Pirates Listening to Offers on Numerous Players, Considering Cervelli Extension

Jon Heyman is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have listened to offers for all seven players who have one year left on their contract with the team. That list would include Mark Melancon, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Charlie Morton and Michael Morse. He also mentions that the Pirates have considered signing Cervelli to an extension.

We have heard rumors about Melancon and Alvarez being on the trading block.ย Walker falls into that category too, as someone who is about to make a lot of money in his fourth year of arbitration. The other four players seem like they’re just doing their due diligence, to see what others teams would offer. Morse and Morton likely have very low value due to their contract/performance, while the two catchers have very reasonable contracts that offer a lot of value for the money.

Cervelli had a terrific breakout season in 2015, hitting .295/.370/.401 in 130 games, which is 37 more games than he’s ever played in a season. The Pirates have Elias Diaz waiting in the wings at AAA, where he was voted the best defensive catcher in all of the minors this season. It would seem that with Cervelli’s past that includes numerous injuries, plus Diaz being Major League ready soon, and eventually Reese McGuire arriving, the Pirates would need a fairly team-friendly deal to want to lock up Cervelli after the 2016 season. He played 250 games over seven seasons before joining the Pirates, so you’re taking a chance that a catcher entering his age 30 season is going to continue to provide value, while also avoiding the injury bug that had plagued him during his career.

If they do lock him up, then that would give them an excess of catching to deal from to strengthen other areas. The short-term problem though is that the value on McGuire isn’t too high now since his offense hasn’t caught up to his defense yet, while Diaz is the only strong third string option in the system. Tony Sanchez had a very poor season in AAA in 2015, and wasn’t a September call-up, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his time with the Pirates end this winter.

  • Based on Neal’s 2012 experience, he wants to make sure we have emergency catchers. I thinks he keeps Cervelli and either Stewart (likely) or Sanchez (less likely) in the majors. He then hopes to keep Diaz and Stallings in AAA.

  • …..or we can sell high on cervelli

    • Not sure the return is high enough to justify losing that level of production.

      Even if he dips but stays healthy he’s looking at 2-3 WAR. Only 1 solid year of play will still have teams doubting his health until about 2 healthy months into next season. Diaz did fine in AAA, but (and im big on Diaz and his future) he could use another half season of reps before facing vastly improved pitching.

      • Maybe the return would be OK to Baltimore if/when they lose Matt.

        • Could be, but BAL seems to have too many areas of need to deal with. Seems like they’ll lose Weiters and Davis potentially, and i dont think they have the pitching to overcome that loss.

          Might be time to take a down year for BAL and gameplan ahead. Though as you look at the Orioles system, tell me the description of Mychal Givens doesnt reek of PGH type:

          “He has plenty of arm strength, throwing his fastball in the 92-94 mph range, using a sidearm motion and getting lower as he gets more comfortable. It’s a heavy ball with hard sink, one that generated a 2.27 groundout-to-airout ratio in 2014. He complements it with a hard slider and even throws a serviceable changeup. The one thing that had held Givens back had been his command, walking 5.2 per nine innings entering 2015.”

          It’d be one whirlwind of an offseason if they unloaded Cervelli for that, and moved Melancon for a sizable return.

      • You don’t know that, we can only guess at what his value is currently.

        • Its a bit more than a pure guess, with market situations and his stats/WAR known.

          More an educated guess than “throw something at the wall”.

          • Lots of things are better than “throw something at the wall” hardly means it is even remotely accurate since catching valuations are still highly speculative

  • Diaz deserves a shot, and will never get it with cervelli around. As much as I’m happy we have Cervelli, i have no interest in holding onto him past this year, although I wouldn’t mind locking up stewart for another year or two to comeback diaz

    • Fair point, but they could actually utilize both well and get both decent playing time. It’d fit in with their want to keep guys as fresh as possible and you’d get a rookie valuable experience.

      Next year on they could roll with Cervelli and Diaz, with Cervelli getting the majority of the playing time in 2017 as Diaz adjusts while playing ~50 games. The following year, their results/progression dictate if you flip that playing time. It also allows Cervelli to stay fresh and hopefully avoid injury.

      I wouldnt hate just letting him play out his deal and leave, but we would have quality depth if we got Cervelli for 3 more years.

      • We could never eat Cervelli’s “extended” salary as a backup with the
        other needs we have. It’s a total waste of resources when you can have
        Stewart for 1/8th of the price and still provide quality defense which
        is all you want from that position

        • Stewart for 1 year. We’d have Stewart+Cervelli, and then Cervelli+Diaz in my scenario. We’d really not be eating a ton since, as a backup, even him making 10 million is made eatable by Diaz making minimum.

          You’d have a catching situation where 1 makes less than 2 WAR per year and one is on a rookie deal. Hardly something that hamstrings you financially.

          • No, it’s not. Because we are already counting on Diaz at league minimum going forward to afford OTHER positions at need. We have Cervelli and it means not having the funds to sign Polanco long term to a decent deal or letting go of another player like Kang down the road vs. extending him. You aren’t thinking 3 dimensionally here.

            • Why does 10 million a year to a 2 WAR catcher restrict us from those extensions? Did 10 million just become 30?

              You’d have to have under 1 WAR to have 10 million be terrible value for his services, and 10 million per year doesnt break even PGH’s bank. You’re moving on from Pedro+Walker+likely Melancon either this offseason or next, meaning 30 million freed up. Assuming options like Hanson are given starting role and not a pricey FA, the team isnt money strapped due to young players.

              • Luke- no offense man but you just don’t get it. It restricts it because it gives us NO added value considering you expect to get that same production from Diaz in 2016-2017 for basically nothing. All you are doing is paying 10 million for 2 WAR when you don’t need to, and that isn’t being a smart small market team. We can’t afford to pay 5 million per WAR, that’d be a pay role of …..roughly 150 million if you use 68 wins as a zero WAR team to equal the 98 wins we had this year. Would we be trading Melancon or Pedro right now if we had an EXTRA 10 million? Just look how that impacts future moves.

              • Unless you think Tim is an idiot, you are completely off the reservation regarding our payrole obligations and thereby the flexibility the have to spend. If you are saying you’d prefer us signing Cervelli long term over signing a starting pitcher, late inning reliever, better shortstop, or first baseman- then so be it, but to me its a stupid investment.

              • Pedro/walker/melancon combined made under 20 million in 2015 for the record….. Walker 8 million, Pedro 5.75, Melancon 5.4. We could get rid of ALL 3 and still only “save” 18 million going into 2016. How did 18 million become 30? The real question here, is how much extra value do you see the combination of Cervelli and Diaz providing over Diaz and Stewart or Diaz and some other equally decent but cheap backup. Do you honestly think having Cervelli with Diaz is going to provide an extra 2 WAR per year? – If so, i’d love to see how you get to that projection.

                • You ignored arb raises, which defeats the entire point of the argument.

                  You dont save what you already paid them, you save what they will make. Which projects to be 10 for Walker and Melancon and around 8 for Pedro. 28.

                  And yes, i honestly think Cervelli provides 2 WAR is he’s healthy. And as a part time player, he stays fresher. Wont be a 3-4 WAR guy, but playing 70 games allows him to stay healthy and come up with 1.5-2 WAR and be a fine contract at 10 million. Finding a “decent” backup catcher actually isnt all that easy, at least not for 4 million a year.

  • Since we don’t have a message board here I’ll try this post over here…Andrelton Simmons has been traded to the Halos. Newcomb was the big piece going back…Aybar also was included. Not a huge package honestly.

    • And Ellis, pitchers 22 and 23 both ready for AAA (drafted in the 1/3 rounds), plus a former GG shortstop as a replacement for an awesome fielder with a career OPS+ of 85? I’d take that risk.

      • You mean you like the deal for Atlanta? I am not blown away with their return but it seems stupid as hell for the Halos

        • For ATL? Yes. They just stockpiled two arms and replaced an incredible defensive player with a very good defensive player.

          It’s not a flashy immediate-returns deal, but Simmons has been slipping offensively for a couple of years now. Getting a couple of good arms for him isn’t bad at all.

          • Im surprised the Halos added Aybar in it. He’d be a fine backup type. ATL likely isnt trying to seriously contend right now, but getting Aybar allows them to look non awful while they also get some quality young arms.

            I will say that Ellis isnt as polished as i think you make it sound. He could easily repeat AA and work on his very much still hit and miss command. Lotta stuff, good upside, work to be done. 62 Ks to 43 BBs isnt a rate you promote to AAA right away.

            • I think Aybar might be a decent add for a team…

              • I think ATL sees value in keeping that team non awful though. He would be good value, but until ATL gets rid of Miller and Freeman i dont think they are totally tanking.

                They seem to be wanting to stay relatively decent while loading up on young talent. Idk if i like that theory for a team, but they could stay 75-80 win decent for 1-2 years and reload for 2018.

            • It’s possible…but he’d still be ready by mid ’17. Not an ace…but I’d take two #3’s for a slick fielding shortstop everyday.

      • Would you have any interest in Aybar?

    • In other news…Colby Rasmus becomes the first player to accept a QO.

  • I don’t think I would go beyond two years with Cervelli,
    because of age and history of injuries, but I think I would
    offer 11 million over two years and see what he says.

    Then again, I don’t know much about this stuff.

  • For me Cervelli doesn’t do enough things well enough defensively to warrant an extension unless it is super team friendly ,especially with his injury history. This team needs to improve defensively and while Cervelli is a spark plug and good hitter and pitch framer, I’d rather trade Stewart and hand the back up catching duties to Diaz for a year under Cervelli and see where we are after the season. No sense in dealing Morton. He can just play his role as the #5 starter, but we cannot go into the season with both Morton and Locke in the rotation. Your not serious about winning the division with those two both in the mix

  • Pedro to Seattle?

  • 3/33 to Happ, 3/30 to Cervelli. Get r’ done.

    It would lead to rather quality depth for PGH at catcher for awhile.

    • That’s pretty steep for Cervelli.

      He’s projected to get $2.5M in arbitration. So you’re basically saying a 2/$27.5 contract.

      If he’s worth that, it’s probably worth the risk to give the minimum this season, then go with the QO.

      • Its really not steep when considering what his baseline value appears to be if he stays healthy. Cant see any way he dips to below 2 WAR, and 2 WAR+ gives you a value of around 14 million per year.

        So you give him a raise next season for the purpose of buying out a few FA years and keeping depth. If they trust his ability to stay healthy, he’s worth 10 million a year easy. Thats still excess value and you gain years, allowing Diaz to be a backup until he’s ready to take over.

        • If health is the issue, there’s no need to guarantee three years. Pay him his arbitration salary and offer a QO. If he’s healthy for the first year and second…offer another QO. Sure, it might end up costing a little more, but it’s much more reasonable than overpaying for a catcher past 30 with a history of injuries.

          • In no way is it overpaying, thats where we differ.

            In fact, you are saying dont pay him that much, dont pay him that much….but pay him 16 million in one year if he’s healthy.

            Im saying its a risk, but i avoid paying 16 million to him in one year and all that would be needed for even value is about 1 WAR, and he could do that in half a year.

            • Nah, you pay 2.5 this season. If he’s healthy and you really feel cheeky…extend a QO. If he’s healthy after that, extend another.

              It might mean a total of 35 instead of 30, but it’s incremental…so, if he gets hurt this season or next…the team can still back out.

              • Until he declines the QO and you have Diaz and a list of less than great backups.

                He’s not taking a QO if he’s coming off multiple healthy seasons after making little in comparison to his peers.

                The move creates massive depth on the team and costs roughly 1 WAR per year. But thats too rich for our blood in PGH, he might get hurt and cost us a whopping 10 million a year.

    • I hope 3 /33 would get it done for Happ. I just heard on the radio that there might be teams willing to go to a 4th year. The Pirates won’t go there

      • I really, really think he’s got a big market. So many of those other guys cost more money, plus a pick. Makes Happ very attractive in my book.

        • My biggest issue with that is, all those other guys with a pick? They have been waaaaay more consistent. Happ doesnt cost a pick, but he’s been good for 2-3 months.

          Seems like, with the depth of quality SP out there, he’s not setting his own price. Teams have a ton of options to consider and Happ asking for 15 million is him risking early teams balking on that, others finding their first choice, and suddenly he’s at “only” a 2 year deal at 11-12 million.

          • I will be stunned if he gets only 2/20. I don’t think there is any doubt he gets 3 years.

            Believe me, I’m skeptical of Happs Aug/Sept….But baseball GMs get stupid and desperate.

            • That wasnt what i said, i said if he goes “i can get 4 years, lets stick at that” teams may very well balk until he’s late enough into the FA period that teams already have plan A and he’s now looking at a lesser rate.

              He’ll get 3, but him pushing for max value could hurt him. I see it being wise of him to move quick and get a quality deal early when a ton of teams are still looking.

      • Shouldnt go there. Not really sure i buy any “radio” reporter. The Fan aint getting my respect.

        Maybe some team goes 3 years and a 4th year with an opt out clause, but i see no reason any team magically thinks 3 solid months is worth 4 years at 11 million a year. His insane boost in value is already apparent at 3 years 10-15 per year, 4 years is people getting carried away before the market actually materializes.

        Its not like he’s in a down year market where 2-3 great months helps his be clearly worth a ton. Too many fine mid rotation arms to throw 4 around.

    • Way too much for Cervelli…max 3 for $18.

      • I dont think people understand how little 10 million is in baseball. Its not way too much for really anything, 10 million generally shouldnt get you near a 2 WAR player.

        Youd be taking a risk with health, but he’d be giving up millions if he throws out another 3 WAR healthy year.

        He could miss half a season each year and likely be even value.

        • But his Arb is like 2.5 and I think he has one Arb year left after that at likely 5.5 (if he has another good year)…so why give $10M a year.

          • You buy out a FA year and guarantee he’s around until his age likely causes steep decline. He starts for you during needed years and is able to slide into a backup role if/when Diaz is ready.

            It gives McGuire plenty of time to work on his game and be very close to the majors before we lose any quality depth. Team could well go from Cervelli-Diaz, to Diaz-Cervelli, to Diaz-McGuire. If they are going to trust Bell and roll with him, spend money elsewhere to create depth.

  • (Ooops, I mean Meadows “just left.”)

  • Tim–Any news on why just Meadows left Arizona??

    Weren’t you just there? Did you see any issues with him, with his “head,” his play, physically?

  • Tim, do you put any stock into this report: http://www.forbes.com/mlb-valuations/list/

    The Pirates are 17th in revenue, they have one of the higher operating incomes in this report. Why is it that the Pirates are spending less than its comparable teams…Reds, Brewers, Royals, Orioles. I guess I just dont understand why they feel like they cant afford to bring back Walker and Melancon. Its one thing, if theyre doing to sell high on a player and get good return, but I just hope and expect that the payroll will be over 100 million. It should be frankly closer to 110-120 by end of next year.

    • I saw the link was from Forbes, and knew my answer would be no.

      • It shows earnings reports for each team. Regardless, nobody has really ever answered the question why teams in comparable markets spend more than the Pirates do? And I dont equate a high payroll to success, they have proven they can win despite that, but I mean even look at the Royals. The Royals payroll the past year was at 120 million. The Pirates cant do that as well here and there. I’d rather them just be honest and say that they wont do that, versus that they cant. They can, they just choose not to.

        • The Pirates are extremely risk averse financially. They may be spending less than those others team you list, but not by much.

          The difference likely lies in how much risk the club is willing to put into budgeting. Project revenues conservatively and you may think you’re spending as much as you can, but end up well into the black by year end.

          The Pirates absolutely can afford all their arb players and more. Their not robbing the fans blind, but there should be no doubt that an additional $10-20m from where they ended last year is possible without running deficits. And they may very well get there by seasons end.

          • agreed, I think something in the 110-120 range is a fair expectation. I dont expect the moon, I just think they could extend themselves a bit more than they have been.

    • Even if they can afford it it’s just really not smart to pay 10+ million dollars for a relief pitcher for 1 year. There are better ways to spend 10 million. Especially when they have proven time and again they can build a bullpen. They pulled Melancon off the scrap heap they can do it again

      • It’s comments like this that scare the living $#@/ out of me. Nothing against you, it’s just Melancon had a hand in all three of those playoff bullpens. I just don’t know.

        • Not to mention the fact that 2 WAR or so is *absolutely* worthy of $10m. Good luck getting more value than that out of $10m any way other than the draft.

          • That is a very good point about trying to find value at $5M/WAR on the FA market. So it depends on what they got in return, and what it enabled them to do as a result. As a pure salary dump, it would be foolish.

  • I wonder what it would take prospect-wise to snag Shelby Miller from Atlanta.

  • I hope the Pirates have learned their lesson from the last time they extended a late-20s BABIP-fueled breakout player…

    • Too tired to guess but I’ll try anyway. Kendall?

      • J-Hay.

        • Well…….I suppose 2019 and 2020 are team options. I’m going to incur the wraith of NMR but I’ll do it anyway. If he doesn’t get injured do you think his contract is at least in the range of being realistic?

          • Let me rephrase. Does anyone think his 2014 season is repeatable or close to it?

            • Repeatable? No. Close to it? That’s relative.

              It takes a lot of luck to get 98 wins. It’s only happened 7 times in the last decade.

              The Pirates had their share of luck last season…it took Melancon saving 51/53 to get to 98. That’s a 96.23 save percentage…which is utterly insane. Expecting him to be just as good is assuming a lot. Thinking he’ll be better is, pretty much, asking for perfection.

              Somehow the Pirates managed 98 wins with a 122 errors, the Cardinals got 2 more wins with 26 less gaffes and the Cubs had ones less with with 11 less miscues. I think it’s quite a reach to assume the Pirates can, again, lead the league in errors and just barely miss out on the best record in baseball.

              The team played with a blackhole at first base. Burnett is retiring leaving, for the moment, Locke and Morton as the #3/#4. Kang may or may not be back for the season start…Kang may or may not be back in June.

              The overly productive OF was surprisingly healthy in 2015…it’s doubtful all three will play in, at least, 153 games again next season.

              Happ was a miracle…he gave up zero runs in 5/11 starts. I’m going to go out on a limb and say, even if he’s resigned, he won’t repeat that….and neither will anyone else the Pirates plug into his slot.

              The Pirates won 98 last season…a lot of it was luck, a lot of it was players playing over their heads. I’ll take it, but…without major improvements in personnel, they’re just as apt to win 88 as they did the season before.

              • Other than F.C. and Melancon, who or whom over achieved? McCutcheon, J-Hay, Mercer, Polanco all in my opinion underachieved. Walker was at his MLB numbers. Stewart was above average but started about 30 to 40 games.

                • I don’t think I made an argument there were a bunch of overachievers aside from Melancon and Happ (Happ, not Cervelli).

                  The overachievements of just those two probably added 4-5 wins to the final total.

                  The other points I made were that the outfield stayed surprisingly healthy and that’s not likely to happen again and that the team had more errors than any other in the league, but it didn’t seem to cost them the second best record…and that that was more a factor of luck and luck doesn’t last forever.

                • Kang overachieved relative to almost any projections. Cervelli overachieved relative to any opinion of his health. AJ went from injured aging vet to looking like a high quality #3.

                  Some slightly underperformed, others did a bit more than expected.

                  • I actually think Kang underperformed the projections if you take a look…

                    • Not by wRC+. I see almost no one projecting him to do what he did in AVG and OBP, he was seen as a big power guy that may struggle adjusting to big league stuff. That day never really came.

                      What Kang put out was best case scenario level stuff. A force in the 4 hole capable of hitting .280 with quality OBP and 20+ HR power.

          • Not so much that it’s unrealistic – $10m/yr doesn’t buy much in 2016 Major League Baseball – but that it’s production that likely could come from within the system, for free.

            Unless Harrison reestablishes himself as a plus defender starting at 2B, I think it’s going very difficult for him to be more than a 1-1.5 WAR player in a utility role. JHK took his best position.

            I wasn’t wild about the extension at the time because the only reason you keep a guy like him past the years you already control is if you think that breakout with the bat was real, and I’m never going to think it’s a good idea to do so after a season of extreme outliers like he had. He may luck into a high-ish BABIP again, but nobody is a true talent .350 BABIP hitter like he was in 2014, and he certainly not close to a .175 ISO guy to back it up.

        • Wow, waaaayyyy to early to make that judgement call. If Hay doesn’t come through after his injuries Pedro Florimon or Serpico is in the lineup every day and we are losing the wildcard game in Chicago… Ugh, made me think of that………

  • did huntington say today…”it might feel like we’re taking a step back”…yikes that doesnt sound good.

  • I would like to see Cervelli sign a two or three year deal. Can’t see anyone wanting Morton unless he is packaged with Melancon or Walker.

    • Marco Estrada has a higher career FIP than Charlie Morton and not only will decline a Qualifying Offer, but will probably sign somewhere this winter for at least two years.

      Pirates fans understanding of current free agent costs, and therefor what players like Charlie Morton are worth, is laughable sometimes. $8m buys you next to nothing in 2015, and starters of any worth rarely sign for one year contracts. You could absolutely trade Morton if you wanted to.

      • Preach.

        Morton has become this mythical figure that has a power of being useless and sucking the soul out of lives. 8 million for a not replacement level pitcher and some think he is non movable.

        • Then can we please move him?

          • I would, but i also dont think he in any way stops a team from winning a ton of games.

            He’ll win you some games with his performance, lose you some with his performance, and keep you around in a ton of other games. Inconsistent but functional.

            Id get rid of him just because Locke is more likely to stay healthy.

      • Then please do.

      • NMR…..you hit the nail on the head. With all the money flowing into MLB, a pitcher with a 5+era and losing more that he wins require $10+m to sign him. Wher is it in MLB that 4/5 starters are pitching like 2/3 starters? Morton and Locke are better than most 4/5 starters. What made them look bad is how our 1-3 pitched for most of the season.

    • One of the reasons I like the idea of cycling out Melancon, Walker and Alvarez is that makes $30M/year they can point at keepers and Cervelli is one. He’s only making about 3M in 2016 so he might lock up for $21M over 3

  • Rumor out of the meetings is that the White are looking to rebuild. I’d trade a package built around Glasnow and Bell for Sale and Abreu in a heartbeat.

    • Too many years of control in Abreu+Sale for only those two guys.

      I think it’d take 3 upper tier prospects or 2 and ML talent (though not an elite one).

      • That’s why I said build a package around them. That does imply more players doesn’t it…

        • Its a package of about 3-6 top players. You arent getting a TOR arm under control and a legit power threat bat under control for anything but 3 top prospects or 2 and a legit ML option.

          And that might not be enough. Those two players have stupid value due to their contracts.

    • It would take more, much more than that. Four years of Sale for less than the AAV of Liriano? You’re looking at Glasnow, Bell, and something else for that. Four years of prime Abreu for less than $50M? Meadows and Taillon, at the very least.

      But, I agree, I’d do Glasnow/Bell for Sale/Abreu in a heartbeat…and, just as likely as the Sox would accept that offer, I’d also take a Rojas/Hanson for Trout from the Angels.

      • Maybe Glasnow, Bell, Ramirez, McGuire, 2 C-Level pitching prospects, and Alvarez to offset the salary exchange. I’d do that. It’s fun to dream big even if the idea is completely out in left field.

    • For Sale and Abreu we will have to trade our whole top 10 lol

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    November 12, 2015 3:30 pm

    If they cannot package them in trades, I hope the Pirates make the right baseball decisions and let go of Morton and Stewart – and not be cheap and keep them only because they have a year left on their contracts and saddle the team with these two for another year. I guess they could DFA them and see if they will take a demotion to AAA or elect free agency? Addition by subtraction.
    Morse I would hang on to until the Spring at least, until we see how the Walker and Alvarez situations play out – and to see if Bell is ready or not. I would try to move Alvarez – we cannot afford having him play first base – costs us too many games last year. Ideally, Walker goes to first base until Bell is ready. – allows Hansen to take over second base, adding team speed and better range at second base.

    • I don’t think that would be the right baseball decision.

      Diaz might be ready to play in the big leagues but, if so, is learning behind Frankie worth the at bats he needs to get his bat to the level of his glove. Stew is the perfect placeholder. As for Morton, heck, we need 3,4 and 5 starters. Morton was our best starter for a month when he came back from injury. Those wins/starts count. He is what he is and if you put him on the market someone would take his salary no sweat.

    • Morton pitched exactly like a #4 last year, and in the previous two years pitched well in the #3 spot. I find it hilarious that everyone says to get rid of Locke or Morton, assuming that their replacements would be cheap and a definite upgrade. They need to sign another #3 starter, no doubt, but to throw the baby out with the bath water is short sighted. Keep Locke and Morton around until the young arms are ready and then go from there.

      If anyone could suggest a definite upgrade over Morton at less than what he is making now I’d be all ears, but from what I’m seeing from the free agent market is guys that are way out of the Pirates price range, and then there’s guys who will cost as much if not more than Charlie for the same results. Better the devil you know…

  • I feel like they should have kept Soria.

    • Not too late but he apparently is a lot of teams Plan C so he probably won’t be cheap UNLESS he gets blocked out of closer jobs and is looking for work in January… happens to good players every year.

  • “and eventually Reese McGuire arriving”

    McGuire is a promising young prospect who is at best 3-4 years away from being a regular, and IMO he has no business being in the discussion of what to do with the major league roster.

    • He’ll start 2016 in Double-A. I don’t think 3-4 years at best is accurate. He needs work with his offense, but that could come quickly, as he has the tools to be a good hitter.

      • Maybe you’ll turn out to be right. I think the error bars on his future are way too big to count on him arriving. Diaz is two years ahead of him and he doesn’t even have a timeline to the majors yet.

        Anyway, my gut says catchers take a while to reach the majors. So I decided to check a few young catchers that I could recall from recent memory.

        Travis d’Arnaud hit AA in 2011, and became an MLB regular in 2014
        Miguel Montero hit AA in 2005 and became an MLB regular in 2009
        Jesus Montero hit AA in 2009 and became an MLB regular in 2012
        Buster Posey skipped AA, played in AAA in 2009 and became an MLB regular in 2010.
        Tony Sanchez hit AA in 2011 (John Sickels wrote: If injuries don’t get in the way, I still expect him to be a very good starting major league catcher.

        Derek Norris hit AA in 2011, and was a solid contributor in 2013 before becoming a MLB regular in 2014.

        These are the first 6 guys I could think of, and some of the best catching prospects in recent years. Four of them took 3 years, 1 took 2 years, and 1 took 1 year. And each of them had minor league OPS north of .800, far ahead of McGuire’s .648

        You have written that his glove will get him to the majors, and his bat will determine what role he will play. His bat is nowhere near ready, it’s also nowhere near what these other young catchers were doing — guys who took 3 years to become regulars.

        I think he’s a great prospect, but he’s gotta have, what, maybe a 30% chance of becoming a MLB regular? Which will go up with each successful year, but still… they shouldn’t make roster decisions today based on his eventual arrival.

  • Huntington doesn’t get nearly enough grief for drafting Sanchez 4th overall. What a waste.

    • I’ve only heard people complain about it constantly since the day the pick was made.

      • Speaking of, I haven’t heard a good MATT WIETERS rant in a while. There’s hope.

        • I will go and google Moskos right now……..

          • Well… wasn’t Moskos a Littlefield pick?

            • Nothing came up past 2011 sadly. So here’s a question and possibly a lazy comparison – Tyler Jay went 6th in this year’s draft and the Twins weren’t laughed at for taking a reliever. So my question is this – if Wieters weren’t there and passed on would it have been such a big deal if the Pirates drafted a closer and tried to make him a starter?

              • The problem with Moskos was that they drafted him to be a reliever who could arrive in the majors quickly. They did this while passing over a great prospect when their farm system was empty. And they used the money saved to get Matt Morris.

                It was all a very short-sighted approach, with Littlefield trying to keep his job.

                Moskos only became a starter the following year when Huntington was stuck with him.

                • I see. I’ve blocked out a lot before 2008 so I forgot he was drafted to be a closer…….which is now almost impossible to fathom, even for Littlefield. Ah Morris. I can remember thinking to myself when they acquired him – so wait, are they poor, not poor? Did Rajai Davis punch someone in the front office?

                  • Didn’t Morris get like $10 to $12 million to sign? You are right, money to spend or not?

              • Also, Tyler Jay’s college coach, not his own talent, was responsible for him being a reliever.

                • Didn’t know that.

                  • He ended up going high in the draft anyways, but there was a lot of talk leading up to it about how much his college coach cost him in earnings by not starting him when he clearly deserved at least an opportunity.

            • We can still gripe though!!! LOL

      • I went back and took a look at the other picks in the first round and I recognize about half of them. Did the Pirates ever consider Wheeler, Turner or Miller, Gibson? I was under the impression the main reason they went after Sanchez was he was an easier sign and could load up on HS/Prep arms later. The pitching talent in the farm prior to the draft was pretty terrible. But why not draft a pitcher in Round 1 if you’re lacking in arms? Seems like a better bet than a Cain, ZVR, Dodson, Stephenson, etc. Maybe they just needed so many arms they went quantity over quality and thought they’d hit it big?

        • None of the prep arms really stood out at the time and they all had high demands. Wheeler, Turner, and Miller worked out, but there were several guys who didn’t work out at all and had the same high demands. And obviously you don’t know which one ahead of time will work. As for Gibson, he was injured at the time, which dropped his stock.

          The Pirates ended up going signability with Sanchez, and spending big on the mid-round prep pitchers. The guys they got were highly regarded at the time, including ZVR, who was ranked 41st overall by BA.

          It’s hard to say why this approach didn’t work for them in 2009, but worked in 2010 (Kingham, Cumpton, Sadler in the mid-to-late rounds) and 2011 (Glasnow, Holmes, Creasy in the mid-rounds). I think you could make the argument that they should have spent big in the first round and middle rounds, but I think that was impacted by the Sano situation, where they were saving money to sign him, while also spending big in the middle rounds of the draft.

          • Forgot they were saving a couple million for Sano. Wow. What a perfect storm of s***. Just think of the 2011 draft where they spent huge on rounds 1 and 2 (Round 2 being the round that broke the draft system at the time) and still, SO FAR, look really good with the Glasnow, Holmes and Creasy picks. I will say Turner wasn’t really their fault seeing as how from what I’ve read many said they didn’t see him taking off the way he did. So not only did Sanchez not work but all the arms failed too……….no offense to Dodson. Were the other HS arms deemed out of their price range?

            • They offered $500K to Turner, but he ended up going to college instead.

              • Yeah I asked John about that a few months ago. If I recall he said the $500K was a fair offer. Turner seemed to really take off and sounded like he was pretty slight in stature and really blossomed. John, if I butchered this please correct me.

          • Their biggest mistake in 2009 was brutally misreading signing bonus demands.

            Only two players drafted after Sanchez were signed for more than a million bucks over what they gave TS.

            Not only did the pick they chose fail miserably, but they also didn’t even save much money, if any at all.

            Second draft, live and learn.

            • I don’t know if it was the demands as much as it was the uncertainty. That was seen as a weak draft class, and none of the prep pitchers really stood out. You’d like to think they spend $1-2 M more and get Shelby Miller or Zack Wheeler, but they very well could have gotten Tyler Matzek or Matt Purke.

              • No, I’m saying they didn’t even have to spend $1-2m more. Their “signable” guy didn’t even turn out to be as good as other “signable” guys. Given Sanchez being ranked as a back end R1 talent by most, there were many who signed for less, and were better.

                That being said, there were still a bunch of duds in that first round.

                • Yeah, several teams after them went the signability approach. Mike Minor and Mike Leake were the best “signability” picks. Sanchez and Matt Hobgood were the worst.

                  I also recall that the asking price was around $6 M or more for each of the prep pitchers. This was back during the time where that would still scare some people away, causing those players to drop, and leading to a value. For example, the Cardinals got Miller for $375,000 more than Sanchez received, even though he was seen as a huge bonus guy.

                  After this, I think teams started getting wise, and you didn’t see many teams passing on as many big bonus guys in the top ten due to signability concerns. Coincidentally, the two biggest cases who did fall were Stetson Allie and Josh Bell, who the Pirates grabbed in the second round.

                • I am not sure that the Pirates could have signed Miller or Wheeler – regardless of the amount – The Pirates of 2009 were not a team that you want to go to…

            • I give them credit. They haven’t taken this approach since. That being said they can’t really do that anymore with the slotting system. It seems you either grab those guys in Rounds 1 or 2 and pay them or they price themselves out and go to college.

        • “The pitching talent in the farm prior to the draft was pretty terrible.” Very true, but the 2009 draft did nothing to change that.

          • No it didn’t. Although I remember ZVR being the sixth best Pirates prospect once he was drafted……..for whatever that’s worth. I definitely see the reasoning behind it and Sanchez came out of the gates pretty well. But it was a huge failure. What can you do.

            • Sanchez started going downhill after that bar fight. I was always bothered by the way he ran. Kind of dainty.

              • I’ll never forget coming home work late one night and catching the end of a spring training game. He was being interviewed and made a comment to the effect of “After they brought in the third Yankees catcher That’s when it clicked and I thought to myself I’ve really gotta step up my game.” I don’t think he was being sarcastic. He might’ve thought the job was his and just needed to fix his yips.

              • That doesn’t line up though. His offense struggled before the fight, and then after the fight when he lost weight. He added it back and started hitting. The throwing has been the biggest problem. I think the Pirates approach of not caring about runners and focusing on pitches really messed with him, because he believed it was his fault runners weren’t getting thrown out. This led to him trying to rush throws, which led to him making horrible throws, and that is a cycle that he can’t seem to get out of.

                • Maybe my memory is fuzzy on it then. I just remember him being a legit top 5 in the system prospect and then his defense started to falter.

                  • Part of the “legit top 5” was that the system was very weak. As it started getting stronger, he started dropping. The defensive problems have really been the last few years since he had a real shot at the majors.

                    • Yeah, I just remember his calling card being that his defense was almost MLB ready coming out of BC. It is amazing how much different the system is now. They have multiple position prospects putting up better numbers than Cutch did in the minors with not near the hype that he came with.

                    • He was ranked the #46 prospect in baseball pre 2011 by Baseball America. #93 by Baseball Prospectus. #66 by fangraphs. #49 by Project Prospect. He wasn’t just “good for the pirates”, he was considered good by lots of people.

                    • I guess I’m just deep in the Prospect Guide these days, thinking of how players would fit in this system.

                • Very, very interesting theory…

                  • I know of a few other catchers in the system who get frustrated and think they’re doing something wrong with the stolen base numbers. To their credit, the Pirates make it clear to them that they aren’t concerned with it. But you can see how it would be easy to not believe that.

                • YES!!!!
                  I got into a big argument over on another site on the role of the Pirate approach in Sanchez’s throwing problems – does not excuse him – but I think it explains some of what we see. I also get the impression he is a pretty emotional young man – that he felt he had earned a roster spot in spring training last year and pouted a bit when sent to Indy…

                  I thought he had earned a spot also – and could have been an effective bat off of the bench and backup catcher…

                  Unlike others, I don’t see him as a “huge failure” – a lot of high pick in baseball never make it.

                  • The Pirates kept telling Sanchez they did not want him in the majors as a backup as they saw he as a future starter, and that he needed playing time so they kept him in the minors. Now that they realize he will not be a starter, why not let him be the backup to Cervelli for next year. No need to sign Stewart when Sanchez would save them money, and Diaz can play and develop in AAA for another year.

      • It seems constant complaining is not enough grief giving for Tachobill!

    • Because no other team has ever drafted a player in the top 5 and had him fail.

    • A lot of 1st round guys from 2009 didn’t even make it as far as Sanchez. Donovan Tate was drafted right before him and never made it above A ball; Matt Hobgood was drafted right after him and is still in AA. All in all, 26 of 49 players who were drafted in the first round (1 or 1s) either never made MLB or have made MLB but have a lower WAR than Sanchez. In fact, the only position players who have really made a mark on the game are Mike Trout (24 other teams also passed) and A.J. Pollock (17th). The highest other position player (picked after Sanchez) is Randall Grichuk, at 3.4 WAR. Almost everyone else falls between -1 and +1.5; Sanchez is right in the middle at .4 WAR.

      It was just a lousy year for position players.

      For pitchers, outside of Strasburg there’s Mike Leake and Shelby Miller. Maybe Garrett Richards, Drew Storen, Rex Brothers. Kyle Gibson. Everyone else is in that -1/+1 range.

      It was just not that good a year for talent spread out over the top 50. You had Strasburg, Trout, Leake, Pollock, and a handful of okay guys, and the other half are busts.