Pittsburgh Pirates 2013-14 Off-Season Contract Situations

The MLB off-season is full of potential moves, whether those moves are free agency, option years, arbitration eligible players, or non-tender candidates. Earlier this week I looked at some of the bigger moves that were in store for the Pirates this off-season. Below is a list of players who are eligible for off-season transactions, along with some important dates for those transactions.

Pending Free Agents

5th Day After the World Series – MLB Players become eligible for free agency

A.J. Burnett

Justin Morneau

John Buck

Clint Barmes

Jeff Karstens

Marlon Byrd

Kyle Farnsworth

The Pirates will try to bring back A.J. Burnett. I could see them also trying to bring back Marlon Byrd, since right field is a position of need. Other interesting options I’d pursue would be Clint Barmes (same as his 2013 role with Jordy Mercer), Jeff Karstens (minor league deal) and Kyle Farnsworth (minor league deal).

Option Years

2nd Day After World Series – Deadline to exercise option years

Francisco Liriano – 1 year, $6 M vesting option

Wandy Rodriguez – 1 year, $13 M player option

Liriano will have the chance to make an additional $2.5 M next year based on how many innings and starts he has. His 2014 option has already vested, so he’s under contract for $6 M. If Wandy Rodriguez exercises his player option, the Pirates would receive $5.5 M from the Houston Astros.

Arbitration Eligible

December 2nd – Deadline to tender arbitration

Garrett Jones** – 3rd out of 4 years

Charlie Morton – 3rd out of 3 years

Neil Walker – 2nd out of 4 years

Gaby Sanchez** – 2nd out of 3 years

Pedro Alvarez – 1st out of 3 years

Mark Melancon – 1st out of 3 years

Travis Snider** – 1st out of 3 years

Vin Mazzaro** – 1st out of 3 years

Felix Pie** – 1st out of 3 years

Michael McKenry* – 1st out of 4 years

*Likely Super Two Eligible

**Non-Tender Candidate

Charlie Morton, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, and Mark Melancon will definitely be back. I could see the Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez platoon being non-tendered, since they could make up to $9 M combined in 2014. Travis Snider could also be a non-tender candidate since he doesn’t have any options remaining, and since Jose Tabata would be the fourth outfielder if the Pirates add a starter (or the probable starter if the Pirates don’t add anyone). I could see Vin Mazzaro being traded, much like the Pirates have done with other middle relievers in previous years when they hit arbitration.

Michael McKenry projects to be Super Two eligible. I don’t see him costing much, likely coming in at under $1 M. He has an option next year, and I could see the Pirates using him out of Triple-A as the third catcher, with Tony Sanchez as the backup.

Under Contract

Russell Martin – $8,500,000

Andrew McCutchen – $7,250,000

Jason Grilli – $4,000,000

Jose Tabata – $3,000,000

Out of Options

Jeanmar Gomez

Bryan Morris

Kyle McPherson

Stolmy Pimentel

Jerry Sands

Andy Oliver

Travis Snider

Vin Mazzaro

Felix Pie

Kyle McPherson could qualify for a fourth option year, since his 2013 season was lost to injury. It wouldn’t make a big difference, since he will likely start the 2014 season on the 60-day DL. However, it could give the Pirates some flexibility when he returns around mid-season.

The lack of options could impact the roster chances for Jerry Sands, Andy Oliver, Travis Snider, Vin Mazzaro, and Felix Pie. I think the others will make the Opening Day roster, despite their lack of options.

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Of course, I still see Pedro playing first at some point. Perhaps finding a good 3b via freeagency would be easier than finding a 1B. McGhee… Reynolds?

I have been reading a lot of guys wanting Loney. But what about Adam Lind from Toronto at 7mil?

Perhaps I am not looking at it with an open mind but I was unhappy with watching our first basemen all year. Would love to see Abreu but if not then moving pedro or getting loney or Lind would be great. If that is still not possible I would rather just go with Hague or Sands or someone until real major leaguer becomes available. For 9mil The Pirates can do much better, at least to the eye test.


I was hoping Sands or Hague would show more at the plate and make the first base platoon expendable. One or both could possibly start for a while in the early season while the Pirates decide whom to try and trade for if 1st base is not producing for the Pirates. A much cheaper stop gap than the 9mil platoon. I wonder what the production of Sands OR Hague would be compared to what the pirates got from Sanchez/Jones.

Wilbert Matthews

Well, keeping Byrd seems like a given. Cant believe I’m saying this but Barmes should stay also. I think they should chase Abreau. I would let Gabby and Jones both go. I would set the rotation at Lariano, Cole, Morton, Burnett, and Wandy. What is the status of Watson and Wilson? As or free agents, i think if we could get Encarnacion as a bookend for Alvarez, and the rest can remain as is. I disagree about keeping Melancon.


I am not sure why you don’t want Mazzaro back. Middle relievers don’t break the bank in their first year of arbitration, and he was very good. At worst, take him to arb, then trade him as a defined cost guy with a lot of perceived value.

The same goes with Snider – he’s not going to break the bank, he still has talent, and having a lefty bat in the OF or on the bench is a tactical advantage.


IMO the starting pitching depth is way overblown. Wandy and Locke are huge question marks for 2014. Lriiano and Morton for 2015. That doesn’t even include Burnett this season. Signing at least one mid level free agent starter is a good idea, and IMO two starters would be better. Josh Johnson and Roberto Hernandez would be two guys I’d go after. Roberto Hernandez has another year or two left in the tank to the team that gives him a chance. He was extremely unlucky in a tough division this season. He pitched pretty well and back to his Cleveland stuff.


I would like to have Byrd back, tender Gaby and sign James Loney.



I’m under the impression that 2013 was Oliver’s 4th option year. I think he used one in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. So he wouldn’t be granted a 5th year.


Abreu should be 1st priority. Alverez next. No way do you bring Barmas back, everyone on the bench should be able to PH & Cole is a better hitter then him. Besides that Hurdle will start him because that’s his guy for some reason that only him & Stevie Wonder can see. I don’t want to see & offense avg 2 runs a game with him in lineup. I would then look at Johnson over AJ. Not saying he’s better than AJ just a better option when factoring in $$$$.


I think the only way Gaby is NOT tendered is if the Bucs win the Abreu sweepstakes. Gabyndid his platoon job extremely well, when used appropriately. Even if they re-sign Morneau or go after James Loney, it will make sense to have Gaby.

Davis or Duda……..pass. They were -0.1 and 0.2 WAR, respectively this year, early-projected for 1.4 and 0.4 for 2014. Not the answer – both are morphing into just another Garrett Jones-type.

AJ should be back, worst case under the $14 mil QO. Would love to have Byrd back for 1 year as a stable RF until Polanco is ready. Do NOT want to enter another season with RF being manned by a 4th OF like Tabata.


I believe they will and should give AJ a qualifying offer and agree they should resign Barmes as the defensive middle infielder on the bench. The question is can we trust Hurdle to use him properly.

There is no way I bring back Byrd. He is 36 and had a career year coming off a PED suspension. Let someone else pay for him as he is a prime regression candidate. Tabata finished strong last year right field should be his until Polanco is ready. Andrew Lambo should be given the 4th outfielder spot.

The biggest off season focus has to be first base not right field. They need to pursue Abreu or look to the trade market. A good opportunity to be buy low is to call the Mets. They have Davis and Duda who both have upside and are the type of players the Pirates should be pursuing if the cost would not be too high. Lames Loney would also be interesting for all the reasons Tim has posted in the past.

My question for Tim is, while I am not sure I would advocate this but perhaps with 2014 being his last year of control and it being a sell high situation should they deal Charlie Morton for a need such as 1st base? Of course this could only be done if AJ is back in the fold.

Ian Rothermund

Even though I’m a Burnett fan, I do think the “veteran leadership” angle is overplayed. This is especially true if that leadership comes at a price of over 6 or 7 million a year, which I’m sure Burnett would require. Given the depth at SP that the Pirates have, as well as the relative proximity of Taillon to Pittsburgh, I think that money would best be put towards that first baseman from Cuba. If there’s going to be one concerted effort on the part of the Pirates this off-season, it should be to sure up their offense, by whatever reasonable means necessary. I like the idea of bringing Byrd back as well, even though it’s probably unreasonable to assume that he continues producing like he did this year.

Other than that, I agree with the guys Tim suggested be signed to minor league deals. I’d also be ok with bringing Barmes back as long as it’s less than 2 or 3 million a year for one or two years. Other than that, I think Sanchez should be working under Martin as much as possible to have him soak up that knowledge. I think catcher is the one position where a guy can really benefit from having an experienced-pro in front of him. There’s just so much more applicable knowledge that an older player can pass on to a younger player.


Disagree with non-tendering Gaby Sanchez – excellent glove, and great on base guy. Can we go to arbitration with McKenry and then send him to the minors? Why? His bat is suspect and he has not been much in the area of throwing out runners trying to steal. CS/SBA ratio is atrocious. Do you think Clint will want to send him down to the minors? Russell Martin is not the type of Catcher who wants to share work behind the plate. In the AL where he could still stay in the lineup he averaged about 127 games at Catcher. At Pittsburgh I think that was higher. Tony Sanchez has to be with this team – either that or we try to sign Martin for another two years.

dr dng


I am not very knowledgeable about this, but I have some questions and comments:

1) I just have a feeling that Byrd will want to stay and make a reasonable offer to stay. Do we need a left handed outfielder to rest the three right handers. Did we make a mistake to give up Pressley?

2) Does anyone have any idea what happened to Garrett Jones?
I thought he had a nice season the year before but he did not seem to be the same player – especially the last half of the season. To the public he seems to be a nice person. What happened? Can we sign him in arbitration and then trade him? He has to be worth something to someone. Last year he was pretty good.

3) Ok here is a radical one. I assume that McHenry should get a one year lease on a nice home in Indy and we will see him in 2015. But here is the real radical question. Do we ask Walker to play a few innings behind the plate in spring training and be our emergency catcher just in case? Especially if we sign Barmes – hopefully at a reasonable price.

4) Alvarez was one of our lowest paid players this past year. He just seemed to grow up and had a nice season.
I can see him raising he average another 20 points next year and continue his HR pace. About what will he earn in arbitration? Hope that goes smoothly.

Stephen Brooks

I’ll give this a try:

1. Always good to have a lefty bench bat that can play a corner OF, which I think should be Andrew Lambo. IMHO Lambo>Presley anyway.

2. Whether Jones had an off year or this was the sign of his decline, we won’t know until next year – but I don’t think the Bucs will pay him $6m to find out. Doubtful that anyone else will trade for him at his projected salary – more likely that they’d would wait for the Bucs to non-tender him and sign him to a free agent deal in the $2-3m range.

3. Well, someone on the 25-man roster is the emergency 3rd string catcher. Could be Walker, could be Gaby Sanchez, most likely will be someone NH picks up over the winter (John McDonald and Casey McGehee were the guys in ’13 and ’12).

4. Toro probably gets $3.5-$4.5m in arbitration for 2014. Could sneak higher. Comps are Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds, and based on the 40-60-80 rule, at $5m per win, Alvarez as a 2.5 win player could be worth (2.5x$5m) x40% = $5m.

dr dng

Thank you for such a quality response. I understand all of this much better. I do wonder if we gave up too much in giving up Presley & more. I had read that we could probably lose him, but with his .286 ba for the Twins, I would think we gave up a player who may bat lead off and start for the Twins for the next 3-5 years.

Can I get back to Jones for a moment. Do we have any idea what happened?
Was he hurt and we did not know it? Is there something going on in his life? It just seems a mystery to me.

Stephen Brooks

You go to arb with McKenry because the Bucs have no catching depth in the upper minors and he’s better and/or cheaper than what you could pick up on the waiver wire. It’s a reasonably inexpensive insurance policy if one of Martin or Sanchez hits the DL.

He do have an option left so it’s not an issue to park him at AAA.

I think Farnsworth signs a major league deal somewhere – he still has his believers.

Stephen Brooks

He (McKenry) *DOES* have an option left…frickin iPhone…

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