The Pirates Options as May Approaches

4-16-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

When you operate a baseball team with more questions than answers many can assume easy answers are all around you. When it comes to demotions or cuts so much goes into every choice both individually and also for the team.

You can assume it doesn’t matter, but everyone in that room thinks they have the talent to win. That’s just the way it is in most sports, so if you just send down a guy who’s outperforming 3 guys you keep, trust me it’s noticed.

Let’s break this into two conversations. The Pirates have to cut the roster by 2 as of May 1st, and because the limit on pitching staffs is also back to 13 on that date, one of the cuts needs to be a pitcher. So let’s be really clear here what we’re looking for. 1 pitcher, and 1 position player.

The Pitchers on the Bubble

Before we start here, we also have to take into account that soon Duane Underwood Jr. and Sam Howard will be healthy, so this could easily wind up being 3 guys the Pirates have to send down in relatively short order.

Miguel Yajure (1 Option) – This is less about performance and more about wanting to have him continue to progress as a starting pitcher. There are times when you have to pull the trigger on deciding a pitcher isn’t best suited to starting at the major league level, like Wil Crowe, or for that matter the Pirates felt that way about Chad Kuhl. Make no mistake, Miguel is in the pen because he has to be. Injury forced it and this is probably for another piece some day but poor 40-man construction caused it too.

Roansy Contreras (2 Options) – Almost everything I said for Miggy. Roansy was the last, last resort again for injury. They want him to be a starter and that will take getting stretched out and a few cycles of the rotation for someone to prove themselves to be low man on the totem pole. He can keep stretching at this level but realistically, it’s much easier to just let him be part of a rotation and get going.

Aaron Fletcher (2 Options) – Aaron has not been impressive to be kind. If he stays it’ll be purely because getting those first two back to starting took precedence over getting someone who’s performed below the line off the squad. In the greater scheme of things I think everyone can understand this position here, especially if you keep in mind he won’t be long behind them, if at all with Howard and Underwood Jr. hopefully on the mend.

Anthony Banda (0 Options) – I include Banda because when Howard is healthy this bullpen will have as many as 4 left handed options, but only Fletcher and Howard have options. Meaning if the Pirates want to demote Banda, it’ll mean DFA and that’s not ideal for depth. They could also choose to leave Howard in AAA a bit until some other option proves themselves someone who should be sent packing.

Diagnosis – First, we have to assume there are no further injuries. If there are, we’ll see a pitcher added to the 40-man and complicate this whole thing. If everything goes according to plan I’d assume on May 1st Roansy Contreras is the guy. With an outside shot they choose Fletcher if he continues to look as bad as he has.

Position Players on the Bubble

This is a bit harder. (Get your that’s what she said jokes out of the way)

To be clear, it’s only hard because there are so many extra parts than any team with a DH could possibly need. Let’s talk through it.

Josh VanMeter (0 Options) – Want the main defense for not Designating Josh for assignment? They just bothered to trade for him like a couple weeks ago. That’s the list. He’s done nothing, and they’ve given him little chance to do anything either. He’s had 8 plate appearances but certainly hasn’t pushed for more.

Cole Tucker (1 Option) – He’s simply been, eh, ok. It’s getting old waiting for Tucker to become something and the Spring that was is fading into the rear view quickly. I think he’s shown himself to be a less than effective outfielder and middle infield is a clogged up path to playing time. In 19 plate appearances he has 3 hits and 6 strikeouts. How many more excuses or chances can you give the guy?

Hoy Park (3 Options) – Hoy has played all over the field, some good, some not so good. Hoy has 12 plate appearances with 2 hits and 5 Ks. Again, how many more chances to we expect him to get? His versatility is great, but he’s on a roster with 4 other guys who can do the same. (Interestingly, all of them are on this list)

Michael Chavis (1 Option) – Michael has fared the best out of everyone on this list. 10 plate appearances with no Ks a grand slam and a few more hits on top of that. If anything he could use somebody else going down to give him more opportunity. He’s on this list because he’s arguably the platoon DH or first baseman, and for some reason they haven’t been using him elsewhere.

Diego Castillo (3 Options) – I have him on this list, but I don’t think he’s in any danger. The kid has had 17 chances and has a .353 average. Nuff said. It’s safe to say these last two entries are more about fully getting our arms around this subject than merit.

Diagnosis – This one is probably not as hard as I’m making it. To me a team that’s really trying to show the team they aren’t giving up on 2022 moves on from VanMeter. That’s what I’d do, but I’d never have gotten him in the first place if I’m honest. Now, what do I think they’ll do? I think they’ll send Hoy Park or Cole Tucker down and since I’m trying to pretend I can predict it, I’ll go Hoy Park. Reality dictates those two are in a dogfight for the roster spot but neither should expect much playing time moving forward. I think what we’ll see here in the next couple weeks is a bunch of Hoy Park and Cole Tucker in right field, whichever one looks better either at the plate or field, hell even a combination of the two will get the nod.

With Alford lingering on the IL it feels like he’ll get another shot on this team and that will cause another to be sent down so the race to save their spot could wind up being fruitless in the immediate moment anyhow as eventually they’ll need another slot, or the team could simply DFA him again since they’ve acquired Jake Marisnick and he’s easily good enough to feel ok moving on from Alford.

We also all know Oneil Cruz will force his way on the club (cough, cough, wink, wink) soon too, and that might just spell the end for VanMeter IF he isn’t called up here for some injury.

Roster construction never stops. This is up to the minute stuff, and by May 1st we could have five new factors in this conversation. Let’s start here and see how it plays out.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

One thought on “The Pirates Options as May Approaches

  1. Contreras, Yajure, Howard in that order, with an eye on the future. Howard would need rehab work regardless, and he got thumped in ST. Make him earn his way back. Glad they got Contreras down to the AAA rotation.

    I’m still surprised when I see Park with three options. Although I’m not sure what playing time he’d get in AAA, I can see him having a longer rope because he hasn’t played meaningfully at AAA since his acquisition, whereas I agree Tucker’s not going down again if they hope to get any value in return for him. I struggle to see either as RF. Maybe LF can somehow work out differently, but I doubt. They should cut VanMeter once Alford is healthy, but then again, I don’t think either should’ve been with the team post-ST. I expect it to be Park and Castillo, honestly, unless they decide to cut Marisnick, which I would understand if it is Alford returning because he is at least an actual OF.

    Liked by 1 person

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