Should the Pirates Buy Out Ronny Cedeno?

Should the Pirates buy out Ronny Cedeno's option?

MLB Trade Rumors has been releasing their 2012 Free Agent and Trade Market reviews, and looked at the shortstop position in their most recent update.  Among the updates, they listed Ronny Cedeno as a guy who could have his option declined by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Two weeks ago I looked at the shortstop options on the market, and compared them to Cedeno.  The shortstop market is strong this year, although it is led by guys such as Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, and the Pirates don’t stand a chance of signing either player due to the costs involved.  Of the potentially available shortstops, I pointed out Clint Barmes, Marco Scutaro, and Alex Gonzalez as guys who could be upgrades over Cedeno.

None of the upgrades are really guaranteed.  Barmes’ defense has been strong, but his 2011 WAR totals look like a career year, and in the past he’s been inconsistent on that front.  With Gonzalez, it’s a question of what you’re going to get.  The 2011 version of Gonzalez is similar to Cedeno, value-wise.  The 2010 version, on the other hand, is a big upgrade.  The Red Sox will likely pick up Scutaro’s option, although that doesn’t mean he won’t be available via trade.  That said, $6 M plus prospects might be a lot, especially when Scutaro is poor defensively, with his upgrade coming on the offensive side of the ball.

There are a lot of possibilities on the market.  MLBTR lists trade candidates like Jed Lowrie and Reid Brignac, who would each be intriguing options.  There’s also some interesting non-tender candidates listed, such as Ryan Theriot and Mike Aviles (they also list Brandon Wood as a non-tender candidate, which I agree with).

The big strength from Cedeno is his defense, as he posted a 6.8 UZR/150 in 2011.  There’s a risk that this was a fluke, as he’s been inconsistent in the past.  He does have the talent, defensively, to put up those strong numbers, so we can’t rule out that he’s just realizing his potential at the position.  If the Pirates want to focus on a defensive-only shortstop, there’s comparable players who could be available, such as Ramon Santiago or John McDonald.  The Pirates also have an in-house option in Pedro Ciriaco.

It wouldn’t be a bad move to bring back Cedeno at his option price.  He’s worth that if he puts up the defense we saw in 2011.  That said, with a strong market, it’s possible that the Pirates could get Cedeno, or a comparable hitter, for half the price.  Worst case, they give Ciriaco a shot at the start of the season, and see if there’s anything to his .333/.364/.476 line in a very small September sample size.  It seems more likely that Ciriaco puts up numbers similar to his AAA line of .252/.267/.355, although that would be passable with his defense.  I wouldn’t go with Ciriaco unless the Pirates had another strong defensive infielder like Santiago or Cesar Izturis backing him up as insurance.

The amount of options is definitely intriguing.  The downside is that MLBTR lists nine teams as potentially being interested in shortstops, which means that we can’t really call this a buyers market.  We saw what happened last year on the shortstop market.  There were a lot of intriguing options, although there were also a lot of teams looking for shortstops.  That ended up with the Pirates missing out on guys like J.J. Hardy, Jason Bartlett, and others, and sticking with Cedeno.  That didn’t turn out to be a bad move, as Cedeno had a good season (although getting J.J. Hardy would have been great).

So should the Pirates test the waters again, and hope Cedeno is there as a backup plan?  They won’t have the luxury of deciding on Cedeno in December, as this time around they have to make a decision by some point next week.  This year, rather than testing the market and still having Cedeno in the system, they’d have to buy out Cedeno and risk losing him to free agency if they wanted to test the market.  That adds some risk, although Ciriaco lessens that risk a bit, assuming the Pirates can add an insurance option.

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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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  • Anonymous

    Cedano is not a winner period. I don’t think u get to where u want with him @ short. The key is to evaluate and get the right ss available to fit their budget. They don’t have anyone on the roster or in the minors. Believe mercer is only possibility. There r younger players on teams set at short that may be available in trades. It may be sacrileges, but mccutchen could bring in three major league ready players. Remember the Tony Pena trade. The key is to get the right players.

    • Ian Rothermund

      I agree that Cedeno isn’t a winner, but to trade Mccutchen now I think would be slighting yourself on the trade market a few years from now.  Cutch’s stock is on the rise right now, but it’s not where it will likely be 2-3 years from now.  I also think Cedeno is an acceptable short term answer, barring any activity through either trade, free agency, etc, and I don’t think those possibilities should be ignored.

    • Anonymous

      I remember the trade very well…it was to the Cardinals in 1987 (when they were in different divisions) and we got Mike Lavaliere (C), Van Slyke (OF/1B) and Mike Dunne (P). We eventually traded Dunne for Ray Quinoas (shortstop) and both faded out.

      The real genius of the Pena trade was the timing. The team already traded for Drabek, Bonilla and (dare I use his name?) Sid Bream.

      Our farm system also had Bonds, Smiley, Merced and King through the draft. That is 9 starters from the NL East champion teams. Are we in the same position today?

      • Vince Riedy

        They were both in National League East at the time.

        • Anonymous

          I stand corrected…

  • Anonymous

    How about osvaldo martinez?!
    I heard there is a dude in Florida playing shortstop already.
    Not to mention martinez is on my fantasy squad!
    however I think if we could just get Cedeno to kick his leg a little higher we would have an all star on our hands!
    Seriously though, anybody know what we would have to give up to make that happen?

    • Jimmy Coverdale

      He was traded to the White Sox for Ozzie Guillen

  • Jack Mcelligott

    Its time to go in a different direction. Cedeno gives up too many at bats. I dont have a problem giving Ciriaco a chance if we cannot get suitable free agent though we would need  a veteran backup if the Pirates go this route.

  • Vince Riedy

    Shortstop needs to be defense first position especially with younger pitchers. Cedeno’s option is certainly fair value to bring him back. If he fails in 2012 defensively start Ciriaco and see what he can do and evaluate from there.

  • Anonymous

    IMO, The Pirates should pick up the option on Cedeno, the Pirates will have two or possibly three guys ready to take that spot in 2013 or even possibly by the middle of 2012. If they pick up the option they can still trade if a deal comes along.

  • Anonymous

    Another reason to keep Cedano is the fact that the Pirate pitching staff is built around pitchers that put the ball in play, Cedano is in the top five in the NL in defense and can hit a little.

  • Jimmy Coverdale

    I don’t really see picking up Cedeno’s option as anything
    more than a move of convenience right now. There are plenty of similar
    alternatives for Huntington if he fails to find an upgrade. Cedeno (or Punto,
    McDonald, Santiago) could probably be had in late December/January for
    something closer to $1m. Might it be worth getting a SS who will have an OBP
    over .300 (like Jamey Carroll) and pairing him with Ciriaco?

    • Tim Williams

      I’d agree with the convenience part. Cedeno’s option is similar to Maholm’s, on a smaller scale. It’s not to the point where the price is too expensive. However, there are similar, or better options on the free agent market that can be had for the same price, or less.

      • Jimmy Coverdale

        It has to be worth a shot at going for an upgrade. Do you see any other team offering Cedeno a starting gig?

  • Anonymous

    what makes anyone think ciriaco is a major league shortstop. check the hits he got at the end of the year and i think most of them were bloops. i did not c him hit the ball hard. not even hard outs. cedeno did give us good defense but check his previous years. very inconsistant. remember the bunts at the most inoportune times. 3 million and another year of not smart baseball plays from him would cause me to think will will not improve as a baseball team. what would it take to get nunez from yankees.?

  • Anonymous

    I would not like the Pirates to pick up his option. I agree his defense this past year was solid and he does seem to have the ability to hit, but I think his attitude, hustle (lack there of at times) and overall demeanor seem to be everything the Pirates are NOT. I would love to see them go hard after Lowrie if that could work, if not, take a hot with a Therio or Barmes with Ciriaco as the back-up and see what Mercer looks like in AAA for the future.

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