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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

P2Daily: Pittsburgh Pirates Non-Tender Deadline Preview

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.

Ji-Man Choi

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.

Miguel Andujar

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. 

Kevin Newman

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.

Mitch Keller

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.

JT Brubaker

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.

Robert Stephenson

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.

**Prospect Roundtable: Who Could the Pirates Lose in the Rule 5 Draft?

The Pirates released five minor leaguers, and you can read about the moves below.

**Pirates Release Five Minor League Players, Including Jeremy Beasley

John Dreker has the latest winter league updates. Anthony Murphy recapped the pitching metrics that were available from the Arizona Fall League.

**Winter Leagues: Castro and Castillo Knock In a Pair of Runs

**P2Daily: Pirates Pitching Metrics 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:

Prospect Roundtable: Who Could the Pirates Lose in the Rule 5 Draft?

Pirates Discussion

Check back at noon today for the latest Pirates discussion. If you missed last week’s topic, you can read that below.

Weekly Pirates Discussion: Free Agent Targets For the 2023 Rotation

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

+ posts

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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TNBucs

Underwood is a tease–I can’t think of another one of our pitchers who will look unhittable for a couple of batters, which will make me think we have things under control, and then the next thing I know is that he’s walked a couple of batters and suddenly the game is tense again.

I’m guessing we shopped him at the deadline and didn’t find any takers, and now we’ll nontender him recognizing what others teams have recognized–he’s just not consistent enough to be part of a major league bullpen.

roberto

Check out Longenhagen’s chat on FanGraphs. Very up on Endy, pretty down on Tank.

TNBucs

And on topic of catchers, he gave a pretty negative projection for Keibert Ruiz’s bat…I recall when he was part of the return I hoped we receive from trading a former reliever to the Dodgers in 2019. At the time I would have been very happy with that return and even happier a month later, but perhaps it wouldn’t have ended up having much of an impact even if such a trade had been completed.

TNBucs

First time I’ve seen reference to his makeup being bad. Unless he wears eye shadow or something, this would be a pretty strong indictment against their pre-draft evaluation of him. I’m also not ready to believe this characterization until I hear/read additional reports. Up until now all I had read was about his positive makeup.

Anyone want to add insight to this makeup concern?

Catch_22

Agree on both accounts. Live looks I’ve seen from Davis looked bad. Doesn’t have a good feel behind the plate, can draw bbs, but doesn’t look like a difference maker in the box. He has one of the oddest stances I’ve seen.

skliesen

On the surface, it appears everyone is going to be tendered a contract except for maybe Underwood and Stephenson.

I suppose it’s possible Andujar and Newman are non-tendered, but I’d be pretty shocked if either are let go.

Scam likely

I think we’re going to have a lot of take it or leave it offers, except for Keller, Bru and Choi, and some just say non tender good bye.

b mcferren

nontender deadline three weeks early this year?

Wilbur Miller

Underwood should certainly be nontendered. The 2.92 FIP in 2022 is an outlier. All his other #s and analytics are consistent with his 4.36 ERA in two years as a Pirate. He’s allowed earned runs in 37% of his outings, which is an awful lot when you’re averaging only an inning and a half per game. And that’s 94 games, which is a good enough sample size to conclude that he has no business pitching in close games. He’s a perfect example of how the Pirates need to drop “not terrible” as their standard.

1979andCounting

Certainly should be nontendered…..AGREED. The FIP must be driven by him allowing only 1 HR, which is impressive if that’s all you want to measure. But we all know walks, hits and hard hits bringing in inherited runners are Underwood’s problem.

The Gunner

When it comes to inherited runners, Underwhelmed has been extremely dismal. And, If he has had more than a handful of 1-2-3 innings, I would be surprised.

skliesen

“Not terrible” would be a higher standard than last season with regard to bullpen, 1B, C, and 4th OF.

AttyMike

Choi is projected at $4.5 or so in arbitration. Do you really think the Pirates will roll the dice and take the chance of paying that? They are so cheap, I’m figuring if they can’t work out a deal for less with him, they might non-tender him.

skliesen

This take is over the top. Even for you Mike.

AttyMike

This is the Pirates. They cut guys to save a couple hundred thou.

The Gunner

When they cut Juan Nicasio a few years ago, didn’t they save something like $5,000? I might be way off but, I seem to recall it was an embarassingly low amount of savings.

Catch_22

Why would they make a trade for a guy and then not tender him a contract?

skliesen

Exactly

emjayinTN

No way. We traded a BC drafted SP to get him, so no thoughts of him not getting the going rate.

Wilbur Miller

Bargain Bob won’t be expecting to pay full price anyway. If he hits at all, he’ll be traded in July.

AttyMike

Maybe they are hoping he’s fantasy Yoshi although I can’t imagine he’d have trade value beyond getting back the type of guy they traded for him. Couple mil for a wash?? I don’t know, doesn’t sound like them. I have a feeling they’re looking for a bargain here.

roberto

Wait! I’m Bargain Bob. I’m just doing laundry and have no plans (or capacity) to trade Choi.

leefieux

We can (hopefully) upgrade our bullpen from Stephenson and Underwood. We need to also find a LHP or two that are actually pretty good, no more Eric Stouts. I wonder if any of our MILB lefties can fill that role?

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Stephenson was actually really good after activated 8/28 with us. 12.15 k/9 3.38 ERA 2.81 FIP in 13.1 IP. Small sample but I’m not sure there’s good cause to wish him gone quite yet.

The Gunner

I am highly skeptical of September stats

leefieux

Career 1.4 WHIP and 0.82 WHIP with the Bucs tells me that his 13.2 IP was a mirage.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

They may have had him tweak something and will likely want to see if he can keep it up.

leefieux

Could be. Still not sold on him, but if they want to bring him back, he’s worth a shot.

The Gunner

TBH………….I’m not sold on much of what I have seen out of the Pirates lately.

emjayinTN

Even though a SSS, the numbers are good with the Pirates.

Jeff

How sad is it that keeping Underwood over Stephenson may come down to 1 million dollars, not who is the best reliever.

MD78

Totally agree. If these guys are not good enough….move on. But if they are better than what you have (or intend to get in the next dumpster dive) then keep them. A warm body throwing batting practice is about $800,000 minimum so as long as investment is defined by a million (or two) this team will never compete.

leefieux

Neither one are any good, lol.

emjayinTN

The Pirates have gotten some reclamation projects that have actually pitched well for the Bucs. But, as long as the Pirates maintain their apparent satisfaction with <.400 winning percentages, these are the only type of pitchers that we can attract.

What type of year should we expect from Nick Mears in 2023?

leefieux

Hadn’t even thought about him. Hopefully, he is more than a Mears body down there (bad pun alert!).

SouthernBuc

This is unrelated to this article but I thought it was very interesting and didn’t know where to post, it is cut/paste from a CBS Public access sports article regarding signing/not-signing Judge. I think it is applicable to the Pirates giant shortstop. My net comment would be given this info: focus on his pre free agent years (Cruz could be a free agent at 30) and maybe he is NOT a candidate to buy out free agent years or at least nothing more than a year or two into those years. Just to highlight one point: Adam Wainwright is 5th all-time in HITTING WAR for tall players after age 30.

There are always exceptions, but by and large players perform worse in their 30s than they did in their 20s. On top of that, Judge is a 6-foot-7 behemoth and there is very little history of players that size having success into their late 30s. Here is the all-time WAR leaderboard after age 30 for hitters 6-foot-6 and taller:

  1. Dave Winfield: 26.2 WAR after age 30
  2. Frank Howard: 17.8 WAR
  3. Giancarlo Stanton: 3.8 WAR (turned 33 earlier this month)
  4. Dave Kingman: 2.8 WAR
  5. Adam Wainwright: 2.2 WAR

Wainwright, a pitcher, is fifth all-time in WAR after age 30 by a hitter standing at least 6-foot-6. In fact, only six other hitters standing 6-foot-6 have amassed even 1 WAR after turning 31, and two of the six are pitchers (Derek Lowe and Rick Sutcliffe). Tony Clark, Dick Hall, Richie Sexson, and Darryl Strawberry are the other four. The history of 6-foot-6 hitters after age 30 is awful.

Iowasteel

Eh, there is nothing magic about 6’6″. Frank Thomas was 6’5″ and he beat the crap out of ball until he was 40. I doubt the extra inch would have mattered.

skliesen

I’m on record for predicting the Judge contract will end poorly for whomever signs him. I believe it’s highly likely he loses value quickly once his bat speed begins to decline. However, I also believe that won’t happen in the next 3-4 years. As such, I expect someone will offer him close to 8/360 and hope they get a couple MVP’s and WS titles before the rug is pulled out from under them.

roberto

It’s not just bat speed. Reaction time starts slowing in your teens. Of course elite MLB players start with outstanding reaction times, but they slow down too.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

What you’re missing is that there are only 20 total players 6’6+ who’ve had at least one season in MLB so the sample being sampled is entirely too tiny.

emjayinTN

And, all humans age differently depending upon many factors. But, just for giggles, the tallest pitcher I can remember, Randy Johnson, all 6’10” of him amassed a total of 71.5 fWAR over the 10 year period from 1997 through 2006 that started at his age 33 to his age 43.

Judge is not just a hitter, he’s possibly one of the Top 3 best defensive RF’s in MLB.

roberto

Pitchers play by different rules. For them it’s injury or loss of flexibility (hence velocity) that shuts them down.

leefieux

You’ve convinced ME! I don’t think the Bucs should sign him except for maybe 2/$25.

jeffw3000

I don’t know I buy in to that unless you want to talk about them maybe being more injury prone as they get older. I think it is more just about a small sample size, other than all hitters that tall, go down hill after 30. Frank Howard had his 3 best years from 30-32. Dave Winfield had some very good seasons with the Yankees thru his 36 season. I can buy maybe they are more injury prone after their 30 season, more so than earlier, but I don’t think you can bank on them having injuries. In general most players see a steep decline after their 30 season. Sometimes very good players like Howard are good into their early 30s, and future HOFs like Winfield are still good into their late 30s. There just has not been very many players that tall especially when it comes to position players.

SouthernBuc

I want to believe (no reminders of the owner needed) that the difference in potential dollars for Stephenson and others is not a major issue. My question for management would be, who are the 2-3 players currently on the 40 that will be dropped when the few other expected signings occur. I am assuming a catcher and veteran starter will be added. If any of the players on the tender / non-tender list are among those who would be dropped for those signings, then why tender them?

Stephenson to me is the only likely candidate more because he is a free agent after this year and although his performance the last 2 years is worth keeping, in many ways he seems like an easily replaced player or a roster spot that will be used for the AAA/MLB shuttle of relievers that quite frankly is needed by all teams.

Come spring training Kranik can be moved to the 60 man opening a spot but there is usually at least one non-roster invitee or spring training surprise that would need added using that spot.

Jeff

Still have Yajure and Park that can easily be dropped.

emjayinTN

Newman as “an” option as a MI is understood, but I disagree he is arguably the only MI Option on the 40. I favor going with youth in Rodolfo Castro and Ji-Hwan Bae, and Liover Peguero is probably better than both of them as a future MI option.

I hope we settle in with Hayes, Cruz, Bae, and Choi as the 2023 IF, with Ro Castro as the Utility IF, Castro has already played 3B, 2B, and SS, and could probably play 1B if they gave him a chance, and a good way to get his switchhitting bat into the lineup as a RH hitter.

Was Underwood highly rated as a RP by Statcast? I’ll check, but I remember seeing it – just have to see what the rating was all about

Catch_22

Newman is the only one that can play SS. If they decide Cruz can’t play the position, Newman is a nice fall back. None of Castro, Bae, or the glut of middle infielders can handle SS. Lio is way too raw, look at his errors last season in AA, not to mention his bat.

b mcferren

Nick has been playing shortstop in Arizona

roberto

I played shortstop in Pennsylvania. After warmups my coach and I agreed that this was a bad idea.

Anthony

I think the Newman situation depends on what they plan to do in CF. If they can bring in a good def CF, then Bae is your full time 2B with Castro as your utility IF and RH DH. If they plan to use Bae in CF, which I’m not a huge fan of for multiple reasons, then Newman would likely split time with Castro at 2B. Unfortunately, time is not on their side w/r/t this decision.

AttyMike

I like Bae in CF. Move Reynolds back to left.

Anthony

I’d like to see Reynolds back in left as well, but I’d rather Bae play 2B than CF where his arm may be an issue.

b mcferren

time to just trade Reynolds

emjayinTN

I agree that Bae is more important to this team as the 2B. Now, if Reynolds needed a break and Bae played CF while Castro played 2B that could work also for a few times during the season. But, I am also counting on Jared Oliva who finished 2022 with OPS numbers of 959 in August and 937 in September at AAA.

Catch_22

Bae’s best position is Super Utility. He doesn’t have the bat to play 2b every day.

roberto

Compared to whom? He’s been an above average hitter every year.

SouthernBuc

I’m in this camp. While I wouldn’t DFA Newman (and don’t expect much in a trade), I would be disappointed if Bae and Castro are not on the opening day roster filling the 2B/utility role and more importantly getting the ABs that go along with that. There would also likely be another MI but I would still fill that with a younger option (Castillo, Marcano etc.).

emjayinTN

Newman can be described as inconsistent at best. In his 4 MLB Service years he was on the plus side of fWAR in 2 seasons and on the minus side for 2 seasons. Overall, for the 4 years he would have averaged about + 0.7 fWAR/year. Time to move on – if traded soon, could he save a prospect from being exposed to the Rule 5? Gorski would probably be that guy.

MD78

I think the Rule 5 save a prospect deadline has passed. The Pirates can still add players to the 40 man and trade, non tender, dfa others but IF you were Rule 5 eligible and not protected you are still Rule 5 eligible.

roberto

Right.

emjayinTN

Underwood was 16th on Brls/PA% with only 2.3%. BTW, Clay Holmes was No. 2 at 1.2%, and LHRP Joely Rodriguez, former Pirate and now a FA, was No. 14, also at 2.3%. Rodriguez was paid $2 mil and performance bonuses of $50K for 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 games by the Mets in 2022 – he earned an extra $150K.

leefieux

I have NO idea what Bris/PA% is.

roberto

It’s how many batters you have circumcised per plate appearance. It means you have a good cutter.

leefieux

LOL. I don’t even want to know what a palm ball does, then.

SBRO

The pen will have Bednar, Crowe, Holderman, De Jong and de los Santos up front. I think Wilson probably moves here for long duty in the hopes that his splitter is something he can build off of. That leaves 2 spots, one of which should be earmarked for a lefty (they have none) and the other best put to use for the Indy-Pittsburgh shuttle.

Long story short, I wouldn’t tender either Stephenson or DUJ. Anyone other than BC would be able to find guys who could replicate their production but can be optioned and don’t cost more than the minimum.

And this little nugget too: in the new CBA, arbitration-signed players receive full termination pay if released, even in spring training. It used to be if you were released during spring training you would only get 30-45 days’ pay.

battlingbucs

Crowe, De Los Santos, Holderman and if you want to be wild even Bednar all have options so reserving another spot specifically to be able to shuttle back and forth between Indy and Pittsburgh isn’t necessary. If that is how it works out great but it shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

Catch_22

I literally stopped reading after DeJong.

leefieux

DUJ = Driving Under the Juice?

roberto

Driving under Jorge?

PirateRican21

I will rather see Underwood and Stephenson over Crowe, DeJong.

leefieux

Disagree. deJong and Crowe were lights out at times. I don’t recall Duane and Robert ever being that.

Catch_22

DeJong got by on luck, evident by his fip, xfip and negative war

leefieux

I like to go by WHIP for a RP and his 1.1 WHIP was excellent, so maybe he has ‘found’ himself?

PirateRican21

You won’t get a strong argument from me, I just prefer the stuff. Speaking of reliever stuff, Ramirez has the best if he ever controls it.

leefieux

Re:Ramirez….that can be said about LOTS of failed pitchers, lol.

PirateRican21

And you are 100% percent right, but I will take the upside he offers over many of the arms we currently have in the pen.

leefieux

Not a fan. But, that is what the hot stove is all about…..’what ifs’.

Mtgj

I completely agree, although I think crowe deserves another year to see which bullpen will crowe shows up.

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