Seven Pirates Reach Minor League Free Agency; Pirates Re-Sign Lolo Sanchez

The Pittsburgh Pirates had a total of seven players reach minor league free agency yesterday. Their original list of upcoming free agents had eight names, but I was able to verify the report that outfielder Lolo Sanchez re-signed with the team before reaching free agency. The new free agents are pitchers Travis MacGregor, Matt Eckelman, Zach Matson and Oliver Garcia, as well as infielders Kevin Padlo, Hunter Owen and Drew Maggi.

Sanchez was the top signing for the Pirates during the 2015-16 international signing period. He made it to Altoona this year and had a .231/.343/.330 slash line in 66 games, while twice missing time due to injuries. He has 118 career stolen bases and a .713 OPS in 498 games. He’s a solid defender in the outfield, who has played all three spots. His speed helps make up for some questionable routes.

MacGregor is another big name, as a second round pick in 2016 out of high school. He was having a breakout season in 2018 with Low-A West Virginia before he completely got sidetracked by Tommy John surgery and then the lost 2020 season. The Pirates bumped him up two levels in 2021, despite missing 2 1/2 seasons, and he struggled as a starter for Altoona. He took a relief role in Altoona this year and had an outstanding run of strong pitching that led to a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis. He had his share of problems after the promotion, posting a 7.25 ERA in 36 innings, though he did manage to collect 43 strikeouts, for a total of 103 strikeouts in 81 innings this year.

The rest of the group included Eckelman, who switched to a knuckleball this year as a last ditch effort to make it. The pitch had some effectiveness, so he might be able to make something of it with more experience. Before that he was a reliever who topped out around 90 MPH most nights and didn’t have any plus pitches, so this seems like a better possible route.

Owen was injured for most of his time with the Pirates, suffering various injuries over the years. He showed good power, but poor BB/SO numbers. He made terrific improvements at third base during the 2019 season after looking out of place there early in his career, but then he got pushed into more of a utility role. He got a cup of coffee in 2021 with the Pirates, but he was injured for almost all of 2022.

Matson was a Rule 5 pick who split 2022 between Altoona and Indianapolis. He did well as a crafty lefty against mainly younger players in Double-A, then had some major issues in Triple-A. His intrigue came from a huge strikeout rate in 2021, but his rate was sliced in half this year, going from 15.5 per nine innings, down to 7.4 per nine.

Padlo was picked up during the 2022 season and saw brief big league time with three different teams, but he was sent to the minors after going 0-for-11 for the Pirates and didn’t return. He has a .315 OPS in 23 big league games over 2021-22.

Garcia pitched a total of 219 innings over the last seven years, including two years as a starter. He’s had solid/decent results, but the missed time really stunted his progress. He missed most of 2022 due to injury.

Maggi has played 13 seasons of pro ball, with one trip to the majors with the Minnesota Twins that included him sitting on the bench for two days before being sent back down. He was picked up mid-season this year to help fill out the roster. He has put up some solid stats over the years, while also showing versatility and speed, but he struggled with his average this year.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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Travis MacGregor is the best out the bunch. He did well last season and seemed like he turned a corner. Although AAA didn’t go well, his K rate was still good. He atleast has a chance to be a MLB RP.

I doubt Lolo ever sees a MLB game. Personally, I’d take and give PT/AB to Fabricio Macias over Lolo.

And if you look at their numbers, Macias has similar numbers to Vilade; in less games.

I don’t think either are anything more than an AAAA player or MLB 4th OF, but I don’t understand why the Pirates just don’t give the guys in their own organization a shot.

Again, not that I’d except much from Macias but I don’t of Vilade either. But their minor league numbers point to them being similar players.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

Similar numbers?? Huh!?


Last season;

Macias – 255 AB, .251/.287/.416, .703 OPS, 9HR, and 7 SB

Vilade – 379 AB, .251/.344/.361, .706 OPS, 6HR, and 11 SB.

And Vilade’s career minor league numbers aren’t much better than Macias’s either(again, in less AB). They are similar. Have similar numbers/production.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

OBP is valued at 2x SLG. Check out wOBA for true comp, not even close.


Their OPS is the (OBP + SLG).

And their wRC+. And their wOBA.

And again, Macias less AB too.

Again, very similar numbers. Vilade’s might be a tad better but they are similar.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

That’s my point, OPS gives equal weight to OBP and SLG when OBP is 2x more valuable than SLG. Still not sure what wOBA you’re looking at but it isn’t close.


Macias wOBA was .344 in A+ and .300 in AA last season

Vilade -.319 in AAA .???

Macias less AB too. Their wRC+
is similar too. Which is a better
all-encompassing metric.

Are u looking at Vilade’s 11AB in the complex league(on a rehab assignment)??

Streamer even projects their wOBA for 2023.

Macias wOBA 2023 projection – .288
Vilade wOBA 2023 projection – .287

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

What!? Sorry, I just can’t follow your logic here.

Vilade hasn’t played in A+ in over three years and totally skipped AA. At a minimum, you need to compare similar levels, not to mention the age in which they were played.

The most recent year they would have in common is 2021, both were in AAA, Macias was 23 and Vilade was 22.

Macias wOBA .285
Vilade wOBA .326


Vilade’s was in AAA last season and most of Macias ABs last season was in AA.

Most “experts” will tell u the closet to MLB pitching and most talent is AA anyways.

The difference b/ween AA and AAA is nothing. Players jump from AA to MLB all the time. Skipping AAA completely.

And Macias is 24 and Villade is

Again, similar ages, similar stats, similar Milb production, similar projections, similar players.

And again, similar production with Macias having many less AB too.

And you know streamer bases projections on production history and age.

You’re just ignoring both having the same exact same projections for 2023 in the stat you claim is Vilade’s best indicator of his future success(wOBA).

I guess we can agree to disagree. I’ve already wasted too much time on this stupid take. I’m starting to repeat myself.

I think u get my point and I get yours. I’m not gonna keep saying the same things over and over just in different ways. Using semantics and rhetoric to argue is cheap trick that never works anyways.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

You’re definitely right about one thing, this was a huge f*cking waste of time.

Have fun regurgitating steamer projections for MiLB players LOL, and please don’t waste my time in future threads until you can analyze and reconcile actual data to form your own conclusions and opinions.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

This just means Colin Selby is no longer allowed to shave his beard, now that Ginger Claus is gone.

Wilbur Miller

Hey Ethan,
I’m trying to figure out why Cederlind isn’t a FA. Is it because they waited until just after the MiL FA deadline to dfa him? Like, was he technically already on a 2023 contract by then?

Ethan Hullihen

It takes 7 years of MiL service to reach MiFA. As I mention in today’s piece (not up yet), he was on the IL for two full seasons, meaning he only has 5 years of MiL service.

I remember this happening with Brandon Cumpton back in the day (injury or otherwise, don’t remember, just a full year in the majors), which is what helped me with this application.

Wilbur Miller

Ah ha. I thought it was 7 yrs of service. Brutal system.

Ethan Hullihen

Ah ha, I knew it was here somewhere.

Do you not easily remember 6 year old case studies?

Wilbur Miller

I don’t remember what I had for lunch today.


macgregor nooooo


I’d like to see them try to re-sign MacGregor and Eckelman. Neither one is getting a major league deal anywhere else, so you’d think if the Pirates are still interested they have the inside track to keep both.

Ethan Hullihen

Stout and Collins were also MiFA, even though everyone reported it Thursday as simply “became free agents”.

Ethan Hullihen

I figured that was the distinction, but in reality, they certainly would have all happened Thursday at 5, since that was the deadline

b mcferren

must sign Knuckleman

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