The Bucs were busy yesterday and they continued to show a change in philosophy on multiple fronts. Not that it matters to many of you, because of course everyone they acquire will only be traded later for more prospects.
I honestly don’t care to argue the point anymore, remember the past however you like, ignore that the regime and entire system have changed, if it’s all about Nutting for you, cool.
For those of you ready and willing to live in reality let’s go over some of the moves from yesterday and discuss.
On the International Front
First, we should take a moment and thank Adam Berry for his time on the Pirates beat. He’s announced he’s moving on to cover the Tampa Bay Rays for MLB.com.
The Pirates signed 15 international prospects yesterday and the approach was very much so quality vs quantity. Misconceptions of how this system works and an overall hatred that Bob Nutting has earned for himself tend to ignore the fact that the Pirates spend more money in this front than any other team year over year.
The big difference since Ben Cherington came in has been the targeting of higher value players. Neal Huntington would typically try to get as many as he could under his allotment while Ben has focused on acquiring top end talent.
That’s not to say he’s spending more, the rules haven’t changed, but it does mean if he can get one Shalin Polanco (No relation, ho ho ho) for 2.35 million, rather than 15 other players, he’ll go for the number 11 ranked prospect on the market.
This philosophy dates back to last season where he traded for extra pool space, meaning no money changed hands, just ability to spend. Gasp, he traded for the actual right to spend more of Bob Nutting’s money, hard to believe I know. This led to top talent like Solomon Maguire or Po Yu Chen.
All in all good stuff.
A Minor League Signing
The Pirates picked up a free agent. I know, I know, but it’s a minor league deal, Wilmer Difo comes from the Washington Nationals and is a classic utility infielder. His glove is more valuable than his bat and he provides depth. Probably insurance for trading Frazier, but could also be an excuse to start Tucker in AAA. We’ll see, I honestly get the impression they’ll let the group fight this out in Spring.
Difo isn’t worth getting excited about, but he gives them more options, and puts a death nail in Cruz making the club out of spring at least as an infielder in my mind.
It’s not exactly a surprise. We knew they’d sign all of these guys and if anything it takes the guess work out of what they might earn this year for trades.
We also learned yesterday that the arbitration process was not affected by the MLB narrative that every team is poor after 2020, which is starting to show itself false in the free agent market as well.
They may have lost money, but they won’t let that allow them to stop spending. Expect some dominoes to start falling now.