Jon Heyman is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have listened to offers for all seven players who have one year left on their contract with the team. That list would include Mark Melancon, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Charlie Morton and Michael Morse. He also mentions that the Pirates have considered signing Cervelli to an extension.
We have heard rumors about Melancon and Alvarez being on the trading block. Walker falls into that category too, as someone who is about to make a lot of money in his fourth year of arbitration. The other four players seem like they’re just doing their due diligence, to see what others teams would offer. Morse and Morton likely have very low value due to their contract/performance, while the two catchers have very reasonable contracts that offer a lot of value for the money.
Cervelli had a terrific breakout season in 2015, hitting .295/.370/.401 in 130 games, which is 37 more games than he’s ever played in a season. The Pirates have Elias Diaz waiting in the wings at AAA, where he was voted the best defensive catcher in all of the minors this season. It would seem that with Cervelli’s past that includes numerous injuries, plus Diaz being Major League ready soon, and eventually Reese McGuire arriving, the Pirates would need a fairly team-friendly deal to want to lock up Cervelli after the 2016 season. He played 250 games over seven seasons before joining the Pirates, so you’re taking a chance that a catcher entering his age 30 season is going to continue to provide value, while also avoiding the injury bug that had plagued him during his career.
If they do lock him up, then that would give them an excess of catching to deal from to strengthen other areas. The short-term problem though is that the value on McGuire isn’t too high now since his offense hasn’t caught up to his defense yet, while Diaz is the only strong third string option in the system. Tony Sanchez had a very poor season in AAA in 2015, and wasn’t a September call-up, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his time with the Pirates end this winter.