2013-2014 Off Season Primer

With the World Series coming to an end last night, the 2013/2014 off-season officially begins today.  Here is a quick primer of all of the off-season topics.

40-Man Rosters

Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day disabled list no later than five days after the end of the World Series, getting their rosters down to 40-men.  The deadline this year is on Monday.  The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have five players on the 60-day disabled list: Wandy Rodriguez, Jeff Karstens, Michael McKenry, Phil Irwin, and Kyle McPherson. Karstens will be a free agent, so they don’t need to clear a spot for him. As for the others, they will need to clear roster spots for any of those players they wish to retain.

Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Saturday night.  There’s a possibility that this deadline could be moved to a weekday, as normally it just falls three days after the World Series ends. The Pirates don’t have any decisions to make with options. Francisco Liriano has a $6 M vesting option which has already vested. Wandy Rodriguez has a $13 M player option which he is expected to exercise.

November 20th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2013 Rule 5 draft.  We will be doing a Rule 5 preview early next week. Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 20th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 20th and the 2013 Rule 5 draft, held on December 12th.

As for the actual draft, teams have until December 5th to place a player on waivers in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster so that they can make a selection in the Rule 5 draft.  This is so that they can outright the player off the 40-man roster on December 9th, which is the deadline for clearing a spot for the draft.

My prediction of the 2013 40-man roster can be found here, minus the Rule 5 additions.

Arbitration Eligible Players

Teams have until December 2nd to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2014 season.  The Pirates have ten players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year: Charlie Morton (arbitration year 3/3), Garrett Jones (year 3/4), Gaby Sanchez, Felix Pie (both year 2/3), Neil Walker (year 2/4), Travis Snider, Vin Mazzaro, Pedro Alvarez, Mark Melancon (all year 1/3), and Michael McKenry (Super Two eligible).  Earlier this month we looked at all of the arbitration eligible players, and their salary projections.

Once offers are tendered, the two sides (the team and the player) will work to reach an agreement.  If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration, during the first two weeks of January.  Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures around the third week of January, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February.  The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.

If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player.  All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.

Free Agency

October 31st at 12:01 AM EST marks the beginning of a five day period in which teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their players who qualify for free agency.  The Pirates have seven players who qualify for free agency: A.J. Burnett, Justin Morneau, John Buck, Marlon Byrd, Clint Barmes, Jeff Karstens, and Kyle Farnsworth.  Pending free agents can have general discussions with other clubs during this five day period, but can’t discuss contract details or sign with a new team until 12:01 AM EST, November 5th.

In most years, free agency doesn’t take off until the Winter Meetings. Last year the Pirates were aggressive early, signing players in late November. That could continue this year as they go hard after the players they want.


The two notable meetings that take place in the off-season are the GM/Owners meetings, and the more popular Winter Meetings.  The General Manager’s meetings take place on November 11-12, and the Owners’ Meetings take place November 12-13.  Usually there’s not much occurs during these meetings, although it provides an opportunity for the General Managers to meet face to face, and possibly start discussions on potential trades. This year the subject of instant replay will be on the table, and will likely be implemented for the 2014 season.

The Winter Meetings take place on December 9-12.  The Winter Meetings usually marks the time when free agency starts to heat up.

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Scott Skink

I’m not clear on Wandy’s option. Assuming he exercises it, is that guaranteed money even if he never pitches an inning? I’m guessing Bucs have insurance to cover all/part of that but would appreciate some clarity on whether that’s simply sunk money if his career is over.

Stephen Brooks

Guaranteed money. Insurance is kind of a policy by policy deal – some policies kick in when players miss 60 days, some at 120, some only when the player misses the whole season. Generally insurance pays between 50% and 80% of dead weight salary, and the premiums are 3-5% (or more, in the case of pitchers with an injury history) of the contract value.

So in the case of a lost season, the Pirates would pay Wandy $7.5M (with the balance coming from Houston) and the insurance policy would reimburse the Pirates anywhere from $3.75 – $6M of it. And that doesn’t include the premium, which could be a quarter to half mil by itself.


I think this is pretty important information. Wandy is hurting for sure and my gut tells me that if he wasn’t waiting for $13 million he may have already retired.

Richard Ya'Zhynka

For the casual fan, this information might not mean much. For those of us who went into Pirate Withdrawal Syndrome at 11:30pm on October 9, it is indispensable.


Just for clarity the 7 free agents the Pirates have will not count against the roster when its time to add back the 4 60 day DL guys. Meaning the Pirates won’t have to outright anyone right away assuming they don’t resign several of their impending free agents. I’m rationalizing that correct, right?

Also Tim this may be a technical glitch on my end but when in Firefox I am not able to comment on an article if I log in on that article. I can go to a different article and post a comment just fine but it just keeps prompting me to sign in when I try to comment on an article that I clicked log in on. It works just fine in IE though. Again might be my problem but thought I’d make you aware in case it wasn’t.

Stephen Brooks

battlingbucs, you are correct. Technically free agency began at 9AM ET this morning, so the Pirates can essentially clear those 7 spots from the 40-man that will be submitted Monday and only add them back if they re-sign – which could happen within the quiet period or anytime after.

As of now, the 40-man stands at 39 (Duke Welker came off when he was traded to Minnesota) plus the 5 60-day DL guys to bring it to 44. Since the number of pending free agents (7) exceeds the overage (4), the Pirates do not HAVE to outright anyone off the 40-man by Monday.

The tough decisions begin leading into the November 20 deadline, where the Rule 5 protects (led by Polanco) have to be added, and again on December 2 when decisions have to be made on Snider, Pie, GFJ and others.


Thanks for the clarity, Stephen. Can we likewise assume that the arb candidates who aren’t tendered by 12/2 come off the 40 man as well, clearing spots for the new additions protected in the Rule 5?


Tim, why didn’t you include Byrd as a free agent?


Tim,’this is not related, but I don’t know where to ask. Would you consider doing a Q&A? Weekly prefer, but any would do. For exams, before
The Choo to 1b idea I want To float Carlos Beltran to play 1b on a 2 year contract.

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