Jose Tabata started slow, but had a strong finish to the 2013 season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Outright Jose Tabata to Triple-A, With Comments From Clint Hurdle

The Pittsburgh Pirates have activated Neil Walker from the 15-day disabled list. To make room, they have outrighted Jose Tabata to Triple-A Indianapolis.

It’s unclear whether the Pirates had to put Tabata through waivers before outrighting him, but the move means he’s not on the 40-man roster. The Pirates still owe him his full salary amount, which is the remainder of his $3 M this year, along with $8.5 M the next two years, and $750 K in buyouts. He’s also still with the team during this time, unless he opts for free agency. Tabata has enough service time to decline his outright assignment and opt for free agency, but not enough service time to guarantee his contract. For that reason, he is unlikely to decline the assignment.

The Pirates could bring him back up at any point by adding him to the 40-man roster, and they probably wouldn’t have to worry about outrighting him again, since they’d be in the same situation as right now.

As for Walker, he will almost certainly take over at second base, which will raise the question of where Josh Harrison will play going forward. That question could be answered with the designated hitter the next two games, but will get more complicated when the Pirates return to playing NL teams.

UPDATE 5:50 PM: Clint Hurdle spoke with the media today about the move. To clarify a few things from above:

**Josh Harrison’s presence on the roster played a role in Tabata going. Harrison filled the need of a right-handed corner outfielder.

**Tabata had already cleared waivers earlier in the year, which is how he could be outrighted today. Once a player clears waivers once, a team can outright him or if it’s after July 31st, trade him at any time. Normally we only hear about players clearing waivers during the season after they are DFAd, or in August as preparation for a trade. This situation is similar to the latter, where the Pirates placed Tabata on waivers to see if he could clear.

**Hurdle said that Tabata was willing to accept the assignment to Indianapolis:

“He knows he needs to play. He wants to play. As I encouraged him, this is a challenge.”

Tabata had more than three years of service time, so he could have declined and become a free agent. However, he would have forfeited his remaining salary, which is over $10 M. That would have been a bad move on his part.

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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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  • Ron Loreski

    Glad Neal made the right move. Tabata will be traded in a couple weeks. There are major league teams that he can start for. Wish him all the best.

    • freddylang

      I don’t know about start. He can be a 4th OF for a bad team

      • bucsws2014

        Using B-R’s WAR, Tabata was a 1.3 WAR last year and -0.1 this year.

        Using those figures, here are some regular OFs (>230 PAs) where Tabata could be an upgrade:
        – BJ Upton
        – Wil Venable
        – David Murphy
        – Norichika Aoki
        – Ben Revere
        – Nate Schierholtz
        – Dayan Viciedo
        – Domonic Brown

        I didn’t include Andre Ethier, Torii Hunter or Matt Kemp – even though all have lower WARs, those three also have OPS at least 50 pts higher than Tabby this season.

  • BallHeadWonder

    Damn this business is tough!!! I hope he can find a spot to play…..but 9 million is tough on anybody’s payroll…

  • William Wallace

    Can’t figure out why he wasn’t traded already. I believe he is a better option than SNYDER. Hurdle can’t handle latino’s. He was always busting Tabata’s chops.

    • Ron Loreski

      Because no team wanted to bite on him, knowing the Pirates were in a tough position. Snider is the best pinch hitter we have, which is very important to a National League team. And I think Snider embraces his bench role, where Tabata wants to be a fulltime player.

      • lonleylibertarian

        Pretty sure that both Snider and Tabata have been available since spring training – no market for either right now…
        Assuming he goes to Indy this might actually increase his value – after Wednesday ABs will be very limited for extra
        OF – Harrison will get the starts when one of the starters is rested and Snider is the LHB off of the bench…

    • StevePegues

      Hurdle can’t handle Latino’s… what? You need a noun here.

      • freddylang

        Sentence fragment.
        ….see what I did there?

  • st1300b

    Tough call, but the right one for now. I’d still like to see Travis traded, and Tabby brought back up.

    • PitPirates

      I agree, Tabata was 4th on the team in batting average (.289) and Snider is 13th on the team batting (.235) in 68 games where as Tabata played in 62 games but has more at bats that Snider.

      • bucsws2014

        Neither Snider nor Tabata was going to see much time as the 4th OF. That’s all Josh now. So the only reason to keep one over the other is as a bench bat. And Snider’s .785 OPS as a PH > Tabby’s .680. Besides, with Gaby, the Bucs already have a RH bench bat with an OPS over 1.000 as a PH. Snider gives them a LH option and more potential to win a game with one swing.

        • PitPirates

          Yes, I understand that but if you are only batting .235 (only 3 points higher than Alvarez) you won’t get a lot of base hits, and Tabata is batting .289 (9 points higher than Walker) he also has around 20 more at bats than Snider.
          Look at Tabata’s rookie stats he has proven that he can be a very good average guy with some pop.

  • bucsws2014

    Bill Brink is reporting that Tabby did clear waivers.

    Interesting approach. I wonder what the now-open 40 man spot will be used for – or why it was necessary with guys like Morel still on it.

    I do think it’s the right call moving Tabby instead of Snider.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I think you’ve missed the concept of “being out of options” you can’t send someone down who is out of options without him clearning waivers which means being taken off of the 40 man roster.

      • bucsws2014

        I’m not the one who reported “it’s unclear whether Tabata cleared waivers” – that’s in the original article. That it was a straight same day outright and not a typical 10-day DFA is what I find unusual. It’s not common. Unless I’m missing something. Usually you see guys in DFA limbo listed on MLBTR until they’re outrighted.

        • bucsws2014

          Interesting addition to the original article. If I’m not mistaken, Tabata would’ve had to clear waivers after the 30th day of the season for this scenario to apply.

          And if that was the case, I’m even more surprised no other team took a flier based on his 2013 numbers.

  • WTM

    There seems to be a lot of controversy over the Tabata move. A number of media types in Pgh are saying he was optioned, some of them claiming confirmation by the team, and the article on the official site says he was optioned. The team’s transaction page says he was outrighted. I think the latter is right.

    • Ron Loreski

      “A player who is outrighted to the minors is removed from the 40-man
      roster but is still paid according to the terms of his guaranteed
      contract. A player can only be outrighted once in his career without his
      consent.” – That’s the official rule.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Well….he had no options remaining and hasn’t had any for 2 years…..there is no mystery here.

    • impliedi

      He’s only 19 years old, how can he be out of options already?!?!?

      (I didn’t see any other Tabata age jokes on this topic, so I figured I’d help to fill that void.)

    • impliedi

      Current article on the official site says “outright”, so they must have fixed it.

      • WTM

        Yeah, they did.

  • jalcorn427

    Bizarre that no one would claim him on waivers, his contract isn’t very much guaranteed and soem teams have horrendous OFs (Boston for example).

    • csnumber23

      Because he is a mediocre backup OF with no power or speed. Also getting paid far too much. This was the correct decision in my opinion. Snider has more value to the team with some left handed pop off the bench.

    • freddylang

      Texas and all their injuries.

  • impliedi

    Without all of the facts being confirmed, I gotta say this is very smart roster management on the part of Neal Huntington: 1. Look at all of your guys who are somewhat expendable 2. See who has the biggest contract (making him less likely to be claimed and less likely to reject an assignment to AAA because of all of the money he would lose) 3. Slip him through waivers 4. Send him to Indy 5. Continue to look for a buyer. All without losing a single player. Nice all around!!

    • Ron Loreski

      If they every make a Moneyball 2, it should focus around Neal Huntington and the whole Pirates organization. Everything from building the Latin America facilities, to optimal defensive positioning, and roster management. Maybe they can get Ron Howard to play Huntington.

      • Guest

        ….starting with Neal’s days as a player…

  • NorCalBuc

    Snyder brings more of everything, save for average. Better power; better defense and throwing arm; better base running. He’s our only OF LH bat. He’s cheaper, and therefore easier to JT to move thru system, as impliedi stated.

    All around, another great move by Huntington and Co.

    • Beat em’ Bucs

      Not sure how you can say he is better defensively and has a better throwing arm or better base running because that is so obviously false. Also, it doesn’t matter if he is our only OF LH bat when he’s batting .220. Bad move by Huntington

      • jalcorn427

        They have been almost equally bad in the same number of at-bats. Snider has the slight edge wRC+ 93 to 87, wOBA .303 to .295, Baserunning runs 0.0 to -0.8, Defense runs -6.0 to -4.9, WAR -0.3 to -0.4. Yep both below replacement level. There is nothing here to get excited about, it comes down to roster construction and you have J-Hey hitting RH and Snider LH off the bench. Besides you aren’t losing Tabata anyway.

        • Beat em’ Bucs

          I’d take a .289 average over a .235 average any day. Furthermore, Snider has always been more of a liability in the field. At the end of the day, you keep the better player, and that’s Tabata (even if not by much). I know you aren’t losing Tabata but you still want you to keep the better player. More outfield ranger and a slightly better arm for Tabata. More strikeouts for Snider.

          • jalcorn427

            If you’re gonna quote batting average, the discussion is over, enjoy your day.

            • Beat em’ Bucs

              Is that supposed to be a snarky comment or a concession to my argument? Not sure

              • jalcorn427

                There is no point arguing if you are going with your opinion on defense and a metric that is terrible at judging a hitters value. Is a single equal to a home run? It is in your metric of choice.

                • Beat em’ Bucs

                  Batting average is a good indicator when one is .289 and the other is .235. Sabermetrics are often vastly overused to justify opinions that need extra-help justifying. They often (not always) show the weakness in a player when you need to come up with certain advance stats to show their “worth.” Players, in the past and future, can usually be judged on batting average if they have a large enough sample size. I understand that players can get lucky which is why batting average can be fickle at times, but in this regard, when there is this much of a gap, you have to go by the numbers (batting average number that is). I understand many, nowadays, do not follow this sentiment and yes I have seen moneyball, so I know what sabermetrics can do, but I still think they are overused. Just my opinion.

                  • jalcorn427

                    It has nothing to do with luck, batting average treat all hits the same, which is not anywhere close to being real in terms of value. It also ignore walks which have significant value. wOBA is the stat you are looking for (Snider has a higher wOBA. Its not about coming up with ways to find differences, its about more accurately measuring performance. Bottom line is they both suck and are replaceable parts. Definition –

                    wOBA is based on a simple concept: Not all hits are created equal.
                    Batting average assumes that they are. On-base percentage does too, but
                    does one better by including other ways of reaching base. Slugging
                    percentage weights hits, but not accurately (Is a double worth twice as
                    much as a single? In short, no).
                    On-base plus slugging (OPS) does attempt to combine the different
                    aspects of hitting into one metric, but it assumes that one percentage
                    point of SLG is the same as that of OBP. In reality, a handy estimate is
                    that OBP is around twice as valuable than SLG (the exact ratio is x1.8).

                    Weighted On-Base Average combines all the different aspects of
                    hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their
                    actual run value. While batting average, on-base percentage, and
                    slugging percentage fall short in accuracy and scope, wOBA measures and
                    captures offensive value more accurately and comprehensively.

                    • Beat em’ Bucs

                      Then why not slugging and OPS which they have nearly identical numbers. Those stats take into account on base % and account for the fact that not all hits are equal. If those two are equal then you have to come back to BA

                  • PiratesFan1975

                    No it isn’t. They both have almost the same OBP with those BA you reference. Getting on base is how you score a run. Since Tabata rarely hits XBHs Snider’s walks are just as effective.

          • freddylang

            So you would rather have Tabata than Pedro Alvarez?

    • freddylang

      They kept Snider for his changeup.

  • leadoff

    Another brilliant move by Neal Huntington. Why: because with this move he keeps both of his best bench players and loses no one. If he releases Snyder, Snyder is sure to get picked up because he is owed very little and is a decent player, better than a lot of outfielders in the majors playing for other teams, but he main fact is that he lost no one with this move.

    • PitPirates

      I just checked the Houston Astros outfielder’s stats and Snider would barely make it on their team, 2/3 of their outfielders have 6 homeruns or higher and they have a better batting average than .240 the only starting outfielder that he could replace is
      Robbie Grossman a former Pirate that is batting .164 with 2 homeruns in 34 games.
      Alex Presley who also plays for the Astros and is also a former Pirate is batting .234 with 3 homeruns in 57 games
      now here is Grossman’s, Presley’s, and Sinder’s stats in order for you to compare.
      Grossman: 34 games, 110 AB’s, .164 avg, 18 hits, and 2 homeruns
      Presley: 57 games, 167 AB’s, .234 avg, 39 hits, and 3 homeruns
      Snider: 68 games, 136 AB’s, .235 avg, 32 hits, and 4 homruns
      So if you look at their stats Snider is just a little better than Presley who didn’t preform well enough to stick around with the Pirates and isn’t even a starting outfielder for the Astros and the Astros aren’t exactly the best team in baseball.

      • PiratesFan1975

        No, looking at their stats Snider is a lot better than Presley this year, hence the 93 wRC+ vs 68 wRC+. You need to get off the batting average fixation.

        • PitPirates

          OK, lets compare Snider’s stats to Chris Dickerson’s and you will understand why Snider doesn’t deserve to be in the majors.
          Dickerson: 55 games, 200 AB’s, .305 avg, 61 hits, and 6 homeruns
          Snider: 68 games, 136 AB’s, .235 avg, 32 hits, and 4 homeruns

          • Lee Young

            You mean the Travis Snider with a CAREER AAA OPS of .968?

            That Travis Snider?

            I think if Travis was in AAA, he’d be in the All Star game.

            • PitPirates

              That was when he was a prospect face it he sucks he is USELESS!
              Check the last time he was in Triple-A and then check his stats with the Pirates they are no where close to being similar.

              • leowalter

                When people are digging a hole, they usually try to stop before they get deep enough to bury themselves. You had better stop right …about…now !

            • PitPirates

              Snider’s OPS in the minors is .908 not .968 and here is proof that Tabata or Dickerson are better options than Snider in the majors remember this is not the same pitching you will see in Triple-A.

              Dickerson’s OPS in the minors: .794
              Tabata’s OPS in the minors: .763
              Snider’s OPS in the minors: .908

              Dickerson’s OPS in the majors: .745
              Tabata’s OPS in the majors: .717
              Snider’s OPS in the majors: .698

        • PitPirates

          I was comparing him to the outfielders of the Astros and if he barely makes the starting role on their team he shouldn’t be in the majors for a team that is a contender.
          I know what your saying when you refer to the wRC+ but that was a comparison Vs. Presley of all outfielders he is probably a decent reserve outfielder for an injured player.

  • LongJohnSilver

    If you were committed to keeping your options to keep both Snyder and Tabata available to you, then this was the smart way to do it. So I give this one to NH as a smart move. I was all for Snyder when we first got him, but he just hasn’t lived up to his potential, and might never reach it. Then again, we could see a Moss part deux so I guess that is why we “keep hanging on” :)

  • leadoff

    Why you can’t realize that keeping both of them rather than losing one of them is not a smart move is beyond me.

    • Lee Young

      leadoff….scary thing is that two people agreed with him. lol

  • impliedi

    Not sure that you’re getting this, the Pirates still have both players, instead of only having one. Tomorrow they could release Snider, add Tabata to the 40-man and bring him up, and it would be exactly what you want. Nothing is preventing that.

    What this move does is give Neal time to try to deal Snider or Tabata, or just hold onto both players for a few weeks to see if there are any injuries to their outfielders.

  • csnumber23

    I would rather have Snider any day over Tabata! In this case, they still have both. Nobody wants an OF with no power or speed that plays mediocre defense. That is Jose Tabata I just described. Not to mention his contract is too high. Snider is a scrub too but at least he has pop off the bench.

  • csnumber23

    I love the move by Huntington. He knew nobody would claim Tabata for his contract. A singles hitter with no speed and mediocre defense doesn’t have any trade value. He also knew Tabata would accept going to Indy because he wants the rest of his owed money.

    Snider at least brings some left handed pop off the bench.

  • PikeBishop65

    I am in favor of the move, but Man that’s gotta suck for Tabata, after almost five full seasons of chartered planes, four star hotels and other Major League perks he’s headed back to AAA. I hear they have two for one hotdogs at the Terre Haute Wal Mart this week.

    • S Brooks

      For what he’s making he could buy lunch for every WalMart shopper in Indiana from now until Christmas.

    • NorCalBuc

      Major leagures (of all stripes) never enter a Mal Wart.

  • freddylang

    I think it is all about being done with Tabata and getting out of his contract. I said a few days ago they will deal him and probably pick up part of the contract. Snider will probably be replaced next year by Rojas or someone else unless he starts hitting for more power.

  • FrankRestly

    Turn that taxi cab around. Marte out with possible concussion.

  • R Edwards

    I am not going to lose sleep over whether it was Snider or Tabata sent down, but Tabata has been the better performer – by far – for most of the season. Snider has come on – ever since Polanco came up. That must have lit a fire under him, because he has raised his average by 30+ points in the past 2-3 weeks. If not for that, I think the choice was obvious.

    What I do like about Snider is he will give you 110% of what he has – and I am sure that factored into the decision. I don’t think Tabata is a bad kid – I hope he goes to Indy, matures some, takes advantage of the increase in at bats, and puts himself in position to return to Pittsburgh or be a more valuable trade commodity.

  • freddylang

    …says the person who provides no reason for his opinion.

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