The roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates almost seems set. There are technically two bullpen spots available, but there is a pretty good idea who the Pirates will go with. There is one bench spot open, and only two real candidates for that final spot. The bench battle seems up in the air, with closer to 50/50 odds than the bullpen decisions. You add in some of the roster questions (Will Clayton Richard stick around? What will happen with the out-of-option players?), and the rest of this week should be about confirming what is largely expected to happen.
After all of the discussions this Spring with Clint Hurdle, Neal Huntington, and just watching how the Pirates have constructed their team, here are my predictions for the final moves.
I’m going with Arquimedes Caminero and Jared Hughes here. Caminero is a lock at this point, making the final decision between Hughes and Stolmy Pimentel. The Pirates showed today that they aren’t afraid to option a good pitcher to Indianapolis in order to preserve depth. They sent John Holdzkom down, although that was mostly to create a spot for Caminero. I don’t think the decision between Pimentel and Hughes will be on the same level. The Pirates seem to like Hughes a lot, and while they like the stuff and upside with Pimentel, I don’t see them picking him over Hughes. That’s especially true when you consider how infrequently they used Pimentel last year, and how much they used Hughes.
Pimentel would have to be designated for assignment, raising the question of what will happen to him. I still like his stuff, and think the best case scenario would have him clearing waivers and going to Indianapolis, where they could use him as a starter and try to get him on track. But Pimentel has some upside as a starter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a rebuilding team with nothing to lose takes a shot at him.
This one seems close, and if you would have asked me any other time in camp, I would have felt that Andrew Lambo was a lock for the final spot. Part of what made Lambo seem like a lock was the fact that he was left-handed, which is something the Pirates lack on their bench right now. They also lack speed and a true shortstop. Pedro Florimon can bring both of those things.
Complicating matters is the fact that Florimon is out of options, while Lambo can be sent to Triple-A. This is very similar to the Holdzkom/Caminero decision. You’ve got a guy who had amazing results in Triple-A, and you kind of want to see what he can do with a role in the majors. But there’s another guy who the team loves, and who looks intriguing enough that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give him a look early in the season, rather than losing him to the waiver process.
Right now my prediction would be Florimon getting the final spot, with the Pirates focusing on the lack of options, along with the speed and defense off the bench.
The opt out decision for Clayton Richard was due yesterday, and I’m guessing we’ll hear something on the subject tomorrow. (UPDATE: Richard decided to stay with the Pirates) I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again: I don’t see Richard opting out. He came to this team in order for them to get him back on track. This was after he had a conversation with former teammate, and 2014 Pirates reclamation project, Edinson Volquez. He’s been open to all of the changes proposed so far. The Pirates seem to really like him, and have been encouraged by the progress. They’ve got him in line as an early season depth option for the rotation.
The best case for Richard is that he finds a team willing to put him in the rotation today, which might be a short-term upgrade. But that team might not have the track record of the Pirates when it comes to fixing pitchers, which could hurt him in the long run. He seems to want to be here, and it would be hard to imagine him finding a better situation elsewhere. I’m predicting he stays with the team.
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**Pirates Ranked As The Seventh Most Talented Organization. Not bad for a contending team that has traded away some prospects and graduated top prospects to the majors in each of the last three seasons.
**Minor League Injury Updates: Holmes, Heredia, Ramirez, Luplow, Eppler, Frazier, Singh. A ton of updates here as we get closer to the start of the minor league season.
**Breaking Down The Final Pirates Roster Battles After Today’s Cuts. All of the analysis from the roster moves.
**Pirates Send John Holdzkom And Two Others To The Minors. And the roster moves themselves.
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.