First Pitch: Thoughts on Sean Rodriguez, First Base Platoon, Third Base, and Non-Tenders

Today wasn’t an extremely busy day in terms of news for the Pittsburgh Pirates. But following the slow Thanksgiving break, and the slow week leading up to that break, today seemed like the Winter Meetings.

The Pirates made two moves that impacted the MLB roster, announced the signings of three minor league free agents, and a rumor had them making Francisco Liriano a priority. Here are some quick thoughts on the impacts of each move.

Sean Rodriguez Trade

The Pirates have been adding a lot of utility infielders, which has drawn the ire of a lot of Pirates fans who feel they are wasting roster spots. The odds of guys like Jake Elmore, Justin Sellers, AND Pedro Florimon all remaining on the 40-man roster heading into the 2015 season are slim. That was true before the addition of Sean Rodriguez. After the Pirates traded for Rodriguez, the roster becomes a little more clear.

The Pirates tend to go with a utility infielder and a strong defensive middle infielder when it comes to their infield bench options. Prior to the addition of Rodriguez, they had no sure bets for either position. Rodriguez locks up the utility infield role, which is a position that was vacated by Josh Harrison when he broke out as a starting option.

As for the backup middle infield role, I think they’ll continue going with cheaper options and eventually selecting the best of them. I’m guessing that’s the case because they could have just signed Clint Barmes if they wanted a veteran who was proven to have strong infield defense up the middle. It seems they’re trying to save some money on the backup shortstop role, which isn’t a bad thing if they are putting that to better use elsewhere.

Odds are, they’ll end up with one of the Elmore/Sellers/Florimon group as the backup middle infielder. The other two will either be waived off the roster, or kept as depth out of Triple-A, with the hope that they’re better depth options than Michael Martinez or Jayson Nix. Overall, these guys aren’t that significant to the makeup of the roster. They cost nothing, could provide a cheap option for the middle infield role, and are easily expendable if the Pirates need the roster spots later in the off-season.

The Rodriguez addition just means that these guys will be fighting for one bench spot, rather than two.

Gaby Sanchez DFAed

It’s hard to say what the Pirates will be doing at first base. I don’t think the decision to DFA Gaby Sanchez says anything more than the fact that they didn’t want to take him to arbitration. By designating him for assignment, they could non-tender him tomorrow, then try to re-sign him at a cheaper price.

Neal Huntington has said over and over that Pedro Alvarez is currently their first baseman. He hasn’t said whether they will go with a platoon. If they do go with Alvarez, they should go with a platoon. And like I wrote last week, Gaby Sanchez is a good platoon option.

It’s still possible that they could go a completely different direction with first base. Right now all we know is that Alvarez is the first baseman, and nothing else.

Minor League Signings

Minor league signings usually amount to depth throughout the year in most cases. I don’t think today’s signings will provide an exception. However, they were interesting additions. Gorkys Hernandez should be familiar to Pirates fans. Ironically, he was traded away for Gaby Sanchez, and returned the same day Sanchez was designated for assignment. He doesn’t have much of a bat, but has outstanding defense in center field, along with speed. Hernandez could be a good outfield depth option, capable of playing all three outfield spots with a lot of defensive value. It’s likely that he will play out of Triple-A.

Deibinson Romero is a bit more interesting due to this article from FanGraphs, looking at the best minor league free agents. Romero ranked number one, finishing first overall in the Steamer projections for WAR among minor league free agents. Each position player was given 550 plate appearances, and Romero finished with a 1.9 WAR, which is right around average for a player with 550 plate appearances.

The interesting thing here is that Romero is primarily a third baseman. The Pirates are thin in their minor league system at third base. Josh Harrison looked like a great option last year, and definitely deserves the starting role this year. But if Harrison doesn’t work out, the Pirates will need some fallback options. Sean Rodriguez could be one, although he’s more valuable as a utility player. Romero could be an interesting option if he lives up to his projections. If he ends up being this year’s Yangervis Solarte, then it will be a great addition. Otherwise, he’s just another low-cost guy who will be filling out the Triple-A roster.

Francisco Liriano Rumors

It’s probably no surprise that the Pirates are making Francisco Liriano a priority. They offered him $15.3 M under a qualifying offer, which was an offer that many people felt Liriano would accept. The Pirates had to think there was a good chance he could accept that offer, and I doubt they would have extended it unless they were serious about bringing him back. The starting pitching market looks to be stalled by Jon Lester, which means the Pirates might be waiting on Liriano, even if he is a priority.

Non-Tender Deadline

The non-tender deadline is tomorrow, which is the deadline for the Pirates to offer all unsigned players a contract for the 2015 season. The guys with 0-3 years of service time (excluding Super Two players) will get offers, simply because they have no bargaining power, and there is no need to non-tender them. Most of them could be waived and possibly retained later in the off-season if a roster spot is needed.

The non-tender deadline is a bigger issue for arbitration eligible players. The Pirates have several of those, although none of them are expected to be non-tendered. Here are the players who are eligible, and their projected arbitration prices.

Neil Walker – $8,600,000

Pedro Alvarez – $5,500,000

Mark Melancon – $4,000,000

Vance Worley – $2,900,000

Josh Harrison – $2,200,000

Sean Rodriguez – $2,000,000

Travis Snider – $2,000,000

Chris Stewart – $1,300,000

Jared Hughes – $1,100,000

Francisco Cervelli – $1,100,000

I expect tomorrow could be a busy day for transactions for several reasons. First, the Pirates will have to tender all of these players offers, although I don’t expect anyone to be non-tendered from this list (Gaby Sanchez will probably officially be non-tendered, making him a free agent). Then you’ve got other teams non-tendering players, which could lead to a potential trade (much like today’s deal with Rodriguez). If that doesn’t happen, several new free agents will enter the market, which could provide some options for the Pirates, most likely in the bullpen or bench.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**Pirates Reportedly Making Francisco Liriano a Priority

**Pirates Sign Gorkys Hernandez and Deibinson Romero

**Pirates Acquire Sean Rodriguez, DFA Gaby Sanchez

**Winter Leagues: Grand Slam From Sebastian Valle, Willy Garcia Homers

**Tyler Glasnow News and Links

  • Hi guys,

    Any chance that maybe the Pirates have someone like Tony Sanchez as a bench option / platoon partner for Alvarez. I know at the end of last season in AAA, Tony Sanchez was playing some 1B. I think Tony Sanchez’s bat is MLB ready and his defense as a catcher leaves something to be desired. But would he offer more value as a platoon partner with Alvarez at 1B and as a third emergency catcher than what Gaby Sanchez would bring in resigning him to a lower $$$ contract. I imagine there were probably times last year where Hurdle would have liked to used Chris Stewart’s bat off the bench but couldn’t because he didn’t want to pull Martin from the game and he really had no third catcher with any extensive MLB experience behind the plate.

    Yes, I do realize that Tony Sanchez’s 2014 stats against LHP were atrocious but in years prior, his numbers weren’t nearly as bad. In fact in .968 OPS in 68 ABs at AAA.

    I think the PIrates need to for once and for all figure out what they have in Tony Sanchez. He may not be the catcher of the future or the catcher for today, for that matter. But I do think his bat will give him opportunities to show what he can do consistently at the MLB level. If I were to pick 2 guys that I think are going to have breakout years for the Pirates in 2015, I would think I would be choosing Tony Sanchez and Gregory Polanco.

  • What will the excuse be when the Pirates dont spend any real money again this year? A. didnt want to do anything crazy B. we were willing to stretch beyond our comfort zone. C. we were in on some quality players. d. had to repair several ski lifts

  • Do not know if this has been discussed anywhere or not, but i would love to see the Bucs take a flier on Alexi Ogando. See if we can get him healthy and back on track. Might not be terrible to add someone like Wesley Wright either.

    • Just stole my Alexi Ogando thunder, absolutely on board if he’s healthy, even if he’s bound to eventually get hurt. Ray and Jim can fix his BB% issues, if he’s healthy

  • I think the RH best bat wins the last bench spot if they decide to keep Lambo. Which puts Deibinson Romero in a good spot. I say this because I think that while Sean Rodriguez is the obvious first choice super utility guy, with JHAY at 3rd, JHAY becomes the second contingency super utility guy with Romero filling in at 3rd. So the bench is then: Stewart, Rodriguez, Snider, Lambo, Romero. Which means T.Sanchez stays in AAA unless he beats out either Stewart or Lambo in Spring Training (or the Pirates trade Snider). The Pirates need to sign one #1 FA starting pitcher and they are done for the winter.

  • How about Dayan Viciedo? He’s a guy I read might be non tendered. Is his fielding so bad that he couldn’t back up corner IF? I just want more options if we putting faith in Alvarez at 1B.

    • lonleylibertarian
      December 2, 2014 5:52 pm

      He may have enough trade value to get tendered – he does have some power – and would be a nice right hand bat off the bench – the defense is probably iffy – but might be survivable for 20-30 games a year at first and/or third. At just 25 if you can get him for a couple of B/C prospects he could be interesting.

    • If your faith is wavering in Alvarez, Viciedo is most certainly not the guy you want as a backup.

      Poor defender everywhere Chicago has tried him on the field with less power and OBP than Alvarez and serious makeup issues on top of that peachy package.

      Was supposed to be a stud when he left Cuba, though.

      • Yea I sorta felt the same but wasn’t sure how bad he is defensively. Also not much out there at 1B.

  • formerburgher
    December 2, 2014 4:26 pm

    How about signing Michael Morris as that r.h. bat at first and off the bench. It would cost some money but be a big upgrade over Gaby.

    • Morse* I actually like the idea of signing Morse to play first for a year or two, but that would mean trading Pedro and giving Lambo a backup job.

  • Randy Ritchey
    December 2, 2014 1:41 pm

    As far as Pedro goes this all about what he wants, and by that I mean his future. If he wants to be the player everyone expected, this is the year he needs to find that player. If he doesn’t he will soon be the same after thought that other supposed power hitters turn out to be. At the age of 28 he should be where he needs to be physically an mentally to be what he was drafted to be. If he goes into 2016 and stays where he is statistically, his career will not be what was expected, and with free agency looming, that could be very bad for him and the money the Pirates invested.

  • lonleylibertarian
    December 2, 2014 12:53 pm

    I like adding Sean R – but would have preferred Bonifacio. Like the speed element – pinch runner – late inning defensive replacement/injury security for Walker. The Steamer WAR projections are roughly equal. Perhaps he could still be an option depending on how the pitching signings go. My other hoped for addition was Scott Van Slyke – but the Dodgers will not let him go cheap. He would be a great platoon partner for Pedro/Polanco and nice right hand bat off the bench.

    • I don’t neccessarily disagree Lonely, but I think most people expect Bonifacio to land a 2 year deal for around $10 mil, so SeanRod is cheaper too. As for SVS, who can argue with adding a Van Slyke to the club, but I doubt NH is going to trade for him at his highest value. He really had a good year last year and if the Dodgers do trade him, it’ll probably be for some real prospects or MLB talent.

      • lonleylibertarian
        December 2, 2014 5:38 pm

        Sticky,
        Would you go for a Josh Bell for SVS trade straight up?

        • Friedman would hang up on you.

          • lonleylibertarian
            December 2, 2014 7:39 pm

            What else would it take?

            • I highly doubt it would take any more than a top 20 hitting prospect to get Scott Van Slyke.

            • I don’t think they would trade him myself, particularly for an unproven position prospect. They will want to trade a big reputation/salary guy less versatile guy like Crawford.

              • Ah, I read you wrong…I was looking at the question more from a straight up value POV than the Dodgers situation in particular. Yeah, doesn’t make much sense for them to trade one of the young, cheap guys when it’s the old expensive ones that really need to go.

            • Thinking about your question for a while, I don’t think the Pirates have what it would take to get Van Slyke. They are looking for a LH bullpen arm and a stopgap SS. Unless you want to see Watson go, which I wouldn’t recommend, I wouldn’t see that deal happening.

              • lonleylibertarian
                December 3, 2014 7:12 pm

                So maybe Hanson and Melancon – I love MM BUT he is getting expensive and I am of the school that says closers can be made out of raw clay – Dave Guisti and Dennis Eckersley proved that – not to mention Hanrahan, Grilli and Melancon

                • No, they want a LHer and a MLB ready SS lonely. Justin Wilson probably would have been a candidate, and Hanson isn’t ML ready, nor, in my opinion, a SS.

  • I like the addition of SeanRod as the new JHay SuperUT guy. I know everyone is saying “the Bucs usually carry a defense first back up plus a UTIF guy”, but was that just because their UTIF (J-Hay) couldn’t play SS? If they believe SeanRod can play a capable SS for a few innings or even a few games, could that change how they address their bench?
    Right now we’re looking at SeanRod, Snider, Stewart as locks. What if the other spots aren’t wasted on a defense only MIF that never plays, but instead go to guys that can hit and offer some versatility (i.e. Lambo or Corey Hart as a 1B/OF, plus somebody else as a 1B/3B. I think this also depends on if they’re wiling to give Pedro ANY time at 3B again, even in an emergency. If so, then a guy like Lambo makes more sense, as Pedro can slide to 3B and Lambo goes in at 1B.
    Just spitballing here.

    • Very much agree.

      Tim was making an observation based on how the team was put together in the past, and that’s irrefutable. But I wouldn’t necessarily call having a backup defense-first SS organizational dogma, and I don’t think he is either. I think if anything, that player has been rostered in the past due to lack of confidence in the starter. Last year, Barmes went down with an injury on June 30th -right around the time Mercer started hitting- and no replacement was added to the roster.

      I don’t think there are above average or even average Major League hitters laying around the league these days waiting to be picked up as bench pieces, so there may not be a huge benefit. But if the backup SS role isn’t going to get playing time, any change would be an improvement.

    • I agree. A glove only shortstop could be stashed in Indy and would only be a phone call away if Mercer gets hurt.

  • Really nice round-up, Tim.

    -With the Pirates having settled on Jordy Mercer as the guy at short, how much sense does the all-glove-backup-middle-infielder really make? Assuming this player is on the 25-man, you’re only left with one LHB on the bench is a RHB is brought in to back up 1B/OF, and you’re fairly obligated to make that decision considering the other three RH bats on the bench can’t hit. Seems like stashing Florimon in AAA in case of injury would leave the team more flexibility.

    -Liriano as the primary target worries me due to the history of QO players in free agency. None of these guys seem to sign quickly, which means the Pirates could find themselves in a situation where they’re outbid with no options left to fall back on. I’d much rather target a guy like Brandon McCarthy early on and use Liriano as an equal second option.

    • Yep. They gotta give Liriano a deadline like “hey. if you don’t accept this by X time, we’re gonna have to move on. The door’s open as long as we haven’t signed anybody yet.”

    • It’s possible they don’t prioritize a strong defensive backup. Looking back to 2012 (the last time they entered the season counting on a shortstop with strong defense), they carried Josh Harrison and Yamaico Navarro as infielders. Both were more utility types, and neither were strong defensively at short.

      In 2013 they went with John McDonald and Brandon Inge as backups, despite having Barmes as a starter again (although I don’t think they were counting on him the entire year). Then, in 2014, they brought Barmes in as a backup, although that could have been due to a lack of trust in Mercer’s defense.

  • It would appear to me that the Pirates could have upgraded the bench even better with Descalso than Rodriguez since Descalso is going to be non tendered, not that Rodriguez was not a good pick up, they might have gotten Descalso for salary only.

    • Except that Daniel Descalso is awful at baseball.

      • Don’t tell the Cards he is awful, but then what do they know! The only reason he will be non tendered is salary, much like Gabby Sanchez.

        • Ha! Please.

          Regardless of the fact that he had his playing time cut severely last year, pretending the Cards are cutting a guy projected to make less than $2m because of salary is hilarious.

        • lonleylibertarian
          December 2, 2014 1:17 pm

          Surprisingly Descalso is worse against RHP over his career – and the Bucs and Cards do not face enough LHP to take advantage of his stronger LHP split.

          His Steamer projection is not as good as SR or EB…

        • STL has to cut that 2 million salary since its such a burden?

  • You forgot Tony Watson in your list of arbitration eligible players.

  • I like getting Rodriguez depending what goes the other way but not as 1B platoon. I know I’m dreaming but I’m hoping for a scenario where the Pirates either bring in 2 SP (Liriano, McCarthy) No Volquez. Or SP/1B (Liriano or McCarthy with Brandon Moss). To me this team gets better either way. If Alvarez turns it around then Great but if not then you have a MLB 1B on your roster that can play OF and if I remember right he played some 3B as a Pirate.

  • Really like the Rodriguez pick up. Curious to see what happens at 1B, I’d probably just platoon Pedro and Tony Sanchez at this point. Save some money on Tony and put it toward pitching. The BMTIB has done a nice job so far this offseason, they’ve addressed needs by adding a catcher, bench help, and a middle of the rotation guy. Go add a #2 starter and some bullpen help, and this has been a successful offseason.

    • Lee Foo Young
      December 2, 2014 9:05 am

      Marty….is that you? Not one complaint? Is this the influence of your GF? (poor girl) 😄😄😄😄

      • I still don’t think they’ll add bullpen help or a #2 starter, I have to see it to believe it. There is a lot of complaining to be done if they do not add those pieces.

    • I agree plus Tony would provide some more roster flexibility being a 3rd catcher.

  • Just throwing this out there…

    I wonder if nontendering Stewart and trading for Yasmani Grandal could be an option.

    The Padres are trying to trade him and Grandal/Cervelli would make a cute little platoon.

    • No.

      • Yes.

        i like cervelli, but i’m just trying to be creative in ways to improve the team. Cervelli’s health history leaves some to be desired, so another solid option (high .700s OPS vs righties and good framing) might be a decent idea.

        • Cervelli and Stewart will be the catchers. People just need to learn to accept this. I’m 100% okay with this. A combined 2.2 WAR last year, Cervelli has a career .349 OBP, both ranked in the top 7 of MLB catchers in pitch framing last year, and Cervelli throws out runners at an average rate while Stewart is above average. As long as Cervelli is healthy, they’ll be in pretty good shape at catcher.

          • yeah they’re definitely in decent shape already. I can’t argue with that. I guess i’m just intrigued by the thought of Grandal and think it could put the C position in even better shape.

            • I get the 1B thing, but I think Tony Sanchez can give you pretty good production vs LHP for league minimum. Money saved can go toward pitching. This team needs to worry about pitching, pitching, pitching right now. Really, that’s the only holes left that need patched up.

              • Sure. Further improving Catcher should absolutely not be the priority right now. I agree on pitching being the priority.

                And for the record, Grandal is cheaper than Stewart, so that could also save $ for pitching. but the argument can be made that they shouldn’t need to cut costs before adding the needed pitching.

                i’m just excited by the idea of having 2 catchers combing for a .780 OPS with good framing and okay overall defense. That’s almost re-creating Russ Martin..

                Maybe Tony Sanchez can be Yasmani Grandal. You could be right.

                • I agree they shouldn’t need to cut cost to be able to add a #2 SP and another arm, but we both know this team will look to spend as little as possible to contend. So shedding dollars helps with that. I believe Cervelli will be at least equal to, even not even slightly better than, Martin offensively this year. Many people seem to forget Russ’ career OPS going into last season was .745, Cervelli’s has been over .800 the past two seasons.

                  This past season was a career year for Russ, and with him going into his age 32 season I highly doubt he’ll repeat that. Defensively he’ll be better overall than Stewart and Cervelli due to his athleticism and throwing, but those two both ranked as better pitch framers last year. I don’t think replacing Russ’ production will be as difficult as many think. I would not be surprised if Stewart and Cervelli’s combine WAR is pretty equal to Russ’ this year.

                  • Definitely a reasonable way of looking at it.

                  • Cervelli has been over .800 the past two seasons with 61 and 162 with PED influenced plate appearances, Not only are these SSS’s, but they are tainted. The only year in his career when he he had over 300 plate appearance his OPS was .694. Combine this with his minor league career OPS of .703 and their is little reason to believe he is a good offensive player. He also has never appeared in more than 102 games games combining Majors and Minors in a season. So at best if he can stay healthy (and that is a big if) we can expect a defense only catcher whose offensive ability is limited to being able to draw a walk.

                  • The problem with Cervelli he is one concussion away from retirement. If he could get 500 ABs then I would really like the guy but history suggest thats not going to happen 250 is the most likely outcome which means we are looking for 350 additional ABs to fill behind the plate. I for one shudder thinking about Stewy getting that many ABs

        • Grandal wouldn’t be a good pickup, he’d be a great one.

          I liked the idea of doing something similar except with John Jaso, but I don’t think you chance his concussion history by putting him back behind the plate.

      • Lee Foo Young
        December 2, 2014 9:07 am

        JayGray….SD pitchers preferred pitching to Rene Rivera. What does that tell you (see MLBTR)? Now, if Grandal can play 1b….

        For what he’d bring, the cost would be too high, imo.

        • Yeah i saw that his “receiving” was worse. Yeah this is one one of those times where i’m definitely not a scout and don’t know the intricacies between “receiving” and “framing.” and would have to defer to them.

          Heck. It might just mean that Rivera is excellent at receiving, while not being totally damning of Grandal.

          Yeah i have no idea. Definitely haven’t watched a ton of Padres ball. But you make good points.

          • Let’s keep this in perspective, Foo. There are still, as there has always been, a lot of stuff catchers do that is NOT framing.

            • Grandal actually IS good at framing. He is also bad at receiving. At least that’s what Keith Law said.

              How are they different? I dunno.

              • Yeah, this is where the whole pitch-framing-as-an-undervalued-skill narrative loses me…the skill itself isn’t even close to being clearly defined, let alone the run values associated with it.

                I think we can all agree that framing and receiving are valuable skills, but it would seem wise to still take the better overall baseball player.

                • my guess is that framing is strictly the ability to turn balls into strikes and keep strikes strikes based on pitch fx data.

                  Receiving might be more a qualitative observation based on blocking, game calling, and other stuff that i can’t fathom.

                  • “Receiving might be more a qualitative observation based on blocking, game calling…”

                    There was a time long, long ago where this was called “catching”. Crazy, right?

                    Look, I think you know I’m not the proverbial old man yelling at the kids to get off my lawn, but this stuff is getting to be a bit much. I have little doubt we’ll be looking back on these conversations in five years or so laughing at how much our collective knowledge has matured.

    • That would give us PED platoon.

      • haha nice.

        i think athletes should be required to take steroids. I want the best athletes that science can create!

  • Looks like the cake has been baked ( utility and backups) now it just needs some icing ( signing liriano,volquez or two comparable pitchers) then sliced up and put on the plates ( trading pedro for a real first basemen) sit back with a tall glass of moo juice and enjoy.( playoffs and beyond for a third year)

  • Our Starting lineup is set. Not sure of the order just yet but every position is pretty much set in stone (except for possibly a platoon partner) C Cervelli 1B Alvarez 2B Walker SS Mercer 3B Harrison LF Marte CF McCutchen RF Polanco Bench Stewart ,Rodriguez,Snider. Chances are the only thing we will see the rest of the off season is possibly a few bench/and Bullpen upgrades but most likely the only big deals we will see is starting rotation. We could probably get by with just Liriano, which in my opinion is a key move we must make, We could get by with just that because we have Locke,Worley,Cumpton and hopefully Taillon and Kingham to fill out the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation after Liriano,Cole and Burnett. But I think they need to get Liriano plus one more to overtake the Cardinals . The division is getting better every year. The Cubs are emerging and I expect the Brewers to be a little better than they were this year, Reds probably to with guys getting healthy. Volquez in the 4 slot would be REAL nice but if not a reclamation project like Brett Anderson or Josh Johnson could pay off. Of even possibly swing a trade for Niese from the Mets or something. Our season in my opinion rests on getting Liriano or someone equal to him for the #1 or #2 slot…. I am completely comfortable with our offense how it stands, at east the 8 starting position players. All are capable of hitting over 275 except Pedro who will fit in nicely in the middle of all that with his 35 HR power.

    • I hope they make a very earnest & determined run at both of our FA starters. It can be easily justified by the gap that exists to reach much of the organizational pitching depth and the fact that much of the SP FA class doesn’t match the Buc criteria for a reclamation. Brett Anderson & Josh Johnson , for example, may be ruled out by their slide being precipitated by injury.

  • Is it possible we could have a difficult time attempting to re-sign Gaby ? Is it a thinner market for right hand hitting 1st basemen than left handed? Could another team be motivated to outbid the Bucs for his services, and what figure do you speculate may be the the Pirates cap on that bid ?

    • A better question is how often do players who are DFA’d and non-tendered even consider an offer from the same organization, let alone a low-ball one? I think most would sooner go to Japan (e.g.) than take that kind of deal. A free agent at the end of his career or coming off an exorbitant contract is one thing, but someone still productive and in their arb years is another matter.

      • I really don’t know…. I am sure there exists a bank of statistics collected on the subject somewhere . A guy like Gaby may be the perfect case. A guy who has perceived value but has seen a steady slide in valued numbers and will not get his arbitration figure from anyone . The team may still value him , just at a lesser figure and the player has an interest in the city and/or staying in a winning situation , etc.

        • I understand what you are saying, but another reason Gaby would want to opt out from Pgh. is the way Hurdle subs him in late game situations (1-21 against RPs after PHing appearances). His PHing was decent in 2014 and he has hit LHers in the past, but that slide you mention would likely continue if he stayed with the Bucs.

          • Wow ! I came to that exact conclusion.. So you or I would have a grievance with Clint Hurdle and the way he chose to use us. Maybe Gaby does too.

          • Wow ! I came to that exact conclusion.. So you or I would have a grievance with Clint Hurdle and the way he chose to use us. Maybe Gaby does too.

        • I think Gaby may have more value to a AL team. NL teams have to use their benches a lot more than the AL teams (random example: Bucs had over 500 PAs last year from “subs”; Orioles, an AL team, had less than 150 – this is what happens with the DH.) Gaby can’t be tucked away on the bench in Pittsburgh, and be nothing more than a platoon option. He has to be part of a 500 AB per year bench…and after the platoon gig, you are left with a guy with an OPS in the low 6’s that can only play the least difficult position on the field. Tim has been very staunch in defending Gaby as a lefty-masher, and he’s right. Gaby the platoon partner could probably be worth .5 war and justify the arbitration salary, but Gaby the bench player has negative value that kills his worth to a typical NL team.

      • “A better question is how often do players who are DFA’d and non-tendered even consider an offer from the same organization, let alone a low-ball one?”

        The Pirates did this with Jeff Karstens two years ago.

        • Neal really didn’t want to re-sign Karstens though, due to health concerns. And he was right. Only reason he did re-sign Jeff was availability and familiarity with the club in a pinch, and there was definitely a SP crisis at the moment he re-signed. I don’t think that was a case of trying to get bargaining power to renegotiate a lower price.

          • All I did was answer the question. I made none of the implications you seem to be suggesting, nor do I disagree with them.

          • Do we have proof NH didnt want to sign Karstens? I dont see many, if any, examples of NH really giving a crap what other people think. If he signs a guy, its because he thinks the value is a good bet. Seems pure assumption off no real evidence that NH didnt like resigning Karstens. It was, all in all, a wonderful move that got the player for less money. NH seems to simply look for the right value over simply getting a player at what it takes.

            • Neal Huntington:
              “We made our decision based on all of our information and based on, that big if, in our minds, was too big an if. We didn’t want to take the gamble of $4 million that Jeff Karstens
              was going to pitch effectively and/or pitch healthy. And I’m not going
              to hide from the fact that if we’re wrong, that statement is going to
              come back to haunt me. It’s a chance that we took. Every decision we make is a gamble. There’s a very good chance we’re wrong. There’s a very good chance we’re
              right. We probably won’t hear about it if we’re right. We’ll probably
              hear a lot about it if we’re wrong. And that’s okay. Our goal was to
              take that $4 million, reinvest in multiple pieces or invest it in one
              piece, or use it, in our minds, for a better probability to have a
              bigger impact on the club.”

              At the time Karstens rejoined the club in 2013, Liriano was hurting, JMac was headed for the dumpster, and Morton was still throwing rehab games. It may well be true that Neal was smart enough to recognize Karstens wasn’t worth $4 mill on the open market, given he couldn’t put together a deal for Karstens. But that has nothing to do with Neal going in another direction in the 2012-13 offseason. Without the simultaneous injuries/problems with the starters, Karstens would not have been back in a Bucs uniform, even at $2 million. He was only brought in because it was essentially an emergency as there was no depth in AAA beyond Locke.

              • So again i ask, do you have any proof he didnt want to sign Karstens…ill add AT ANY PRICE. Because all you have shown is that NH did not want him at 4 million, and didnt think anyone would offer that. NH signed him to what he felt was fair, and clearly wanted him for that price since he did that.

      • It’s not a low ball offer if no other teams are topping it.

    • The league is short on right handed bats in general right now. I don’t think I’d necessarily say the Pirates would have trouble resigning Gaby if they really wanted to, but I also don’t think they’re going to save a lot of money.

      The John McDonald’s and Clint Barmes’s of the baseball world sign for $1.5m-$2m, and they can’t hit a lick. If the Pirates think they can truly find a better right handed bat than Gaby Sanchez, great. But if this move is to save money, it’s just plain stupid.

      Hold out your hand, look at it, and that gives you a good idea of how much pitching a million bucks buys you in today’s free agent market.

  • Do you think Rodriguez could be the first base platoon as well? Not much average but he does have some pop. I think Alvarez will get the majority of playing time anyways and he’s shown that when he’s right, it really doesn’t matter if its LHP or RHP. If we get 2013 Pedro, he only needs to sit against the Kershaws and Bumgarners of the world. I see no reason to take him out of the lineup against, say, Mike Minor.

    • Pedro is a split second from being an excellent hitter and it is totally up to him whether he wants to be a strong MLB hitter or not. Is he capable of changing his swing to make sure he keeps his head/eyes on the pitch longer? He has everything else, but needs to recognize why he is not hitting .275 with 30 HR’s a year.

      It is also time to go Free Agent shopping in our own AAA Roster. We can use the additional money that Liriano will provide by refusing our QO. The only thing that is necessary at this point is to set the stage for bringing up Jameson Taillon or Nick Kingham by June of 2015. We need to process some of these guys through to the majors or use them in a trade. I do not like to see bringing up a pitcher too soon, but, IMO, it is even worse to let them die on the vine at AAA.

      • Pedro I agree could be but I thought that last year too. I want a legitimate 1B option to play everyday.

        • lonleylibertarian
          December 3, 2014 4:32 pm

          So do a lot of teams – there are just 20 1st basemen who had over 300 ABs and a WAR over 1.5 in 2014 – so at least 10 teams – the Pirates being one of them had a 1st baseman who was worth maybe 1 win.

          BTW – Justin Morneau is one of those above 1.5 and was affordable – yes he got a boost from playing in Colorado [but his wRC+ away was higher than at home] – he does not need be platooned and could have been signed for less than the great James Loney – who the Bucs reportedly coveted and chased. He is a plus defender also.

      • 5 Years in, and a career OPS+ of 105 makes him way closer to an average hitter than an excellent hitter.

        I think after 5 years we have a decent idea who Pedro is. he is a Dave Kingman for our ages. He hits the ball far when he hits it, but he does not hit it often enough.
        The Odds of him improving significantly at age 28 ( his age at opening day next year) are slim.

        • Ironic of you to reference Alvarez’s age and Dave Kingman in the same breath considering Kingman’s best seasons were from age 30-32.

          • at his best however, Kingman was not so great…

            And the odds of Pedro being with the Pirates at age 30 are pretty slim.

        • Doc: Good points, but let me bring this a little closer to home. A few years ago we traded to get a kid by the name of Moss, who by all reports, had all the tools to be a 25 to 30 HR/year hitter if he was given a chance to play. Three years later he was gone, and then another year of wasted effort with Philly. As a last resort he signed with Oakland where, at the age of 28, he began to hit like he was supposed to years before. Take a look at his numbers the past 3 years – ages 28, 29, and 30. Pedro has that ability and more, but he has to realize he cannot rely upon his past performances in college or even 2 years ago – you have to SEE THE BALL TO HIT THE BALL. As soon as he is ready to to accept that he needs help, he will get much, much better.

          • He was really nice in Lehigh Valley when I saw him play. I put the Moss blame solely on Tracy, who jerked him around like a yo-yo

            • no need to blame anyone but Brandon Moss for his performance in PIttsburgh. The player has to step up and take the most of his chances and he got a lot in Pittsburgh. I’m no Tracy fan, but geesh.

              • And that applies to Jose Bautista also. Plenty of opportunities for both that weren’t taken advantage of in the NL.

    • Rodriguez will have enough to worry about between giving Walker and Polanco some platoon help and giving Harrison and Mercer non-platoon-related rest.

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