MLB Non-Tender Candidates

Tonight at midnight is the deadline for teams to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2012 season. Earlier today I previewed the arbitration eligibles for the Pittsburgh Pirates, including their expected values through arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors has published a list of non-tender candidates around baseball, which is an interesting list to take a look at, since those players could provide interesting free agent options if they are non-tendered.

There isn’t much on the hitting side that would be a fit for the Pirates. The team is looking for a first baseman, but they’d be better off sticking with Matt Hague than going with a guy like James Loney or Daric Barton. I like Loney, and have pointed out in the past that his numbers outside of Dodger Stadium would make for a pretty good first baseman. Adding him wouldn’t be a bad deal, but long term the Pirates could benefit from giving Matt Hague a chance. If Hague has a good season, they’ve got him for five more years. If Loney has a good season, he’s probably a free agent in 2013.

The Pirates have also been looking for a contingency plan at third base. Most of the available infielders are middle infielders. The Pirates would probably be better off giving Yamaico Navarro a shot at the majors than going with someone like Jeff Keppinger as a backup plan to Alvarez.

The Pirates could see some value from the non-tender candidates on the pitching side. One familiar name is Tom Gorzelanny. He was traded in 2009 by the Pirates, and since then his numbers have been pretty good.  In the last two years he’s combined for a 4.06 ERA in 241.1 innings, along with an 8.0 K/9, a 3.8 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9 ratio. I’ve never understood why Gorzelanny doesn’t get more love. The Pirates sold low on him in 2009, which conflicted with the strategy they used of buying low on struggling guys like Jeff Clement and Lastings Milledge. He had a good season with the Cubs in 2010, and they traded him to the Nationals, getting three lower level prospects. He was decent as a starter for the Nationals, with a 4.20 xFIP in 82.2 innings, but was moved back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen throughout the year. Gorzelanny projects to make $2.8 M through arbitration. I’d take him at that price, as he’d be a strong lefty out of the bullpen in a worst case scenario.

Manny Parra is a guy who would fit in well at PNC Park. In his career in the majors he has a 5.13 ERA in 454.1 innings. His xFIP is 4.08. He’s a left hander with a 48.3% ground ball ratio, and an 8.3 K/9 ratio in his career. The big issue is that he gives up a lot of walks, with a career 4.5 BB/9 ratio. He also gets hit a lot, with a career .336 BABIP and a 1.11 HR/9 ratio. The strikeouts, ground balls, and Parra being left handed would make him a good fit for PNC Park. The deep left field could cut down on some of his hits and home runs, putting him closer to his career xFIP numbers.

Chris Volstad is a guy we’ve talked about before. Kevin Creagh looked at him last month as a non-tender candidate who could be a good fit for the Pirates. He’s another guy with an xFIP much lower than his ERA. Volstad is right handed, so PNC Park might not help him as much as it would help someone like Parra or Gorzelanny.

A guy I’ve always liked is Rich Hill. He’s been extremely injury prone, but would be an interesting option on a minor league deal. Hong-Chih Kuo would also be a good addition if we’re talking about injury prone guys with upside. He’s had a lot of elbow problems, and had surgery in October. When healthy he’s a strong late inning reliever, and could be an interesting guy to add on a minor league deal.

The Pirates don’t have a lot of space in the rotation. Jeff Karstens, James McDonald, and Charlie Morton are locks, with Morton expected to miss up to a month to start the year. They’ve also added Erik Bedard, although any start beyond start number 15 is a bonus from Bedard. They’ve got Kevin Correia under contract for $4 M, which makes it likely that he will take a spot. Brad Lincoln had some good results in 2011, and has definitely made a case for a shot at the rotation. With the injury to Morton, and Bedard most likely missing some time, the Pirates could use some depth. Adding someone from the list above would strictly be a depth move. The top two guys on my list would be Gorzelanny and Parra, since they’re both good fits for PNC Park.

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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

    Gorzo wouldn’t be bad to come back,  McLouth needs someone to join him on the reunion tour

  • Anonymous

    Jeff Keppinger would be a good pickup, it is always nice to have a 300 hitter hanging around that can play a couple of different positions.
    I always liked Gorzo and like Hague, he does not seem to get much love.

    • Bob

      Pirates FO tries to stay away from .300 hitters.  


    Loney would be the ideal here.  Solid defensively, pop in his bat that would play bigger at PNC with short porch in RF and big north side notch. 

  • Jimmy Coverdale

    I think Barton would be worth a look – if they can sign him to a minor league deal. He’s got a srong walk rate and if he can get back to his 2010 level he’d be a huge asset. PNC would be a better fit for him too.

    With Gorzo, Parra, Hill, Kuo, Howell, Thatcher and Kuo then the lefty relief market could have a few more names added to it tonight. Out of these I’d like to see Parra signed to pitch out of the pen – he has a 3.10 xFIP as a reliever with 9.73 K/9 and 3.19 BB/9. He’s also been much better the first time through the order as a starting pitcher with opposing hitters batting .253/.340/.368 against him with a K/BB ratio of 2, which drops to 1.66 and 1.43 the second and third time through the order respectively

  • Anonymous

    Rich Hill had Tommy John surgery this past season, so he won’t be pitching until late spring/early summer.  Nonetheless, he was nasty as a set up reliever for the Red Sox last season.  If the Red Sox non-tender Hill and the Pirates can sign him to a minor league deal, it could be a steal!

  • Anonymous

    NH has to be licking his chops to get access to somebody’s former high pick who hasn’t panned out when these guys are nontendered. Seriously, I wouldn’t mind Gorzy returning but I imagine he has a bad taste in his mouth towards the F.O. so I don’t see that happening. Parra has always seemed a little better than he’s showed, so maybe there’s something to the relief numbers and results posted.

    • Tim Williams

      I think the same argument could have been made for McLouth returning. Money is like crackers at a taste testing: it cleanses the palate. I think Gorzy would return on a fair offer. I’m just not sure the Pirates like him enough to bring him back, since they were fine selling low on him.

  • Patriot Games

    James Loney’s “nice young man” image took a dive last week when he conked out drunk on an LA freeway, parked his car in the fast lane, staggered out, then jumped back in and drove off only to conk out a second time. Could have killed many people. Was ornery with police.
    I wouldn’t sign him.

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