The Pittsburgh Pirates made a big wave of cuts today, putting the Spring Training roster at 31 players. That includes Chris Stewart, who is projected to start the season on the disabled list. That leaves five more cuts remaining before Opening Day.
Neal Huntington said today that the team could make the final cuts in Philadelphia over the weekend.
“As hard as our decisions were last night and at the end of today, we’ve still got some challenging decisions,” Huntington said.
Those “challenging decisions” don’t appear to include many players on the active roster. If the Pirates don’t make any trades, then their roster appears to be set, with just a few expected cuts remaining. The only challenging decision would be deciding which reliever to let go out of the four relievers who are out of options and battling for the final three bullpen spots.
The Pirates could be active on the trade market this week, with as many as four trades being a possibility. We know they’ll end up making one trade out of the bullpen, but there could be three other moves made, depending on how things play out with the rest of the active roster. Here is a look at the final position battles, the expected cuts, and what trades could possibly be made.
Right now Travis Ishikawa is projected to be in the first base platoon with Gaby Sanchez. Neal Huntington didn’t sound like they were committed to Ishikawa in that role. The Pirates have been linked to first basemen in trade rumors all Spring, and now that they have optioned Andrew Lambo to Triple-A, that might be a more likely route.
The Bullpen Battle
The Pirates still have four relievers for three spots in Jeanmar Gomez, Vin Mazzaro, Bryan Morris, and Stolmy Pimentel. One of those guys has to go, since all are out of options. I’d expect Pimentel and Morris to stick around, which means Gomez or Mazzaro could be dealt by the end of the week.
The Pirates also have Andy Oliver remaining on the roster. He’s out of options, but doesn’t project to make the team. He’s a trade candidate if any team sees enough in him to try and jump the waiver wire line. However, that team would have to put Oliver on the active roster, which might make it more likely that he clears waivers. If that happens, the Pirates would be able to outright him to the minors, and keep him there until he’s eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
The Rotation Depth
Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton are still in camp, although neither player projects to make the Opening Day roster. Locke isn’t stretched out yet, throwing three innings today at Pirate City. If the Pirates need an early season starter, then Brandon Cumpton makes the most sense. The only way he makes the Opening Day roster is if there’s an injury.
Today’s cuts of Robert Andino and Michael Martinez mean that Josh Harrison is the likely winner of the final bench spot. However, that could change if the Pirates decide to make a trade, such as the addition of someone like Didi Gregorious. If they don’t add outside help, then I see Harrison making the team.
The remaining player to be cut would be Nevin Ashley. The Pirates will go with Russell Martin and Tony Sanchez as their catchers on Opening Day, meaning Ashley will start off with Indianapolis.
The Pirates need to make five more cuts. They will lose one player when they trade one of the four relievers who are out of options. Andy Oliver will be another cut, regardless of whether he is traded or waived. Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton are also expected to be cut. Nevin Ashley would be the final player to be cut.
If they bring in a first baseman or a middle infielder via trade, then Travis Ishikawa and Josh Harrison would also be cuts. Otherwise, those two currently project to make the active roster.