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Monday, December 5, 2022

Previewing the Upcoming Pirates 40-Man Roster Churn


With the Houston Astros win last night, the World Series is officially over, meaning the offseason can finally kick off into full gear.

That means that today—the first day after the end of the World Series—players become Article XX(B) free agents (players with six plus years of service, of course), while the Quiet Period before free agency starts as well.

For the Pittsburgh Pirates, that means Roberto Pérez and Ben Gamel will enter the market, leaving the 40-man roster at 39 (Pérez was not taking up a spot, as he was on the 60-day IL, hence only the one spot vacated).

Unfortunately, we have to wait a while longer, but things really start to happen on the fifth day after the World Series ends—Thursday the 10th. See below for the full slate, but the main procedural matter I want to focus on is players needing to be reinstated off the 60-day IL.

Currently, the Pirates have five players with that designation: Blake Cederlind, Yerry De Los Santos, Colin Holderman, Max Kranick, and Canaan Smith-Njigba. As mentioned, the roster stands at 39, meaning the team needs to open four spots to find room for all of them. That is, if they want to make room for all of them.

Cederlind won’t have pitched in a game that counts for two and half years by the time Opening Day rolls around. He’s expected to be ready for Spring Training, but how confident is the team that he still has it at this point, and how likely would it be that he’d be claimed by another team if put on waivers? It’s at least possible that he doesn’t get added directly from the injured list.

As for Kranick, the team chose to transfer him to the 60-day IL during the season, letting him accrue service and major league pay, instead of risking losing him to waivers/having to release him, as injured players can’t be outrighted in season. However, they have until November 15th to outright him this offseason, so is that something they’d consider doing, saving the roster spot over the next few months under the assumption that another team isn’t going to want to roster an injured Kranick all season? Again, it’s at least a possibility that needs entertained.

Whether it’s two, three, or all four roster spots that need cleared, the team shouldn’t have too many issues finding room on the first go around. Pool any fan and you probably get a different answer, but personally, I have names like Eric Stout, Duane Underwood Jr. (as an early nontender), Jeremy Beasley, Yohan Ramirez, and Hoy Park at the top of my list as players I expect to be first off the roster.

These are just the first dominoes to fall, with more to come as the offseason moves along.

Next week will be dedicated to the setting of the Reserve List—or protecting players from the Rule 5 Draft, as many fans would best recognize it—and the tender deadline, as those will be the next steps at that point.

Come along, because I can’t wait to get started!

Offseason Calendar Update

I neglected to mention last week that free agency had the possibility of starting before my next article dropped, but here we are. I missed it, and I apologize, but we have plenty more that bears mentioning for the upcoming week.

As stated, the fifth day after the World Series ends provides a plethora of options as far as deadlines go:

—Eligible players become minor league free agents as of 5 pm ET. I previewed this group last week.

—In conjunction with the date for minor league free agency, this is the last day a player who otherwise would have qualified for minor league free agency can be outrighted, without having to sign them to a Major League contract for 2023. This is what happened with Michael Perez last offseason and why he was the first player signed for 2022.

— As mentioned above, players on the 60-day IL must be activated.

—Eligible players must be extended a Qualifying Offer if their team so chooses. I can’t imagine the Pirates are offering Gamel or Pérez $19.65M, so this isn’t relevant around here.

—The Domestic Reserve List bumps up from 180 in-season to 190 over the offseason. I will be covering where the Pirates stand on this later in the offseason.

—Finally, the five-day Quiet Period comes to an end and free agency officially begins. It’s not like the NBA where deals will be culminated immediately, but in theory, teams are allowed to start signing players at any time as of 5 pm ET Thursday.

Pirates Payroll Updates

No updates here as of this week

—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $44,479,116 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $60,895,783 for CBT purposes.

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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.


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Just went thru Fangraph’s top 50 FA’s & couldn’t help but think if the Bucs’ could add $30-40M to the payroll they could really add a couple nice pieces.


Honestly even 20 would give us maybe Q, mancini, and a pen arm I would guess. It’s not going to win us the WS, but team will be instantly more stable than they are right now. 25 gives us those 3 plus resign perez and another rebound SP flyer


i’ve been doing the same lol.

if we set the exercise as “add 30 million in payroll to get to a still pathetic 75ish”, and using their contract outlines, i’d do something to the effect of Senga SP gamble, Carpenter for 1b, and Brantley for DH.

up it to 40 million to get to a still pathetic 85ish, i’d flirt in the Haniger-Pederson pool and add it to the last list.

LFSuwinski, CF Reynolds RF Pederson
3b Hayes SS Cruz 2b Bae/Castro 1b Carpenter C Perez/Endy/Davis
DH Brantley

Senga Roansy Keller Priester Burrows Brubaker Ortiz, etc

i’d enjoy that team a decent bit. maybe move some prospects for a few cheap good bullpen arms.

But yeah i mean further than what i mentioned, there are so many good options. Idk how you could turn down, say, Jose Abreu or Kershaw for the contracts predicted.

Last edited 27 days ago by jaygray007

It’s fun to do! Or how about old friends Josh Bell ($10-12M) & an old SP (Jamo, Tyler Anderson, Q) ($10-15M) coming back. That’s $20-27M for upgrading 2 biggest positions of need. Can find a decent bullpen piece & Roberto Perez for $2-5M each. Stick with the young OF’s in the system


Hey Ethan, what’s your gut call on if Nunez gets protected?

Gun to my head, i’d guess that the “valuations” in their model would barely say to not protect him, but the headache of the annoying PR of questions may actually catapult him to a be a protect


i’ll have to track down that podcast. thanks for the thoughts.

Scam likely

Wow, this seems pretty easy cut on a 100 lose team. When in doubt keep a younger guy.


As there are better players in majors with other good players waiting for opportunities in AAA the chaff on the 40 will keep decreasing. Pretty soon we’ll lose a decent prospect in the Rule5. Possibly this year.


BC will cut Swaggerty, the Giants will sign him and work their voodoo on him, platoon star.


Cederlind would be nice to keep, but I doubt anyone would claim him, so no issue if they waive/ouright him.

Kranick is completely replaceable. Go ahead and waive/outright him.


Last off-season the Pirates added 18 guys to the 40 man roster but only 15 spots were effected (Hanhold and Medina were waived and Allen placed on the 60 day IL).

If we assume the same 15 plus the need to drop four to get to 40 in the first place that means 19 players need dropped. Now of course that’s probably high as I don’t see them being nearly as active in free agency as last year (quantity wise I mean).

Banuelos, Beasley, Cederlind, Fernandez, Kranick, Ramirez, Solomon, Stephenson, Stout, Sulser, Underwood, Wilson, Yajure, Collins, Heineman, Delay, Newman, Park and Swaggerty

Impossible to say which random catcher will stick of course and in reality if that many guys are removed chances are someone is traded away. However that’s my stab at it for now. Again I doubt they remove that many this year as 7 free agent signings seem unlikely (not to mention the two roster fixtures they traded for).


Think they will keep TSwags and Newman, otherwise seems about right.


They’re way heavy on pitchers vs. hitters, 25:19. Most teams try to get to 20:20, so when it comes to roster churn decisions, I like to start with the current ratio, add the likely R5s and the known FA needs and drop from there.

Among hitters, they’ve identified starting C and 1B and we know they’ll protect Endy and Nuñez, and likely at least one of Gorski and Triolo. So 24 (19+2+3), four guys need to go. To me this is easy: pick 3 of the “catchers” plus Park.

Among pitchers, they’ll sign a FA SP and probably a FA RP, and protect Burrows and probably Bolton. That makes 29 (25+2+2). Nine guys to cut.

Bañuelos, Stephenson, Fernandez, Underwood and Yajure are out of options and not good. Beasley has options, but is buried. Cederlind hasn’t pitched in 2 years. That’s an easy 7 for starters.

The last two are only marginally more difficult, insofar as most teams would let ALL of them go:

Wilson – out of options, bad every year, but tantalized us with a new pitch.
Thompson – has 3 options, but gets hit really hard.
Mears – will have a 4th option, pitched poorly off the 60IL.
Kranick – will be back on the IL once Spring Training starts.
Solomon – has an option and MLB experience but was bad at AAA in ’22.
Sulser – glad they got him back, but let’s be honest, he’ll be 29 next spring.
Ramirez – journeyman with a lifetime FIP > 5.
Stout – a lefty turning 30 before the season.

Honestly I can only muster even a weak argument to keep Wilson, Thompson and Kranick. I’d let the other 5 go. But gun to my head if I could ONLY drop 2 it would be Stout and Solomon.

So there you go. Not a prediction, but if I were working with Nutting’s budget, I’d “churn out” Heineman, Collins, Ali Sanchez, Park, Bañuelos, Stephenson, Fernandez, Underwood, Yajure, Beasley, Cederlind, Solomon and Stout.


Good catch. For me that just moves him from the Underwood category to the Beasley category. They could absolutely find room for him at AAA, given the long list of uninspiring arms that occupy the 40-man – he’s not blocking anyone useful – but have we seen anything to make us believe the guy is an asset?


This will obviously happen in waves bc you can’t just purge 25% of your roster. They’ll prob leave a spot or two going into Rule 5, then drop guys as FA are signed, if that happens 🤞🏻. If the “holes” on this team aren’t filled by January 1, it’s likely they failed to execute their plan or didn’t have a plan at all.


In waves yes, but waves in quick succession. They need to drop 4 immediately to get down to 40. By November 15, they need to protect their R5 guys, and I think that’s 4-6 more guys dropped. The rest will be as needed for free agent signings, but I have a gut feeling BC is going to come out of the gate early for some of those – he signed both Quintana and Perez before the lockout.


The next two months could be very exciting. Their aggressiveness, or lack thereof, in FA will let us know pretty quickly where they see themselves in this rebuild.

Wilbur Miller

you can’t just purge 25% of your roster

Certainly not. 35% would be better.


You made the case for an easy move to get down to 25…not much to worry about losing them and if so who cares…


Anecdotally the Pirates in ’21 went into the season fully intending to cycle as many pitchers through as they could just to finish 162 games, and in ’22 they carried a half-dozen last chance saloon hitters and left the pitching staff short of available arms. Shockingly, it backfired when just a couple early-season injuries occurred. Luis Oviedo was lost, Roansy called up months before the “plan,” and a succession of Sulsers, Howards and Allreds DFA’d while they still had options.

If you go around the league and survey the more competently run teams (i.e., the other 29 – ok, 27 plus Colorado and Cincinnati), the OD 40-man rosters for 2022 were, on average, 20/20. Any worse than 21/19 (or 19/21) and you’re asking for trouble right off the bat. This is particularly true in the era of roster limits, which you would expect to trickle down to the minors.


Dumping the riffraff is easy. Finding anyone better for the price the Pirates are willing to pay is the hard part. If I had a job that required me to work with Nutting’s budget, I might be tempted to put a gun to my head too, but fortunately that’s someone else’s job.

Wilbur Miller

The Pirates don’t need a 40-man churn. They need a 40-man burn.


Shouldn’t be a problem to get down to 30 if needed…

My question for this… Will the replacements be any better or just more of the same schlock…sorry, we all know the answer to that…

Wilbur Miller

To borrow from Chuck Noll, the problem is finding 30 worth keeping.


Hard to imagine any team is lining up to take the worst 25% of a 100-loss roster.


You are assuming the Pirates know who are the worst 25%.


I’m fairly certain when choosing which players to keep, and which ones to jettison, BC will error on side of players he has brought in over those dating back to NH. As such, don’t be surprised if Swaggerty isn’t in Pirates organization on April 1, 2023.


This has been a fear of mine, but I don’t think BC is this stupid. Swaggerty’s defense and speed are underrated, plus he has shown the ability to get on base. He effectively lost two years of development time; they just need to be a little more patient with him. His skill set could potentially complement this outfield mix extremely well, possibly as early as mid-2023.


I agree. I would like to see him, Reynolds, and Bae running around the OF. We have plenty of people who can give it a go at 2nd not name Bae. Left side of infield seems set. Def need a 1B. Ride whoever is hot. If anybody.


Yeah, I have him as the next hitter to go – before Castillo, Smith-Njigba or Marcano. Not because I think he SHOULD be the next to go, but because he’s a NH holdover.

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