I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe I was going to be irritated by any move they made or didn’t make. I started writing this piece last night after the news started breaking with the only move of note being Will Craig clearing waivers and being outrighted to AAA, along with Clay Holmes being non-tendered and selecting free agency.
I say I started writing because I also stopped. As I read it back to myself I realized it was coming across like I was calling for Cherington’s head on a platter. It’s far too early for that kind of take but when a team that finishes last has 39 of the 40 spots on the roster locked up already at this stage of the offseason, well, let’s just say it’s not encouraging.
Anyone ever tell you to never grocery shop hungry? Well, I try to never write angry. That’s the kind of stuff that pins you to takes you wish you had thought through later and I try very hard to be fair with my analysis of the club. None of that means what they’re doing here makes sense to me right now.
On top of those two moves referenced above the Pirates also decided to sign Eric Gonzalez for another season avoiding arbitration just like last year, this time for 1.2 million. Michael Feliz went the same route signing for 1 million.
Once the Gonzalez news broke I was immediately flooded with thoughts of what that could mean. Is Tucker done as an infielder? Should Adam Frazier be packing? Is Cruz further away than many think? Do they still see him as more than a bench option? Does Tucker potentially start 2021 in AAA?
For Feliz, can I look at the roster and put him in the top 7 options for the bullpen?
Let’s look at what the newly minted 40-man has to offer. Tyler Bashlor, Blake Cederlind, Kyle Crick, Austin Davis, Michael Feliz, Ashton Goudeau, Geoff Hartlieb, Sam Howard, Nick Mears, Sean Poppen, Richard Rodriguez, Edgar Santana, Chris Stratton, and Nik Turley.
Now, I’ve removed everyone who profiles as a starter, but you could certainly add Cody Ponce, JT Brubaker, maybe even Steven Brault or Chad Kuhl.
Of that list, I think it’s fair to say there are a few we want to see more of or at the very least feel belong. Blake Cederlind, Geoff Hartlieb, Sam Howard, Rich Rodriguez, Edgar Santana, Chris Stratton and probably Nik Turley.
Offering a tender to Kyle Crick confuses me. If he doesn’t show up in Spring training with near his former velocity I see zero value in him as a pitcher on this team. For what they’ll pay, it’s not a huge gamble but if his presence is something they count on rather than hope for, I question the thought process for keeping him. Without that velo he’s relatively impotent and having him anywhere near the back end of your bullpen would be malpractice.
Feliz has sparkled in between awful bouts of control issues. I have no issue with the 1 million signing but again, I don’t see where he fits above those other seven I mentioned.
Of course all seven of those players I mentioned could certainly be traded or injured and depth is important.
All this kinda brings me back to where I started, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I guess I was hoping they’d be ready to move on from some of the guys we’ve seen be more part of the problem than the solution in the last couple seasons like Crick or Feliz, but instead they kept both and moved on from Clay Holmes who started to show he was harnessing his frame and learning to control his stuff. Now, he was injured last season, and maybe we don’t know the whole picture, but I’ve seen more positive from him than either Crick or Feliz, let alone Bashlor, Davis, or the litany of waiver claims on their list.
Listen, none of this is the end of the world and I’ll be honest, when they DFA’d Trevor Williams, I think I let my imagination go wild a bit. I let that one move tell me something I wanted to believe rather than giving the facts a chance to tell me the truth.
Bottom line, this deadline, the next in the offseason progression, did little to clearly show us what this franchise is thinking. Next week the virtual Winter meetings take place and perhaps things will start to clarify when we see moves being made.
Or maybe I once again have false hope that change is coming this soon.