As Gary wrote about yesterday on the site and as I am guessing all of you know by now, General Manager Ben Cherington made the the decision to DFA fan favorite, starting pitcher Trevor Williams, along with utility man Jose Osuna at the Rule 5 Protection Deadline at 6pm on Friday; both of whom had years of team control under the arbitration process. These moves were made in order to safeguard Pirates Prospects, Infielder Rodolfo Castro and Starting Pitcher Max Kranick from being selected during the Rule 5 Draft on December 10th, by adding them to the team’s 40 man roster. The pair had been at Pittsburgh’s Alternate Site in Altoona during the season and are currently listed on the top 30 on MLB Pipeline (Kranick at #24 and Castro at #26), while Castro had also participated in the Instructional League and is as high as the #12 Prospect on Fangraphs. These moves were necessary and somewhat expected; seeing as myself and Gary have been talking and writing about it for what seems like forever, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Currently the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man remains full with Friday’s corresponding moves, they still have at least 13 arbitration eligible players and there still is a possibility of them wanting to add one or maybe even two players of their own in the Rule 5 draft. All of these decisions have to be made in the less than three weeks, many of them much sooner; and this does not even take Cherington’s plans of adding pitching and discussing trade opportunities concerning his own players beyond this period of time.
No matter what it is going to be a busy off-season for the Pirates Front Office, with a lot to unpack and sort, some of which seems pretty plain and simple to me; and can easily be checked off Cherington’s to do list.
First is the list of arbitration eligible players that can comfortably by non-tendered on or before December 2nd. Two obvious candidates, Kyle Crick and Michael Feliz, still exist from the six that I wrote about in my Arbitration Overload over a month ago. I could reasonably be talked into a couple of other players, including Erik Gonzalez and Chris Stratton, depending on how many spots Cherington would like to have open for the Rule 5 Draft and Free Agency.
Next would be the at least three, but possibly four pitchers that are depth pieces more than anything else; two of which have Minor League Options and could possibly be passed through waivers. It is not to say that Cherington has to make these moves; however, if anyone can make the case of Nik Turley, Austin Davis, Tyler Bashlor and Carson Fulmer being a part of the Pirates beyond next year, I am all ears.
Lastly would be the process of offering Minor League Contracts with invitations to Spring Training to the abundance of free agents that exist on the market. The Mets and A’s have already taken advantage of this opportunity, so it only makes sense for a building team like the Pirates to do the same. Now I know that a majority of these moves are made simply to be able to conduct drills at Pirate City or to fill up a AAA roster, but they sometimes end up being for players that can contribute during the upcoming season (John Ryan Murphy and Derek Holland) or hopefully beyond (Phillip Evans).
Each of these steps can be taken prior to the Rule 5 Draft and in preparation for more extensive trade talks, along with other free agent signings provided that Cherington would like to do so. These are not necessary moves and I am already happy with the direction he has taken thus far in the short time since the off-season began, but it would go along way in my book if he kept his foot on the gas and continued to mold the Pirates organization in a way that shows things are going to be different moving forward.