The Pirates committed roster spots to Jonathan Sanchez and Brandon Inge today, which means they will eventually have to create spots on the 40-man roster for each player. Both players were Article XX-B free agents, which means the team had until today to either commit a roster spot to them, pay them a $100,000 bonus to retain their services as a minor league free agent, or release them. That’s a new classification this year, brought on by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The catch here is that teams can commit a roster spot to a player without making a corresponding move right away. The Pirates don’t have to open those 40-man spots until they submit their final roster.
The team currently has two players who could be eligible for the 60-day disabled list. Charlie Morton and Francisco Liriano are both rehabbing, and both throwing bullpen sessions. Morton is returning from Tommy John surgery, and just threw his third bullpen and live BP a few days ago. Liriano threw his third bullpen a few days ago, and is hoping to be back in a month. The Pirates could place either player on the 60-day disabled list, but that would put them out until June 1st. Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington noted that the team will hold off on those decisions, hoping that both players could be ready before June 1st.
“We’re still fighting up against the clock with Charlie and Francisco and want to try and keep them off the 60-day if we can,” Huntington said. “If we feel like there’s a legitimate chance we can have them back before June 1st, we want to be able to have them back before June 1st. But sometimes you bang up against roster issues, sometimes you bang up against some other things — any setbacks or anything like that. But as we sit here right now they both have a legitimate chance to be ready to go on, or before [June 1st].”
If the Pirates did place one, or both, on the 60-day DL, that would clear up a roster spot on the 40-man. It seems more likely that Morton will go on the 60-day at this point, with Liriano having a better shot at returning before June 1st. If the Pirates need a second spot, that would have to come from designating a player on the 40-man roster for assignment. That problem could work itself out, depending on what happens with the final position battles on the 25-man.
Jeanmar Gomez is currently fighting for the final spot in the rotation. He could also be an option for the bullpen. If he doesn’t make the team, Gomez is out of options and would have to be designated for assignment. That would open up the final roster spot, if it’s still needed. At this point I’d say the fifth starter spot will go to Jeff Locke. Gomez would have a shot at the bullpen if Jeff Karstens has to start the year on the disabled list. That seems likely to happen, which means the Pirates would have to find someone else to remove from the 40-man roster.