Buster Olney continued his top ten rankings over the weekend, covering right fielders on Saturday and catchers on Sunday. He has Gregory Polanco rated as the tenth best right fielder in baseball, while Francisco Cervelli gets high praise with his fourth place ranking.

Olney completed the outfield trifecta for the Pirates, previously ranking Starling Marte as the best left fielder and Andrew McCutchen as the second best center fielder. Gerrit Cole also got ninth place among starting pitchers.

Olney gave Polanco some excellent praise, saying he will be in the top ten for years to come. Polanco’s rebound from early season struggles got him on this list, with Olney saying that believes he may have turned a corner in July. In 45 games from July 6th until August 28th, Polanco put up an .894 OPS. That was well above the .630 OPS he had through 77 games to start the season. He finished with 50 extra-base hits, 55 walks and 27 stolen bases.

Cervelli only trailed Buster Posey, Yadier Molina and Russell Martin in the catcher rankings, and Olney wrote that Cervelli is one of the most underrated players right now. He gets credit for the strong offensive numbers, specifically his ability to get on base, plus his defensive work is highly respected. Cervelli had the best pitch framing numbers and gets a lot of credit for his work with the pitching staff. He hit .295/.370/.401 in 130 games this season.

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66 COMMENTS

  1. so initial reports are that the Pirates are targeting Kazmir. Kazmir wants 4 years in the 50-60 mil range. Meaning its probably going to cost them roughly 15 per year. I dont see any problem with that. However the suggestion/interpretation I read tonight coming from Coonley is very much a mixed message in my view. On one hand he said “We expect that the major league payroll will increase again in 2016. We have flexibility to add by free agency and/or trades, but the opportunity that is in front of us is, “how do we build the club that puts us in the best position to win a championship in 2016?”

    The suggestion in the article by Sawchik is that to acquire a big FA name like Kazmir will require them to trade both Walker and Melancon. I reject that notion completely. There should be enough room to do keep Walker and Melancon while also signing somebody like Kazmir as well. I just dont see how if youre Coonley and youre saying that we want to put the best team on the field to win a world series next year, that it doesnt include Neil Walker. I can get more on board with maybe getting good value for Melancon. They do as good of a job at rebuilding bullpens as anybody. But, Walker to me is a different story. The geat thing about last year was that they had real depth. I think thats what made them so good. If they trade Walker that depth is gone. Harrison becomes the every day 2nd baseman. While he wouldnt be bad there, they would be giving way to probably 10 less homers next year. While I was okay with them non tendering Alvarez, the Pirates cant afford to give away any more power than they already have.

    If they really want to go for it this year, suck it up, pay Walker and Melancon their money and go out get somebody like Kazmir and pay him what he wants. If that means the payroll goes up to 110 or whatever, so be it. They can afford that and more frankly.

    • Your last sentence implies an in depth knowledge of the Pirates future finances. How much revenue will the Pirates generate in 2016, and what will their profit be with a $110M payroll?

      • Actually it doesnt imply anything beyond the obvious. They’re end payroll last year was at about 100m. So, were talking about 10 million more. Many of us have seen rough revenue and profit numbers before documented for the Pirates and other teams. It’s not much of a stretch to note that they’re making a good amount more than 10 million in annual profits. They budget very conservatively. I get it. But playing it conservatively all the time isn’t going to help get this team over the top. Just little more financial aggressiveness could go a long way without putting a major crimp in the teams profits.

        • Mallorie, if you studied accounting you’d know that if the Pirates lost one penny in any given year the league would force them to trade Cutch, Cole, and move PNC Park to Tampa Bay piece by piece as reparations for their dastardly act.

        • You avoided answering my questions. That’s okay. We both know that the answer is uncertain, I was hoping you’d acknowledge that.

          Yes, the Pirates make 10 to 15 MM per year, and they should have that as their first priority every year. It’s their business. Hopefully the owners will continue to keep the profits inside the club until they are debt free. That will give them the flexibility to do things like signing Cutch to his next contract. After they are debt free I’d be happy if they set a goal of limiting their distributions to 10% of gross revenue as a first priority, leaving the rest with the club. The reason for that is I want the owners to remain very happy and to be inclined to never sell and to keep the club in Pittsburgh.

          Regarding Kazimir, 2years/$30MM is a good deal, 4years/$60MM is not. The reasons are two fold. One, Kazimir will be 32 in January and the risk of injury and impairment of the asset his contract represents is significant. Two, the stable of young pitching talent that is almost MLB ready will provide pitchers in years 3 and 4 of a 4 year contract that will provide better performance at negligible cost representing about a $14MM savings at that time which can be put towards other purposes.

          Regarding the overall budget, I expect that the Pirates will start the year at about $100 to $105 MM and end the year at about $110 to $115MM and will end the year with about a $15MM profit, unless they win the Series in which case they will make significantly more. I’d be happy with that.

          • This ignorant, antiquated garbage is exactly what owners have used to get electeds to buy them stadiums for decades.

  2. Just as I though, the strength of the team was the OF, catching, Kang and JHay. The last two won’t be rated but served Pittsburgh quite well but the balance of the infield, yuck.

  3. When is Cervelli a free agent? After 2017?

    If after 2016, and he has another good year, he is gone. We’ll have to QO him and play Diaz??

    I wonder if he’ll gamble on staying healthy and risk it, or sign a (somewhat) lucrative (for the Bucs) extension?

      • That’ll be an interesting case to see if Cervelli throws out another 2.5-3.5 WAR season.

        He’d be able to cash in on a 3 or 4 year deal on the market, but could decide 15 million in one year is too much to pass up and takes a risk.

        Idk, that doesnt seem clear to me either way in terms of offering a QO. It certainly seems more like Cervelli would opt to decline and find a 3-4 year deal at 10 AAV after not exactly raking in big money (in baseball terms) throughout his twenties.

        • Cervelli is catcher, who is old for his position and has had injury problems over his career. He takes any reasonable multiyear contract instead of gambling on his luck and health.

          I’d guess players know their careers are short and one major injury can kill it off.

          • And in his case, its his first chance to really cash in on his talent in a multi year way. Tough to ignore that as a player, even if you would be turning down 3-5 million more in one year.

            Another reasonably healthy, reasonably good year and i could see someone giving Cervelli 3 years at 12 AAV. And id hope its not PGH due to a lack of faith in his skill set being all that reliable over that deal. Solid player, seemingly solid clubhouse guy, but not irreplaceable.

        • A lot of things can change in a year personnel-wise, but, in 2017,

          Cole hits arbitration for the first time,
          Marte is making $4M more than he did in 2015,
          Cutch will be in the same boat as Marte,
          and Harrison will be raking in $3.7M more than 2015,

          Offering Cervelli a QO means payroll would be $30M higher plus Cole’s raise. I just can’t see the Pirates doing that for a 31 year old catcher with 2 good years.

          No, if they want to offer him 3/20 now…different story.

          • I dont think its a matter of PGH being committed to 30M more, but rather PGH being relatively confident he’s going to decline.

            Im also not sure the total accuracy of 30 million. You’ve got 15 to Cervelli, 7-8 to Marte and Harrison. Thats around 23-25. Not sure Cole’s first year in arb is going to net him 5-7 million.

            • QO’s next season should be > $16M.

              That’s $11.7M for Cutch, Marte, and Harrison, a QO for Cervelli will be, at least, a $14M raise over his 2016 salary. So, you’re sitting right at $26M…maybe a little bit more…true…with Cole it may not hit $30M..but it’ll be darn close.

            • There’s also the matter of what money is coming off the books between ’16 and ’17. Morton and Morse for sure, very likely Locke, and possibly Walker if he makes it through the winter. There’s $16 – $28M right there.

              On the other hand, this year’s bumper free agent crop is certainly going to push that average of the top 125 salaries well past the $17M mark (which is what the QO is based on).

              This might be moot, though – the CBA expires next December 1 and will almost certainly be renegotiated before free agency begins. We have no idea what happens to the QO, or whether Cervelli would even be a reasonable candidate under the new qualifications.

  4. It is interesting that one of our highest arb. eligible didn’t make the top ten (Melancon). I am not sure if he has done the infield yet, but it will be interesting where Walker falls.

    • One and it might be surprising, the Diamondbacks. Pollock #3 in CF, Peralta #7 in LF and Inciarte #7 in RF

      • Doesn’t surprise me John ! They all can hit, run and play defense. I’ve been a fan of Pollock particularly since he came out of Notre Dame.

        • Trendy winter picks rarely actually turn out to be good baseball teams, it seems, but holy crap could that Diamondbacks team turn out pretty prettaayyy good.

          • Peralta’s a nice story. Signed by the Cardinals as a pitcher when he was a teenager but completely destroyed his shoulder and came back four years later trying to make it as a hitter. Had to bide his time on the indy circuit for a while but now he’s mashing in the big leagues. Love that kind of stuff.

    • He has been a true find by the Pirates, but if he is 4th behind Posey, Molina, and Martin, he will command and get a long term contract in FA. Possibly 4 years (he will only be 30) and $50 mil? Toronto bumped the price for Catchers last year when they signed Martin, and this increase in SP value has to rub off onto the guy expected to work with the guys making $20 or $30 mil. Too much for a team with at least 2 solid guys with 6 control years apiece – Diaz and McGuire.

      • I believe he is already out priced for the PBC. They should have done something in the season. You look at who he is comparison with he already is big time money.

        • We also need to pump he breaks on how sure of a thing Cervelli is over a longterm deal.

          He still has a bit to prove in terms of staying healthy. 3-4 years on Cervelli is certainly not a sure thing you do without thinking at all.

          • I agree. While I was all for the trade, I believe that one year a career doesn’t make. And you have NMR’s ( 🙂 ) favorite Diaz waiting in the wings, I am not sure how much of a long term investment you make in him.

            • It’d have to be a pretty nice deal toward the team. I wouldnt hate paying 6 million for a backup catcher if the starter is league min., but holy hell if Cervelli comes back at 6 AAV NH needs to be investigated for drugging agents during negotiations.

      • I agree…IF he has another healthy, productive season, he’ll get something close to what Martin got last off season. We’ll get a draft pick when he signs elsewhere, and Diaz/McGuire will the the much cheaper future.

        • Dias is going to play the ’16 season as a 25 year old. Time to start his clock so McGuire can take over as starter in 3-4 years, maybe sooner. Both are excellent receivers and handlers of pitchers.

        • If the Rangers deal with the Pirates for Moreland, part of the asking price from them could be Stewie. That Manager knows his value to a pitching staff. If that happens, Diaz could be the backup – I think the Pirates had that possibility in mind last Sep when he spent so much time catching bullpens rather than playing.

    • none he will make 3 mil next year, and then probably leave. That’s I why I hope we dump Stewart or he gets a “hamstring” injury and Diaz gets the back up work this year. Diaz will be our catcher in 2 years

      • Very true but Sanchez was supposed to be our starting C two years ago. Remember “MLB caliber defense” when Tony was drafted.

    • But to answer your question because you cherish my input. $5 million next year $7 the following and $10 the third year. By the end of his contract we should have either a replacement and or the new local TV contract which will give the team an extra $3 million a year plus maybe a new meatball pirogi. I really like Francisco’s energy and his play. Plus he is 1/2 Italian! In all seriousness I would offer about a 4 year deal maybe $25to$28 million. But as stated I like his play.

      • 6-7 million wont get it done if he puts up 3 WAR seasons in his two seasons before FA.

        He can sit and ask far closer to 10 AAV over 3 years.

          • So 7 million, the high end of that range i posted.

            If he puts up even 2 WAR, he’s worth a large chunk more than that. He’ll easily get 10 per year over 3 years if he plays the majority of this season and puts up 2 WAR.

            It’ll be him and Wieters as the class of the C market that year, with no one near their production level after them.

        • Only leverage is his possible $2.5 M 2016 salary and possibility of injury/bad season. $24M/3years makes him a rich man. Lotsa leverage IMHO.

          • I just dont think players do that near as often as fans hope they do. Players are largely going to bet on themselves in a contract year. His injuries are fluke-ish enough i dont believe he thinks he’s gonna take another huge hit and be out half a year.

            Im not sure Cervelli is, right now, even really interested in an extension. If he gets hurt this year, he can still sign a 6-7 million like deal.

    • If he stays healthy next season, a big if considering his history, he’ll receive a QO from Pirates and sign elsewhere.

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