Today the Philadelphia Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 M deal with an option for a third year at $8 M. Almost immediately after the report came out, there were Pirates fans complaining about how the Pirates aren’t going to do anything to upgrade the team, they’re not going to spend money this off-season, and so on. Keep in mind that we’re about a week removed from the moment where free agents hit the open market.
Basically, the off-season reactions are right on schedule.
Every year there are fears that the Pirates will stand pat throughout the off-season. There’s always a move or a set of moves that draws panic and anger, and usually that involves losing a player from the previous year’s team.
In 2011 it was the Pirates declining the options of Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Paul Maholm, and Ronny Cedeno. They replaced Cedeno with Clint Barmes, and added A.J. Burnett to replace Maholm. Rod Barajas was the 2012 catcher, and he was a disaster, but they signed Russell Martin last off-season. Doumit’s option was a two-year deal, and probably would have prevented the Martin signing if exercised.
Last year the Pirates non-tendered Jeff Karstens, feeling that he wouldn’t be worth his projected $3.8 M salary through arbitration. A lot of people felt this was a mistake. I don’t have to go far to find one of those people. I was one of them. As it turned out, the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano later in the off-season. They also brought Karstens back for $2 M, although he never pitched an inning, missing the entire year with an injury. So they were right to initially non-tender him.
So far this off-season we’ve heard that the Pirates don’t have $14 M in the budget for A.J. Burnett, and today we watched Marlon Byrd sign with the Phillies. Just like the previous two off-seasons, there’s a situation where the Pirates might not bring back one of their own players early in the off-season, all because they’d rather spend the money elsewhere. The reaction?
It’s November 13th. The Winter Meetings are a month away, and that’s usually when most of the free agent signings happen. The Pirates hadn’t even signed Russell Martin by this point last year. We hadn’t even heard a Russell Martin rumor by this point. Spring Training is about three months away. That gives the Pirates plenty of time to make some moves.
It’s possible the Pirates might not make moves at every position. The reports today were saying that the hang-up with Byrd was the amount of years. They’ve got Gregory Polanco in the wings, and he could arrive in the second half of the 2014 season. They also have Andrew Lambo, who hit 33 home runs last year, and Jose Tabata, who had an .848 OPS in 170 plate appearances in the final two months of the 2013 season. With Polanco on the verge of arriving, this is the last chance to see if Lambo’s power is legit, and if Tabata’s hot streak was more than just a hot streak.
What we do know is that the Pirates will make moves. They will spend money, even if it’s not on guys who played for the 2013 team. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure this out. Just look at the last two years. Not all of the moves have worked out (Barajas), and some were exceptional (Martin/Liriano). At this point I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt that they will make some additions to the team.
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