Today is the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the 2014 Rule 5 draft. Yesterday I wrote about the protection process, along with who should be protected this year. The Pirates have until 11:59 PM EST tonight to set their rosters. In previous years, the official announcements have come anywhere from 1 PM to after 9 PM. Usually by this point, the players who will be protected have been notified that they will be added to the 40-man roster, although we don’t usually hear the official confirmation until later.
We’ll be tracking the additions in this post as we hear them, and it will eventually be updated with the official confirmations.
The first player we’ve heard about is Willy Garcia. Pirates Prospects has heard from a source in the Dominican Republic that Garcia will be protected from the Rule 5 draft. We also found the following tweet, which is saying the same thing.
— Antonio Puesán (@antoniopuesan) November 20, 2014
Garcia has a ton of raw power and one of the best outfield arms in the system. He struggles with strikeouts, which is typically a big red flag. However, his power potential is becoming rare in today’s game, and his combination of power and defense could get him to the majors, even if those tools do come with strikeout concerns and a low batting average.
We’ll update when we hear more. In some cases (Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz), we’re just waiting on the formality of news, since it’s a guarantee these guys will be protected. In other cases (Jason Creasy, Mel Rojas) we’re waiting to hear about their status, since that status was up in the air.
UPDATE 5:02 PM: The Pirates claimed Pedro Florimon, which means they only have one open spot on their 40-man roster. They will ned to create at least three more spots, and possibly more if they protect anyone else beyond Taillon, Kingham, Diaz, and Garcia.
UPDATE 7:03 PM: The Pirates have announced that they’ve added Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Elias Diaz, and Willy Garcia to the 40-man roster. They also made the Pedro Florimon move official. To make room, they have designated Ramon Cabrera and Ike Davis for assignment, and have outrighted Brent Morel to Indianapolis. The 40-man roster stands at 40.
UPDATE 7:06 PM: As far as the Rule 5 additions, no surprises from the guys who were added, although the Pirates did leave a few guys off the list. Jason Creasy and Mel Rojas were the two guys I would have protected beyond the four who were added. It’s no guarantee that either player gets drafted. Rojas wasn’t taken last year when he was eligible, and Creasy hasn’t pitched above A-ball.
It seems there was a shortage of roster spots this year, and not just because of guys like Florimon or the other waiver claims they’ve made. If they’re going to add some free agents this off-season, they will need to open more spots on the 40-man. Not to mention, one from the Florimon/Sellers group of claimed infielders will probably get a bench role. From here, the hope would be that the Pirates keep the most talent in the organization. We’ll see if that happens in December when the Rule 5 draft takes place.
As for Davis, I’m a little surprised that he was DFAd. It’s not a surprise that he’s gone, but that it happened so soon. I expected the Pirates to keep him up until the non-tender deadline, and maybe beyond to try and make a trade. They’ll still be able to trade him over the next ten days, although they won’t be looking at much of a return. This signals that their first baseman is currently Pedro Alvarez, which is something that Neal Huntington has said multiple times this off-season.
UPDATE 7:18 PM: The 2015 payroll page has been updated with the moves. The Pirates are at a projected $71.8 M, which is a number much lower than where they were at for most of the off-season, due to the Davis move. This means I no longer have to type the “You can probably remove Ike Davis’ $4.4 M from that figure” disclaimer every time I reference the projected payroll.
UPDATE 7:22 PM: Here are some quick thoughts on what to expect in 2015 from the four guys who were added to the 40-man roster today.
Jameson Taillon – He’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but should be ready to return by the start of the season. He’ll spend some time with Indianapolis, and should be an option for the Pirates by mid-season. He might not be an option for them at the end of the year, or in the playoffs, since they could take the common approach of shutting him down early in his first year back (which the Washington Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg and the Mets plan to do with Matt Harvey).
Nick Kingham – He finished the 2014 season in Triple-A, and should start back there in 2015. He normally has some of the best command in the system, although that didn’t show up at times during the 2014 season. He could be an option for the Pirates’ rotation early in the year if they need depth. His upside is a strong number three starter who can eat 200 innings a year.
Elias Diaz – He’s the future starting catcher with Russell Martin gone, although he will need more time in Triple-A to work on his hitting to show that he can be more than a backup. It’s possible that he could arrive by mid-season in 2015. For that to happen, his bat would have to get him there. The defense is fine, but the Pirates already have two strong defensive catchers, which would make it pointless for them to call Diaz up before his bat was ready.
Willy Garcia – He could go to Altoona again this year, as his strikeouts and lack of walks were a problem. The power is legit, and his defense in right field is outstanding, with one of the best arms in the system. I don’t expect Garcia to arrive in the majors in 2015, although he could reach Triple-A. His value to the Pirates, due to the presence of Andrew McCutchen/Starling Marte/Gregory Polanco, might be best as a trade chip if another team sees him as a legit starting option down the line.