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.

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.

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70 COMMENTS

  1. Why did the Pirates DFA Davis, but didn’t also DFA Gabby Sanchez? They both needed to go….

    While talking about first base, how about a trade for 6’4″ 260 Evan Gattis and putting him in a platoon with Alvarez?

  2. Protecting Garcia was the right move – at least he is young, has potential, and could be a trade piece if nothing else. If you want to find guys who should have not been left on the 40 man, there are several less deserving candidates….Morel, Decker, Elmore, Sellers, etc. There would be zero chance of any of them getting picked up.

  3. It is hard to believe that we acquire Andy Oliver, develop him for 2-3 years to get his control improved, and when he shows signs of doing just that and being an effective reliever, we expose him to the Rule 5 (along with Rojas as another example) while protecting lousy players with no future and no value in Sellers, Elmore, Decker, etc. etc. Unbelievable.

    If either Rojas or Oliver get claimed, I would not be surprised – and this front office will be on their way to another horrendous off season for the second year in the row.

  4. Don’t know. The chances of Rojas being selected are pretty slim. Was just looking at the last 100 players selected in the Rule 5 draft. Do you know how many were outfielders? Six. (And one of those was the great John Raynor!)

  5. Choosing to roster Decker over Rojas is curious. And DFA-ing Davis now, rather than one of the many quad-A RP they’ve picked up, also curious.

    • I think there’s chance Rojas get’s picked. He’s darn near ready to compete for a ML job right now and he can play anywhere in the outfield. Not the highest ceiling, but he could be useful.

    • I wonder if they have a trade partner already for Ike? They have 10 days to trade him after DFAing. It would make sense to move him off the 40 man roster…then again could have just dumped him for nothing lol…

      • Or the opposite could be true. Maybe they dangled him out there for a trade and got zero interest. And, so maybe they just released him early to be nice and give him a chance to catch on to some team early.

        • True, teams know our first base situation and knew they could wait for us to DFA one of them and then pick em up.

          • That, and we didnt exactly give up a kings ransom when we acquired him. An not effective Thornton and a very young relief pitcher who hadnt seen anything above A ball. I’d guess the market on Davis is a lower minor leagues relief pitcher.

  6. i just don’t understand what makes Pedro the better option. Ike hit righties better in both his career and in 2014.

    oh well. Let’s go Pedro.

    • He only out hit him by a little bit, Pedro had 8 more homers in 20 more games. I think, it was around 20.

    • A little too myopic of an analysis given the two players are reasonably similar hitters. Alvarez is the better defender, base runner, and has a far superior injury history. That stuff matters, even at 1B.

      • With that being said, I think Ike Davis on what I can only imagine would be a 1 yr contract around $2m or so will be a better value than having to guarantee Adam LaRoche two years at more than $10m per. And possibly even better value than Alvarez at his arbitrated rate plus the prospect it would take to get him.

        Best player released yesterday, from what I’ve seen. Not hard at all to imagine him ending up exactly like James Loney a few years back.

  7. I think Mel Rojas will be taken in the Rule 5 draft. He showed some good improvement this year and is close to the majors. He should be able to stick.

    • Rojas wasn’t even a prospect until this year. Even now, he looks like a 4th outfielder at best. We already have Decker and Tabata as 4th outfielders.

      • Decker is horrible and Tabata only hits for average. I would rather have Rojas as the 4th outfilder because he has some power and we could use Snider as a trade piece or we could just trade Rojas, I would hate seeing him leave in this draft.

          • Decker certainly isnt useless. Fair argument that Rojas is, and will be, better but Decker at his current age certainly isnt useless. Particularly as AAA depth.

          • Tabata can hit for average and Decker just sucks, he can’t even hit in Indy so he isn’t worth anything in the bigs.

      • Who cares about Decker and even less care about Tabata!! He is only still here because nobody will take the guy and pay the contract he has. I highly doubt he makes the team out of Spring Training. Rojas has potential at least. Decker and Tabata do not!

          • You guys are right, I thought Rojas was younger than 24 going on 25. My mistake!! I know understand why they didn’t protect him.

        • Decker is 25 all of 2015 and has never had below a .355 obp in the minors. I may have kept Rojas over Decker if it was my choice but it is a coin flipper…they are the same age and Decker has had a better more consistent minor league career. I think as a team that should be in a pennant race they went for the guy who is MLB ready and gets on base and works counts and has a more consistent track record. Rojas has more upside but not by a great amount.

        • Prospect lovers unite.

          The guy that’s a league average hitter over 1700 Major League PA is useless, but the guy who took until age 24 to reach AAA has “potential”.

  8. So ends the “Long Term Solution” to our first base problem – I believe that I have the quote pretty much right – from the Best General Manager in Baseball on his Sunday three card monte fan scam. I am sure that others will correct me if I am wrong – look forward to it.

    • Because surely no GM has ever blown smoke for a player that clearly wasnt amazing before. Complaining over pretty standard and ho hum comments like that will just leave you always complaining. The alternative would seem to be a reporter asking if he thought Ike was the solution and NH going “well, idk really. We arent really sure.” Boy, that’d make him a player favorite.

    • You seem to be taking credit for something everyone has known for ages. Make a prediction on something that no one else would think of – like trading McCutchen for BJ Upton. Then you can take some credit if it comes to pass.

    • With about 200 comments about how it proves the organization clearly doesnt know how to win due to this November bench move. That’ll be a hoot.

      • Well maybe if you actually check his stats you will feel a little better, he put up decent numbers for a bench player and is really strong defensively so I think this is a good move.

  9. Tim: Smart move. He just turned 22 and although he played in AA and was 3.7 years younger than the average position player in AA he raised his average once again, increased HR’s to 18, and increased the number of extra base hits to 50 – 27 doubles, 5 triples, 18 HR’s. If he ever gets the number of K’s in line, he would be an awesome prospect. Right now he is running at about 5/1 K’s/W’s, but still batted .270+. He is somebody that would interest a lot of teams who are weak in the OF. However, the Pirates starting outfield is in the Top 5 of 30 teams, and a 2nd string OF could possibly finish in the Top 20 of 30 – not much opportunity for upward mobility! The Pirates are going to leverage some of their young OF prospects looking to fill holes in the lineup or in the Rotation.

    • Has any prospect ever reduced their strikeout rate significantly? I’m not being snarky, I really want to know. It seems like every time we have one of these Power + High K rate guys we all hope it will work out and it never does. 30% and above, forget it.

      • http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=parker003dav

        To answer the question, Dave Parker had 266 SO and 92 W (2.89 Ratio) while in the minors.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/parkeda01.shtml

        He finished his major league career with 1537 SO and 683 W (2.25 Ratio).

        Also, guys don’t get paid to hit singles anymore – it’s a different game these days.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/SO_season.shtml

        Consider, prior to 2004, Bobby Bonds held the single season record for strikeouts in a season (189 SO in 1970) and 2nd place (187 SO in 1969) by a batter. In 2004, Adam Dunn broke that mark (195 SO) and then went on to break that mark 3 more times (2006, 2010, 2012) and tie it once (2013).

        Rounding out the top 20 are the usual suspects:
        Mark Reynolds holds 4 of the top 20 spots
        Chris Davis and Chris Carter joined the list this year (2013).
        Ryan Howard holds 3 of the top 20 spots
        Danny Espinoza and Curtis Granderson joined the list in 2012
        Drew Stubbs joined the list in 2011

        • Interesting stuff, Frank.

          I should have been more specific in my pondering. I wasn’t thinking about K/BB ratio, I was thinking about K%, percent of PA’s that end in a strikeout. Parker’s minor league k rate of ~16% was not a red flag. Pedro’s 25% K rate was a red flag, and it has only gotten worse in the majors.

          So we see these hitting prospects all the time, most recently guys like Willy Garcia and Stetson Allie, who strike out a ton, and they are on prospect lists with comments like “tons of raw power” and “needs to reduce strikeouts”.
          Has anyone ever improved their K rate? Or is Mark Reynolds or Dave Kingman the best you can hope for?

          • “Has anyone ever improved their K rate?”

            My guess would be no, simply because batters in the minors see more fastballs than they do in the majors. If you can’t hit a minor league fastball very well, your odds don’t improve when you face major league sliders, curve balls, and change ups.

            • My guess would be no, also. So if K rates over 25% are a red flag, and nobody ever improves their K rate, why are they wasting time protecting Willy Garcia? Why do we say over and over again “he just needs to improve his K rate” when no one ever does? Wishful thinking? 😀

              • “…why are they wasting time protecting Willy Garcia?”

                See the article:

                “The power is legit, and his defense in right field is outstanding, with one of the best arms in the system.”

                High K rates in the minors are a red flag in projecting high K rates in the majors and not much else. Mike Trout had 184 K’s in 602 AB’s this year (30.5%) and yet was a unanimous MVP selection.

                I am sure the Pirates would be thrilled if Willy Garcia (or Pedro Alvarez) could put up Mike Trout type numbers even if he struck out 30% of the time.

                • Trout struck out at a rate about 16% in the minors. He has traded more K’s for power in the majors, which is common and lots of good hitters do that.

                  I’m looking but I’ve yet to find a minor league prospect who struck out 25% or more in the minors who went on to do much of anything in the majors.

                  I am interested in knowing if it’s possible because it would give me hope for Pedro, Allie, Garcia, etc., but the more I look without finding, the more I doubt it.

                  • My opinion for what it’s worth is this – sometimes it does more harm than good to try to “fix” someone who strikes out a lot. If the other numbers are solid, then don’t screw with them.

                    If you are hoping that Pedro reduces his strikeout rate, draws more walks, hits for better average, etc. – then God Bless You. I would be quite happy if Pedro delivered a steady diet of 30 HRs, 100RBIs season after season. And if the throwing yips hadn’t forced the Pirates to bench him, Pedro would have reached close to those numbers last year.

                    Sometimes batters trade strikeouts for power – does the batter commit to a pitch early and crush it / get fooled or does he wait and hit opposite field / foul it off. Sometimes that happens – batters adjust their swings.

                    Other times batters trade strikeouts for walks – does the batter take pitches in batter’s counts – first pitch, 2-0, 3-0, 3-1 or does he swing away whenever he is ahead in the count. Sometimes that happens – batters adjust their plate patience.

                    Reducing strikeouts can be accomplished by either method, but changes in other stats will vary greatly depending on which approach is taken.

              • Interestingly, Brandon Moss had a 26.3 K rate at AAA Pawtucket in 741 PAs. Came to the Pirates, got his K rate below 22% during his stay here… and sucked. It wasn’t till he got to Oakland and maintained a K rate over 25% that he became useful.

      • AF: A good example would be Starling Marte. In 2013 he had a K/W ratio of 5.5/1; in 2014 he lowered that to 4/1, and I am hopeful he continues to drop that even further. In 2014 Garcia had 24 Walks and 145 K’s, a 6/1 ratio, but he was still very productive. If he could lower that ratio to 4/1, he could be even more productive. Better understanding of the zone, and better pitch recognition are keys to improving.

        • I was imprecise in my question. I wasn’t thinking of K/BB I was thinking about overall K%. see my comment to Frank above!

          • It does happen, although in what I’d call rare instances. Paul Goldschmidt is currently the example referenced most often, but Anthony Rizzo and Gio Stanton among others have shown noticeable improvement.

            You’ll see players maintain a similarly high K-rate as they move up levels, not necessarily get worse, more often than you’ll see them improve.

            • Good catch. Goldschmidt was > 26% at high A at age 22. He reduced to 20% the next year and is around 22% in the majors.

              Stanton was also > 26% in the minors, peaking at 29% at age 19/AA. He succeeds in spite of being around 28% now.

              Rizzo doesn’t really fit, as he was around 20% in both the minors and MLB.

              Good stuff. Thanks!

              • No problem, good choice of topic.

                You’re probably right on Rizzo. I threw him in there because he K’d at about a 30% clip in his big league debut with the Pads before being dealt to the Cubs, but there’s just as much (or more) chance that was a matter of small sample size. I’m probably guilty of using him as an example due to being a personal favorite of mine.

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