2015-2016 Off Season Primer

With the World Series coming to an end last night, the 2015/2016 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 Friday.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have five players on the 60-day disabled list (Brandon Cumpton, Andrew Lambo, Casey Sadler, Corey Hart, and Jung-ho Kang), and only two open spots. They will need to clear three spots on the 40-man roster this week to get the number down to 40.

Those decisions should be easy. For example, they can just release Hart. Brandon Cumpton is also out for the 2016 season, and probably won’t last on the 40-man roster, so they could put him through waivers and outright him to Triple-A without risking losing him. And they’ve got several free agents who they could let go of a few days early.

Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday night.  The Pirates don’t have any decisions to make with options this year.

November 20th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2015 Rule 5 draft.  I looked at Rule 5 options earlier in the year, and updated that at the start of the off-season. 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 2015 Rule 5 draft, held on December 10th.

My prediction of the 2016 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 2016 season.  The Pirates have nine players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year. Here are the players, and their projected arbitration prices, according to MLBTR:

Neil Walker, 4th Year – $10,700,000

Mark Melancon, 3rd Year – $10,000,000

Pedro Alvarez, 3rd Year – $8,100,000

Tony Watson, 2nd Year – $4,600,000

Jeff Locke, 1st Year – $3,500,000

Francisco Cervelli, 3rd Year – $2,500,000

Jared Hughes, 2nd Year – $2,200,000

Jordy Mercer, 1st Year – $1,800,000

Chris Stewart, 3rd Year – $1,600,000

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.

The Pirates are a file and trial team, which means if a deal isn’t worked out before players officially file for arbitration, then they will go to a hearing. This is a growing trend among teams to strengthen negotiations pre-filing. Last year the Pirates went to arbitration hearings with three different players.

Free Agency

November 2nd 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 eight players who qualify for free agency: Joakim Soria, J.A. Happ, Antonio Bastardo, Corey Hart, Sean Rodriguez, Joe Blanton, Aramis Ramirez, and A.J. Burnett. The last two guys are retiring. 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 7th.

The big topic during this period will be the qualifying offers for these players. Teams have five days to decide if they will make a qualifying offer to departing free agents. This year the offer is $15.8 M for one year. If the player accepts that offer, the team gets him for the 2016 season on that deal. If the player declines and signs with another team, the former team gets a draft pick in the 2016 draft.

The Pirates don’t have a player who could demand a qualifying offer, or who could receive one (guys like J.A. Happ who were acquired mid-season aren’t eligible). There are a few departing free agents who could be re-signed, with Happ being the big one, although usually those guys hit the open market before making a deal.


The two notable meetings that take place in the off-season are the GM/Owners meetings, and the more popular Winter Meetings.  The first two meetings provides an opportunity for the General Managers to meet face to face, and possibly start discussions on potential trades. This year those meetings could lead to some rule changes, especially following the injuries to middle infielders.

The Winter Meetings take place on December 7-10.  The Winter Meetings usually mark the time when free agency starts to heat up.

  • What does everyone think about Chad Qualls as a bounce-back candidate? His peripheral stats were really nice last year with both xFIP and SIERA putting his ERA under 3. His K/9 and BB/9 were both really good.

  • Anybody like Kelly Johnson as a bench bat pickup? He can play 1B, 3B, 2B, and the OF…and still has some pop in his bat.

  • Ok, I am going to suggest something really radical because I am
    new to all of this…. What about this?

    Suppose be go north next spring with basically the same roster
    as last year. C-same, 3rd-Harrison & later Kang, SS-Mercer,
    2nd – Walker & later Harrison, 1st-Pedro & Morse, OF same,
    resign Rodriguez-for defense and to protect players when
    teams throw one to many times inside, Pitchers-re-sign Happ,
    & Bastardo to go with everyone else we have returning,
    Add a 4th outfielder from the many choices we have.

    June sees the arrival of a couple of our young prospects
    to add some additional “hungry” young talent.

    I think we still win 92-100 games.

    What do you think?

    • I think if we do not add this team will struggle (especially again within the division) to win many more than 86-88 games.

    • This is rational if Happ is signed and Melancon is retained. However, I believe that management wants to move forward without Pedro and will make a move to replace his power. They would love to see Morse return to his form of two years ago but won’t depend on it. NH has said some very nice things about Morse and his brief time with the Bucs.

    • 92 wins is absolutely achievable with that lineup. Absolutely.

  • Only topic not noted is trades, which can happen…. anytime? Restrictions?
    Not sure.
    I’ve tossed out a trade w/SD (Cashner/Alonso 4 Mercer/Locke/Alvarez)… which I think is a good trade for each team frankly… however you have to wonder what is in the mind of NH as a key move for next year.
    I personally am 100% sold on Kang as a championship caliber SS and look for him to man the position for the next 3 years. In the short term, there are options (Harrison, Hanson, etc.)… so I’d be looking to find a full time 3b.
    I see two candidates: Cody Ashe and Evan Longoria
    The difference between them is obvious, but it should also be about acquisition costs as well. I can see the Phillies giving up Ashe for a quality outfield prospect as their system is awful and we have depth in that area.
    Rojas, Broxton, Barnes, Ramirez, Garcia, Polo, Suchy – Bell and Meadows wouldn’t and shouldn’t be needed to acquire Ashe.

    Longoria is a different cat. Legit, but not superstar anymore… kind of like Scott Rolens was back when. Still really good. TB always has depth and they are loaded with middle infielders albeit younger talent. It would be a challenge to land Evan, but that’s what the great GM’s do right? I’d be happy with Ashe though and that shouldn’t even be tough to get done.

    • I look at Longoria as the 3B version of Tulo. He can’t stay healthy. I’m not sold on Asche at all. Although, he may be a victim of the Phillies being overly aggressive with promotions. I’d prefer to see Kang at 3B and have the Bucs go after Profar to play SS.

    • BB: Love that trade, and I hope Preller is that stupid, but I doubt it. Remember how they got Cashner from the Cubs? Anthony Rizzo. Cashner will be in his last year before FA and will probably get $7.5 mil in Arbitration. Alonso is in his 2nd year of Arb and will probably get a bump to $3.2 mil. So we pick up $10.7 mil and give them about $13 mil of guys like Mercer, Locke, and Alvarez. For those 3 guys you may get Alonso and James Shields because the Shields contract goes up to big numbers in 2016.

      Try looking at your trade from their perspective.

    • That SD trade would seem to be a “rebuild” move for SD, and idk why that would be likely given they do have some solid things to build around. Not seeing them downgrading at SP and dealing with Pedro’s defense after all their defensive issues last year.

      And as a point of reference, NH pretty much said they see Kang as a 3Bmen going forward. Which makes sense due to an almost assured decrease in range due to injury.

    • Kang as a SS at all after that horrendous knee injury is dreaming. You had better hope he is even capable of playing third base. Hanson and Harrison are not options for SS, at least if you want to contend for the post season. Those facts have been well stated here and in other spots numerous times by the way.

  • It is important to remember that the calendar includes the Park posting – as i understand how this works we will know by Friday who gets to negotiate with him. While it would be nice for that to be the Pirates – if it is not then the Bucs would probably look at how the team adding Park is fixed at first base. AND if it is the Bucs then moving Pedro and freeing up a roster spot gets a bit more urgent.

    • Idk about urgent. If we started talks with Park after winning the posting bid, its one less option on the market for other teams. They then have to choose between FA options (so Lind and crappy others) or a trade.

      Really, if we signed Park it’d depress the 1B market for others. We’d have all winter to try to find a deal.

  • Of the folks still in Arbitration, the club will prepare for giving numbers Dec 2 for all, but I think lots of conversations with other clubs regarding Walker, Melancon, and Alvarez. Those discussions may not result in anything so the Pirates may have to prove their resolve to keep all three. Right now is bargain hunting, kicking the tires – they may all be with the Pirates to start 2016, but teams looking for a DH could do very well getting a bat like Alvarez. Cleveland’s DH was Nick Swisher for $15 mil and his numbers in only 100 AB’s were 198/261/297/558. The White Sox are stuck with LaRoche or they would definitely be a possibility. B’more?

    Other than Happ, I think all of the other FA’s will be gone. Blanton did well, but the Pirates do not pay much for a 3rd or 4th RHRP figuring Melancon, Hughes and Caminero are all back in 2016. There are also a few RHSP’s who may get some time in the BP.

  • Keeping these guys on the 40 Man does not make sense–Jaff Decker OF, Florimon SS Bobby LaFromboise ,RP Tony Sanchez unless they can eject them when the Rule 5 protection takes place.

    • Bill: I think Decker and Flo still have value to the club – the other two cannot help the team.

      • Hate to see a Rule 5 loss because we are keeping bit players. But I am thinking its still way to early we have until 12/10.

        • Cant imagine any team is going to roster Tony Sanchez for most of the year, so no Rule 5 issue there. Same goes for Florimon unless some team totally changed its mind since the last time he was easily available.

          I also dont see anyone nabbing LaFromboise, he’s a soft-ish tossing reliever with rather middle results in AAA. Not so young you take the upside. Id worry only about Decker, and even then we have so much depth in the OF that the options for 4th OF arent scarce.

          • I think the players you mentioned go through waivers not the Rule V Draft. I do think all of them (not sure of Lafromboise) need to be kept to in majors because their waivers have been used

  • My heart says this is the year NH goes big and makes a splash. My brain says that’s not gonna happen and they’ll just make conservative moves.

    • Maybe this year, maybe not. But if it doesn’t happen soon then he either has zero heart and incredibly strong will power. Nobody. not Beane, not Moore, sticks to “the plan” forever. At some point they get sick of losing and break the mold, whether that works or not.

      • I’m a little torn, too. A part of me wants to make a big, splashy, decisive move. But in reality, you’d have to deplete, if not outright destroy, your farm system to get the sort of player who’d actually make that much of a difference. And what sort of outcome would qualify the move as a success? Ninety-eight wins and a team with enough talent to win the World Series?

        We have that now.

        • Wouldnt really destroy the farm system. Say you give up 2 quality prospects and nab a SP. We have enough depth that we’d still have a decent farm system. There is no trade that’d end up with us losing Bell+Taillon+Glasnow+Meadows. If you lose 2 of those guys, you still have the other 2 and likely a quality ML addition.

          • In the abstract, I don’t disagree. I’d have to see which two minor leaguers we were parting with and which starter we were getting back before I was convinced, though.

            But again, the point I’m making is that 98 wins is more than enough to win your division going away most seasons. And when I look at the two teams in this year’s World Series, I don’t anyone the Pirates couldn’t have beaten if they’d gotten past Arrietta. Not saying they would have, but they certainly could have.

            With that in mind, our first order of business should just be filling the existing holes and replacing the people who’ll be leaving. Take care of that and with modest improvements by young players like Polanco and Marte, you’ve got a 100-win team. Can you realistically build a roster with the expectation coming into the season it will be better than that? Is it worth giving up value to try?

            • I always shy away from assuming a team that wins 98, if it gets better, wins 100. We can get better and win 94 because 100 is tough to do once, no less twice.

              If NH wanted to, i think they could do a bit better than that but it’d cost some potentially big future talent (but also potentially see those guys not progress and be marginal). They could re sign Happ, fill out the bench, and make a splash trade and it’d be better. Money might mitigate that depending on what the splash is, but PGH could afford to find a 1 year SP. Or SS, but the fit there seems tougher.

        • Very much agree with your last lines, Jeff, but no that’s not what outcome would qualify success. Winning is, pure and simple.

          I’ve personally thought some of Huntington’s comments this fall, which have gotten oddly little publicity, were quite out of character. He’s talked openly about the team needing to get better in order to reach their goals, about not doing enough to make that happen. Regardless if, as you correctly point out, the talent was there already.

        • well we had that THIS year- it is the past, we no longer have that team. You have to remember that

      • I could see it next offseason. He lets Taillon and Glasnow both arrive (or basically arrive if one of them only gets late season work this year) and throws his chips all in with a bit of Cutch contract remaining. Not really sure what that’d mean acquisition wise (1B would be bold, SP would be a move to make the rotation lethal).

        Not sure i get that vibe this offseason.

        • Shortstop is the obvious move to me.

          If you got NH juiced up enough to speak without a filter, I’d be shocked if shortstop wasn’t his “Moby Dick”. Missed on Machado and JP Crawford(regardless of the actual picks being justified), drafted one R1 SS with big upside only to see him go down with a catastrophic should injury, goes all the way to Korea to sign another SS with big upside only to see him touch it before he himself goes down with a catastrophic leg injury.

          Maybe the timing doesn’t work out, since this is obviously a huge move, but of all the positions I’d say this is the one with the greatest room for improvement. First base is also the easy answer, but not the kind of value I see Huntington, er, valuing.

          • Idk why i forgot SS, that really is obvious. That’d be it for sure. It’d take a big deal to pry away a big time SS (or sign him) and it’s solve a big hole.

            • Does it make sense at all to try to swing a deal with the Cubs even for a SS?

              • I think the dirty little secret about all that Cubs Middle infield depth is that they’re keeping the only one worthwhile (Russell).

                Castro isn’t actually a shortstop you want playing shortstop and I’ll be shocked at this point if Baez ever figures it out. That approach won’t cut it.

            • There have been a handful of extremely talented shortstops get traded around in the past 2 years with not huge returns. Each time I saw I cringed because we could have offered more

          • Here’s a good one for you: Alcides Escobar. Has a club option for next year at a very reasonable $5.25M…and the Royals have Raul Mondesi Jr and Christian Colon as replacements. You might not love the bat (does not seem to profile as much of an upgrade over Mercer) but he has a good glove (with a really nice UZR and UZR150) and provided a full win over Mercer this year. Not an ideal fit, but not a terrible addition at the right cost.

            Or, heck, maybe the Royals would be interested in trading Colon. That would be a buy-low option that could prove to have huge upside.

        • That timing makes sense, but I could also see this winter being the big shakeup.

          He’s given this “core” three tries and they’ve only gotten past the Wild Card once. Not necessarily advocating this, but I could see him ripping the bandaid off by shedding the three big arb cases for prospects and either signing someone who pushes the budget north of $110m or trading for that guy using young MLB chip/high minors prospects. Or a combination of both.

          Still probably not likely, but the tone of his recent interviews has struck me as different than the past…talking about results more than process, adding offense (specifically power), etc…

          • I could easily see getting rid of Pedro+Walker and using that money to go after a “not typical NH guy”. Id take Desmond.

            Wouldnt shock me to see him try to trade Melancon. Could flip Melancon for a more prospect laden deal, lose Pedro+Walker and have plenty to fish for prize fish.

            • I would be interested to know what it would take to pry Abreu away from the White Sox. Maybe you make a swap with the Sox for Abreu and the prospects you lose there you gain back in a deal of Melancon. The price on Abreu is inexpensive enough that he might not be a chip that the Sox want to part with.

              • Seems like he’s the one guy they are most likely to keep. Cheap for his value, controlled for awhile, and good. If they are going into rebuild mode, he’s still one they can build around and look to be productive. Not sure they’ll move him at all.

                • If they want to rebuild, he is the one player whom can help them accomplish it. Holding on to him doesn’t do them any good. By the time the Sox are relevant, he will be gone anyways

                  • I dont see them as 4 years away from contending, not in that division. They could do a quick dusting of that roster and be non awful in 2 years. Without him, its a guaranteed intense rebuild with 2-3 years of lacking on field product. With him and some of the younger pieces, they arent all that far away from being good.

                    • The teams whom have gone with the more radical rebuild are looking really good right now (cubs, mets, astros,twins) I would think that is the model to follow right now

                    • Thats void of the current talent in the organization. Yes, some teams do need to scrap and reboot. But thats absolutely not true of all teams, and its dumb to default that because some teams did it well.

                      CHW arent in the spot HOU was, with little to no quality prospect depth and a seriously lacking team. If they keep Samardzjia and he has a non career worst year, that 1-2 is fine and they shop for a reasonable mid rotation arm. Then they rely on some decent young talent to help them in a terrible division.

                      Sox have the shell of a fine team, and they’d actually have to get rid of a ton of talent to be bad. Sale+Samardzjia+Abreu is enough to build around, with complimentary pieces and a few nice young guys.

                    • I see your point, I just disagree on the amount of ML talent on the sox. 3 players is not even close to enough to build around. If it was- they’d be better now

                    • 3 high quality players, more than a few quality surrounding options. A true TOR type arm and a legit power threat is great, and they have young options like Trayce Thompson to keep building. Really, with Thompson and Eaton you have two solid young OFer slated for years. Those two have 6-8 WAR potential combined.

                      The rotation has Sale+a rather fine option in Quintana at consistent 5 WAR. If Rodon is only mid rotation quality its a formidable rotation. They need IF help, but the OF+rotation+Abreu is plenty to build around. Too much to sell at any rate. They’d be wasting what has become good value deal years for Quintana/Sale/ Eaton and rookie years of Thompson.

                    • Again- your post is solid, I can’t argue with the statements themselves because there is some upside on that team. I think we disagree on how those players will develop and whether or not they can win with them. You could be right, and if their front office agrees, they won’t trade him. If they aren’t sure……they could deal him for a strong enough price. If you traded him for a heist like Glasnow, Bell, and Ramirez for example, that isn’t a major rebuild, you are getting players who can help you win in 2017 and making your team far better than it is with just abreu, you can’t argue that. Adding a 2nd top of the rotation arm would also make this team WAY more formidable, it can go out and replace Jose on the market with another power bat like Davis if they so desire, what do they really lose?

                    • First, that trade never happens. Even for Abrue you dont get 2 top 100 prospects and another top 10 system prospect.

                      But mostly, its not a sign they are looking to win next year. They’d lose their biggest hitter and replace him with 0 legit power/impact bats. The offense would be far less and they’d be all upside.

                      As i look at that roster, they can compete relatively well next year and prepare for being contenders for awhile. DET is full rebuild, MIN isnt overhwhelming, CLE is a giant question mark, and then KC. So CHW has every reason to keep their biggest stars in thinking they could realistically win 85ish games next year.

                    • …..and just for the record, completely discounting the last series at the end of the year which meant nothing for the Mets and has to be thrown out, the Mets were 6-0 against Washington after the Cespedes trade-

                  • That was my thought…also I figured someone like Bell helps their rebuild much more (he actually will be around to see it come about) than Abreu.

                    • You would think- Bell and Glasnow- and maybe throw in someone like harold Ramirez, and you’d get it done

              • When you factor his salary and the ransom they’d have to pay in prospects, probably better off taking a chance on Park.

                • I think this is a very smart move. We cant spend the money as we used to in the draft…and although it is not quite the same (you’re buying a player who is in his prime instead of a young, controllable prospect)…you get a player at a position of dire need.

            • Along those lines, the combined salary of Pedro, Walker, and Melancon could afford them David Price, and remaining room in the budget could be used for Chris Davis, and still having $8-$10M left to shop for bargains (and they’d have to, with bullpen spots to fill).

              • Unless you’re expecting a $130M ball club, I think you’ll be surprised to see how little room Huntington has to work with.

              • I dont see any way they are able to do all of that. No way they can have basically 40 million tied into 4 guys (Melancon+Walker+Pedro+Davis) and not be way beyond their payroll limitations.

                Quick math has the projected arb raises+guys under contract=roughly 97-98 million. Thats without small number guys like Cole and Polanco. So somewhere between 95 and 100 million if we just take the team we have, pay raises, and say 5-10 for filling out the bench and bullpen. Not a ton of room to add that Davis money unless we run 120 million+.

                We dont really have a ton of room to bring most guys back and go find 20 million in the payroll with ease. Not if they follow the pattern of leaving room to increase payroll during the season.

                • If you add up all the guys under contract and projected raises, it’s currently $90M with a 6 open 40-man slots. Melancon, Walker, and Pedro project to make around $29M of that.

            • I often say the same thing and then think, “yea and
              they both go to the AL where Pedro hits nearly 40 HR
              and hits .240 and Walker hits .290 and hits 25 HR
              and I spend the a lot of time banging my head
              against the wall.”

              • Honestly, even if they both did that i’d be content not having them.

                Walker i’d miss more, but even Pedro going off and hitting 3-0-40 HRs with typical AVG and OBP still wont make me cringe. Id just be happy he wasnt muffing a large deal of easy plays. If we got some random C prospect in return id be pissy but hopefully he has B prospect value.

            • what exactly what you do with Ian Desmond?

              • Either SS or 2B. It’d be buying into/scouting enough to trust his 2nd half was more akin to his baseline production. Power is likely to be something they look for, so a 110+ wRC+ with 20 HR power up the middle isnt nothing.

                Where he plays would be a matter of what they trust in his defense.

                • I dont think Desmond can be a reliable SS on a team heavy in a GB approach.

                • I’d sooner shoot him than put him at shortstop. If you put him at 2nd, you really don’t create much of a benefit over walker for the price….whom already has hit 20 before and averaging around 15

                  • He hit 20 once in a career year and shows little signs of repeating that. Walker’s power isnt the same as Desmond, really not close. Desmond is consistently hitting 20 and peaking mid 20s.

                    If teams think his worst year is likely to be repeated, pass on him. But his second half was solid and by all accounts he’s good value somewhere on the IF and provides power this team may really need. Surely you arent throwing 20 million at him, but he’d at least be Walker on offense overall and better on defense. His defense showed plenty of improvement in the 2nd half, to the point i wouldnt be shocked if he played through injury since he posted oddly poor offense AND defensive numbers and then suddenly returned to career level norms.

                    • I’ll give you that Walker probably won’t hit more than 20 again, but you can count on him for 15-17, is 22-25 that much of an upgrade that’s worth the money? There is no guarantee that he’ll be better on defense since he’d be playing a new position, and was downright awful at shortstop- there is certainly a good chance he’ll rebound like castro did, but that’s certainly not a given. I don’t have a problem with that move…..but I just don’t see it adding much value overall, and certainly not making our defense stronger which should be much more important right now than adding power

          • The talking of adding power is perplexing. Where exactly are they going to upgrade?

            Barring a trade, LF, CF, RF, 3B, & C are set. Even with a trade, only in RF could they reasonably afford to upgrade in the power department.

            2B? Even if you let Walker go, it will be hard to upgrade over him. 39 HR in two seasons is nearly impossible to “upgrade”.

            1B? Pedro may be going, going, gone but upgrading from his power output would still be difficult, and expensive if it’s a FA. Who would that be? Chris Davis would be an upgrade. But Park is a question mark. Bell is unproven and doesn’t have the glove or power yet. I could see Morse being an overall upgrade if he plays to his career numbers, but even then his power is not greater than Pedro’s.

            SS? Yeah, Mercer doesn’t hit for much power, but SS is not typically the place you look for power because it is so expensive there, moreso if you want a guy who can field, too. Desmond, maybe? (I hope not)

            So… unless they are planning to deal Polanco or sign a big FA 1B, I don’t see realistically where they are going to upgrade their power.

            • And that’s exactly what makes me think they might surprise us. Sawchick is one of the good guys, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that his questions weren’t loaded or Huntington’s answers parsed to make it sound like more than what he actually thinks. Power sure sounds like it’ll be a priority.

              Reading closer, it sounds like Huntington expects and/or plans to get more out of the guys they do have. That part makes sense, as long as they have an actual plan. Marte and Polanco both could easily add power, but it’ll take deliberate changes to the swing and approach geared toward more fly balls. Same with Josh Bell. I found the discussion strange, given how little they seemed to have focused on power in trades and draft as of late.

              • With Hurdle stating that he would love to have a true number four and NH declaring that he is looking to add offense and power( only some of it from the current roster), I also think we will see a major move.
                I believe Walker stays, Pedro goes, Melancon is made available for the right package, and a legitimate attempt is made to sign Happ.
                Where will NH look to upgrade? SS and First Base. He has also said he will find a starter.(Happ?) This may be the offseason that we see top prospects dealt, painfully along with Melancon. Does Pedro have value to another team? Can we affordably upgrade SS and FB by dealing Melancon, Pedro and two of our top five prospects? First off, I take a run at Park and sign Happ if it can happen at a reasonable number.

            • Something else I’ve noticed lately, possibly related, has been playoff revenue estimates. I’ve seen numbers upwards of $50m-$100m estimated depending on market and how long the team lasts.

              That’s a huge carrot to dangle in front of a club like the Pirates, and it wouldn’t be very hard at all to justify a big sign/trade if you thought that’s what was needed. All KC’s moves this year easily paid for themselves, and then some. The Front Office knows more than anyone how much money they made just from that Division Series in ’13. Getting back there by winning the Division, which has been discussed far more than the World Series as the goal, could be a factor.

              • I think this is an interesting point…a way for the team to supplement revenue before the TV contract expires/can be re-done. I think that the team could gamble on something like this. Bring back Happ, gamble on a couple relievers, and make a big move aimed at getting you over the hump and, ultimately, pay for itself financially as well as in the win/loss column.

          • Say it out loud, “My team won 98 games, it’s time to shake up the roster!”

            Does that even begin to make sense on any level to you?

            • Scott, talk to the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not me.

              You get so butthurt and defensive that apparently you haven’t realized I’m talking about what the *General Manager* is saying, not me.

          • Agreed. The tone and content of the NH interviews are signaling a move for offense from outside the organization. He also has stated flatly that he will add a starter…..and he wasn’t talking Taillon or Glasnow.

      • The majority of his best prospects haven’t even reached majors and you think he’s going to get sick of losing soon?

        • Again, listen to what he’s actually saying. You have this fantastic ability to read people’s minds, always trying to tell us what they really think.

    • Which moves would be a “splash”?

      • Spending $15MM+ per year on a free agent for multiple years or trading multiple prospects for a big name major leaguer.

    • Last year they added Kang, Cervelli, Burnett, and Liriano. Would those moves be considered a splash or conservative? Either way, I’d take those results.

      • It’s also terribly unreasonable to expect that kind of success to be repeated.

        Huntington, by any measure, had a banner year given the type of moves that succeeded. That kind of success simply doesn’t happen year in, year out.

        Before you reply, that does not mean “big splashes” do. Just stating that the kind of success Huntington had most certainly will not be repeated with any sort of frequency.

        • He’s added Volquez, Liriano, Martin, Melancon, and Burnett in previous years. This wasn’t a one time thing.

          • And those were not one off season.

            To expect what Huntington did last year – both quality and quantity – with any sort of frequency under appreciates just how good he was. Nobody is that good.

            • Liriano, Martin, and Melancon were in one off-season. How is that considerably different than last off-season?

              • And what happened the year before? And the year after?

                I honestly cannot believe you truly think that Huntington is good enough to do something nobody before him has been able to do, consistently – year in, year out – have incredible off seasons made up of only “value” moves.

                Seriously. Who else has done that?

                Even the best GM’s in the game with unlimited resources don’t have that kind of success rate. Just the nature of the game.

                Yes, of course you’d take results like last year. You, and anyone else, will also be lucky to see that kind of success replicated.

                • The year before their only success was Burnett, although they were dealing with a different class of free agents as a non-contender.

                  The year after their only big free agent signing was Volquez. They also got Worley for free at the end of Spring Training.

                  But forget the actual years for a second and look at the volume of work. What about their continued success in finding values makes you think they won’t continue finding more values in the future?

                  • Now you’re moving the goalposts, Tim. Never did I ever come close to saying the Pirates will flatly stop finding value moves in the future.

                    I very clearly said that the *quality* and *quantity* of value moves that hit last year, that enabled the team to have the success they did, is incredible and most certainly not sustainable. Putting those kind of expectations on him simply isn’t fair. Nobody is that good.

                    Vance Worley’s of the world aren’t getting this team to the next step.

                    • I never set any goalposts to begin with. My original comment was addressing the idea of a splash. You’re the one who took it to this very specific argument. I provided two years in the last three where they had several value moves that worked out (Melancon/Martin/Liriano pre-2013 and Cervelli/Liriano/Burnett/Kang pre-2015). I also pointed out that they’ve got a strong track record with value moves that isn’t limited to these two years.

                      My idea is that they don’t need a “splash”. They just need to continue making the smart moves that have helped to make them so successful the last few years.

          • I think Huntington will do fine in the offseason. I think the Pirates will enough home runs even without Pedro. I think the backend of the rotation and a plan for first is most pressing. Don’t really see why we couldn’t have platoon at first with Morse and Bell
            An upgrade at shortstop moving Mercer to utility role might work. But frankly my biggest worry is the backend of rotation. We need to get these young guys up as soon as they are ready and try to resign Happ

      • I think those moves were inbetween. In a way they were underwhelming but I also thought they were solid under the radar moves.

    • Pretty clear to me NH will stick to the analytics based approach. If and when he analytics point to a fan-approved “big splash” then it will be so. He cares not casual fan opinion

  • Definitely a more interesting off-season than usual for PBC. I predict the vocal minority will be in full throat well before Christmas complaining about the Owner, GM and anyone who doesn’t agree the Pirates should break the bank.

    If you fit this category, take note the Royals won the WS and did it because they let their core players mature together, not because they outspent the competition.

    • It’ll be fun to see the argument over why KC has succeeded happen a ton this offseason. You’ll have some feeling it was the maturation of key core players (Cain, Moustakas, Hosmer) along with the acquisitions of guys like Zobrist and SP that did it.

      Others will point to the big moves and say you gotta make that deal to put your team over the top. Both with validity and valid points. One interesting thing I did notice recently was how long it took guys like Moustakas and Cain (and even Gordon) to mature into above average hitters.

      I dont want to imagine what some in PGH would say if we took a guy round 1 top 5 overall and it took him a Moustakas length of time before his first above average hitting season. It’d be akin to Polanco struggling for the next two years and then having a breakout season.

      • Or trading Wil Meyers causing NMRs head to explode.

        • Ha, that’s funny, but my first thought when I read Scott’s post is that judging by his previous words he’d likely sh*t a brick if Huntington made the kind of “big splash” moves Dayton Moore is getting praised for right now.

          Me, I’m past the “sell the farm” fear mongering. Media has overplayed that hand one too many times. Truth seems to be both that “big splash” moves aren’t required *and* that making them rarely, if ever, derails a club’s long-range plan. If one trade, no matter how big, ruins your farm system then you never had one worth keeping to begin with.

          • Without a doubt more of a middle ground than what many decry after these deals are made.

            Even KC doesnt have a terrible group of prospects after the two trades they made (i suppose3 counting Zobrist). They are lacking in upper level top pitching arms, which may be an issue when Cueto leaves, but they arent totally bottom barrel.

            I’ll be very interested to see what KC does going forward. Their pitching seems to be some big help to bridge the gap to the young guns a few years away, and in a few years Cain+Hosmer+Moustakas will need paid.

            • The beauty of KC’s situation is that at this point, *it doesn’t f’ng matter*.

              The banner will be up on Opening Day, and I guarantee the overwhelming majority of fans care a hell of a lot more about that than who’s on 3B in 2018.

              You obviously can’t count on that outcome from “big splash” moves, but I think it’s very clear why that becomes a draw for even the most risk-averse GMs/Owners.

          • That’s pretty funny NMR. Don’t hold your breath on either NH making a big splash move or me freaking out if he does. Neither will happen.

            Saying acquiring Cueto and Zobrist caused them to win it all is like saying the cherry on top makes the sundae. The ice cream and toppings make the sundae, the cherry just is the center of attention.

            I will agree with your statement on big moves and farm system though.

      • The main reason KC won was they played the Mets, the weakest of the five NL teams that entered the post season.

        • Thats the playoffs though. Its not unusual for a team that wasnt “as good” over 162 games to make it deep. KC had to get beyond the Blue Jays, and win enough games beyond that to do it.

          No matter who you face, it aint easy. Main reason they won was the played well.

          • Wasn’t trying to Dis KC. They won fair and square, they just didn’t come close to their toughest possible test.

        • They did the same thing last year.

      • Ironically, Happ performed much better than Cueto the last two months. Even though Cueto was a major trade and Happ deal hardly even registered w most fans when it occurred. And if it did cause a reaction, it was likely a negative one.

        The primary reason KC won the WS and the Pirates were knocked out in the WC round is the fact KC isn’t in same division as STL. One could even argue KC was only 4th best Central team this year and may not have even been a playoff team if in NL.

      • And why aren’t people raiding KC’s org?

    • The Royals did let some of their youth mature but they also made a number of bold moves that were laughed at on this board (Big trade with Tampa a number of years ago that brought them Wade Davis and Shields for top prospects). When the Royals had a chance they have made the moves for players such as Cueto, Shields, Davis, Rios, (a guy no one on this board wanted) Volquez among others. The Royals did what it took to get them to the championship and it has paid off. I am glad for them and their management. I hope the Pirates will do the same when the time comes.

      • This isnt really directed toward the theme of the post, but more nitpicking….but everyone who didnt want Rios was right. Rios was not a win for KC, and its why they had to part with more prospects for Zobrist.

        Rios was a hot mess and nowhere near worth his price. They hit on guys like Morales having a randomly good year, but Rios was a mess. KC paid 11 million for no offense and replacement level value.

        Im happy for KC, and after all these years thats a fanbase that deserves the win and to feel good. But like many years, we might wanna cool the jets before assuming how KC did it is what we gotta do. You can look at any 5 year period and see 3-4 vastly different types of teams winning it all. Some small ball and pitching, some power, some 1 big arm and enough offense. One common trait, they all made the playoffs. After that, roll them dice.

        • Rios has been one of the most maddeningly inconsistent players from year to year over the past 6 years that I’ve ever seen in major league baseball. Its amazing if you look at his stats how “all over the place” he is

      • They got Wade Davis, Pirates got Melancon. They got Cueto at deadline, Pirates got Happ, who happened to pitch better. They got Volquez because Pirates chose to sign Liriano instead of him. Liriano was better.

        What you’re posting is called revisionist history. But then again winners write the history books.

        Their homegrown talent was majority of reason why they won title.

  • “PS: In my opinion, Cervelli is a steal at $2.5m.”

    Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  • As I got up this morning, I said, “Well, I hope Tim has out his calendar
    today so we all can keep up with what happens the next couple of
    weeks and months. Thank you.

    Any chance this can be pinned somewhere so
    we can quickly reference it or just save it to favorites?

    PS: In my opinion, Cervelli is a steal at $2.5m.

  • Nothing happening!