Tyler Yates elects free agency

The Pittsburgh Pirates removed Tyler Yates from the 40-man roster today, with Yates electing free agency rather than being designated for assignment. Yates had Tommy John surgery in July, and will likely miss most of the 2010 season due to the recovery process. Yates was on the 60-day DL, do he didn’t count towards the 40-man roster, which currently has 38 members.

The Pirates plan to offer Yates a minor league contract in 2010, according to Dejan Kovacevic. That’s pretty much what Yates will be limited to, as he won’t be able to play until July 2010 at the earliest, and probably won’t be able to make it back to the majors until late August or early September.
The 2010 40-man roster/payroll page has been updated, along with the Future Payroll Commitments chart. Yates was making $1.3 M last year, and was entering his final year of arbitration. The Pirates now have four players eligible for arbitration going in to 2010: Zach Duke, Matt Capps, Ronny Cedeno, and Jeff Karstens, who recently obtained Super Two status.
While the Pirates have two open spots on the 40-man roster, Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio are both on the 60-day DL, and don’t count towards the 40-man roster. This means the Pirates need to remove more players if they want to protect people like Brad Lincoln and Gorkys Hernandez from the Rule 5 draft in December. The deadline to set the 40-man roster is November 20th.
UPDATE: Just in case anyone is wondering why the Pirates would bring back Yates:
If Yates were signed as a minor league free agent, he wouldn’t take up a roster spot. Since he’s no longer on the 40-man roster, the Pirates could keep him in the minors, and place him on the minor league disabled list until he’s ready to return. A pitcher on the major league DL must return no later than 30 days after his rehab assignment begins. If Yates were on the 40-man, he would have to return 30-days after being cleared to pitch. As a minor league free agent, he could stay in the minors and rehab longer.
So the only roster spot that would be taken up would be a spot at AAA between the time Yates signs, and the start of the season when the Pirates place him on the DL. This means the Pirates would have to wait to sign a Bobby Livingston type reliever to fill in at AAA.
As for the future, you may ask “why can’t they just sign him in 2011″? Yates will probably miss the entire 2010 season. Tim Hudson had Tommy John surgery in early August 2008 and returned to the majors in September 2009, although it would be optimistic to expect that from Yates. It’s likely that he will be able to return to the majors by September 2010.
If the Pirates signed him to a minor league deal, they could bring him up to the majors as a September call-up, thus purchasing his contract, similar to what they did with Chris Bootcheck this year. Since Yates would spend the majority of the season off of the 40-man roster, he wouldn’t accumulate any major league service time, leaving him close to five years. That would give the Pirates control of Yates for his final year of arbitration going in to the 2011 season. If they waited until the 2010 off-season to sign him, another team would have the option of doing what I just described. Signing Yates gives the Pirates the option incase he returns and has success.
As for the cost, it would probably be minimal for Yates in 2010, since he likely won’t play until August rolls around. A player in arbitration can’t receive less than 80% of his previous year’s salary, or 70% of his salary from two seasons ago, which means Yates can’t receive less than $910,000 in 2011 if offered arbitration (his $1.3 M 2009 salary x 70%).
In short, if the Pirates signed Yates as a minor league free agent, they would be getting the option to check him out in the final months of the season, and the chance at controlling his final arbitration year, which would be as low as $910,000, and most likely would be a pay-cut from the $1.3 M he received in 2009.
Tim Williams

Author: 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 AccuScore.com, 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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  • Henduck

    Hanrahan would bring in that protection for Pedro.

  • wtmiller

    I don’t see the argument that Barajas can be expected to continue hitting at his typical levels. With his age, injury tendencies, extreme slowness and unwillingness to take a pitch, he’s a huge risk to decline and a significant risk to collapse altogether. He’s also moved into a terrible environment for his one limited offensive skill, which is the occasional long ball.

  • szielinski

    Unfortunately, the one strong chance the Pirates recently had to get another impact hitter went by the boards. The Pirates took Gerrit Cole instead of Anthony Rendon. Rendon’s latest injury makes that decision look smart or lucky. It depends on how much credit one wants to give to the Pirates’ front office. But he was the guy the Pirates could have had who would have completed the lineup.

    Now, the Pirates will need to manufacture a trade which would bring back that impact bat since the team cannot or, better, is very unlikely to sign such a free agent player who is an impact hitter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

      A potential #1 is much more valuable than an oft-injured player whose position is unknown at this point and whose power is doubtful to materialize. Plus, he hasn’t played a game yet.

      • szielinski

         Rendon’s position is not unknown. His power is not doubtful. And he played games this season.

        If Rendon were not injury prone, he was the best player available in the 2011 draft.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

          It seems that others have doubts where you do not. Where will he play in Washington? Is he going to move Zimmerman off 3B? Is he athletic enough (not to mention the injuries) to play 2B w/ all the risks associated w/ the same (re: turning double play)?

          If his power is not doubtful, why did it drop off his last year in college? 

          Saying “if Rendon were not injury prone” he’d be the best player in the draft is similar to saying “if Mark Prior wasn’t injury prone, he’d be the next Nolan Ryan”.  Being injury prone or being injured is a huge deal and obstacle to realizing one’s potential.

          Rendon is/will be a fine player, in my eyes, but there are more question marks than you realize.

          • szielinski

             Rendon can play third or second. He’d win Gold Gloves if he were a thirdbaseman, all other things being equal.

            Rendon’s power declined last year because of a shoulder injury.

            Rendon has one question mark: Will he remain healthy.

  • Lee Young

    I still think Presley could be another Nate. JMHO. Very disappointed in Walker’s power numbers. I thought he’d do better than he has.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Pitney/100003821683275 Daniel Pitney

      The Pirates could be at least two players away from a good lineup and one of them may (if we’re talking about August or next year) be Starling Marte. He’ll probably bat second so that still leaves the need for someone with enough power to bat fifth. Neil Walker is a good second baseman but he doesn’t have the offense the Pirates need.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

    “Protection” in a lineup is a myth. It’s never been proven to create any difference in how people are pitched.  Pitchers aren’t going to pick any other strategy than the most effective way to get someone out, regardless of who is hitting behind or in front.

    • burgh_fan

      I don’t get why you call this a myth? If it doesn’t matter who is hitting behind you why in the world does Rod Barajas have two IBB walks this season?

  • piratemike

    With a little luck and a better GM we could have had a lineup with Cutch, Alvarez,  Wieters and Harper……I hate when I do this.

  • http://twitter.com/RandyLinville Randy Linville

    Taking players who have had average careers or average starts to their careers (at best) and then looking at upside/peak is overly optimistic. Other than Cutch, no one in the lineup on Saturday has posted a career OPS+ of 120 or better.

    So, I agree that if you take everyone’s upside – Tabata’s, Cutch’s, Walker’s and Alvarez’ potential along with the best seasons of Jones, McGehee, Barmes and Barajas – then you might have a solid lineup. One that could potentially contend. Here’s the problem: everyone has to develop and the older guys have to perform at peak level. Plus, no one can get hurt. That scenario won’t happen all too often.

    For example, if we could take the following five pitching seasons:
    2004 Oliver Perez
    2005 Zach Duke (even at half as good as he was)
    2007 Tom Gorzelanny
    2007 Ian Snell
    2008 Paul Maholm

    If we had those five pitching seasons all in one year, then we’d have a pretty solid rotation. Problem is that those seasons weren’t put together in the same actual season. So, we had nothing short of mediocrity season after season as one pitcher would step up while everyone else would regress, stagnate or get injured.

    So, whether this lineup becomes dangerous depends on the four young guys developing and the older players playing at their peak level, plus no one getting hurt. I’m not ready to say that this team is one away from a good lineup. It’s a lot more than that. 

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      You’ve lost me on this. You started talking about hitters, then made your argument based on the inconsistency of pitchers, many of which were just playing over their heads for one season. I don’t know what the pitching argument has to do with the lineups.

      Also, I’m not saying that everyone will play to their upside, or that everyone will stay healthy. That’s never a guarantee, no matter who you are talking about. Therefore, I don’t think it needs to be mentioned that if someone gets hurt, or someone slumps, things won’t work out as expected. That’s assumed any time you’re talking about the potential performance of human beings.

      If you’re focusing on building a lineup, you’re focusing on the upside of the players in that lineup. Your argument seems to be based around “what if Scenario X happens”. That’s more a focus on the depth behind the starting lineup, rather than the actual lineup.

      • http://twitter.com/RandyLinville Randy Linville

        Let me back up: the 2012 lineup is not a piece away from being good. That’s my belief. We are approaching 20% of the way into the season and the team is last place in the league in runs. Even if we said April was an aberration because Tabata and Alvarez were off to a bad start and they have been better of late, the offense is still not good. Through six games in May (with Tabata and Alvarez hitting), the team has scored only 20 runs. That puts them in the middle of the pack in all of baseball. Small sample size – yada, yada, yada. This team has not shown in 2012 that it is a piece away from being good. In the biggest sample size we can take, it is the worst lineup in baseball. In a smaller sample size – the current month – it is average at best.

        That being said, if you take everyone’s peak/upside, then, yes, this lineup could be good, even in 2013. But having a group of aging, average players (McGehee, Jones, Barmes, Barajas) post their best numbers in the same season that young players develop into good players almost never happens.

        The example of the pitching staff was used to demonstrate that. We have had poor pitching in the last decade. But we have had individual pitcher seasons that were pretty solid. Had they all come together in one year, we’d have been in good shape. Some holds true for the hitters – give me the best seasons of Jones, Barmes, Barajas and McGehee all at the same time and the team would be in good shape. Not going to happen. Absent of those four peaking all at once, this club is not one piece away from being good.

        For this lineup to be good in 2013 (because it isn’t good in 2012), that is exactly what we need – the vets have to peak and the young guys have to develop.

        The point is to make the post season. So, let’s look at the offenses for the four NL playoff teams in 2011:

        St. Louis posted a team OPS+ of 111. The worst player who got 250 or more PAs was Ryan Theriot with an 84 OPS+

        Milwaukee had a 103 aggregate with McGehee (now in Pittsburgh) being the worst at 70.

        Arizona was 99 as a whole with Willie Bloomquist (off the bench) as the worst at 79.

        Philadelphia was 95. Wilson Valdez (off the bench) was the weak link at 73.

        The current club – through the largest sample size possible in 2012 – has four starting players (Barmes, Barajas, Presley, Tabata) who are at 75 or worse. There is another bench player (McLouth) trending toward 250 PAs who is also below 75

        Yes it is early. Yes everyone can turn it around and get going. But to suggest this lineup is a piece away from being good in the immediate future (even next year), is, as I stated in my first comment, overly optimistic. This club is currently last in the NL in runs and on base percentage and 15th in slugging percentage. We have one player with an OPS+ of better than 120. And only two players over 110 OPS+.  We are more than a single piece away from having a good lineup.

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          I think it just really depends on your view of April.

          You’re looking at what they’ve done in the SSS this season. Statistically, the offense has been bad in the first month of the season. But is the offense really that bad?

          I’m not really focused on the numbers in April. I’m focused on the actual players and their upside. The April numbers aren’t the baseline for my evaluations. I’d consider those numbers below what the baseline would be. For each player there’s a best case scenario, there’s average, and there’s a worst case scenario. I think a lot of guys were playing closer to their worst case scenario in the early part of the season. So even if they do improve on the April numbers, I think there would be more room for improvement beyond that, since I think the April numbers were unlucky.
          It’s kind of ridiculous to look at the entire season numbers as it pertains to this article, since the focus of this article is a lineup that has only been used once this year, and centers around a strong middle of the order featuring Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates need one more guy to add to that middle of the lineup mix, in my opinion.

  • ecbucs

    we know that Barmes and Barajas are minues on offense.  we know that Tabata and Pressley are average at best for corner outfielders as they need to have high OBA to make up for lack of power.  That is 4 spots out of the line-up.  First base with Jones and MaGahee might be average as a platoon for the position.  So Walker, Alvarez and McCuth have to be way above average to even get the Bucs to an average offense.  IMO, the team needs to get to at least average offense at short and catcher and then add another plus bat at either first, right or left.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    One is a kind estimate.  The Pirates still seem to have one plus player in McCutchen, and so far 2 average players in Alvarez and Walker.  Walker’s been below average but has a track record.  Alvarez has been above, but also has a track record.  Tabata’s played enough, I’d rate him at below average but on the low end of acceptable since he can hit leadoff.  After that it’s question marks.  Jones/McGehee average?  Ok, I’ll buy that.  That give you, at best 5 average players, and 3 minuses. The only thing in Presley’s favor is youth.  Pirates are still very far away from a competitive club.