Who Will Be Tendered a Contract by the Pirates Today?

Tonight (Monday night) at midnight is the deadline to tender contracts for the 2014 season. Any player who does not have a contract — arbitration eligible players and players with 1-3 years of service time — must be tendered an offer by the deadline, or be non-tendered. If a player is non-tendered, he immediately becomes a free agent.

The tender deadline isn’t a big deal for guys making the league minimum. Those guys are usually automatic tenders. The focus is more on the arbitration eligible players, as those are the guys who are at the biggest risk of being non-tendered. I don’t project Andy Oliver or Jerry Sands to stick on the 40-man throughout the off-season, although neither player is arbitration eligible. If the Pirates non-tender them, they become free agents. If the Pirates waive them, they could clear waivers and stick with the organization until minor league free agency.

Here is a rundown of the arbitration eligibles for the Pirates, with some observations on their chances of getting an offer.

Neil Walker

Contract Status: Second Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $4,800,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 100%

Why He Will Be Tendered: I don’t think I need to go into detail here. (Which is exactly what I said last year.)


Pedro Alvarez

Contract Status: First Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $4,000,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 100%

Why He Will Be Tendered: There’s something about leading the NL in home runs that gets you a contract.


Gaby Sanchez

Contract Status: Second Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $2,300,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 100%

Why He Will Be Tendered: The Pirates have said they’re looking for a platoon partner to pair with Sanchez.


Charlie Morton

Contract Status: Third Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $3,900,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 100%

Why He Will Be Tendered: The Pirates tendered him last year when it was a guarantee he would miss half the season. He had a great second half, making that decision look smart.


Mark Melancon

Contract Status: First Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $3,000,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 100%

Why He Will Be Tendered: After the season he had, there’s no way he gets non-tendered.


Michael McKenry

Contract Status: Super Two

Projected Salary: $900,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 50%

Why He Could Be Tendered: I could see McKenry brought back under arbitration, then optioned to Triple-A to serve as minor league depth. He has one option year remaining, and I think that his projected price is about what the Pirates would pay for a comparable backup catcher out of Triple-A.

Why He Might Not Be Tendered: McKenry didn’t have a good season this year on either side of the ball. His defensive problems extended to the 2012 season, while his hitting issues could be chalked up to the infrequent playing time he saw behind Russell Martin. If the cost is the same, then the Pirates could opt to go with a minor league free agent over McKenry and free up a 40-man roster spot. Or they could non-tender him and try to bring him back on a minor league deal as depth, thus freeing up the roster spot.

What the Pirates Should Do: No matter how they approach McKenry — option to Triple-A or non-tender and re-sign — I think he should be the number three catcher next season. Tony Sanchez should be the backup in Pittsburgh, as he could learn a lot with a full season in the same clubhouse as Russell Martin. Sanchez is set to take over as the starter in 2015, and a full season as the backup in the majors can help him get there. McKenry would make a good number three catcher out of Triple-A. I don’t think that the recent addition of Nevin Ashley will impact McKenry, since Ashley looks like a defense-only depth option and not a number three guy. If McKenry sticks around and goes to Triple-A, he would be ahead of Ashley on the depth charts and would get more playing time.


There's a good chance that Vin Mazzaro could be traded today. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

There’s a good chance that Vin Mazzaro could be traded today. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Vin Mazzaro

Contract Status: First Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $800,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 20%

Why He Might Not Be Tendered: (Disclaimer: I used Chris Resop’s section from last year as a template for this) Resop Mazzaro isn’t a bad reliever, but I could see this situation being like Jose Veras Chris Resop last year. The Pirates have plenty of bullpen options, and recently added two guys (Vin Mazzaro, Zach Stewart Miles Mikolas, Duke Welker) who could fit in the mix. I don’t see them paying $1.3 M $800 K to a middle reliever when they already have more options than spots. Most of those options are just as good as Resop Mazzaro.

What the Pirates Should Do: Try to make a Veras Veras/Resop trade for a guy who is about to be non-tendered elsewhere. That didn’t work out so well when they got Casey McGehee for Veras, but the expectations should be low when you’re trading a guy who you’d otherwise release, and getting a guy who is in the same situation with another team. They traded Veras for Casey McGehee, who was about to be non-tendered. Resop was traded for Zack Thornton, who was a top minor league reliever this past season. Neither approach is going to bring an impact player, but there’s no need to keep Mazzaro around when there are so many other bullpen options.


Travis Snider

Contract Status: First Year of Arbitration

Projected Salary: $1,400,000

Chance of Being Tendered: 10%

Why He Could Be Tendered: If the Pirates wanted to maintain depth, they could keep Snider around and send Andrew Lambo to Triple-A to start the year. Or it’s possible that they could go with Snider and Jose Tabata in right field and Lambo at first in a platoon with Sanchez. However, there’s a reason I put 10% as the odds.

Why He Might Not Be Tendered: He didn’t have a good season in 2013. Some of that might have been due to injuries, although he didn’t tear it up when he returned. He was also left off the playoff roster against the Cardinals. That doesn’t guarantee he will be non-tendered, but I can’t see the Pirates going from leaving him off the roster in the biggest series of the 2013 season to paying him $1.4 M in 2014 and giving him half the playing time in right field.

What the Pirates Should Do: I think Snider should be non-tendered. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if he is brought back on a minor league deal to serve as depth out of Triple-A. To start the season, I think Andrew Lambo and Jose Tabata deserve the playing time over Snider, with Lambo getting the priority.


Author: 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 AccuScore.com, 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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