In an offseason as slow as Major League Baseball’s, there’s nothing like a transaction deadline.
This past Tuesday was the date to file reserve lists with the Commissioner’s Office. In true Pittsburgh Pirates’ fashion, the team held off an announcement more than twenty minutes after the 6 o’clock deadline.
When the statement was finally made, pitchers Mike Burrows and Colin Selby, catcher Endy Rodriguez, and infielder Jared Triolo were afforded spots on the 40-man roster, while Tyler Heineman, Jeremy Beasley, Junior Fernandez, and Manny Bañuelos were designated for assignment to clear the extra spots needed. While the Major League Reserve List is full for now, I want to focus on the Triple-A Reserve List today.
The wording I used above was intentional—reserve lists, plural. Tuesday was the deadline to file both the Major and Minor League Reserve Lists, and according to the rules (2021’s at least), the Triple-A Reserve List can have up to 38 players “through the conclusion of the Major League Rule 5 Draft”. This allows clubs the opportunity, on some level, to protect up to 78 players.
While some of the marquee names were left off the 40-man roster and thus available in the MLB phase of the Rule 5 Draft, there’s a reason they simply aren’t plucked in the minor league phase, and this is why. The restrictions on this phase are far less onerous—a mere $24,000 (again, this was before, as we STILL DON’T HAVE UPDATED RULES) will grant the selecting team the rights to the player’s contract, with no roster restrictions like those that come with the major league phase.
So, with the basics covered as far as the draft goes, who may the Pirates be looking to protect?
The same pool of players that are Rule 5 eligible would be the ones being considered—there aren’t different players eligible for both phases. Also, there seems to be some confusion among fans that we are simply to look at the Triple-A roster, but this is not the case. Any player at any level can be added to the Triple-A Reserve List through the completion of the draft.
Based on my handy-dandy guide, here’s some speculation on who I think could make up the Triple-A Reserve List. I really won’t include much analysis here—leave that to the rest of the crew—rather, I just wanted to take the opportunity to explain an oft-disregarded rule and look at some deeper names in the system.
The following assumes a full slate; however, teams rarely use every available slot, as they need openings to select players if they so choose.
First, I’ll start with the obvious names (7):
These are the players that some could have argued needed protected on the 40-man roster. So, it would be silly to let these players unprotected for the minor league phase, as teams would jump at the chance to select them for nothing.
Next, here are some upper-level depth names that could either see the majors this year, fill out the upper levels, or just have a future in the organization of some kind (20):
Finally, here are some lower-level (I’m thinking anyone who I find likely to open below Double-A) projects that I would think the team has hopes for long-term, meaning they wouldn’t want to give another team the opportunity to poach and develop them (11):
Joelvis Del Rosario
Just for kicks—I started with a list of 52, meaning I had to cut 14 names. Here they are, and this goes with the obvious disclaimer that any of these names could quite easily be transposed with another from above.
I think this is just a good snapshot of how deep the system goes with useable players that have qualities to like, along with the fact that only so many can be protected. Where that line ends and how comfortable you may be with it will vary from person to person.
Of the 89 players (wow, it was 64 last year) that are Rule 5 eligible, this leaves 51 available for selection.
While it’s possible we may get an idea of who was available, based on if anyone gets picked, it’s probably one of those things that we’ll never know who was or wasn’t protected. It’s still something that needs to be considered as the offseason moves along, until we meet again at the next deadline.
Offseason Calendar Update
Last week was a busy week for transaction deadlines, but there is nothing coming up this week.
Pirates Payroll Updates
As already mentioned, the Pirates protected four players from the Rule 5 Draft. Since that’s the same amount I’ve been projecting in my payroll estimate—with $58,800 salaries to match—there were no changes there.
The designations, on the other hand, did create some shakeups though.
—I replaced Manny Bañuelos with the $1 million projected salary of Duane Underwood Jr.—who I’ve been convinced would be nontendered this whole time—increasing payroll $195,000.
—As for Tyler Heineman, Hoy Park took his spot and payroll went down $10,000.
Despite me originally thinking both Heineman and Bañuelos would need contracts for 2023 before being outrighted, it turns out both ended up nontendered, as they didn’t have enough time between their designation and the deadline to clear waivers.
—I put Miguel Yajure in the projection, taking the place of Jeremy Beasley, and payroll went up $40,298 due to a higher minor league split for Yajure.
Beasley didn’t even make it to Friday’s deadline before he was able to get nontendered—he was released Wednesday.
—Finally, even though I didn’t have him included in the payroll projection, it’s worth noting Junior Fernandez was claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees before he could get nontendered.
—As for the tender deadline itself, the team came to an agreement with Miguel Andújar for a 2023 contract worth $1,525,000, which is $175,000 less than his estimated arbitration salary, lowering payroll concurrently.
It’s worth mentioning that salaries for arbitration eligible players are now guaranteed—as long as they are agreed upon outside of a hearing (sure seems like teams are trying to deter players going to hearings in an attempt to keep costs down)—whereas they were not under the old CBA. Termination Pay of 30 or 45 days was the rule before, depending on when a player was cut.
That means Andújar is sure to get his entire salary, as will any other player who agrees to a contract before appearing in front of an arbiter.
—Aside from that, the deadline looked like it was going to pass rather quietly—that is until the Pirates traded Kevin Newman to the Cincinnati Reds for Dauri Moreta.
Contractually, I have Moreta at .119 days of service, meaning he has a full six years of contractual control remaining. He used an option in 2022, leaving two remaining going into next year.
As for the payroll estimate—Newman ($2,800,000) is replaced with Diego Castillo ($725,000/$280,787 split) on the active roster, while Moreta ($209,963) gets optioned for bullpen depth. These moves shake out to a decrease of $2,145,824.
—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $45,991,637 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $62,408,304 for CBT purposes.
A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.
Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.
When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.