Pirates Notebook: Three Roster Situations

Here’s a look at three roster situations the Pittsburgh Pirates have to deal with:

1. Donald Veal Returns

Veal has been on the 15-day DL, and started his rehab on June 8th. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, pitchers can only spend a maximum of 30 days in rehab. That means that Veal’s rehab is over after July 7th. Since Veal is a Rule 5 choice, the Pirates have two options:

-Bring Veal up to the majors
-Try to work out a trade with the Cubs to keep Veal in the minors

Option two isn’t a guarantee. Every team in the majors would have a shot at claiming Veal and stashing him on their roster for the remainder of the season before the Cubs got him back. Also, there’s no guarantee the Cubs would want to deal a guy like Veal, who is only two years removed from being their top pitching prospect.

Option one seems most likely, with Veal returning to the majors. The question becomes: who gets demoted?

-Matt Capps and John Grabow are out for obvious reasons
-Jesse Chavez has been one of the best relievers on the team this season, so it’s unlikely he gets sent down
-Evan Meek has also been very reliable, with the best ERA in the bullpen this year.

That leaves Joel Hanrahan, Steven Jackson, and Jeff Karstens.

It’s unlikely the Pirates demote Hanrahan, especially since they just traded for him, and will probably want him working with Joe Kerrigan. That leaves Karstens and Jackson.

My preference would be sending down Jackson. I don’t want to say we’re loaded with starting pitchers, but with Tom Gorzelanny, Daniel McCutchen, Ian Snell, and Brad Lincoln at AAA, it’s not like we need Karstens at AAA as a starter. In the bullpen he provides us with an arm to use in long relief situations, along with some mop up work. Jackson has been a good pitcher, getting some key outs, but with Chavez and Meek, it’s not like we need the right handed relief help.

I’d also add that Karstens has one option remaining, and sending him down burns that option. Jackson has already used his option this year, so sending him down doesn’t have any impact there. If Karstens is sent down, he either has to be on the 25-man roster all season next year, or designated for assignment. I don’t think there’s a major difference between Karstens (3.52 ERA in the bullpen) and Jackson, at least not enough to burn Karstens’ final option.

2. Tom Gorzelanny doing well at AAA

Since being sent down, Tom Gorzelanny has done very well, allowing just two runs in 22 innings pitched, with a 26:5 K/BB ratio. However, the Pirates have a situation involving his service time that could keep him in the minors.

Gorzelanny had 2 years and 74 days of service time coming in to this season. A year of major league service time is 172 days, and three years makes Gorzelanny arbitration eligible. Gorzelanny has spent 25 days in the majors so far this season, which means he’s 73 days away from three years of service time.

There’s another way Gorzelanny can become arbitration eligible next season, and it’s called “Super Two” status. A player qualifies for Super Two eligibility if he meets the following requirements:

-At least 2 years of service time, but less than 3 years of service time, and
-86 days in the majors in the previous season, and
-Ranks in the top 17% in service time of all 2-year players

Number two is the key here. Gorzelanny would need 86 days in the majors to qualify for arbitration next season. So if he only spends 85 days in the majors, there’s no way he can qualify, even if he meets the other two requirements.

In order to stay under the 86 day mark, the Pirates can’t bring Gorzelanny up until August 6th. If they bring him up any earlier, they risk sending him to arbitration next year, which could triple or quadruple his 2009 salary. If they keep him down, they retain control over him for an extra year, keeping him in the system through the 2013 season.

Considering we’re getting good pitching from our rotation, including Charlie Morton and Virgil Vasquez, it doesn’t seem like we have much of an urgent need for Gorzelanny in the majors, despite his success at AAA.

3. What to do when Doumit returns

Ryan Doumit will return soon, likely to be right after the All-Star break. That raises the question of what to do with Jason Jaramillo and Robinzon Diaz. A few options have been floated around to keep all three in the majors:

-Move Doumit to first base (assuming an Adam LaRoche trade) or right field (which doesn’t seem necessary with the way Garrett Jones is hitting now).
-Move Robinzon Diaz to the bench, getting time at second base.

The second plan seems unlikely, as Diaz has only played one minor league game at second, although he played 21 games at third in the minors.

My preference would be to send Diaz to the minors. That being said, both catchers have one option remaining, with Diaz already optioned to AAA. Here are the details to consider:

-Diaz was optioned down on March 28th. He was called up on April 21st. An option isn’t used if a player spends less than 20 days in the minors in a season. I’m not sure if “season” means “from the time he was sent down” or “from the MLB opening day”. If it’s opening day, then Diaz hasn’t burned his option. If it’s based on when he was sent down, then Diaz has burned his option.

-Jaramillo has one option left, and sending him down means the Pirates would need to keep him on the 25-man roster or DFA him next season. Depending on the situation with Diaz, that could put the Pirates in a situation where they HAVE to keep all three catchers next season, or trade one of the three (Doumit, Jaramillo, or Diaz).

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 7/5 loss. Here are the big impacts for the 7/6 loss:

1. Delwyn Young: -.175 WPA
2. Virgil Vasquez: -.132
3. Andy LaRoche: -.078
4. Ramon Vazquez: -.074
5. Steve Pearce: -.069

Other Stuff

-The Prospect Watch for 7/6 is up.

-I’ve noticed some problems with the new design having problems loading in various browsers. I think I’ve fixed this now.

-ESPN’s Jorge Arangure has a lot of good stuff on Miguel Angel Sano via Twitter (@jorgearangure). Here are some key Tweets:

“#Twins gave their Sano money to Polanco and Kepler.”

“Those who think #Orioles will give record $ for Sano remember: They gave $3.2m to No. 4 pick Matusz last year. Gave Hobgood $2.4 this yr”

“There’s no way Orioles are giving more to Sano than they gave Matusz and Hobgood.”

“Am convinced Sano will not get record money. #Orioles see him as late-first-round talent, which does not equal $4 million. More like $1-$1.5″

“For me, the #Twins aren’t real contenders anymore. The #Pirates won’t give record money because they won’t have to.”

So it looks like the Twins are out, and the Orioles aren’t likely to spend much on Sano. But what about other teams?

“Chapman defection wasn’t good development for Sano.Certain teams will save money for run at Aroldis.Last minute offer 4 Sano less likely now”

It looks like the defection of top Cuban pitching prospect Aroldis Chapman will improve the chances of the Pirates signing Sano, as it will take a lot of the big market teams out of the picture.

Things are looking good on the Sano front. Now if that MLB investigation could hurry up…

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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