The last few years any time there has been a September waiver claim, the general thought has been that the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed the player, hoping they could sneak him through waivers during the off-season. Yesterday, the Pirates claimed catcher Matt Pagnozzi, and not only was the “off-season waivers” theory brought up, but there were questions about whether Pagnozzi would factor in to the catching plans next year.
As far as waivers go, looking at the last few years, the Pirates have had a serious interest in their September waiver claims.
2010: They selected Chris Leroux off of waivers from the Florida Marlins. All off-season it was speculated that he would be removed from the roster. He stayed, and that looks like it was a good decision.
2009: They selected Jon Meloan early in the season, although that was mostly to finish off the AAA season. He was waived after the AAA season ended. They did claim Anthony Claggett in late September, and outrighted him to AAA the following January. He was given a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, and has been with the organization ever since.
Pagnozzi could elect to become a minor league free agent if he was outrighted off of the 40-man roster, so the Pirates would have to sign him to a minor league deal (which wouldn’t be as easy as it was with Claggett, since Claggett wasn’t eligible for minor league free agency). However, that second question about the catching plans does put things in to perspective.
The Pirates currently have five catchers on their 40-man roster. Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit both have option years after the season, and neither option looks likely to be picked up. Either player could be brought back as a free agent, although both guys are injury prone, with Snyder currently out for the season with a back injury.
Michael McKenry has gotten a lot of time behind the plate for the Pirates, and his solid defensive play has made up for his .601 OPS, making him a strong candidate for the active roster next year. Eric Fryer also has strong defense, but could probably use more playing time in AAA, as he has a legit shot of being a two way catcher with some work on his hitting.
The key here is Jason Jaramillo. Jaramillo is out of options after this season, which means he will either have to be on the active roster next year, or he will have to be traded or waived. McKenry is ahead of Jaramillo on the depth chart, so the 2012 roster would either include a free agent starter, with McKenry as the backup, or McKenry and Jaramillo as the two catchers. I don’t really see that second formation happening. My guess would be that Jaramillo leaves after the 2011 season, and Pagnozzi takes his role on the 2012 roster as the third catcher out of AAA.