Pirates Business: Who Could Qualify for the Prospect Promotion Incentive?

Coming into 2023 and we’re now in Year 2 with the new Prospect Promotion Incentive—PPI for the cool kids—in place from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

We’ve already covered the incentive in-depth here before, but here’s a quick rundown:

  • The hope was to incentivize teams to roster top prospects from the start of the season, a way of avoiding service time manipulation
  • Eligible players who accrue a full year of service time and appear on two of the three—ESPN, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America—agreed upon preseason Top-100 prospect lists have the ability to earn their teams a draft pick after the first round for certain award-based achievements during their pre-arbitration years.
  • In order to be eligible, players have to have their rookie eligibility remaining and less than 60 days of service before the season.

All clear? The goal isn’t as much to cover the incentive as it is to see who may or may not qualify for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as all three Top-100 lists have been released.

First, let’s look at who ended up making two of the lists, meaning they could eventually qualify the Pirates for the incentive.

Three players—Termarr Johnson, Endy Rodriguez, and Henry Davis—qualified, placing on all three lists. Of course, Johnson isn’t even in the discussion for spending the entire year on the roster, leaving Rodriguez and Davis as the only players who could end up helping the Pirates for this year.

As far back as the Winter Meetings, Derek Shelton made it clear they have no intention of starting either player in the majors. For Davis, this certainly made sense, as he spent a good deal of last season on the injured list and presumably could use more time in the minors. That came to fruition, as he’s already been assigned to minor league camp. The debate for Rodriguez, however, is certainly not as clear. The argument can be made that he needs more time to hone his catching and just get some more minor league seasoning in general, while the other side of the coin sees his meteoric rise through the minors last season as proof that he’s ready to at least give it a go in the majors, especially given the players in competition for the backup job.

Either way, it doesn’t appear as if he’s going to win that job, meaning he’s going to start the year in the minors and won’t qualify the Pirates for an extra pick at any point down the line, as he’ll likely (hopefully) lose his rookie eligibility in 2023. In contrast, if he is recalled at some point during the season and hits the ground running, he could end up accruing a full year of service time anyway, but only if he places first or second in Rookie of the Year voting. This is similar to the discussion surrounding Oneil Cruz last season, which obviously never ended up coming to fruition, but it’s certainly something to watch.

With only three players qualifying, that leaves a few others off the list in terms of PPI consideration. Both Quinn Priester and Luis Ortiz placed on one list, and these are two players who could see Pittsburgh this season—Ortiz probably more so than Priester.

Both have bright futures, with Ortiz giving a glimpse of his ceiling in a cameo at the end of last season. If the stars align and he ends up winning Rookie of the Year, or even placing in Cy Young or MVP voting (always unlikely, but still) over the next few years, that still means no extra pick for the Pirates, as he didn’t make two of the lists. The same goes for Priester, but that’s only if he ends up exhausting his rookie eligibility this season, which certainly isn’t a given. In theory, he could keep that going into 2024 and place on two lists next offseason, but for now, we’ll operate on what we know.

However, the fact that neither placed on two lists means they can’t accrue a full year of service this season, no matter how well they perform, unlike as discussed with Rodriguez, so the positives and negatives for the team and player go both ways.

Are there any other prospects that need to enter the discussion? Of those with a possibility of seeing Pittsburgh this season, the most notable (Top-10 prospects) are probably Mike Burrows, Nick Gonzales, and Liover Peguero, while lower ranked players in the organization could certainly make an impact this season as well: Ji-hwan Bae, Jared Triolo, Malcom Nuñez, Matt Gorski, Travis Swaggerty, and Canaan Smith-Njigba.

Last season, there was some confusion in the reporting and application of these new rules, so don’t be fooled. If any of these players pull a Jack Suwinski and unexpectedly hit the majors and enter Rookie of the Year discussion, there will be no extra picks (or service time) for any of them.

Offseason Calendar Update

—While I’m not 100% sure, if I’m reading the rules correctly, we should see agreements—or renewals—on contracts for pre-arbitration players this week.

—Also, if the Pirates want to release a player for some reason, they better get on it. If the rules haven’t changed, by my count, the 14th is the last day they can while only being committed to 30 days of termination pay instead of 45. This goes for any other non-guaranteed contract the team terminates before the start of the season.

Pirates Payroll Updates

—With news of an injury to Jarlín García that sounds likely to keep him out of the start of the season, I made the first update to payroll in a while, placing him on the 15-day IL and recalling Yerry De Los Santos to take his place.

Of course, García’s full amount still counts against the ledger, meaning the only difference is between De Los Santos’ major and minor league amounts. Payroll went up $463,462, which, as always, is a great example of how injuries can inflate a payroll projection.

—The team also acquired Mark Mathias from the Texas Rangers this week, meaning room had to be made on the roster for him. I kept him on the active roster, optioning Tucupita Marcano and designating Cal Mitchell for assignment.

This resulted in a small $13,037 increase to projections.

—For 2023, the payroll estimate stands at $73,743,871 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $90,160,538 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.

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Ethan, do you know how many players in all of baseball are on at least two of the lists and qualify for this?


Pirates management has shown zero interest in taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire an additional pick via this method. Only way they would do it is to sign a player to an extension before playing an inning in Majors. Very unlikely.


Excellent article. Very informative. I guess I am in the minority of liking the Hedges signing. Seems to me that it gives time for the young catchers to develop for a brief time.


Kranick moved to the 60 day IL to make room for Mathias. Does mean someone will need to come off the 40 man when the backup catcher is put on the 40 man, I am guessing that will be Vilade before Mitchell


Or Jarlin Garcia to the 60IL.


Im more confused after reading this than I was before.

b mcferren

What’s the point of signing Hedges if he is only going to mentor Endy for the month of March?

Seems logical to call him up for the purpose of receiving more mentorship and also signing crash Davis to mentor tank in aaa

Last edited 17 days ago by b mcferren
b mcferren

should just send Hedges to AAA and start the season with Delay and Heinaman


They are not paying Hedges $5 million to play in Indy.


It was a questionable signing, but there’s no way that will happen.

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