P2Daily: Roansy Contreras Deserves to be in the Majors, But the Rules…

Earlier this week, I wrote about the possibility of Roansy Contreras going to the minors to be stretched out as a starter.

I didn’t know whether the Pirates would make that move or not. I explained it by pointing out that the Pirates could probably send Contreras down to the minors for a few weeks, stretch him out as a starter, and in the end, gain an extra year of control from him. If Contreras goes down for about three weeks, the Pirates would have him under team control through the 2028 season, rather than 2027.

On one side of that discussion is an argument saying that we shouldn’t be focused on the 2028 season right now. I’d agree with that to an extent. To give an idea of how far away that is, we’re talking a season that will be covered by the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.

On the other side of the discussion is the fact that the Pirates aren’t expected to contend this season, and thus trading three weeks of Contreras now for one year down the line makes sense.

I want to focus on a different angle today, one that I don’t focus on often: The player.

Through this site’s history, I’ve spent a lot of time explaining things from the team perspective, ultimately trying to explain some of the more obscure rules surrounding service time. The Pirates are going to make whatever moves they make, regardless of what anyone says about it. The least I can do is try to explain to this audience why these moves are taking place.

You don’t have to agree with the moves. I don’t have to agree with the moves. The goal is understanding why the Pirates were making the moves, even if we don’t understand the “why” of the move.

This approach has drawn some backlash over the years, because presenting things from a team perspective looks as if you’re defending the action, even if you’re simply explaining the rules.

I think that anyone who read this site during the lockout knows that I am unapologetically on the player’s side over the team side in any issue.

So, I’m going to take the opportunity today to pose a question: Why shouldn’t Roansy Contreras be in the majors right now?

The official line is that he’s going to be stretched out as a starter, which was predictable. But, why can’t that happen in the majors? Contreras is up to three innings and the most he’s thrown in a start is 46 pitches. You’d think the Pirates would be able to give him more and more innings in the majors by letting him work as a starter, and piggybacking someone like Bryse Wilson behind him when he’s done.

There’s the prospect factor and the extra year of control to consider. Contreras is 22 right now, and that extra year will be in his prime.

The thing that sucks for Contreras is that he’s arguably one of the best pitchers on the team right now, at his young age. It’s not fair to him that the team isn’t contending this year, and it won’t be fair to him in 2028 that he’s not a free agent due to some legal roster maneuvering six years prior.

The Pirates don’t have an established approach with prospects under Ben Cherington, but the approach so far hasn’t been consistent. Contreras was sent down at the start of the year, and is only back up due to a short-term need. But Diego Castillo got the call to the majors on his Spring Training performance, and is getting a decent look. The Pirates have done the same in the past with Max Kranick and Rodolfo Castro.

Objectively, all three of those prospects rank lower than Contreras, and have less of a chance of making an impact.

And that’s not fair to Contreras that he’s too good for a system that only rewards you with an MLB shot if you’re on the fringe. The good news is that Contreras is guaranteed another shot with the Pirates, while guys like Kranick and Castro show that guys like Castillo might not get many looks before they’re passed up by someone else. In the case of Castro, that was Castillo.

This doesn’t completely suck for Contreras. He’ll be in the majors eventually, even if he will probably have free agency pushed back in the process.

It does suck that a player who deserves to be in the majors right now is going back to the minors, all because of roster manipulation rules that remained in place in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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