Brandon Cumpton could be one of the top depth options for the Pirates next year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The 94th Win Providing Some Questions For Next Year

Today’s game was meaningless. The Pirates won 4-2, but their standings wouldn’t have changed regardless of the winner. Since the game was meaningless, the Pirates went with a different lineup, giving some regulars the day off. The Reds took the same approach, so the Pirates didn’t necessarily have any advantage.

So what do you say about a meaningless game that has zero impact on the 2013 season, and didn’t feature many players who would be on the playoff roster? How about looking at some of the performers in that game, and looking ahead to their possible roles in 2014?

Brandon Cumpton could be one of the top depth options for the Pirates next year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Brandon Cumpton could be one of the top depth options for the Pirates next year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Brandon Cumpton

First up is Brandon Cumpton, who threw five shutout innings today, giving up a walk and two hits. This was Cumpton’s sixth game of the season, and his fifth start. It was the second start against the Reds, with the last one seeing him go five innings, giving up one run on five hits on the road in June. That also came against a much better lineup.

Cumpton finished the year with a 2.05 ERA in 30.2 innings, with a 22:5 K/BB ratio. His performance this year isn’t going to be enough to get a rotation spot next year out of Spring Training. However, he has proven himself to be a top depth option out of Triple-A, and possibly one of the first players who could be called up if the Pirates need a starter next year. In a weaker rotation, he’d be a sure bet to make the majors as a back of the rotation starter.

Stolmy Pimentel

He’s in his final option year, and will have to be in the majors next year. Pimentel had success as a starter this year in the minors, but worked in relief in the majors. Today he threw two shutout innings. In his one month in the majors he had a 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings, with a 9:2 K/BB ratio.

Pimentel probably won’t have a spot in the rotation next year, so he should move to the bullpen. He could serve in a Jeanmar Gomez role next year, moving to the rotation for depth or spot starts. He’s got number one stuff as a starter, although his lack of consistency projects him as more of a strong number four starter. As a reliever he profiles as a potential late inning reliever, but he can also serve as a multi-inning reliever if needed.

Garrett Jones

In his final at-bat, Jones hit a solo homer, going 1-for-4 on the day. The home run was the 100th in his time with the Pirates, giving him a clean average of 20 homers per season. It’s possible that could be his final regular season at-bat with the Pirates.

Jones has struggled this year, and will be due for a raise in arbitration over the off-season. That could put him at around $6 M, and he would also need a platoon partner, which would make the combo around $9 M total. Jones might not be bad if brought back under a much reduced deal as a bench player, but his age and his 2013 season make him too much of a risk as a starter next year.

Jose Tabata

He went 2-for-3 today, then was replaced by Andrew Lambo, who went 1-for-2. In the last few years Tabata has gone from signing a contract that looked extremely team friendly, to performing at a rate where that contract looked like a waste of money. And now?

Tabata finished the season with a .282/.342/.429 line in 341 plate appearances. He didn’t provide the best defense in right field, but overall he was a one win player. Next year Tabata’s salary goes up to $3 M. His .771 OPS this year isn’t great from right field, but it’s good as a fourth outfielder. In half a season he was a one WAR player, which gives him positive value under the next three seasons. I’m not sure that Tabata has earned a starter role, but he definitely looked good enough this year to return next season as a backup.

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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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  • Henduck

    It’s going to be very unpopular, but I think Tabata is your opening day RF next year. I can’t see them bringing in a FA with Polonco in the wings.

    Jones will be gone. Lambo will step into his role and we probably won’t even notice a difference.

    • leefoo

      I wonder if Byrd wouldn’t mind coming back at around $6-7 mil?

      Nah….some team will throw a buncha money at him.

      Otherwise, I’d like to see a Lambo/Tabata platoon in RF until Polanco is ready.


  • rburgh

    Don’t forget that these guys have also established trade value for themselves. I could easily see the Pirates shuffling some or all of the young players you mentioned above for either higher upside minor leaguers or a solid value regular somewhere.

    In particular, I could see Tabata moved to the Cubs, Mets, or any of a number of teams for a low-minors guy with a lot of upside. Lambo could also be an attractive commodity after the bomb he hit yesterday – A team starved for power could easily unload a low-minors guy for him in the hope of a quick fix for their ML offense.

    Similarly, I could see Cumpton headed to Minnesota, Baltimore, or some other pitching-starved franchise for a good prospect.

    • Stephen Brooks

      I’ve been wondering what kind of package could entice the Angels to part with Trumbo, and given the word that they’re looking for young, controllable pitching, Cumpton and/or Pimentel might be a good place to start. Keep in mind there’s going to be a roster crunch in the bullpen, as all 7 of the guys are either 0-3, under contract or in year 1 of arb (Melancon and Mazzaro). The Bucs can’t keep all of them AND find a place for Cumpton and Pimentel, not to mention Taillon, McPherson, Irwin, etc. might as well use some of that depth to get a bat.

  • CalipariFan506

    I don’t think we can afford to trade Cumpton with the question marks surrounding Locke’s ability to get batters out or Wandy’s health. Personally I think you’re borderline crazy if you expect Wandy to provide one pitch of help in 2014.

    • leefoo

      With an arthritic elbow, unfortunately, I think Wandy’s career might be over. It’s a shame…we coulda used him.


  • benh444

    i like the thought of pimentel moving to the pen next year. i think of him as a right handed justin wilson. start the year with him as a longer inning mid-relief guy in case he needs to be stretched out to a starting role, and if he pitches well (ala wilson) start to move him into the later innings and in more high leverage situations. eventually, i could see him as a set up man to melancon (after 2014) or back in the rotation if needed

    • leefoo

      good suggestion! I like the Wilson comparison!


  • smurph

    I agree that Cumpton and Pimentel should be on the big club next season. Depending on what happens with Locke, AJ, and Wandy, Cumpton could be your 5th starter. Can Lambo play 1B? It would be great if he can. I agree with your analysis of Jones. Release him and hope your can re-sign him for maybe 3-3.5 million. I would like to see them offer Byrd a one-year contract to hold the fort until Polanco gets here. I have no problem with Tabata as your #4 or 5 outfielder the next two years. Gomez had a good year, but no so much late in the season. He is likely gone. Nothing was mentioned on the catcher situation. Don’t know if they have an option available with McKenry, but I see no reason Sanchez shouldn’t be the #2 catcher. In fact I could see him getting about 50% of the starts as he gives you better offense than Martin.

    • buster09

      You want to replace a 4 WAR ,top notch defensive catcher for half the season ? Really ?

      • smurph


      • smurph

        Martin started 117 games this season and Hurdle admitted the workload affected his offensive production late in the season. I would rather have a rested Martin late in the season. As I said Sanchez appears to be the better hitter, and pretty good defensively. It is not inconceivable that he could be the better or at least equal all-around catcher to Martin by the end of next year.

    • hunter

      McKenry does have an option and while I probably wouldn’t go 50/50 with Sanchez/Martin I see no reason he shouldn’t catch 50 to 60 games and hopefully keep Martin fresh.

      • buster09

        This makes a lot more sense than 50/50. Really…

  • Andrew

    I might be borderline crazy then, I think Wandy Rodriguez will pitch in 2014, how effectively is open for debate. The arthritis comment for me has always been a red herring, everything else from th statements from the team to treatment has always indicated a flexor tendon strain.

    This is a serious issue in itself and the general point that CalipariFan506 makes about not giving away pitching depth because Rodriguez is no certainty is correct. If this year has demonstrated anything it is that pitching depth is incredibly important. I think trading depth simply because you can project Cole Taillon in the rotation for several years is absurd given the high pitcher injury rates.

    McKenry has an option year left , I think it will be interesting to see what happens to him. Sanchez has always be rated high for his defense, and is receiving has be given good marks. So the drop off defensively from Martin should be less if much at all.

    While it is fun to speculate I do not think the offensive trouble spots can be solved externally, Pence deal was so big in part because the Giants did not see any quality hitters available. If other teams have similar valuations then any trade is going to require quite a few prospects. I think we will see a platoon at first with Gaby Sanchez (arbitration is fairly old-school its valuations) and with Lambo or someone else, not-Jones; and Tabata in right.

    • CalipariFan506

      Well maybe you aren’t crazy but you are right. Whether you think Wandy is done or not there is no way you can head into 2014 relying on him to hold down a rotation spot. Anything he gives you is a bonus IMO.

  • jon6er

    You always want to have your best players on the roster as long as he isn’t a clubhouse distraction. Tony Sanchez and McHenry are both team players but Mike is light years behind Tony in talent. Other than that what a great problem to have assessing all this great pitching talent and talented position players.

  • PiratesForever

    I really hope Tabata stays with the Pirates after all he is my favorite player and he put up really good numbers i’m fine with him being a backup as long as he is with the Pirates.

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