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.