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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

P2Daily: What is Next For the Pirates This Offseason?

The Pirates have been busy this week, setting their rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, and tendering contracts to their eligible players on Friday night. They even worked a trade by the end of the evening, sending Kevin Newman to the Reds.

With the 40-man roster set, and after Friday’s roster decisions, I felt it would be good to take a look at what to expect from each position the rest of the offseason.

CATCHER

I would expect the Pirates to add a catcher this offseason. I would also expect Endy Rodriguez to arrive in the majors at some point in 2023. Thus, I don’t expect the catching addition to be anything more significant than Roberto Perez last year. In fact, Perez wouldn’t be a bad option if the Pirates felt he could be healthy this year.

FIRST BASE

The Pirates traded for Ji-Man Choi, who looks like a platoon option at first base. The Pirates could use someone to pair with him. I’ve written before that Miguel Andujar looks like an option for the 1B/DH role (in the last version of this rundown style article in September). He only has 37.1 career innings at first base. His ability to play third and left field will get him in the lineup, but his playing time opportunities will be greater with a move to first. I saw Jason Mackey speculate the same thing tonight. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Pirates let go of Michael Chavis when they added Andujar, and I expect that to carry over to Andujar replacing Chavis as the right-handed hitting first baseman next year.

SECOND BASE

As I got to writing this section, the Pirates traded Kevin Newman. That’s fitting. Newman wasn’t in line for a starting role, and would have been a backup to both middle infield roles. The Pirates could use a backup now. As for the starter at second, I think Rodolfo Castro gets the first shot, with Ji-Hwan Bae as an option, and Nick Gonzales trending in the right direction in the minors. By the end of 2023, Gonzales could be the starter, with Castro and Bae off the bench.

SHORTSTOP

I don’t think there has been a reason to move Oneil Cruz off the position, and the Pirates don’t really have anyone right now to move him. Other than a backup middle infielder, I don’t expect the Pirates to do much here. It’s also entirely possible that the Pirates don’t add a backup middle infielder, and stick with internal options — which also include Tucupita Marcano and Diego Castillo.

THIRD BASE

The Pirates have a Gold Glove runner-up in Ke’Bryan Hayes, and a minor league Gold Glove third baseman in the minors in Jared Triolo. I could also see Castro and Andujar getting time at this spot as backups.

OUTFIELD

I’m grouping the outfielders together because of the center field situation. Bryan Reynolds is the current center fielder, but the Pirates would benefit by getting a better defender and moving Reynolds to left. That would likely leave Jack Suwinski to right. Ji-Hwan Bae has been playing center field, but I don’t think the Pirates should be banking on him to be the long-term option.

I think the biggest impact the Pirates can make to their position player group is adding a center fielder with solid defense — and maybe even someone who can set the table for guys like Cruz and Reynolds.

DESIGNATED HITTER

At first base, you’ve got Choi and Andujar as options. Cal Mitchell is an option in the outfield, who will likely get more time as the DH. I could see the Pirates adding another first base option, mixing in with Andujar for the 1B/DH spots.

STARTING ROTATION

This is where I think the Pirates need the most help. I think they could use two starters, and ideally one of them would be more than a reclamation project. Jeff Reed wrote about the 2023 rotation last week. The Pirates tendered contracts to Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker today, and I don’t think there was any doubt that both would return to the rotation.

BULLPEN

The Pirates just added reliever Dauri Moreta in the Newman trade. That will add depth to the bullpen, but it won’t solve the biggest need here. The Pirates need a complement to David Bednar, in order to avoid burning out their best reliever with over usage. They just retained Robert Stephenson and Duane Underwood Jr. As for Moreta, he has options, and isn’t a guarantee to make the roster on Opening Day. I think they need someone to slot in above Stephenson/Underwood.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**The night looked like your standard “Pirates wait until way after the deadline to announce expected moves” type of night. That was quickly followed by a surprise trade of Kevin Newman to the Reds for relief pitcher Dauri Moreta. You can read more about the trade here.

**Prior to the trade, the Pirates tendered contracts to all seven of their players, including a $1.525 million deal for Miguel Andujar.

**In a minor move, the Pirates lost Junior Fernandez to the Yankees on waivers.

**Jeff Reed has the latest Pirates Discussion, looking at where the Pirates’ 40-man roster stands after the Rule 5 decisions. If you missed it from Thursday, our latest Roundtable looked at who the Pirates could lose in the draft.

**John Dreker has the latest winter league recap, with Jared Oliva and Ali Sanchez each picking up a pair of hits.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Check out the latest Pirates Discussion from Jeff Reed, who broke down where the 40-man roster stands after the Rule 5 additions.

Weekly Pirates Discussion: Where the 40-Man Roster Stands After Rule 5

Saturday at noon, John Dreker will have the latest Pirates Winter Report, featuring Diego Castillo, who is playing in Venezuela.

+ 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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RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

It seems clear the fans hate Cherington way earlier than they hated Huntington this time around. NH enjoyed a full benefit of the doubt if my memory serves me on websites like this one and BucsDugout basically until around the time of Walker for Neise when the milk turned sour. So he basically had general fan optimism from 2007 to 2014-15ish. NH got 10 years and Cherington’s on year 3 heading into year 4.

TNBucs

There was a lot of angst directed at Huntington and Hurdle during and after the collapses of 2011 and 2012. Obviously, 2013 earned both of them much goodwill. But you’re not remembering how frustrated fans were in 2011.

The other thing with Huntington is that he inherited a very shallow farm system from Littlefield and not many major league assets to trade for value (Bay was about it). Cherington inherited a top 10 farm system (FG had them 9th, for example) and talent like Marte, Musgrove, Taillon that he could trade for even more talent. Why should

I don’t know where the term “hate” is coming from either–fans on here couldn’t have been more positive about the 2021 draft and many of us praised the 2022 draft as being equally good.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Even 2011 is more time than Cherington’s gotten. I also think that #9 farm Cherington inherited was overrated. https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/the-board/2019-in-season-prospect-list/summary?type=0&sort=-1,1&pos=&team=pit

Hayes was an iffy 60 fv if he needed a swing change to hit and he seems to have maxed out what he can do without one last year. Swaggerty as #4 is pretty bleak. Tahnaj Thomas is a RP prospect at best. Kramer at #7 is even bleaker (he’s since retired and is out of baseball with a total of 90 PAs in MLB with a *9* wRC+.

I’m not saying Cherington is underrated, either. I sure don’t like the disdain he has for Pirates fans and the way he communicates at them.

TNBucs

Looking back, farm systems usually seem overrated because most prospects don’t pan out–I always find it pretty sobering to look at past top 10’s for example, and be reminded of players who we thought would be the next star that just didn’t work out for one reason or another.

I agree with what you say about his apparent disdain for the fans. I can’t believe he really feels that way, but statements like “it’s not about wins and losses” and “the front office sees things fans can’t see” imply that he couldn’t care less about us. My bigger problems with the current administration are

  1. We’re a baseball mind short with Williams as president. Most good teams seem to have a former GM as president and an up-and-comer as GM. Hiring Williams made a clear statement that the organization cares more about marketing than winning baseball.
  2. I don’t think Shelton is a good manager. Will he grow into one? I’m not optimistic but I suppose it’s possible. But as of now, I see him as a bad combination of my two least favorite Pirates managers–Russell and Tracy (he doesn’t seem to put the team in the best position to win as was the case with Russell and then essentially blames players for losses (“execution”) like Tracy did).
RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

We should promote Williams to CEO, promote Cherington to President of Baseball Ops and hire James Click as GM

TNBucs

I couldn’t agree more.

jaygray007

There’s a difference. I guess we’d need to really look back to make sure I’m not mistaken but I just feel like Littlefield left things in much worse shape than how things were left for Ben

Ben came in with a handful of controllable good major leaguers and *at least* a middle of the pack farm (I think fangraphs had them ranked in the 6 range at the time due to liking Hayes).

And heck, maybe Neal was just a little more likeable. He did the same BS GM speak but he at least had a modicum of small town charm lol

roberto

My question to the group: BC was hired to do a rebuild and improve development. Has he done that? Is there evidence? Can you do that without multiple 100 loss seasons? It took the Astros six years and the Orioles five years.

jaygray007

Mackey with some Cherington comments today. Sounds like cherington is basically saying they’ll at least add to 1b/dh and to SP. He also said payroll will likely exceed last yr. That means it’ll go up 15-20 compared to right now.

Who are some DH candidates yall would like? I figure it’d have to be a platoon-proof guy since 1b already will need to be. I’d spend half the offseason budget on a Justin Turner or Michael Brantley in a split sec.

Mblee24

What about Luke Voit a career 800 OPS. Maybe he’d be a good fit. Kinda like Vogey but better.

jaygray007

I have higher hopes overall but if this was the choice and this choice let them do something else cool, I’d totally get it! There’s ceiling there that we saw not too long ago.

1979andCounting

Love how you spend Bob’s money! But I just can’t there, it’s bargain hunting Black Friday sales for Bucs. Not a flashy signing, but one that should have a bounce-back season is Jesus Aguilar. Far better than the DH’s we were running out there, I think he could produce better than Vogey. He’s a .800 OPS guy, probably a cheap $4 mil signing after a down year. Could DH mostly, and if he lost 15 lbs and worked on his cardio and first twitch moves could play some 1B too.

jaygray007

Ben said that he thinks payroll will exceed next yr so I think spending 20 or so of his money is an appropriate exercise!!

I personally think Aguilar is toast but I could be convinced I’m sure

Wilbur Miller

I had to shake my head at all this. Just the usual complete refusal to provide any information at all. Obviously, payroll has to go up unless they release everybody with more than one year of service. It was rock bottom to begin with, so that’s not the least bit informative, especially since he even hedged on whether it’d go up at all, or by how much, or whether they’d be able to go after anybody other than their standard cheapest-guy-left-on-the-board. It’d be so much more honest if he’d simply refuse to answer.

There’s also the usual emphasis on how they aren’t focused on payroll, only on “getting better.” Like hell. They kept playing Polanco and Yoshi long past the point where it was obvious they couldn’t play in the majors, in the hopes some team would take a little salary off Bob’s hands. They were totally focused on payroll to the point where they intentionally made the team worse to pursue a hopeless dream of saving Bob a few bucks.

Cheringtoon has nothing but contempt for Pirate fans.

roberto

So, if you were running a firm in a fiercely competitive industry, how much information would you share with your rivals?

Wilbur Miller

Teams often let their fans know that they’re increasing payroll and pursuing FAs. It must not hurt them too much, considering that the fanatically secretive Pirates have MLB’s worst record over the last three years by eight games. The Pirates’ behavior is an outlier in MLB. It’s not normal. In fact, it’s not normal in any competitive industry to routinely give the finger to your customers.

jaygray007

Moreta April until demotion in may

Screenshot_20221119-133340_Chrome.jpg
jaygray007

Moreta from June promotion to end of szn

Screenshot_20221119-133408_Chrome.jpg
jaygray007

Looks like something changed. Wonder if a lot of those “bad sinkers” happened in the first month of the year

Wilbur Miller

Still wasn’t more than adequate, as the xFIP shows. Very low BABIP and somewhat high strand rate account for the ERA. He still got hit pretty hard.

jaygray007

Yep, adequate is the right word. Still needs another tweak in order to be particularly worthwhile it’d appear.

Wilbur Miller

It’d be fine if he was 23 or 24, but he’ll be 27 next April. It’s too much of a pattern with BC, late-20s relievers who had 1-2 good seasons. In the end, they never turn out to be guys who just needed a tweak. They always turn out to be guys who are just mediocre, at best, who had a peak year at some point.

Last edited 18 days ago by Wilbur Miller
EightMenOut

Reynolds trade. We need pitchers and the dodgers need an outfielder. So we trade them Reynolds for like May, Pepiot and Vesia. We may need to throw in a prospect. Dodgers can buy more pitching on the free agent market this year. I have no idea what the Dodger pitchers are like, just going off a quick look at a trade simulator and years of control. My biggest concern then would be if we could score enough runs. But the Dodgers could be a trade partner.

1979andCounting

We now have no LH pitchers on the 40-man, with no empty spots a full 40.
Is there any wonder BC sets himself up for continued criticism.

PirateRican21

Season starts in, 4 months? There’s time and plenty of room in the roster.

Anthony

I wouldn’t worry too much about a full 40-man roster; they can cut some dead weight with a snap of a finger

jaygray007

I’m not entirely sure this should be in our top 50 criticisms about the Ben regardless, but I think there’s a strong chance that we see more than one added this winter.

1979andCounting

Of course we’ll see probably 2 LHers added. But after three years of building and managing roster construction, it sure raises eyebrows to have zero LHers in Nov. 2022 on the 40-man. I mean, it’s really laughable.

Anthony

It’s definitely odd, but I’m not going to freak out until Jan. 1, 2023.

1979andCounting

Sit tight until March 1, 2023. That’s when Ben and Bob will acquire some bargains from the bottom of the barrel. That’s not exaggeration, that’s just the Pirates M.O.

bianco599

I think the last time I freaked out over the Pirates was when Bonds couldn’t throw out Sid Bream.

john_fluharty

Always baffled me how someone with his power had so weak an arm.

bianco599

Jason Bay was another one with an arm of a DH. At least I think he had a shoulder injury at some point.

bianco599

I agree. Grew up in Pittsburgh in that era but now live nearer to Braves country. I always tell people if it was Van Slyke with the ball the old mustache would have been meat by a mile.

john_fluharty

The most difficult part of that whole situation for me was that Sid was one of my favorite players when he was a pirate so it was really hard to root against him even when he played for another team, and then for him to score that particular run at that particular time was just awful.

bianco599

I’m with you. I loved that entire team. Spanky, Slaught, Chico, Slyke, Reedus, Bell. I could go on and on. Oh the glory days if you were born after 1979.

john_fluharty

I was around for 79 but a little too young to really follow it like I was later on but I loved Tekulve because he was kind of nerdy looking lol.

EightMenOut

Rays trading for our unranked prospects, Yankees claiming our cast-offs on the waiver wire, Reds giving us value for our backup infielders, …. If nothing else we are a deep 100-loss team!

Last edited 18 days ago by EightMenOut
roberto

Agree, but that was the easy part of the rebuild. Now comes the hard part.

1979andCounting

We must stop the tryouts at the major League level if there’s any hope of becoming a contender. I don’t see trying to make Andujar a 1B even if I squint hard. For me this is one of several litmus tests on the 26 man that comes North and whether Season 4 of BC has any semblance on trying to win.

Micky

Would like to see Brian Anderson become our new RH 1bman.

PirateRican21

Doesn’t have good splits, unfortunately!

leefieux

Don’t forget that Bae played LOTS of SS in the minors. He can play 2b, SS and hopefully CF.

PirateRican21

Weak arm is the reason he was moved from SS.

leefieux

Weak but not awful. Average to below average.

Anthony

That’s exactly why I don’t want to see him FULL TIME in CF.

leefieux

Reynolds doesn’t exactly have a cannon out there. If Bae can get to more balls than BR, I’m okay with it.

roberto

Just a reminder: the Bucs have an elite outfielder with a cannon on their roster. Will Swaggerty hit enough to stick? Beats me.

leefieux

I wouldn’t mind them finding out. But, yeh, it looks like his stick is lacking (I had a girl friend tell me that once, too).

leefieux

Does anyone know how many of our new reliever’s HRs were given up at GABP?

TNBucs

Seven of his ten. Also, seven of his ten were given up in April and May before he was sent down (with five of those seven being in a really rough May for him). Of course we’re dealing with small sample sizes, but there is some evidence that the problem with HRs won’t carry over to ’23–PNC should help but after his return to the majors on June 19, he didn’t even have a problem in GABP (just two given up in 16.2 innings).

leefieux

Thx, getting ANYTHING for Newman is a win, but it sounds like me might have actually gotten a potentially good RP. I criticize BC a lot, but he might’ve gotten one over on the Reds. I thought they were going to non-tender him and release him.

jaygray007

I dont think im personally ready to fully banish Reynolds to LF. Maybe this isn’t an analytical take, but the aesthetics of having his bat in CF are very nice and hard to say bye to. Hes just not special if hes a LF. Similar to how moving cruz to RF takes away some of his specialness. Maybe it can depend on match ups or something.

I’d imagine Reynolds WAR will be higher as a CF than LF given the hitting demands of each bit that could be totally wrong.

Anthony

I was thinking the opposite w/r/t your last paragraph. More trade value in CF but more WAR in LF.

AdministrativeSky236

Definitely more WAR in LF as he wont have the big negative related to his defense there

jaygray007

For anybody penciling in Andujar as like… “the right handed compliment to Choi”… it should be noted that there’s really no track record of him having a good platoon split vs LHP. I like andujar as a versatile bat off the bench, but not as someone with any kind of defined starting role. It’s okay to mostly just use a guy as a solid pinch hitter / injury fillin

Last edited 18 days ago by jaygray007
EightMenOut

I like Andujar because of his low strikeout rate. Adding a little more power, hard contact, to someone that sees the ball well seems do-able, much better than asking someone to cut down on their strikeouts. Not a sure thing, of course

jaygray007

I also like Andujar!! I just think that assigning him as a platoon partner with Choi is misguided.

Just making it clear that me saying “andujar shouldn’t be in a platoon with Choi” isn’t the same as me saying “he shouldn’t be on the team.”

I like having a solid bat with some defensive flexibility on the bench

leefieux

He’s about 50 points lower vs LHPs. Weird. Even Chavis was below Avg vs LHPs! Where’s Gaby Sanchez when you need him,

PirateRican21

Where is Jose Osuna?

EightMenOut

Tokyo Yakult Swallows, making over a million per year.

jaygray007

Here’s an image from a tweet from Jon Anderson. Basically Moreta’s sinker is horrible and everything else is good. When I see one clear weakness like this I think it’s more likely that they have an adjustment in mind. I look forward to hearing about the sinker, whether that means theyre ditching it or improving it.

Screenshot_20221119-081754_Twitter.jpg
Wilbur Miller

Statcast has both. Opponents hit .190 vs the 4seam and .378 vs the sinker.

jaygray007

Assuming Jon’s methods are correct, looks like he has a great 4 seamer and stinker sinker!

TNBucs

Perhaps the “sinkers” were 4-seamers when his mechanics were out of whack in his very rough May and in a few other appearances and we’re not seeing a difference in two pitches but a difference between when his mechanics were right and when they weren’t.

roberto

Over at FanGraphs there’s no mention of him throwing a two-seamer. I think you guys nailed it.

Wilbur Miller

I’ve never felt the pitch trackers can be taken as gospel, including Statcast. They all seem to have pitch ID issues at times. The “sinkers,” for instance, could maybe be poorly thrown 4seamers. So this may not be a definitive view of his issues.

Wilbur Miller

Funny, I’ve got a device outside my house that records bird sounds and feeds them into an internet database that identifies the species. It consistently mistakes Nanday Parakeets, which are common around Bradenton, for Monk Parakeets. Never trust an algorithm.

jaygray007

Watching the highlight video that you posted, I didn’t see anything that looked like a sinker. All the fastballs had 4 seamer speed and movement. The most sinker-looking pitches were probably some changeups that he threw 88 mph. Maybe statcast is registering some changeups-gone-awry as 2 seamers?

Either that, or his terrible 2 seamer never produced outcomes good enough to appear in the highlight video lol.

I guess it’d be good to ask someone with the team what moretas actual repertoire is.

Last edited 18 days ago by jaygray007
Anthony

The four-seamer looked like it had some rise to it 🤷🏻‍♂️

AdministrativeSky236

This gives me optimism that we could get a solid RP out of him yet

Wilbur Miller

Statcast has his avg velo as 96 on the sinker and 95.9 on the 4seamer. Looking at the heat maps, it’s hard to see much distinction between the two. He certainly doesn’t get the “sinker” down at all.
I’m inclined to think these are all just fastballs, which means his fastball sucks.

roberto

And a two-seamer may not be a sinker. It may have mainly horizontal movement. Just study Brady Singer.

Wilbur Miller

Yeah, I just don’t know whether the trackers have the answer here.

JimEastTennessee

Alex Reyes

b mcferren

trade Reynolds and sign Bellinger

EightMenOut

He has hit very poorly after shoulder surgery two years ago, a sample size of 900 at bats, very unlikely he is worth the money they would have to give up to outbid other interested teams.

Wilbur Miller

Sounds suspiciously like Gregory Polanco.

ArkyWags

Except Polanco was never even close to as good as Bellinger when healthy.

leefieux

There’s a reason he was non tendered.

beaverjp

18m reasons

Last edited 18 days ago by beaverjp
leefieux

That and his OPS+ Values of 44 and 78. He fell off of a cliff, fer shur.

roberto

Sounds like an invite to spring training, no more.

MB21

A little fixated on the ‘trade Reynolds’ thing? That, to me, just is business as usual. I guess I’m ready for something out of character on the free agent front. The good thing about signing a free agent is that it’s adding to the team without subtracting talent.

JimEastTennessee

Not against a Reynolds trade (with a MASSIVE return), but I would rather see an extension. Hard “No” from me on Bellinger.

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