With the non-tender deadline approaching for arbitration players, the Pittsburgh Pirates have even more decisions to make. Just a couple of days after protecting four players from the Rule 5 draft, the Pirates will have to make a decision on which of their arbitration eligible players they want to tender a contract.
In total, the Pirates have seven players eligible — four pitchers and three position players.
The Pirates recently added Choi from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade. He’ll be tendered and will be the team’s starting first baseman, at least against righties. Choi is definitely an upgrade over who played first base last year, although the Pirates finished 30th at the position in most offensive categories, so it wasn’t going to be a hard task to do so.
He had a down year when it comes to hitting righties last season, so he could be in for a bounce back in 2023.
A late season waiver pickup, Andujar showed some of that power that allowed him to hit 27-home runs and be the AL Rookie of the Year runner up back in 2018. He’s struggled with injuries since and with the Yankees constantly in a ‘win-now’ mode, they eventually passed over him.
He finished with 40 plate appearances across nine games with the Pirates to close out the season, hitting three doubles and a triple, but also posting just a 78 wRC+.
The Pirates have a very left-handed hitting heavy lineup, so having someone like Andujar helps with the balance.
There is no doubt that Newman carries a certain kind of reputation when it comes to his offense, but looking back at his overall line doesn’t really speak to that. Newman slashed .274/.318/.371 with a 94 wRC+ in 2022, assuming more of a backup middle infield role.
Newman is estimated for $2.8 million in arbitration, and it could be argued that the Pirates would need to pay that much for an alternate middle infield option. Newman is the only candidate on the 40-man roster for the role.
Finally after years of waiting, Keller evolved into the major league pitcher the Pirates had hoped he would. The emergence came at a good time too, with him entering his first year eligible for arbitration. There aren’t many spots reserved when it comes to the pitching staff next year, but Keller’s is as safe as it comes.
There’s been a lot of discussion of what the best way to utilize Brubaker on the pitching staff. Brubaker’s numbers profile him as the perfect number four or five on just about any pitching staff, and his underlying metrics really play to that. Among pitchers with 100+ innings last year, he ranked 37th in K/9, 75th in FIP and had the 13th best E-F (ERA vs FIP differential).
He’ll have his bad games, but with a team that’s going to be looking for consistency, he’ll be as close as they come based on what they have.
The bullpen struggled down the stretch, but Stephenson was actually solid for the Pirates after joining in September. He struck out 37% of the batters he faced, while walking only 2.2%, and posted a 3.65 ERA (2.95 FIP).
He’s in his third year of arbitration, with an estimated value of $1.9 million, but after how the bullpen struggled at the end of the year, investing heavily in it wouldn’t be the worst of ideas.
Duane Underwood Jr
The righty is an interesting name to watch, as his 2.92 FIP may be intriguing to bring back, but in the end it might come down to who the Pirates like more between Underwood and Stephenson. Underwood being in his first year eligible for arbitration will make him cheaper, which may be more ideal for the Pirates depending how they want to allocate their funds.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
Today we continued this week’s Rule 5 coverage, with our latest Roundtable looking at who the Pirates could lose in the Rule 5 draft.
The Pirates released five minor leaguers, and you can read about the moves below.
John Dreker has the latest winter league updates. Anthony Murphy recapped the pitching metrics that were available from the Arizona Fall League.
Song of the Day
I’ve heard “Throwback” by Usher and “Stop” by J Dilla this week. Finishing with the original.
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Our latest Roundtable looked at which prospects the Pirates could lose in the upcoming Rule 5 draft. We had six answers, and I gave everyone the chance to pick “None”, which got some votes. Check out our picks below:
Check back at noon today for the latest Pirates discussion. If you missed last week’s topic, you can read that below.