be a large increase in starts or appearances but their is a full season between now and then for Hurdle/Huntington to build them up and make sure they aren't throwing out a bunch of inexperienced guys
Hopefully by then, the Pirates will have all their position players penciled in with the exception of SS and C. I think the future of the Pirates can either be the new Rays or a perineal 75 win team, so it's key those young arms come up and develop. First things first, they should lock up Alvarez and Walker, and then Marte and Cole next year if they play well in 2014.