Winter Leagues: Starling Marte is Added to Dominican League Roster

Only one player from the Pittsburgh Pirates saw action on Monday night around winter ball, as most teams had the day off. There was still big news from the Dominican Republic. Starling Marte was added to the active roster of Leones del Escogido. While he was eligible to play last night, the team announced on Monday afternoon that he would make his winter debut on Wednesday night.

Marte hasn’t played winter ball since the 2013-14 off-season. He joined Escogido in December of 2013 for the final few regular season games, then played for them in the round robin playoffs. A back injury cut short his winter that year and the Pirates haven’t allowed him to play since. Marte has tried to play each season since then, but the Pirates have placed him on the Extreme Fatigue list each winter. That list keeps players out of action for the first two months and requires permission from the parent club to play after that point.

This season is different though due to the lost time from his 80-game suspension. Now the Pirates want him to make up for some lost time. Marte hit .275/.333/.379 in 77 games this season for the Pirates, with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases. That .712 OPS was his lowest in six seasons in the majors.

Pablo Reyes went 0-for-4 on Monday. He is batting .200 through ten games, with six singles and four walks. He was the only player from the Pirates to see action.

While no date has been announced, both Jose Osuna and Elias Diaz are expected to join their team in Venezuela during the second half of November. Osuna will see time at third base this winter. We will keep you updated if a more specific date is announced.

  • I’m assuming when Osuna plays, he’ll play 3B?

    • He is supposed to play first base, but the amount of time he sees there will likely depend on how good he is there. Since winter ball is technically the regular season in Venezuela, the only goal is winning, not developing. If he can’t play the spot, he won’t stay there.

  • I am not completely up to speed with the situation in Venezuela but last I heard it was pretty unsettled down there. Do the players have an option to stay here over the winter? Or do the visas force them to return while they are not working?

    • As far as I know, none of the Pirates players live in the worst areas and the teams take precautions to protect the players. No player has mentioned concern over their safety. I’ve talked to American-born players who have been there and they said they were basically sheltered from the outside world when they weren’t at the stadium.

  • It seems as if he won the argument, as management didn’t want him to play. Wonder if there are contingencies attached, such as number of games, ab’s or steals attempted. He needs to be healthy and rested going into camp, as he’s vital for any hope of a successful 2018.

    • Pirates have no problem shutting down players for the winter. Eduardo Vera really wanted to pitch this winter, Diaz and Osuna don’t want to be on their teams already. Polanco has wanted to play every year (not sure about this year) Meadows signed with a Dominican team. If they didn’t want Marte to play, he wouldn’t be playing.

      As for Marte, he had played full winter seasons and then followed that up with big seasons in pro ball, so they might not put limits on him, other than the games he has already missed. The league schedule includes more days off than a normal MLB schedule and less travel, so that helps for rest.

      • What does a player of Marte’s skill level get paid for winter ball…as opposed to someone like Osuna?

        • Nothing big from what I’ve heard, but it’s more than they pay in the minor leagues. A player like Elvis Escobar is making more during winter ball than he does with the Pirates each year, which is why they allow most players to play.