The Pirates cut eight players today, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the PPG. Those eight players were Virgil Vasquez, Chris Bootcheck, Denny Bautista, Jason Davis, Jeff Salazar, Garrett Jones, Andy Phillips, and Erik Kratz.
The Spring Training roster is currently at 27 players, although Phil Dumatrait will start the season on the DL, which is why the Spring Training tracker shows 26 players remaining.
The notables about today’s moves:
- With Vasquez cut, Jeff Karstens is the fifth starter, unless the Pirates make a trade
- Luis Cruz has won the final bench spot, again unless the Pirates make a trade
- There are five relievers (Sean Burnett, Evan Meek, Craig Hansen, Donald Veal, Jesse Chavez) in line for four spots, with none of them officially winning jobs
On the starting pitcher front, Karstens hasn’t exactly been impressive this Spring, but neither was Vasquez. John Perrotto wrote the other day that the Pirates had their eye on Jeff Niemann. As you know, I’ve been saying Niemann would be perfect for the Pirates, even before this post on March 15th.
As for the bench, today is the deadline to add Craig Monroe to the roster. According to the same blog post from DK listed above, Monroe was told that he “pretty much” made the team. Luis Cruz also has won a job, considering he’s the only player remaining in camp for the final bench spot. The Pirates have expressed interest in Jeff Baker and Robert Andino, and there’s no ruling out that they could make an outside move. I think Monroe is safe, but I’m not sure about Cruz.
In the bullpen, I think the four players who win a job will be Burnett, Hansen, Meek, and Veal. Burnett and Hansen are both out of options, Veal is a Rule 5 selection, and I think Meek wins over Jesse Chavez. I’m not counting out a Sean Burnett trade. According to Marlins MLB beat writer Joe Frisaro, the Pirates are not only interested in Robert Andino, but the Marlins are looking for lefty relief help, and are considering Sean Burnett. Could some type of Burnett for Andino trade work?
Neal Huntington said that nothing is imminent on an outside acquisition, but I think the chances are pretty strong that the Pirates make a move, possibly even today after their Spring Training game. I’m hoping one of the moves brings us Niemann, and I’d take Andino over Luis Cruz on the bench.