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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Roster Decisions

    My plan for this message board is to try and give my thoughts Monday through Friday on one interesting Pirate related item. I'm going to group them into separate threads with the first one I'm starting being roster decisions. Today we will start with an easy one, the decision on whom to protect from the Rule V Draft.

    Rule V Draft
    Locks: Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker

    - Little in the way of analysis needed here. These are two of the Pirates top 5 prospects and they will 100% definitely be added to the 40 man roster. The interesting part will be seeing if/when these two impact the 2019 roster.

    Toss Ups: JT Brubaker, Brandon Waddell, Jason Martin

    - This is where the decisions get a little harder. I would be surprised to see the Pirates not protect Brubaker (RHP) as they seem to like him and he has good stuff and pretty good results. The other two are more in the 50/50 category. If pressed I'd lean towards Waddell not being protected and Martin being protected. Waddell is a fairly average upper level LH pitcher so I don't see much risk of him being selected and while Martin (OF from the Cole trade) hurt his case at AAA his time in AA was good enough I think the Pirates don't risk losing him.

    Longshots: Jake Brentz, Alex McRae, Montana DuRapau, Tyler Eppler, Angel German, Adrian Valerio, Eric Wood, Eduardo Vera, Gage Hinsz, Domingo Robles, Elvis Escobar, Logan Hill, Jordan George, Scooter Hightower, Christian Kelley, Sean Keselica, Tate Scioneaux

    - That is a fairly massive list but I wanted to be thorough. I don't expect any of these guys to be protected or selected but sometimes the Pirates protect someone a bit off the radar and I wanted to include some possibilities. Eduardo Vera would seem the most likely to me but he was a pending minor league free agent the Pirates opted to just resign rather than add to the roster so it would be odd for them to do that now. The other guys I'd give better chances to are Tyler Eppler (upper level RHP the Pirates have pushed fairly aggressively), Elvis Escobar (OF turned LHP who flashed some ability last year), Logan Hill (corner OF with some good power) and Christian Kelley (defense first catcher whom showed some offensive ability and has been invited to ST the last two years.)
    Follow Me On Twitter: @battling_bucs

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    40 Man Roster Decisions

    Today I am going to break down the 40 man roster and look to see who may be in jeopardy of being dropped from it. I'm going to ignore trade possibilities for now. I'm focusing clearly on the chances a player is taken off the roster without compensation returning.

    Roster Locks: Chris Archer, Kyle Crick, Keone Kela, Joe Musgrove, Ivan Nova, Richard Rodgriuez, Jameson Taillon, Felipe Vazquez, Trevor Williams, Francisco Cervelli, Elias Diaz, Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, Kevin Kramer, Colin Moran, Kevin Newman, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco

    - This should be fairly straightforward. The above 18 players are barring trades or injuries are locks to remain on the 40 man roster throughout the offseason. These are mainly key cogs for the lineup, rotation or bullpen so their presence shouldn't come as a surprise.

    Free Agents: Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang

    - Harrison and Kang have options the Pirates could pick up but I see no chance they pick up Harrison's and I'd bet against Kang's though I imagine they try to sign him at a slightly lower amount. It is possibly any of these 3 return but their current contract status make it far from a lock any of them do.

    High Arb Costs: Corey Dickerson, Michael Feliz, Ryan Lavarnway

    - I fully expect Dickerson to return but his ~8.5 million arb cost is high enough that it wouldn't be completely shocking to see the Pirates drop him and look at another option. Still with Polanco injured to begin the year I think its relatively safe to think he'll be retained. Feliz and Lavarnway will come with low arb salaries but their status on the team could lead to them being dropped anyway. I'd lean towards Feliz staying and think its almost certain Lavarnway is dropped but Feliz also being dropped wouldn't shock me.

    60 Day DL: Chad Kuhl, Edgar Santana

    - These two players will almost surely be removed from the 40 man roster at some point in the offseason but it will be to just go on the 60 day DL as both Kuhl and Santana will miss the 2019 season due to TJ surgery. Not much more to discuss here.

    Likely To Stay: Steve Brault, Luis Escobar, Clay Holmes, Pablo Reyes, Jose Osuna, Jordan Luplow

    - It is difficult for me to see a scenario where the Pirates opt to drop any of the 6 above players but I don't think it can said they are guaranteed to stick. With the exception of Brault the group are young players with options remaining who either have some significant upside (Escobar) or can serve as some reasonable depth pieces. Brault is a fairly fungible arm but he is one the few left handers the Pirates have so it seems likely he sticks around.

    Out of Options: Nick Kingham, Jacob Stallings, Max Moroff, Nick Burdi

    - Burdi isn't out of options but his Rule V status acts essentially the same way meaning he has to make the Opening Day roster to remain on the 40 man roster. These aren't the only players facing out of option problems (Vazquez, Diaz, Brault, Crick and Lavarnway are also in that group) but these are the ones who that status seems the most significant for. If the Pirates had the option to send these guys to the minors chances are all would stick but since they don't their status becomes questionable. Its difficult for me to see Stallings or Moroff making the Opening Day roster so they are more than likely gone. I imagine the Pirates will do what they can to hold on to Kingham so I have him as more likely than not to hang around but it is closer than most may think. Burdi is a tough one and I think the Pirates will be fine either way with him and will give him a chance to earn a spot but he won't be gifted one.

    Bottom of the Roster: Dario Agrazal, Tanner Anderson, Jesus Liranzo, Alex McRae, Dovydas Neverauskas

    - All of these players have options remaining but they are the ones I see at the bottom of the roster. If a roster spot is needed these are the 5 players who would seem at most immediate danger of losing their spot. It doesn't mean they all will and I'll even admit its quite possible the Pirates are higher on Agrazal than me but a couple of them will almost surely be dropped at some point during the offseason. Oddly enough these are all pitchers. Agrazal and Liranzo have never pitched in the majors while the rest have appeared as depth options.
    Follow Me On Twitter: @battling_bucs

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    25 Man Roster
    For today's topic I'm going to look at what the Pirates 25 man roster may look like without any outside additions.

    C: Cervelli
    1B: Bell
    2B: Frazier
    3B: Moran
    SS: Newman
    LF: Dickerson
    CF: Marte
    RF: Luplow

    - Obviously the Pirates need to improve their lineup and fortunately there appears to be ample ways to do it. Marte is obviously staying put and I highly doubt the team gives up on Bell yet but the other six spots could all change starters before the season begins. Right field seems to be the most obvious spot whether that is with a direct addition or by acquiring a 2B and pushing Frazier out to RF. The other glaring spot is SS but the Pirates may just opt to sign a veteran to back Newman up.

    C: Diaz
    CI: Osuna
    IF: Kramer
    IF: Moroff
    U: Reyes

    - Of course the bench is in a state of flux. Luplow, Newman or I guess even Moran being pushed out of a starting role could land any of them here. Diaz is probably the most likely to be elevated to the lineup but only though a Cervelli trade. Moroff seems unlikely to stick but gets a spot for now.


    - The Pirates might trade Nova but barring that it is difficult to see any changes coming for this unit. These 5 are all solid to good starters and while adding a pitcher with more upside would be a good idea I'm not sure I see the Pirates going that route.


    - The first four are probably locks to make the team while the bottom three make it in part do to their roster status. It would be surprising to see the Pirates not make a bullpen move during the offseason as they always seem to tinker with it to some degree.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I'm going to wait to move on to a different topic next week so today I'll basically just do a review and try to assemble a 40 man roster. Again I'm going to ignore trade possibilities for now.

    Locks on 25 man: Chris Archer, Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, Ivan Nova, Kyle Crick, Keone Kela, Richard Rodriguez, Felipe Vazquez

    Locks to be on 40 man: Mitch Keller, [Chad Kuhl], [Edgar Santana]

    Likely to be on 40 man: Steve Brault, Luis Escobar, Clay Holmes, Nick Kingham, JT Brubaker

    Toss Ups: Dario Agrazal, Michael Feliz, Nick Burdi

    Lean Against Being On: Brandon Waddell, Tanner Anderson, Jesus Liranzo, Alex McRae, Dovydas Neverauskas

    Position Players
    Locks on 25 man: Francisco Cervelli, Elias Diaz, Josh Bell, Adam Frazier, Colin Moran, Starling Marte

    Locks on 40 man:Cole Tucker, Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman, [Gregory Polanco]

    Likely to be on 40 man: Corey Dickerson, Pablo Reyes, Jose Osuna, Jordan Luplow

    Toss Ups: Jason Martin, Jacob Stallings

    Lean Against Being On: Max Moroff, Ryan Lavarnway

    Free Agents: Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang

    Like I said today is basically just a review of the prior 3 days. Next week I'll move to a more detailed discussion about the players but I just wanted to start with a basic review of where I see everyone's current roster status.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    I'm taking a break from the minor league thread and I'm going to take another look at the Pirates infield situation. For the purposes of this discussion I'm going to exclude catcher and assume any playing time Cervelli may get at first will be minimal.

    Currently the Pirates have 9 players who seem like they could compete for some sort of early season role. The Pirates sound as if they want Frazier to be the regular second baseman and it would be quite surprising if Bell wasn't given another chance at first. Some sort of time share between Moran and Kang seems the likely answer at third though I'd expect at least one of them will see time elsewhere. That leaves shortstop as the most wide open position yet as currently constructed only Kevin Newman seems like a viable choice to be the everyday shortstop. I imagine that will change at some point but give the current composition it is difficult for me to imagine the Pirates going any other way. Even if a shortstop is brought in I imagine the Pirates will still likely keep Newman up in the majors in some capacity.

    Beyond those five we have Jose Osuna, Kevin Kramer, Max Moroff and Pablo Reyes. With Kang returning Osuna doesn't seem to have a clear path to the roster unless the Pirates just aren't comfortable with anyone else serving as the backup first baseman but that seems unlikely. I suppose if they sign a left handed hitting right field to fill in for Polanco he'd potential have some value as a right handed bat off the bench that can fill in at 1B and RF.

    The Pirates choose to not call up Moroff at the end of last season which isn't usually a good sign. I expect him to be among the first cut this offseason but if he isn't the backup shortstop position remains wide open at the moment and only him and Reyes seem like players the Pirates would be comfortable carrying in such a role.

    Reyes looks like he has a clear path to the Opening Day roster as a utility player who can backup shortstop and be the 5th outfielder though what kind of competition he faces remains to be seen.

    That leaves Kramer who would seem the most vulnerable to an outside acquisition. The Pirates only seem comfortable with him at 2B and 3B and with two primary 3B already on the roster the addition of another middle infielder would likely leave him back in AAA.

    There is definitely a scenario in which the Pirates infield is solid but it remains the single most likely unit to severely disappoint and the Pirates really need to consider bringing in at least one if not two reinforcements.
    Follow Me On Twitter: @battling_bucs

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Today is the non-tender deadline. Clubs must tender contracts to all 40 man roster members not under contract. The Pirates have a full 40 man roster and just 8 players under contract so this means there are 32 who could be tendered a contract today. Twenty-nine of those thirty-two players are still at a point in their service time where the Pirates have sole control of what their salary is going to be so when this is discussed in a more casual manner the only players who tend to be brought up are those arbitration eligible.

    The Pirates have three such players Corey Dickerson, Keone Kela and Michael Feliz. One could have came up with a fairly sound argument that the Pirates might non tender Dickerson but that seems highly unlikely at the moment and doing so to Kela seems even more unlikely. That leaves Feliz as our only toss up candidate and is basically what today boils down to for the Pirates.

    So this is certainly not a critical day but we will at least find out whether the Pirates want Feliz back or not. It seems he will likely come in at a salary below one million through arbitration and he has an option remaining so this isn't really a financial decision or a roster space decision but basically a performance decision. For depth reasons alone it seems likely to me that Feliz will be retained but it also wouldn't come as a complete surprise if the Pirates opted to move on.

    One other thing to keep in mind today being a deadline day there is also the possibility we see it spur some moves as teams make their decisions on who to tender and who to let go.
    Follow Me On Twitter: @battling_bucs

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