Five Pirates Thoughts at Five 12-17-20

Howdy everyone! Wanted to get some more thoughts out there today as we head into the last weekend before the Big Day! MLB in general has been quiet, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to talk about. As always, reach out on any platform Craig and I would love to get your take.

1. Is January the New December?

I saw this proposed by some baseball talking heads the other day. Putting forward the thought that baseball has simply shifted the flurry of activity from December around the Winter Meetings to January. My first thought is, well yeah that could be the case but it also could very well be on MLB for leaving so many questions out there. Teams as of right now don’t know if they’ll be utilizing a DH, how many roster spots they’ll have to fill, hell they don’t even know how many games they’re going to play yet.

Sure, we hear they’re planning like everything will be normal but here’s the thing, it isn’t normal. If I’m honest, I think we’ll be talking, or at least hear talking about, collusion before this season starts.

2. The Bigger the Name, the Worse Timing You Have

It’s early, I could see every one of the top free agents signing big money contracts, but I also think some of them will be forced to take 1 year deals with options. There has never been a worse time to reach free agency because even if the teams are lying about losing as much money as they claim it’s not going to prevent them from acting that way.

I wrote this some time ago but the Pirates could play this to their advantage and before you go off whining about Bob at least give this a moment and think about it.

Say the Pirates dole out one of those bigger deals for one year and an option to someone like Joc Pederson. Let’s give him 12 Million, I think he’ll land somewhere near there, and lets give him an option year. He starts off good and hits say 15 bombs in the first three months. Trade bait right? Well some will still not want to pay his remaining salary, maybe the Bucs could essentially pay half of it for a really good prospect in return.

If you’re in the Pirates position you can’t afford to miss a trick when it comes to acquiring talent and this slow market might present one.

Another way this could all work out is players might see they aren’t going to get their perceived fair market value and instead chase a championship figuring things will get right after the new CBA. In other words if I can get 7 million to play for a year in Pittsburgh or 4 to be a bench piece in LA, I might consider it.

It also means, if Ben Cherington was serious, don’t rule out a Chris Archer still being in play for a return to Pittsburgh. He’s going to sign a reasonable deal somewhere, might as well be here.

3. Don’t Sleep on the Lost Year of MiLB

This really mattered, and it really happened. We have no idea how it will effect players and it’s foolish to assume everyone will just start where they left off.

We’ve talked to people intimately involved with the training site in Altoona, we’ve spoken to people involved with the Marlins version. I’ve touched base with the Brewers organization and each one of them detailed the issues with getting players real baseball in those sites.

In other words, if your favorite player has only played High A but was at the site, please don’t assume he’s ready to skip AA. I’ve been told by someone who doesn’t wish to go on record that it was less about progression than holding the line. They essentially wanted to prevent backsliding or in some cases didn’t want a fresh draft pick to just sit for a year waiting.

Take this how you want to, I know how I personally feel about unnamed sources, but at least practice some caution as you predict Mason Martin making the jump from High A to MLB for a cup of coffee this season.

4. The Pirates Don’t Benefit from Rushing Prospects

I swear it’s a different point, but I’ll use the same example. Mason Martin is a quality power prospect and his bat is really exciting. That said people who think the Pirates might manipulate service time with Ke’Bryan Hayes to start 2021 (they won’t) seem to think they’ll move mountains to get Martin ready for the show. (they won’t)

Why would they want to rush a prospect to MLB? The window is nowhere near opening so why would they want to start the clock running on someone if it’s a stretch? In Martin’s case they already have plenty of first basemen and even if they trade one or two they still have Will Craig who they obviously don’t care about losing but would be a perfectly acceptable plug.

It might be different if it looked like things were coming together for next year, but they aren’t. Be patient for the system to work.

5. Trades are Coming

I’ve never been more convinced that the Pirates are going to make some trades and no I don’t have any fresh rumors for you. The free agent market is slow and I told you why I thought so earlier. This is going to prompt teams to look for alternate methods to patch holes. Collectively the Pirates are not a good team, but individually they have some really nice pieces that can solve problems for other teams.

It’s not going to taste good but like medicine it rarely does.

I’ve heard from several fans who think the Pirates should hold their cards that the NL Central is going to be down in 2021 and they might be right, but it’s far to early to guess. It sure looks that way right now I’ll go with you there but two big things. It won’t be down enough for the Pirates to hold firm and go for it, and we are nowhere near seeing what any of these teams consider their finished product.

Chasing fools gold will never make you rich.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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