The Pirates started making changes this week, starting with Larry Broadway being removed from the Farm Director position. Today the Pirates claimed Sean Poppen a right handed relief pitcher, to keep the roster at 40 JT Riddle was DFA’d. Yesterday the Pirates activated Edgar Santana from the restricted list and the corresponding move was out righting Susak.
The significance of the Santana move is that it means his suspension is over. The rules were written in such a way as to leave it up for discussion as to whether he would still have time to serve entering 2021 or not, clearly behind the scenes the question was answered, 2020 in its entirety was the punishment.
Those moves aside the Pirates have until right after the World Series to make some moves and unless something very unforeseen happens they will lose someone they don’t want to lose.
The first thing to assume is that the Pirates decline to pick up Chris Archer’s option and pay him his 250K. I’ve explained multiple times why but if you want to see the reasoning check out this piece. Other players who automatically come off the list are Holland, and Kela.
The Pirates will need to clear 8 spots by my count and some of the choices make themselves. This number could be bigger if they just want to clear room.
1. Carson Fulmer
2. Yaksil Rios
3. Tyler Bashlor
4. Brandon Waddell
5. Dovydas Neverauskas
Those are the pretty safe bets to hit the street. Nothing new for any of them really and I don’t think many fans will not shed a tear although it would be a shame to lose Bashlor and the depth he could provide. So that get’s us to 3 and this is where the choices get hard.
Trevor Williams has to be on the short list for possibilities, it’s either that or commit to taking him to arbitration. The deadline for deciding to offer him a tender is December 5th, five days after the World Series but these decisions will blend together.
I’d put my money on Kevin Kramer, at this point he’s little more than a utility guy and fair or not he hasn’t made an impact. After that you need one of Jason Martin, Nik Turley, and Clay Holmes. I truly can’t see them dropping any of those three but they have to be considered.
If Crick’s velocity is shot, aka dead armed, he would be my choice to take it the rest of the way. I’d rather have Turley and Giving up on Kramer says you can’t give up on Martin yet. Holmes is just too talented, if he stays healthy I’ll be blunt he could push to join the rotation at some point in the next season or two.
All of these changes don’t take into account any additions the club picks up but these decisions will also start to show what Cherington is thinking. It’s a perfect excuse to waive goodbye to some players who have more than fairly had their time of evaluation and honestly there is nowhere to hide.
These moves have to happen. When your club only wins 19 games in a 60 game season it’s easy to assume all these choices are simple but the Pirates had so many injuries this season especially in the pitching staff that they are forced to make some bets on players returning who they didn’t lay eyes on versus players who stepped in and auditioned. What do they trust more, who they’ve seen or what they thought they had? Time will tell, just not much time.
The Player development system is going to be Ben’s main focus this off season as he just told the media on Tuesday in a conference call, he’ll be shuffling some chairs and making additions to the scouting department but nothing earth shattering. This is a bit of a departure from what he had said but the outcome of the draft in 2020 could have rightly changed his feelings about what he had. He said he has changed some of the methods and areas of focus for certain members of the department.
I should also say that free agency starts the very next day December 6th and another tidbit from Cherington was saying payroll may decrease and it probably sounds worse than it is as Kela, Holland and Archer minimally come off the payroll, but on the other hand I wouldn’t waste much time seeing which pitchers will be available with an eye toward them wearing black and gold.
The hot stove this year will be all about the trade market and we’ll dig in soon.