Rule 5 Protections Shed Light on Pirates Plans

11-20-21 – Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

The immediate takeaways from the Pirates decisions yesterday are apparent. Choosing to protect only 4 prospects, 5 if you count Diego Castillo, casts light on some other decisions we weren’t sure they’d make.

First let’s start with some stats and a quick view.

8 Outfielders
9 Middle Infielders
1 Catcher
20 Pitchers

Clearly the Pirates aren’t done here as they couldn’t possibly head into the season with this mix.

Today, I want to start on the mound.


Miguel Yajure – Probably will start in AAA, but could find himself in a bullpen role
JT Brubaker – Easy keep, and likely to find himself right in the middle of the rotation
David Bednar – Closer, back ender, whatever, he’s safe
Blake Cederlind – Safe for sure, but most likely headed back to the 60-Day IL
Roansy Contreras – Might not start right out of Spring but he’ll push before long
Mitch Keller – Frustrated fans wanted 2021 to be the prove it year, but that’s 2022
Chris Stratton – Proven bullpen arm on a team with few
Bryse Wilson – Potential opening day starter
Max Kranick – Safe for sure, but unclear if he starts in AAA or MLB, starter either way

Probably Safe
Steven Brault – Starter, Bullpen, even a trade candidate, he’ll be tendered
Wil Crowe – Showed some good and bad, likely in the MLB mix somehow
Sam Howard – Lefty who’s had ups and downs, injury played a role in his struggles
Chad Kuhl – I would have cut him loose, but yesterday showed me the Pirates will tender him, wouldn’t be shocked if he winds up in the opening day rotation
Luis Oviedo – They want him to be a starter, and to get something for working with him all year, AAA or AA start for him.
Duane Underwood Jr. – Ate a ton of innings, and that’s why he winds up here instead of cut watch
Dillon Peters – Showed at least Steven Brault level capability and if he can stay on the mound he might just be a keeper

Cut Watch
Anthony Banda – If they’re going to bring in new blood (and how could they not) Anthony didn’t do enough to hold this spot
Eric Hanhold – The Bucs just picked him up off waivers, so I’m sure they want to see him actually pitch, but until I do, this is where he belongs
Nick Mears – I personally think most fans haven’t properly seen how Nick’s career has progressed, and where exactly he was asked to do most of his development. 2020 in MLB was his AA year, 2021 in MLB was his AAA year. The velo plays, and I think he’ll prove the wrong if he’s cut, but no denying he belongs in this space.
Cody Ponce – He’s had a few good starts, and a few good outings, but hasn’t really excelled at anything. That’s usually a recipe for dismissal, have to show something you’re better than most at

Opening Day Rotation (As it stands now)
Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, Bryse Wilson, JT Brubaker, Mitch Keller

Yup, that’s right, I see Kuhl going right back to the rotation, the team expressly said his move to the pen (that didn’t exactly go well) was to limit innings, not change his role. I could see either Chad or Steven being traded before camp, but they wouldn’t be on the 40-man now if they planned to non-tender either. I still think they’ll bring in another starter or two and maybe that shakes things up, but unless the CBA changes considerably how prospects are handled, Contreras will start in AAA as will Yajure.

The bullpen is going to change, just will. More options will be brought in, some we see as starters will move there too.

Spare me the “this isn’t good enough” takes, of course it isn’t, but it is where we are.

We’ll keep breaking this down as the days go by. On the list are looking at available backup catchers out there, who goes for Yoshi if and when they get this done (won’t be Moran) and how can they possibly carry 9 middle infielders on the 40.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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