Pirates Prospects Live Q&A: 1/19

It has been a few weeks since we’ve done a live Q&A. For most of that time, there was nothing really to talk about. But this week we have two big trades to discuss, plus an update to the 2018 Prospect Guide. After the trades, we added the four new prospects to the Top 50 in the eBook. If you haven’t purchased the eBook, you can get it for just $19.99 at the link above, which is a price that includes every future update.

Leave your questions about the trades, the Prospect Guide, the updated top 50, and anything else in the comments. I will respond starting at 2 PM.


  • I believe the Pirates should spend some of the money saved in the trades in the free agent market. They owe fans that much! Carlos Gonzolez would be a nice addition. Your thoughts!

  • Why does pirate management think they can remain competitive after the two trades they made leaving the team without power or an alleged number one starter?

  • What happens if Kang is able to come back via the DR? How will that affect this season and beyond?

  • Last winter we talked a lot of getting Quintana and trading Glasnow. Who were the other names floated in that potential deal?

  • Great questions and great answers, Tim. Well worth the small pittance of buckazoids.

  • Say it ain’t so, Montana.

    Adam Berry

    Per MLB: Minor League pitcher Montana DuRapau, currently on the Pirates’ Triple-A roster, received a 50-game suspension without pay following a second positive test for a drug of abuse.

    • So “drug of abuse” means not PEDs but something like marijuana?

      • Yep. Which he wouldn’t even be tested for if minor leaguers had union representation.

        • Given that it’s legal in a handful of states, marijuana use by athletes doesn’t bother me that much as long as it’s not affecting their ability to train or play. At least I don’t view it as worse than heavy drinking which seems to be pretty commonplace.

          If it’s marijuana, a 50-game suspension is ridiculous when they completely ignore alcohol abuse, including by those below age 21. Let the organizations handle it.

  • Will J- Hay be the last Pirate dealt or do you think Nova and Cervelli may go too? Also where does Hudson fit into the bullpen with so many other right handers?

  • Excluding Keller, who, out of our entire minor league system finishes their career with the highest career WAR? The entire system, majors and minors.

    • Oh this is a good one!

    • Majors and minors or just minors?

      If just minors and excluding Keller, I’d go with Tucker–still very young, plays a premium position well, and I think he’ll develop enough power to be an above average hitting SS.

      But if you give me Keller, Tucker, or the field, I’ll take the field–someone currently in our minors will surprise. Maybe Lolo, maybe Mitchell, maybe Baz, … maybe even Meadows.

  • What kind of realistic return can we expect if the team decided to trade JHay. A top 100 prospect, more or less?

    • It would depend on a lot, is it a 1 for 1 swap, do the Pirates eat money, lots of variables.

  • Where is the love for Bryan Reynolds? According to MLB.com he was rated the #23 best prospect in 2016 Draft. Graded a 1st round talent that fell to the 2nd round. His numbers look solid for his first year and half in minors and his swing looks very sound from both sides of the plate with seemingly solid tools across the board. Standing at 6’3 200+ what is not to like? Why was he not rated the Giants top prospect based off potential alone? I know Keith Law said he liked him and rated him #2 for Giants. Do you think if puts up stats in AA as he did last year in high A, he should sneak onto top 100 prospect list?

    • Somewhere around the 2016 draft, I think all of his love was left there.

    • So, what does an average big league hitter who doesn’t quite have the glove for center or the arm for right look like? Pretty good player, right? But probably one who’s gonna struggle to be an average big leaguer.

      Even if his floor is higher, that kind of prospect isn’t going to beat out one like Heliot Ramos, who already possesses three plus-or-better tools.

    • I found it interesting that Huntington commented on his intelligence. I don’t think that means a lot in baseball, but does seem to be something they value (similar comments were made when they drafted Taillon and Bell). Wrt Taillon and Bell, I don’t know how much their intelligence is responsible for their tinkering with mechanics, and both could probably be accused of over-thinking sometimes. But it seems like everything else being equal, you’d rather have a smart ballplayer than one that’s not as sharp.

      Anyway, just something that caught my attention in Huntington’s post-trade comments.

  • Thanks for the chat today guys! I’m working on an article that will probably go up on Sunday, discussing the comments Neal Huntington has made about contending this year.

    • Look forward to the article. I think Huntington believes 2019/2020 is realistically when they will be competitive again. If you break down his comments, he says they can be competitive this season and the team is closer to the 2011/2012 team than the 2007 team. They weren’t exactly competitive in 2011/2012. A GM can’t very well publicly say his team is not going to be competitive, because that throws the current players under the bus, especially when the team is made up of so many young players. I’m sure on opening day, most of those players believe the team can be competitive if a few breaks go their way. It’s natural for a competitive professional athlete who has been a top performer at every level on their way to MLB ever since t-ball, to believe they can compete. I’m sure Marte, Polanco, and Bell believe they can be all stars. I’m sure Moran, Moroff, and Luplow believe they can be better than average MLBers. I’m not saying those things are going to happen, but elite athletes are going to believe they can reach a ceiling and play at a high level. Without that attitude, they probably wouldn’t have made it this far. You can’t then have a GM tell the public this team isn’t very good.

  • Although some outfielders seem to make the adjustment to 1st base with relative ease (Couldn’t we use a 30 year old Wilver D. Stargell on this team as an outfielder!) Josh Bell seemed to struggle even while working very hard at learning. First base is his for a few years, but if 2021 arrives and the team is still at .500…

    If Craig doesn’t hit with enough power, who is the next 1st baseman in the rough? Martin obviously…but what then…Oneil Cruz if he continues to muscle up and lose agility? Should the Pirates continue to push for higher value position over skills at first, as has been the usual method?

    • Bell has made the adjustment about as well as you’d hope for a career outfielder who made the transition to the infield. He struggled the first two years, but has shown some solid improvements the last two years, and now I don’t think his defense is a big issue.

      I could see Colin Moran taking over for Bell in the future if Ke’Bryan Hayes adds some power and becomes a starting option. But I don’t think Bell’s defense is the issue it once was, as it should continue to improve, meaning replacing him definitely isn’t a priority right now.

    • I would never EVER move Oniel Cruz to first base. The guy has an 80 arm, there absolutely has to be a better position to move him to if he loses some agility.

      • Agreed. He’s also apparently pretty athletic. Third base or outfield seem more likely destinations for him than the right side of the infield, even with the size.

  • andrew.oneill88
    January 19, 2018 2:46 pm

    I saw on MLB Network that Rinku Singh signed a professional WWE contract. Can any former Pirates Prospects top his unique career change after their career ends in pro baseball?

    • I need no insight or experience to say absolutely not, because that’s the most beautiful story I’ve ever heard.

    • There have been a few players who have gone on to NFL careers. I know that Matt Curry currently designs and builds some pretty amazing looking swimming pools.

      But I don’t think anyone can top Rinku. A Disney movie about him and now a WWE career. It’s like the reverse of The Rock.

    • Zack Von Rosenberg is a walk on punter at LSU who won the SEC special teams player of the week earlier this year.

    • Buffo, the world’s strongest clown, was once a professional baseball player. His website indicates that he was in the Pirates’ system – probably in the 1970’s.

  • You should do these Q&As more often and make them free. So people can read them and said, “Crap, these guys know what they are talking about, please take my $$$$$”

    • We might do a free one next time. Then again, I’ve seen the questions from non-subscribers and I prefer the level of questions we get from the subscribers.

  • Are you going to do a Spring Training Roster Tracker this year?

    • Sorry I didn’t get back to you on Twitter about this question, I meant to and forgot. We discussed it this morning and we haven’t decided yet, but we should know soon.

  • Milbrath, Turley and Schugel all have to be on the OD roster or be lost to waivers. Do any of them go north with the team?

    • I could see a scenario where all three go north with the team. I think Schugel might be the most likely to be cut, since the Pirates would have a pretty good shot of trying to keep him around, based on previous transactions.

  • For a sense of perspective, what would have been the Pirates’ equivalent player/prospect package to Musgrove, Moran, Martin, and Feliz (if that was the package they were sending out in a hypothetical trade for a good but not great SP)? Fangraphs noted that there was potentially a perception problem with the trade bc Houston’s system was so loaded, noting that in fact the 4 were solid players/prospects in their own right. What would be the Pirates’ mirror of that package?

    • I don’t even think there’s an answer to this question. The Astros are so loaded that they were able to send out that package and not really feel a thing. And I don’t think the Pirates have specific guys to match value (they don’t really have a reliever like Feliz, for example).

      So here’s my best shot at the value, ignoring some of the specifics:

      I’d say Newman might be the equivalent of Moran in value, but Tucker might be the equivalent if you think Moran could see a big boost in value by repeating his 2017 power.

      I could mention one of the number of back of the rotation guys for Musgrove, but there’s also the feeling the Pirates think he can be more. So maybe Clay Holmes, who I think can be more than a back of the rotation guy.

      Edgar Santana might be the equivalent to Feliz as far as value. Maybe not as high in value though, since Feliz is already a middle reliever and could be more.

      And then for Martin, maybe someone like Stephen Alemais.

      It really depends on how you value the players though. Plus, there are floor factors here that make it so that you can’t really match up the players the Pirates have with the players the Astros had. So I wouldn’t even say the above is close to accurate, since all of those guys have different floors that would require a higher valued prospect to be included.

      • I was thinking about Newman as a match for Moran, each being pretty high floor guys, Newman boasting the plus speed and Moran the power potential, but then you get into the question of which matters more, and drawing the comparison gets fuzzy. Kuhl and Williams are similar value Major League pitchers right now, but neither has the pedigree of Musgrove, whereas Holmes has the upside but not the Major League experience.

        It’s a really hard argument to make completely.

        Of course, the difficulty in making the comparison probably says at least something about the relative strengths of the systems in and of itself.

      • I’d say Moran , Musgrove and feliz are clearly higher/better than those comps. And thank goodness they are

        • Moran is a 30 or 40 runner and fringe defender at 3B.

          Even if Newman ends up no better than an even runner and fielder at SS, he’s got close to a 1.5 WAR head start on Moran.

          Unless CM outperforms his defense, he’s gonna have to push 120 wRC+ to be more than a 2 WAR player based on similar ML comps.

          • Fringe defender? I am actually not sure if that means on the fringe of average? Or the fringe of being awful? I have read universally that he has:

            – a strong arm
            – soft hands
            – limited range

            I would think that means he will play the things he gets to and won’t get to as many as he should. That might mean average fielder.

            • Fringe average, yes.

              And you’re not wrong. Strong arm, good hands, no range. Average to slightly below average scouting projection.

              Thing is, corner infielders can have huge defensive swings between scouting grades and on-field defensive value. If you go back and compare scouting reports to the players who have actually graded out negatively in Major League Baseball you’ll almost never see a scouting grade below 45 (fringe average) put on them. But *somebody* is going to end up below when defensive metrics grade value against one another, and the track record of unathletic, range-restricted third basemen isn’t good.

      • How about Kuhl as a comp for Musgrove? Though Musgrove has the better prospect pedigree both seem to profile as #3/#4 starter types. I don’t like the Newman comp to Moran because power potential seems at a premium now, but I don’t know that we have a better comp. We don’t have a comp for Feliz, but 2016 Rivero would have been a good comp.

  • Squint reaaallly hard and tell me what happens so that the 2018 pirates finish above .500 and in the race for the 2nd wildcard this year

    • My stab at this:

      Cervelli stays healthy all season; Marte’s pop comes back; Bell takes a big step forward,coupling his new power to his old average; Polanco stays healthy and gets in and stays in a rhythm offensively; Newman and Meadows force their way into the Majors to be good regulars; Taillon adds a third pitch and improves his strikeout rates; Glasnow figures it out; Feliz and Crick work out to be nice complements to Rivero.

      • I think you hit everything except for Kuhl/Williams (or whoever is pitching in their spots) have to be, at least, as effective as last season.

      • If all these things happen, I’d say we’re better off than simply being in the race for the 2nd wildcard (assuming projected performances from other members of the team).

    • And I’ll give my own reply.

      1) Marte bounces back to be marte and defense turns out to be above average, leading to a 4.5 war season.

      2)Polanco looks like the Polanco of the World Baseball Classic and doesn’t get hurt

      3) Moran is highly competent part of a platoon with David Freese facing LHP, with Freese sporting north of a 115 wRC+ in limited playing time and Moran more like 110 and combine for 3.5 war,

      4) Josh Bell hits .275+ and knocks 30HR+ while continuing to improve on 1b

      5) Taillon pitches a full season like his 1st half 3.5 FIP

      6)Someone of Musgrove, Glasnow, Kuhl, Williams, Kingham pitches to a sub 3.80 ERA

      7) Bullpen just ‘clicks’ with the additions (Thanks Searage) looks like Pirates on 2015 that had Melancan, Watson, Soria, and even Blaton.

    • I think they’d need Tyler Glasnow to figure it out first of all and join Taillon as a top of the rotation guy.

      They’d need Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco to bounce back, and maybe Polanco to be more than an average starter.

      Colin Moran’s power being the real deal and turning him into an offensive threat in the majors would be a big help.

      Francisco Cervelli staying mostly healthy and having a year closer to 2015 than 2017.

      Plus a good amount of younger players taking a step forward.

      Not all of that has to happen. I think the first two things are essential though.

  • What do you think could make the difference with Glasnow as a starter this year in MLB? It sounds like he developed a third pitch last year so he should have all the tools. Is it confidence or consistency?

    • I’ll have an article on him next week that will discuss some of this. I don’t mean to make this a teaser for the article, but we discussed a few things, and without transcribing the interview I can’t say specifically what they were, since I don’t want to report something wrong here.

  • Given where the current payroll is sitting and the FO insisting that they aren’t punting on 2018, what would you guesstimate the acquisition cost being for Christian Yelich both in terms of talent going to Miami and team payroll? Trading for Yelich and putting him in LF with Marte in Center and Polanco able to stay in RF where he’s comfortable sounds enticing. Not to mention, it would help managements image.

    • Too high for my tastes. I think you’re going to have to include Keller in that deal, and I wouldn’t include Keller in any deal right now. They need his upside as a top of the rotation guy more than they need a guy like Yelich.

      • The best guy the Marlins got out of the Ozuna and Stanton deals is probably Alcantara who’s like a borderline top 100 guy.

        Plus Yelich has come out to say his relationship with the team is irretrievably broken

        So my question is: Why would Keller have to be included in a Yelich deal?

  • If the Pirates were able to get Nimmo and Cecchini for Harrison do they jump at that offer?

  • Do you think the Pirates will make a spot for Holmes? I really like his stuff and think he could be a TOR pitcher (might be naive though), but his lack of command and already filled major rotation seems to suggest he’s headed to the bullpen.

    And related to this, how would you rank the priority list for the rotation spot for Glasnow, Brault, Kingham, Holmes, Eppler, Williams, Kuhl? Mine would be Glasnow, Kuhl, Holmes, Williams, Kingham, Brault, Eppler. (Don’t ask me why, it’s not based on stats or whatsoever. Just my preference.)

    • Holmes definitely has top of the rotation stuff, but the command issues lower his likely upside to a middle of the rotation guy at best. He’s still a guy they’re pushing. There are a lot of rotation options in the upper levels of the minors, and Holmes is one of the guys who seems to be a lock for the Triple-A rotation.

      As for the rotation spot priority, I’d definitely have Kuhl in there. Williams has earned another shot. And I’d give Glasnow another chance before I’d have Nova in there, considering where this team is.

      Brault and Eppler I’d move to the bullpen, while having Kingham and Holmes as depth out of Triple-A.

      • Do you think Brault’s stuff plays up enough out of the ‘pen to notch strikeout totals closer to his AAA numbers, or is he the sort of pitcher who wouldn’t necessarily benefit from the switch in that way?

        • You never know with guys switching to the bullpen. I would have never had Tony Watson pegged as one of the best relievers in the game when I saw him as a starter in Double-A. I’d say no to Brault, and that he’d probably be more of a middle/long reliever, but that switch to the bullpen is unpredictable.

    • Could we use the acronym THOR pitcher (top half of rotation)? It sounds cooler.

  • If Harrison is eventually dealt would the Pirates look externally for a new super utility infielder like a Cliff Pennington or a Trevor Plouffe? Or does that position get filled but Frazier?

  • There has been a lot of speculation about Jarrod Dyson as a 4th OF, would Peter Bourjos or Austin Jackson be options? Jackson is one I would personally like to see coming off a solid year and only made a mere 1.5m, would he be available at say 2yr 7-9 million or is he looking for a bigger payday?

    • There’s two ways of answering this. Number one is that I don’t see the point in adding an outfielder on a short-term deal since I don’t see the Pirates contending. They’d be better off using Jordan Luplow, seeing what they’ve got with him, and then going with Austin Meadows.

      Number two is that if they’re serious about contending this year, then they could use an upgrade. Even if they have Luplow as the starter, it wouldn’t hurt to have a backup plan, so that they’re not relying too heavily on Meadows if Luplow doesn’t work out.

  • Will Osuna start back at Indy again next year or
    has he earned consideration to return to Pittsburgh
    or is it way to early to tell.

    • I see him starting off in Indianapolis. The bench should include David Freese, Sean Rodriguez, Max Moroff right now, and Adam Frazier. If Josh Harrison is traded, that would open a spot, but I don’t know if it’s a guarantee that Osuna gets that spot.

  • Any chance with now financial flexibility that the Pirates dabble in the stagnant free agent market?

  • Who do you believe will be our 5 starting pitchers to BEGIN the season?

    • Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova, Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, and I think Nova should be removed for Tyler Glasnow to have a spot. If that’s not the case, then Glasnow would be in competition for that final spot. I don’t think it’s a guarantee that Musgrove wins out over Glasnow. Or that Trevor Williams wins out over the other guys.

  • Who in the organization might make a Luplow-like jump (if not all the way to the majors maybe moving up a couple levels) this year?…thanks

  • In general, it feels that you are projecting the current group of AAAA players (like Luplow, Moroff, Bostick, Stallings) to have very limited upside.

    Is that indicative of the fact that players at that point of development have limited upside? Or is that just coincidental based on the actual group of players mentioned above?

    For instance, I could reasonably see a scenario where Moroff could be a solid MLB 2B in 2018 (making him a 5.0 granted with Medium or High risk). Yet, you seem to be leaning more towards “projecting” what he already is.

    • I don’t think of all of them as AAAA players. I think of AAAA players as a 3.0-3.5 value. Guys who project to be up and down, but will never stick in the majors beyond depth opportunities.

      Luplow and Moroff have the floor of 4.0 players, meaning bench players. And I think they could both become average starters at their position.

      I think Bostick is a possible Quad-A player, but has the chance to be a regular bench guy due to his versatility and hitting skills.

      Stallings is a third catcher upside, which is a Quad-A guy, but not a bad thing.

      The grades we use in the book are likely upsides. The ceilings are higher, but we don’t project everyone to their ceiling. That’s why Moroff is graded a 4.0, but we say he has a shot at being a starter.

      • I am still utterly confused at how little respect Jacob Stallings gets. He is continually referred to as a 3rd catcher/AAAA guy. However, he has better framing skills, nearly as good of an arm, and in the past 2-3 seasons has completely outhit Elias Diaz, who still gets the floor of a back-up catcher.
        Give me Stallings, he has proven more in the upper levels than Diaz ever has.

        • I tend to agree as he already feels like a legit back up MLB catcher. I really don’t think he can be anything more but my “expert” rating would be a Safe 4.0. I believe this would place him in Tier 4 or 5 and result a top 30 rating.

  • Hey Tim, thanks for doing this.

    You’ve said that Musgrove has the upside of a #4 starter. I agree that that’s probably a *likely outcome* but how isn’t his *upside* something more like a weak 2/strong 3? His minor league numbers are pretty Taillon-esque (and you regularly call Taillon a top of rotation guy). What makes you lower on Musgrove than what his minor league Ks/BBs/velocities/size/etc would indicate he could be?

    And just a few quick hits:

    Do you think this team now has the personnel to employ an “extreme bullpenning” strategy throughout the regular season? Do see that strategy having the potential to put them from ~78 wins (current fangraphs projection) back into the low to mid ~80s?

    • From what I’ve read, he doesn’t have a good strikeout pitch. And I’ve seen a lot of pitchers come through the minors with good control and good strikeout numbers due to that control. Steven Brault is a good example. He doesn’t have a good strikeout pitch, but gets a lot of strikeouts in Triple-A because he can command his fastball all over the zone. When he arrives in the majors, that doesn’t lead to strikeouts, but leads to balls in play. Some guys can succeed with this approach, but it’s so rare that I wouldn’t project that for anyone.

      Maybe they’re a small percentage chance that Musgrove could be one of those guys, but it’s not big enough for me to talk about that in his evaluation.

      I’ve seen the bullpenning idea floating around, and I think it’s better on paper than in reality. It’s a good post-season plan, but falls apart during the regular season.

  • I signed up for twitter earlier today just to ask how much international spending money we have left, and if there are any plans you know of (thinking of the 21 year old Cuban CF and why we aren’t linked to him)

    • I’ll let John take this one, while noting the disclaimer that we don’t know the bonuses for everyone, so it’s hard to say an exact figure.

    • As Tim noted, we don’t have the exact bonus amount left because 26 of the 35 international players signed since July 2nd, don’t have a bonus amount listed. It’s also very rare that the remaining bonus pool is released at any point. This year was different due to the Shohei Ohtani situation.

      What we do know is that the Pirates had $2.26M left during the Ohtani sweepstakes. They traded, then reacquired $500K worth of pool money, putting them right back at $2.26M.

      Since early December, they have signed eight new international players and one player’s contract was voided. The voided deal was for a 20-year-old, so it was likely a very low number, while the eight players signed are all younger. Five of those eight players were first-time eligible to sign this year, so their bonus was likely $50,000+ and that + could mean over $100,000.

      So while we don’t know what they have left, it is likely somewhere in the $1.5M to $1.75M range. There is no word about possible players they are interested in, but there is still five months to spend/trade that money. As we have seen with HS age players in the draft, a lot of progress can be made in just three months, so the fact there aren’t many intriguing names available now, doesn’t mean there won’t be in April/May/June.

      As far as Julio Pablo Martinez, he might sign this year if he gets his eligibility. If he does become eligible and signs, it’s because some team can pay him a big bonus and that won’t be the Pirates because they don’t have enough money left to meet his bonus demands. If he waits until the next signing period, then a lot more than the three rumored teams will be interested.

  • I was looking over Jordan Luplow’s minor league career recently, and I can’t really find a significant weakness in his profile as a hitter. His average isn’t always high, but it’s never terribly low, his BB% has always been pretty high, his K% has been, at worst, average, and often better, and he’s shown average to above average power production at every stop. His speed is fine, too. I’ve read he has an exploitable pull-only approach, and that’s what keeps his prospect value down, but what are the odds in your opinion he overachieves as a guy who simply finds a way to maximize the tools he does have inside his identity as a player?

    • I think Luplow could be an average starter in the majors. He’s got power, but that hasn’t always come through. It finally did this past year, which allowed him to progress the way he did. I think he should get a shot at a starter job in 2018, at least until Meadows arrives. He’s basically what the Pirates hoped for when they drafted all of those hitters with good K/BB ratios, the ability to hit for average, and some power. The hope that they’d add some more power to their game and become a starter in the majors. He doesn’t have the best defense, so that could hold him back.

      As you noted, he does have some pull tendencies with his power, which could reduce his offensive value. But that won’t reduce it entirely, and I think he’ll still hit enough to be an average guy at the corners.

      • Before the trades, I thought it was said that they wanted Luplow to get more AAA at bats. Has that viewpoint changed? I agree that this would be a good time to see what they have with Luplow. I’m sure they’ll find a way to give those atbats to Sean Rod.

    • I will go out on a limb and say that if he gets to start in the OF from day 1 this year, and with no injuries I will say he has the highest WAR of all the OFers by seasons end. Yes, I am talking about Luplow.

      • That’s a major slap in the face to Marte.

        • Maybe, maybe not. I personally believe Luplow could put up a 3-3.5 WAR season. That opinion will not be shared by many, but if you believe last year’s power was real, then it is within the realm of possibility.

          • Even if all of what you say comes to fruition, it still doesn’t address the likelihood of Marte putting up a better season.

            • Possibly, but I also believe it is very telling that the only person you are making an arguement for is Marte.

              • Marte has put up better WAR than that every full year he’s been in the MLB, so its a pretty easy argument to make. Why would we argue for Polanco when he’s always injured?

              • It’s clearly the most obvious.

            • Marrte is overrated and hasn’t shown enough to convince me he’s a legit MLBer, sorry.

              Don’t get me started on Polance.

              BTW, do you think the BMTIB (not!) has checked in on Gregory’s training, nutrition regimen, to mitigate against ongoing hammy issues?

        • And absolutely ridiculous

          • Not ridiculous, but improbable. Marte and Polanco will start. Osuna/Frazier are Meadows-placeholders No. 1/2, and then possibly Lup’s is the Meadows-placeholder No. 3, but trades (Harrison) are still imminent. Then there is also Clints’ nephew Sean who can show up at any position, anytime.

            How long Meadows stays in AAA? He could stay only til the third week of April and not get 172 days to get a full year of service. Should we care about his Super 2 status? Not in my opinion, but he probably does need at least April and May just to get back in the groove. A call-up anytime in June should be OK.

            • You’ve seen Luplow play? He’s not a particularly good player right now. Odds of him starting from day one, let alone producing a 3 + WAR year in his career are infinitesimal.

            • we should always care about super 2…..even if meadows sucks in 2018 and 2019, he puts up .290 and 30 in 2020 and suddenly our pockets get very empty

      • would you like to put money on that?

  • The return would presumably be relatively negligible but do you think Ivan Nova would be moved before Opening Day or do you feel the front office plans to keep him for some semblance of stability or continuity in the rotation?

    • I think that it would make more sense to trade him. I don’t see them as competitive in 2018, and I think that rotation spot would be much more valuable going to a younger player, with a good chance that a younger player could replicate Nova’s value.

      • I don’t know why Brault doesn’t stay a SP. It’s not as if they have lefty starters either and he hasn’t had much of a chance.

        • I’d just as soon see Nova traded and just give the Job to Brault or really any rookie. You gotta develop these kids if you want to move them in a trade later, otherwise they lose their value.

          • In my opinion Brault doesn’t look good enough to be a starter in the majors. His upside is as a lefty reliever. Middle of the road relief prospects aren’t particularly valuable for trades.

            • Well that’s why you aren’t a scout…..and why I’m not either. Our opinions are worthless. All that matters is what they can do on the field. Brault is better than Jeff Locke, and Locke made an all-star game, so…..

            • hence why i said “brault or any rookie”

        • Probably because he isn’t a very good pitcher and because the guys in front of him are either better (Kuhl, Williams, Nova) or have considerably more upside (Glasnow) or both (Taillon).

  • Austin Meadows has been a top prospect since he was drafted. Do you see him taking Cutch’s place this year as the new face of the franchise? What does he have left to prove before moving up (besides staying healthy)?

    • I see him arriving this year. I wouldn’t want to label any prospect as the replacement to McCutchen, since those are high expectations. I think the key for Meadows is staying healthy, or healthier than 2017. That will allow him to adjust to the upper levels. It will also allow him to work on his swing, which got in a bad place last year throughout the season.

  • I would love for Josh Harrison to remain a Pirate, but I am afraid that the FO will use his salary as an excuse if they do not trade him as to why they do not further upgrade the roster. Need an everyday OF that plays OF 100% of the time not some crappy platoon. My preference would be say a Jon Jay signing for 2 years…

    This is how I see the team right now, after ST it maybe a whole different criteria of need.

    • I agree that we at least need another outfielder who can also play center field. Other than Marte and Meadows. Who else can we play in center?

    • I don’t know if there’s a question in here, but I’ll say that they don’t really need an everyday outfielder in 2018 because I don’t see them contending in 2018. They’d be better off letting Jordan Luplow show what he can do, rather than bringing in a free agent for two years, when you’re probably not competing for at least one of those years.

    • Jon Jay is 33 years old, and he has averaged less than 1.0 WAR per season for the last three years. I wouldn’t want him even for one year at a bargain price. Adam Frazier is better than him right now, and Meadows will be better by July if he manages to stay healthy.

      • As much as I’d love to see a veteran OF as a 4th outfield option, as Tim says….in 2018, it matters not. Let the kids play….of course you’ll probably have to fire Hurdle or trade EVERY veteran on the team that owns an outfield glove before that happens.

  • Who from the logjam of starting pitching in the upper levels do you see moving to the bullpen?

    • I think we’ve already seen it happen with Tyler Eppler at the end of last year. I think most of the guys coming up from Altoona (Alex McRae, Austin Coley, Tanner Anderson, Brandon Waddell, JT Brubaker) will end up in the bullpen if they remain in this system. I could also see Steven Brault making the switch this year, especially with the Pirates having a need for lefty relievers.