The Pittsburgh Pirates have non-tendered four players prior to the non-tender deadline, letting go of Lastings Milledge, Argenis Diaz, Donald Veal, and Brian Burres. Milledge was the only one of the group of four who was arbitration eligible, becoming eligible for the first time this year.
The non-tender of Milledge is a bit of a surprise, as he had some strengths, despite a sub-par 2010 season. Milledge had a .277/.332/.380 line in 379 at-bats, while struggling on defense. He did have strong numbers against left handers, with a .320/.414/.512 line in 125 at-bats, making him a strong platoon possibility. The Pirates do have an alternative in Steve Pearce for that same platoon role, so the Milledge non-tender could help Pearce’s chances of making the roster.
Diaz was out of options, and was also expendable. The Pirates agreed to a deal with Ronny Cedeno earlier this evening, a deal which includes a 2012 option. They also have Pedro Ciriaco, who is a better option than Diaz, and there’s a chance that they could still pursue a shortstop, all of which makes Diaz expendable.
Burres being non-tendered wasn’t a surprise, as I had that in my 40-man roster projections. It especially wasn’t a surprise when the Pirates signed Jeff Karstens tonight. Burres is out of options, and Karstens will be taking his role on the roster, which makes him expendable.
Veal is probably the biggest surprise. He is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and has two options remaining. He was off to a good start in AAA prior to his injury in 2010, and the Pirates invested a lot of time in the 2009 Rule 5 pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pirates try to bring him back on a minor league deal.
There are now four open spots on the 40-man roster after these moves.
UPDATE 12:08 AM: Jennifer Langosch has some comments from Neal Huntington, mentioning that the Pirates will continue talking to Veal and Milledge about coming back.