MLBTR Predicts a Busy Off-Season For Pirates

Every year, MLB Trade Rumors releases their top 50 free agents, along with predictions on which player will sign with which team.  The predictions are what they are: one person’s guess on how the off-season will play out.  They’re far from perfect, but they do provide a nice topic for discussion.  This year’s list has been released, and the predictions by Tim Dierkes suggest a busy off-season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The first player that is linked to the Pirates is Carlos Pena.  They note that Pena would be a good fit on a one year deal if they can’t re-sign Derrek Lee.  If you read the site at all this summer, you’d know that I was pulling for the Pirates to trade for Pena, before it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be traded.  I like Pena, and feel he would be a good fit for the Pirates and PNC Park.  I’d pick Lee over Pena, but either player would be a solid anchor for the lineup.  MLBTR rated Pena as the #16 free agent.  Lee wasn’t ranked in their top 50.

The next move was Ramon Hernandez.  Hernandez will likely cost a second round pick, and MLBTR noted that Huntington might balk at giving up a second round pick to make the deal.  The Pirates landed Stetson Allie in the second round in 2010, and Josh Bell in 2011, with both players being rated top 10-15 prospects before the draft.  Giving up a second round pick might be a high cost for Hernandez, although it might be worth it on a multi-year deal.  There’s also the strong chance that the Pirates get two compensation picks down the road if Hernandez remains a Type A free agent.  Hernandez ranked 31st in the rankings.

The final prediction was Jeff Francis.  MLBTR mentioned that he is one of many starters who can add depth to the rotation at a reasonable cost.  In my look at the free agent market, I noted that Francis had a 4.23 xFIP over the last three years, compared to a 4.29 xFIP from Paul Maholm.  His 4.82 ERA from 2011 wasn’t attractive, but his 4.29 xFIP suggests he was a better pitcher than his numbers showed.  I’d probably take Maholm over Francis, mostly due to injury concerns over the last few years, although you could make the argument that Francis is a similar pitcher.

The current 40-man roster/payroll projection has the Pirates around $28 M.  That leaves a lot of room for upgrades, with the Pirates needing a catcher, first baseman, shortstop, and a starting pitcher.  It’s very unlikely that MLBTR goes 100% on these predictions, but the approach wouldn’t be a bad one.  Additions like Pena and Hernandez would upgrade the lineup, and while Francis wouldn’t be an ace, he would be a candidate for a rebound year, based on his secondary numbers from the previous two seasons.  If I had my choice, I’d go with Chris Capuano over Francis.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott Klima

The Pirates are gonna do something this offseason, it’s just a matter of how many guys they actually go after.  I see no reason to get Pena over Lee, and strongly disagree with MLBTR’s rankings not having Lee in their top 50 FA’s.  Lee tore it up last year in Pittsburgh, and is a great RH power bat.  We still have Garrett Jones around, so it would be better to have the lefty/righty combo at 1B than having two lefties in Pena and Jones.

At C, Hernandez is a perfect fit for us, a veteran catcher who can hit.  Now that our minor league system is at least competitive again, I don’t mind giving up the 2nd round pick, especially since we got the likes of Allie and Bell signed.  Hernandez is the top catcher on the market, so it may be tough to outbid others for him.  If not Hernadez, then I’d say try bringing Doumit or Snyder back.  I would hate to see a Barajas or Varitek type behind the plate.

At SS, I do not understand why we didn’t sign Cedeno, seemed like an easy decision to keep him on that option.  There really isn’t an option out there that excites me at this position, maybe Clint Barmes, or maybe bring Jack Wilson back on a reunion tour and let Harrison share time with him while he learns the position from one of the best defensive SS to play in Pittsburgh.

Another big name to look at would be Aramis Ramirez at 3B.  He would be pricey, but would instantly fill a difficult position to fill.  We could then move Pedro to 1B and if he fails, we have Jones ready to step in.  And 1B is usually a much easier position to find help at, so signing a big name 3B would be huge.  Ideally I would love to get both Ramirez and Lee/Pena on the corners, and have Pedro play in AAA with Jones and Hague in the majors on the bench, but that’s a long shot.

OF/2B/Bullpen, we should do nothing.  Hopefully Meek finds his game in the pen, and if Presley can continue to hit, out OF will be a very nice 1-3 in the lineup.

At SP, I would still prefer we sign Maholm over guys like Francis or Capuano, just because we know that he is an inning eater and has been a great fit in the city of Pittsburgh.  There isn’t a great market for SPs, so we need to just grab one and hope guys like Lincoln, Morton, and McDonald can contribute.

Ideal roster for me next season:
1. Tabata RF2. Presley LF
3. Cutch CF
4. Ramirez 3B
5. Lee/Pena 1B
6. Walker 2B
7. Hernandez C
8. Barmes/Cedeno/Jack Flash SSBench: McKenry, Hague, Harrison, Jones, Paul
1. Karstens
2. Maholm
3. Morton
4. McDonald
5. Lincoln
Bullpen: Hanrahan, Meek, Watson, McCutchen, Veras, Grilli, Correia


I would rather have Alex Gonzalez over Wilson, Jack is terrible, can get same D with Ciriaco.  You are freakin crazy if you think they will even sniff a chance to sign Ramirez


you sir are delusional.  


Putting aside the rhetoric of “Same Old Pirates, they won’t sign or do anything” for one second, take a step back from the forest…..

The Pirates had arguably their most exciting season since 2001 when PNC opened.  Attendance was up and casual fan interest was palpable in the city for much of the summer.  The Pirates are coming off of their most successful draft, with plaudits coming from all over baseball, in….forever.  They actually traded FOR players at the deadline.  At the end of the season they announced some ticket price increases.

…..and now is when people think they’re going to go cheap and not put out a quality ML product for 2012? 


To do so would be a complete momentum killer in fan and CORPORATE interest.

Are the Pirates getting Pujols or Fielder or Wilson?  No.  The moves may not be sexy, but it’s my personal (not official Pirates Prospects opinion) that this team will be aggressive in the trade market and sign 1-2 free agents to augment the ML team.

To have a non-event offseason and go into 2012 with just internal options would completely erode all of the goodwill built up in 2011 and they can’t afford to do that.

It just doesn’t make sense.


 “The moves may not be sexy, but it’s my personal (not official Pirates Prospects opinion) that this team will be aggressive in the trade market and sign 1-2 free agents to augment the ML team.”

You mean the Pirates may sign Luis Rivas, Chris Gomez, Ramon Vazquez, Eric Hinske, Aki Iwamura, Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby, Lyle Overay, Kevin Correia and Matt Diaz?

I wish everyone could feel my nipples right now.


Wining will always bring fans back.  Last year was proof of that.

Doing nothng, which is the correct course would PO fans this year.  Maybe even next year too.  But it is the right thing to do, see the Rays.  

The front office has a horrible record getting these kind of stop gap players.  Giving up a pick to sign one harms the future and does little for the present.

If the big trade is for a pitcher like Nolasco, that would be as bad as signing another Overbay or Correia or trading for another Iwamura.

If they trade, they should trade for other organizations blocked players or higher risk players (think high picks who’ve not lived up to potential).  Again, they’ve had success getting guys like Karstens, Tabata, Morton, Hanrahan, even Garrett Jones.  That’s the trade route to go, not for expensive veteran players or pitchers.


History indicates that they won’t sign any marquee guys and will dive in the dumpster to find starters like they always have, with their track record, to think anything else is the case is foolish.   It hasn’t made sense for 19 years, why would they start now?


Can you please list Neal Huntington’s track record of dumpster diving for starters? Otherwise, quit spewing your garbage.


Diaz, Jones


Lyle Overbay, Kevin Correia, Akinori Iwamura.

Jeremiah Ewing


This is the boat that I am sailing in.


Giving up a 2nd round pick for Hernandez would not be too bad especially if the Pirates can get a sandwich round pick for at least one of their type B free agents.


Bingo.  Signing a Type A Free Agent for a team in the first 15 picks means you give up your SCHEDULED 2nd round pick.

As you said, if the Pirates offer arb to one of THEIR Type B’s, they get a supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd rounds.  That pick would actually be better in position than their scheduled 2nd round pick and would allow them to sacrifice their 2nd round pick for a Type A.

If Ramon Hernandez isn’t one of their top 2 FA targets, he should be.

Jeremiah Ewing

You really have to be quite a bit more careful with the choice of that supplemental pick.  With no compensation the next year, high risk 2nd round picks like Allie/Bell would be pretty risky.


Exactly.  You would be giving up, potentially another Josh Bell or Stetson Allie for a stop gap player who may only play half a season.  That isn’t smart from a baseball perspective.  

Draft picks are the life blood of a team like the Pirates.  They simply can’t give them up for stop gap players at this point in time.  It just isn’t smart baseball operations.


Trade for Jed Lowrie


What would it take to get him?


 That leaves a lot of room for upgrades, with the Pirates needing a catcher, first baseman, shortstop, and a starting pitcher_____________________________________________________

I like Ramon Hernandez and I would give up a 2nd round pick any day for him, Sanchez is going to be a good catcher, probably in the next 2-3 years, Hernandez gives the time to develop that Sanchez needs. It is time for Neal to start trading for talent, he has the chips, time to deal.
Looking at last years problems it is hard to say that 3rd base should not be included in the Pirate problems. As far as Maholm is concerned,  I would not want them to go out and get  someone that is much the same as Maholm, I don’t see the point, I don’t care about the money, I care about how much of an upgrade they make. I would probably take Pena if Lee is not available and put Hague on the 25 man squad to sub frequently for Pena, but I would also go out and get 2 solid starting pitchers and pay them, along with an 8th inning set-up guy.
How much the time in the majors helped D’Arnaud is kind of an unknown, but he clearly was not ready last year, but he is going to be a very good SS someday. 


Sanchez should not need a few more years, he was a college level player and should already be ready, look at other college level catchers, most drafted around same time and round are already in the show performing, Sanchez couldn’t compete at AA last year….


None of the players mentioned as FA targets meet the Pirates internal cost values. They’d rather overpay for washed up vets whose best days are way behind them. Pay $10MM for Lee…never! Not when you can steal an Overbay type for $5MM.

Dumpster diving is all the BMTIBB knows. It’s the Nutting way or the highway.

Think Bob will be closer than in his prediction than anyone guessing on a FA pickup.


someone is angry… would your real name happen to be Bob Smizik or John Perrotto???


None of these players are stupid enough to sign with Pittsburgh.  We will end up with Ciriaco at SS, Fort at C and Hague at 1B….


Aaron Harang, Javier Vazquez or Jeff Francis, Chris Capuano for pitchers list to look at. Laird, and scour all teams minors i just think because tony sanchez might be a bust.

Ian Rothermund

Stop crying about Tony Sanchez being a bust.  I seriously doubt that every successful player in the majors had a perfect road to the show.  You’re probably just an idiot.  That’s relatively obvious, not only from a perspective of the content of what you said, but also by the fact that it appears as though English may be your second language.


so anyone whose first language isn’t English is an idiot? Do you live in a house with no mirrors?

Ian Rothermund

Is that what I said?  I didn’t mean to infer that, just that dude.  In fact those who first language is English are statistically more likely to be stupid.  At least in Science and Math.

Pirates Prospects Daily



Latest articles

Latest comments