Pirates Q&A: Off-Season, Polanco Extension, Number Three Starter, Payroll

  • Do you think there’s any chance that the Bucs start the season with Feliz and/or Nicasio in the rotation, just hoping they can keep it together long enough for the cavalry (Taillon, Kingham, and Glasnow) to join the fray?

  • With all the investment the pirates have put into right handed relievers is there any chance they are planning on just skipping the lefty reliever role? Do any of the guys they have or have acquired have interesting splits where they can fill that role?

  • Will the mini-camp be at Pirate City of McKechnie Field?

  • That wraps things up for me this week, as I’ve got a few things to take care of today, which I didn’t get to with the Feliz and Sanchez moves. Thanks for the questions, and we’ll do this again. Next week may not work, due to mini camp, but the week after is a definite.

  • What options for the rotation do you see as viable free agents the pirates would sign?

    • They’ve been connected to Latos and Masterson so far. Of the two, I think Latos would be the better bet from a skill and upside perspective. There’s some history here with his attitude, so that could be a concern. However, those issues came with clubs that have been reported to be dysfunctional. They were also losing franchises. So I wouldn’t put the problems completely on Latos (but wouldn’t completely absolve him either).

  • I’m finally taking the family to the west coast of FL this year for spring break to enjoy some spring training. We’ll probably only spend a couple days in Bradenton. Is Pirate City open to fans? Would you recommend that or actually going to games? Thanks for all the great work!

    • It is, and it’s free. It’s also way better than McKechnie if you want to see a ton of baseball and are interested in the prospects. Late in Spring Training you can see both, as the Pirates send a lot of MLB guys over to minor league camp to get innings and at-bats.

    • I would look at the minor league schedule before going so you can plan in advance. Also make sure to grab a roster card so you can identify players – they don’t have names on their jerseys and that was a struggle I had last year.

      McKechnie was still a great experience though. Nice to see some more recognizable faces for the kids, and the field is beautiful. Have fun!

  • Andrew Rothstein
    January 6, 2016 2:15 pm

    What’s your best guess as to what happens with Sanchez? Minor league deal with a new team?

  • Just when I was getting comfortable with the off-season moves the Pirates sign Neftali Feliz. I also am baffled by the amount. Could they not have re-signed Bastardo and some of the other head scratchers. I know he is looking for a 3-4 year deal but this deal leaves me befuddled.

  • Do you think it’s time for the pirates to blow through the international salary cap and sign some high end prospects? With the pirates drafting so late and with a limited budget they can not get much high profile talent. So blowing through the cap can or may bring in some much needed talent. The pirates only sign international talent for $300,000 any way.

    • Why would they need to do that? The guys they have the most success with are low bonus guys. Starling Marte was $85,000. Polanco was $150,000. Last year’s breakout, Yeudy Garcia, was signed for $30,000 under the new system in 2013.

      Not to mention, the Pirates still have one of the best farm systems in baseball. So I don’t think “much needed talent” is accurate here.

  • First of all sorry Tim this is a little long, it’s a few queations.
    The pirates minus the Jaso move seems to be doing things completely different compared to last few years. Trading based on potential value thus only getting even value if everything pans out, instead of value moves like cervelli, overpaying for relief projects instead of finding valuable waiver claims, and counting on reclamation guys for rotation instead of depth options. Not to mention trading assets for no return aka morton.
    Do you see a reason for the complete shift from the effective process of last few years?
    Secondly, Dodgers do seem like best fit for melancon from a trade value standpoint what in addition would we need to give up with melancon to realistically get?
    Seager?Urias?Wood?Ryu?

    • I really don’t think they’re doing things differently this year. They’ve added a lot of relief options via waiver claims and cash deals. Jaso seems very similar to Cervelli. Niese is a bit different, in that they’re not going to see a high upside like they did with other pitchers brought in. But he could still have a lot of value with his contract and former success.

      There are some minor differences (Niese, Morton salary dump), and I think what you’re seeing is a team that has been contending, wants to contend going forward, had a few big salaries that needed to go to fill other needs, and has a group of top prospects set to arrive that prevent them from adding long-term options for those needs.

      As for Melancon, I don’t think they’re getting one of the elite Dodgers prospects, although there’s plenty of talent in that system. They seem to be the best match, just in terms of the Pirates getting max value.

  • Andrew Rothstein
    January 6, 2016 1:47 pm

    Tony Sanchez … DFA’d

  • Todd Shevchik
    January 6, 2016 1:44 pm

    Tim,
    We still need a number 3 starter. I keep thinking Locke for the bullpen but he doesn’t have good L on L splits. This seems like the extra arm that would precede a Melancon trade.
    Hopefully they trade Melancon and an OF to the Padres for SP Tyson Ross. He would plug #3 and have some control. Watson would close. What other #3 options are out there?

    • At this point I think there are a lot of options available when you consider reclamation projects and trade options. At this point they’ve been connected to Masterson and Latos. Of the two, I think Latos is a stronger bet to bounce back and be that number three starter they need.

    • Padres are are rebuilding, no way they have interest in Melancon. With that said I would’ve preferred Ross over Neice

  • mike_carlini66
    January 6, 2016 1:43 pm

    When is the Mini Camp this year? And also, it is open to the public?

  • Have you heard anything on John Holdzkom? That guy has been through hell the last year.

    • Holdzkom has said that he is fully healthy during the CARE-a-van event in early December. He mentioned his tough season with being able to get over injuries, and he finally feels good. What may be difficult is that his brother Lincoln died in a car accident in mid-December, so hopefully he is able to recover from losing someone close to him.

      Holdzkom is definitely a wild card trying to make the Opening Day roster, but it will be extremely tough with the bullpen the way it is constructed, especially after today. I’d expect him to start at Indy and hopefully stay healthy for an early season call-up if necessary.

  • You recently wrote about how Willy Garcia doesn’t have much of a future at the big league level with the Pirates because of the depth, would you say that Harold Ramirez is the best prospect to be traded this year? I’m going off the fact that Glasnow, Bell, Taillon, aren’t going to be moved. Diaz and McGuire I also don’t think will be moved because of the lack of depth at the catcher position.

    • The Pirates could trade Ramirez, but there’s no guarantee. They still haven’t traded a top prospect yet. Robbie Grossman would be the biggest case, but he’d fall in the 8-15 range in the current system. They’ve dealt other guys in the top 10 range, like Dilson Herrera. We’ve got Ramirez just outside of the top five, and he could move up if he has another big year with Altoona. Trading a guy like that would be a level of move that the Pirates haven’t made before.

      • Isnt that part of the point of stocking a farm system though? Is being able to use it to maneuver to acquire better talent? I would also say that the deal for Marlon Byrd included a very, very good prospect.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        January 6, 2016 4:12 pm

        They better not trade Ramirez – he may turn out to be better than Meadows. I think a guy like Garcia would be attractive to a team that has a weak farm system, limited outfield prospects, and is rebuilding – like the Phillies, Padres, Reds, Brewers (who got Broxton), Indians, Rays, etc. By himself, he’s not going to get you much. It would have to be a larger package deal. So, considering that injuries do occur, I would keep him in Indy as depth and see how he develops.

  • In an effort to extend the recent run of Pirate prosperity for the forseeable future, I think its imperative that the front office maximize value whenever possible. Gone are the days of drafting in the top 3 where elite talent is much more easily acquired, gone are the days of unlimited spending. Due to the success of the Pirates front office, this team is now drafting for the most part towards the bottom of the MLB draft order. 25 years ago, Barry Bonds, arguably the greatest Pirate and MLB player of all time walked out the Pirate front door and the Pirates received absolutely no compensation. The franchise felt the effects for over 20 years. Fast forward 25 years from that moment and we are at a SIMILAR crossroads (and no I’m not comparing Cutch to Bonds in any way). I woud preface this by saying I would love for Cutch to remain a Pittsburgh Pirate for the remainder of his career. Having said that, I would offer to extend Cutch to 6 years at $22-23M/year. Roughly 3-4X larger than any contract in the history of the Pirates franchise. Reality is, Cutch is probably worth double that. NO WAY he would accept that contract. So it leaves this organization in a quandary. What do they do with the remaining 3 years of Cutch??? This is what I would do:
    #1. Approach a team like the Indians and offer Cutch for Carrasco, Salazar and Clint Frazier.
    #2. Trade Melancon
    #3. Move Starling Marté to CF, Gregory Polanco stays in RF and Josh Bell goes to LF
    #4. With the savings from Cutch and Melancon, offer Chris Davis 6 @ $25M/year. The savings from Cutch and Melancon for 1 year cover his salary and a new TV deal w/I the next couple of years should ease the pain of the salary for the remaining next few years.
    #5. Extend Polanco.

    Position players:
    1B Davis
    2B Harrison/Hanson
    SS Mercer/Kang
    3B Kang/ Harrison
    C Cervelli, Diaz
    CF Marté
    LF Bell
    RF Polanco

    SP:
    Cole til 2018
    Liriano til 2017
    Carrasco
    Salazar
    Niese/Locke

    SP Depth:
    Locke/Neise
    Vogelsong
    Glasnow
    Taillon
    Lobstein

    Bullpen:
    Watson
    Caminero
    Hughes
    Nicasio
    Feliz
    Holdzkom
    Locke/Niese

    Bench:
    Jaso
    Harrison/Hanson
    Rodgers
    Figueroa
    Morse
    I know it would be a PR issue, but if you really wanna creat a bridge of transition that would be most effective. Interested to hear your thoughts or anyone’s for that matter.

    • Why wouldn’t you hang onto Cutch until he at least has 1 year remaining on the current contract?

      • that’s a significant loss in value to a team that’s not going 100% ALL-IN on his remaining 3 years. Neil Huntington said that the Pirates were trying to bridge old wave v. new wave of Pirates players. That tells me that they are revving up for 2017 which is a waste of 1 full year of not only Cutch but also of Cole, Liriano, and Kang.

    • I truly believe that Andrew McCutchen is about more than just the money at this point. The way he talks and his humble nature and seemingly genuine nature make me believe he would take a pretty substantial discount to stay with the Pirates. It’s just speculation at this point, but I think thats the type of guy he is. He seems more concerned with happiness than money. As for that trade prop, I don’t see CLE giving up both Carrasco AND Salazar. This scenario seems like a pipe dream IMO.

      • Carrasco and Salazar for 3 prime years of a 5.8 WAR player (lowest WAR value in the past 3 years) who is a perennial MVP candidate playing one of the most valuable positions in the field in a division in which they can make a serious run at a divisional crown??? I would have thought people would have told me that wasn’t enough for Cutch. Top 3 player in all of baseball!
        I agree about the money thing BUT 70-100M left on the table is not a hometown discount.

        • Carrasco was worth 4.8 WAR according to Fangraghs and Salazar was in the minors for the first month of the season and racked up 3.0 WAR. They are both as underpaid for their production as McCutchen, they’re both younger, and they both have more control. If I’m the Indians I’m laughing at NH as I hang up the phone.

          • Couldn’t agree more ! and he wants to throw in the number 35 Prospect in all of baseball on top of those two

            • OK then so you tell me Mr. GM. What is the value of a top 3 player in all baseball, a perennial MVP candidate with one of the most team friendly contracts in all of baseball with 3 years remaining in his prime playing one of the most challenging positions in all of baseball. Clint Frazier is a prospect. BTW, Travis Snider was a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. They don’t always pan out. The Indians would know EXACTLY what they were trading for in McCutchen. Salazar and Carrasco are good young pitchers but lets not confuse them with let’s say a CY young winner like Cory Kluber or a David Price or Greinke. Starting pitchers @ 180 innings affect roughtly 30 games or 18.5% of a regular season. McCutchen affects roughtly 92-95% of the games.

              • The value is what someone is willing to pay. The Indians aren’t willing to pay 40% of their rotation and a top 35 prospect.
                by the time they replace them McCutchen would be a free agent.
                No one is arguing McCutchen has tremendous value but the deal does not make sense for Cleveland.

        • Cutch’s defense & declining production 3 years running keeps him out of top 3 conversation. He maybe playing a premium position (Only because Hurdle doesn’t have the testicles to move him), he’s not playing it very well.

          • He’s never had a strong enough arm for CF. But because of his legs he’s still better than most CF in the game. With regards to his decling production, April and May have not been friendly to Cutch TBH but I also attribute some of his decline to the knee injury last year and also to the decline with players around him specifically Pedro Alvarez never becoming what this team needed. When Pedro was a feared hitter, Cutch excelled because you had to pitch to him. Now he just gets worked around.

      • The union won’t let Andrew give the kind of discount the Pirates could afford. I know McCutchen is his own man, but there would be questions if he were to give his self away.

    • Why were the Indians do that when they have the number 26 and number 35 prospects in all of baseball that are both centerfielders ? and give up two fantastic pictures? major major pipe dream.

      • Can either of those top prospects right now post a 6.0-7.0 WAR or better season and be a legitimate MVP candidate in 2016, 2017 or 2018?? because right now, Cutch is a TOP 3 player in all of baseball….PERIOD. And that is the missing piece for them to win an otherwise winnable division and make a run at a World Championship. IMO, when you have a legitimate shot at a World title in a certain time frame you GO FOR IT.

        • Getting rid of those two pitchers and they won’t be contenders anymore.
          have you heard of the law of diminishing returns?

          • I understand what you’re saying. Based on what I’ve seen and read, I was under the impression that the Indians would be dealing from a position of strength in their MLB SP and upper minors. Whereas Rajai Davis or Almonté are not exactly the same level as McCutchen.

    • I’m really not sure what the question is here.

      • based on the moves seen so far (and the offseason is not over yet), would you say the BUCS are GOING FOR IT in 2016 or are they creating a BRIDGE to the new wave of Pirate players?? And if they are more likely revving up for 2017 wouldn’t that be a waste of 1 prime year of Andrew McCutchen, as well as, Cole, Liriano and Kang??

        • I think they’re going for it in 2016, while not blocking the prospects set to come up. 2017 and 2018 definitely look like stronger chances, but they’re not punting on this year. They’ve just had to get creative due to their unique circumstance.

          • I agree they will never punt on a year in which they come from 98 wins and still have a solid core. My thoughts are the moves this team has made so far is of that to allow their prospects to come up and contribute this year. With that, the overall record will probably be lower than both the Cubs and Cardinals, although I can see St. Louis taking a major step backward and the Pirates finishing in 2nd. 2017 and 18 definitely should be serious contender years.

            • IMHO, unless Polanco explodes, Marté, Kang and Harrison continue with upwards trends and Niese becomes a borderline top 2 pitcher I just don’t see how they win the NL Central over the Cubs. Cardinals are getting a healthy Wainright back (Pirate killer) along with Yadi, Matt Adams, and Holiday. And with the moves that Arizona and San Francisco have made that’ll take up a dvision winner plus a WC. Never count out the Dodgers and their endless budget. The Mets rotation is the best in baseball. What if the Nationals become what everyone expected them to be. Too much competition to y around the fringes and expect to seriously compete.

              • See my last reply.

              • My response is: those teams are all pretty good, but they all also have their faults and question marks. And the Pirates offense is better than you think.

                Mets — where’s the offense? Defense is iffy too
                Nats — lots of questions on offense. Lost Fister and Zimmerman.
                Cardinals — Holliday and Molina not getting any younger, lost Heyward, getting Wainright back but lost Lynn & Lackey.
                Diamondbacks They are one ace better than they were last year. They got Miller but lost equal production in Enciarte. Tomas is a liability on defense.
                Giants — Samardzija is a gamble, Cueto’s arm may or may not fall off. Weak OF.
                Dodgers — They have money but so far their team is worse this year.
                Cubs — They look amazing on paper, but they are also relying on continued improvement from several 2nd year players, which doesn’t always go the way you plan. Lester and Lackey aren’t young anymore. Anything can happen.

                Meanwhile the Pirates have a chance to put up a pretty impressive lineup next year, say:

                Harrison
                Jaso
                McCutchen
                Kang
                Marte
                Polanco
                Cervelli
                Mercer

                That’s 4 above average guys, 2 very good guys, one great one, and one below average. So they should have a pretty good offense even if Polanco doesn’t bust out.

            • remember…..162 games. San Diego looked like a shoe-in for post season play. How did that turn out!! I’ve never seen a piece of paper get a base hit or strike out anyone. Anything can happen in the greatest sport in the world. That’s why i like it best.

  • I just finished with the Neftali Feliz analysis here: https://www.piratesprospects.com/2016/01/pirates-agree-with-neftali-feliz-on-a-one-year-deal.html

    I’d imagine that will lead to a lot of questions today. I’m pushing the chat back 30 minutes so that you can finish reading my analysis, and I can eat something before starting with your questions.

  • Tim, love the guide, once again, thanks for the surprise return on my 3 year investment. My question goes back to Allen Webster. What is the motivation of letting him go overseas if they liked him enough to acquire him and give him a shot with the big club. Do they hope for some goodwill if he comes back after pitching well? I just don’t get why they would give away an asset.

    • This is a standard move. Webster requested to go to Korea before the Pirates added him. They honored that request when it went through. Teams do this all the time as goodwill to the players. You’d get a bad reputation for blocking such a move, especially for someone like Webster who isn’t a guarantee to make the team. If it was a guy guaranteed to make the team, they wouldn’t do it. And the player wouldn’t be looking at Korea if he felt he had a guaranteed shot at the roster, even with his new team.

  • Pirates are reportedly set to sign Netfali Feliz for 1-year @$3.9mm. Clearly they must believe he’s a strong reclamation bullpen piece. Does this mean they are getting ready to move on from Melancon?

    • I really don’t see Melancon sticking around. As I said in the article today, the Pirates are set to spend 25-30% of their payroll on the bullpen. In fact, they’re only spending about $3 M more on the rotation right now. I just don’t see that holding up.

      They definitely can keep Melancon. Sign a reclamation starter for $10 M, deal Michael Morse and his salary away, and move Jeff Locke to the bullpen as the second lefty. You’d got a payroll at $105 M and all of the needs filled. But I’d lean more to the Pirates parting with Melancon and spreading that money around a bit.

      • I honestly like the idea of signing a reclamation project for $10M, getting rid of Morse, and moving Locke to the pen better.

      • I completely agree. I see the Feliz deal as writing on the wall. It could be the most interesting mid-jan to mid-feb in the history of the hot stove league. So much more has to happen. Too many players and needs still hanging out there.

  • How likely is it that they get a Polanco extension done this spring? Also, is that even something worth doing at this point. They will have both Meadows and Harold Ramirez to the big club by then. Is it even necessary at this point to continue to explore? I know there is something to be said for trying to capitalize on getting value out of a player while you can, but given the fact that they have tried two years in a row and nothing has come to fruition, is that even something that they will continue to look at?

    • Having a player cost controlled only backfires if their performance suffers due to injury or downturn in production. In the event he is extended and Meadows and/or Ramirez appear to be more productive, his trade value would be enhanced.

    • Polanco is currently entering his second full season. By comparison, Marte signed his deal at that same point, and his deal was considered early. McCutchen signed entering his third full year, which would be next Spring for Polanco.

      From the Pirates side, I’d want to get that done now. From Polanco’s side, I’d want to wait another year, and hope that the second half success in 2015 carries over and leads to a breakout year. So I could see how they wouldn’t get something done this year, unless the Pirates “overpay” for his current value, assuming a breakout in 2016.

      As for Meadows and Ramirez, you’d still want to explore an extension with Polanco. Neither of those guys are guaranteed.

      • Those two are as much a guarantee as polanco is right now. Meaning none of them are. I don’t see the upside many do in polanco.

        • One of those 3 has put up 2 WAR in the ML….so its literally false to say they are as much a guarantee as Polanco.

          Those 2 may never put up 2 WAR as a ML player, thus far less a guarantee.

      • After this year they will sign him and or Cole to deals. The TV deal w Root is up so they will have more money to play with.

  • terrygordon30
    January 6, 2016 12:22 pm

    Are the Pirates slowly being priced out of Baseball? This may seem a lot of gloom and doom, but it is getting to the place where reclamation projects will be demanding 10-15 million for a one year contract. I agree with how the Pirates are playing the situation, but eventually, how can the Pirates survive?

    • The short answer is no, but a new local TV deal needs to give them a revenue stream more in line with teams in their market size and viewership in order to give them the necessary resources to stay competitive long-term. I believe they have 3 more years left under current deal.

    • No. Last year the reclamation projects were expensive, and the Pirates still got a guy in J.A. Happ mid-season. They can also afford $10 M for a reclamation guy, and their track record might make them a more valuable place to go, where a guy might take a few million less to come here on a one year deal, rather than another spot.

      • The next CBA could get scary.

        The rich guys are sick of paying Pirates/Marlins/Rays/etc payroll, and they’re going to have a lot of pull.

        • The next CBA will have to still leave room for some small market success…look at the way that small market fanbases have responded recently in KC and Pit…it is a GOOD thing for baseball.

          • That’s not how rich people think, Jared.

          • The Royals just shelled out the money for Gordon. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates do this at some point in the next 3-5 years. Making 2 straight WS helps your financial situation though. That’s a lot of cash they spent on Gordon by the way.

            • Not really. I mean yes, its a lot of cash overall but as far as market value KC likely just got a friendly deal by a good chunk.

              • It might be a friendly deal but if you call the Royals and Pirates markets similar…I’m not sure if I see the Pirates jumping to make a deal like this. Not to say they won’t when the time comes with Marte or someone else. I can’t use Cutch or Cole as an example because they will be so expensive I won’t blame the Pirates for not being able to resign them. The Royals have gone for it the last few years and it has paid off huge. Still, They will be paying Gordon 20 mil when he is 34 and 35 so the deal could end up looking bad.

                • Yeah i was surprised KC did it, but his style of play also helps assuage some fears. He plays elite defense, so you’ll likely have “good” defense most of that contract. That helps bring value even with regression. He’s become a legit OBP guy, which isnt something typically that will regress a ton that soon.

                  He’ll likely regress a bit, but that skill set is nice from a “how bad will the drop be once he falls off a bit.”

                  • For me he always has been a guy you thought would have that one monster season but it has never really happened. Still he has had 3 really good seasons. I still wouldn’t be surprised if he got locked in and had a .925 OPS 26-28 HR year and had some luck and hit .310. Doubtful and it would have to come in the next season or two, but when you see the guy’s skill, he seems like he could do it. With his defense an offensive year like that might put him around an 8-9 WAR.

        • Rich guys also know it’s better for them to pay small market teams money to keep salary cap out. Rich teams are more in favor of current system then small markets

  • Ok, I will start with this.
    1) How optimistic on a scale of 1-10 are you about this season?
    2) Or maybe convert it this way. How many wins do you predict?
    3) On August 2, 2016, who is in our starting rotation?

    • 1. 6
      2. 84
      3. Cole, Liriano, Niese, Glasnow, Taillon(or a player we traded for. Id love Lee to be in there though.

    • 1. I’d ask for clarification on the scale, and what I’m optimistic about, but I’ll just say that I think the Pirates will be a very good team once again, and will be right there with the Cubs and Cardinals, despite all of the doom and gloom this off-season.
      2. No clue on that one. I never predict wins, outside of projections that use neutral projection systems.
      3. Ideally, you’d want it to be Cole, Liriano, Glasnow, Taillon, Niese, with the prospects performing well, and Niese reverting to his 2011-14 self.

  • Would the Pirates have any interest in Cliff Lee, provide he shows that he is healthy?

    • IMO if he’s healthy, he’s way out of the PBC’s salary range.

      • His deal is going to be incentive based, not base salary and as such, the escalators wouldnt be so high out of the Pirates range. Pittsburgh is one of the few teams he is/should be considering.

    • Lee would probably fall into the category of guys the Pirates have liked for a long time, especially since they reportedly tried to get him in the original Jason Bay trade. That said, I don’t think you can bank on him as a reclamation project. The health is a big concern here, and not every pitcher who was once great can return to that former status. I don’t have the details of how healthy he is. The Pirates would have that, but his issues could go beyond just health at this point.

  • I posed this idea a few weeks ago, and it seemed to be unpopular. Here it is: If Melancon is held onto and has a year closer to his 2013-14 numbers, does he get a QO from the Pirates at the end of the season? His K/9 is not as high as other elite closers and I think Pittsburgh values him higher than most teams. These would both be the main cases against it, but he is still one of the top 5-10 closers in the game IMO.

    • Expect the QO to be about $18 or so after the ’16 season. No way will the Bucs risk offering the QO and possibly having it accepted. JMO, of course.

      • The QO won’t be that much.

        • There’s gonna be a new CBA this year right?

        • I’m looking at it settling at about $17M when the last remaining free agents are signed. The average AAV is already up $650k from last year, which would put it at the $16.4-$16.5 range. If Davis, Upton, Chen, Cespedes, Desmond, Fowler, Gallardo, Kennedy, Span and Howie Kendrick are signed at their projected salaries from MLBTR, it’ll be $17M. Latos, Fister, Austin Jackson and David Freese are projected to be on the bubble of the Top 125, so unlikely to move the average significantly.

    • I could see Melancon getting a QO under those circumstances. From what I’ve seen, the pitching market is weak next off-season, compared to this off-season. Melancon won’t be getting $16 M per year (which is where the QO should be around), but he could see a deal that guarantees him a lot more as a free agent over multiple years.

  • At this point, what is more likely with Cervelli? Sign him to an extension, trade him soon, or let him play out his contract this year for free agency.

    • He’s the starting catcher for 2016 he isn’t going to be traded.

    • Option 3. Cervelli will be the starter this year. If he has another big year, he’d probably land a big return in free agency, and the Pirates could be in line for a comp pick.

      • Is he someone you would attach a QO if he has a similar year this year to last year? The $15M price would be high, but the likelihood he takes that over a multi-year deal?

        • Seems like his lack of payday to this point would make him really wanting to sign a multi year deal. Another healthy 3 WAR season and he can fetch 12 AAV over 3 years unless the market just dissolves.

          • He and Weiters are literally the only free agent catchers, which means something, but Cervelli seems at best like the kind of mid-level FA that the QO just kills; *especially* if the bat regresses and his value primarily comes from the glove.

            The teams that value catcher defense and framing also likely know better then to be throwing away first round draft picks for 31 yo catchers.

            Highly, highly doubtful the Pirates would QO FC or MM, and I think that’s probably the right call.

            • A 3 year deal puts him just on the right side of mid 30s for many teams to throw 12 AAV at plus a pick.

              I dont think, in that market, his value gets killed unless only 1-2 teams need a C. He’s not Weiters, but he’s the best of the rest and unless his bat regresses next year….his bat will be seemingly above average.

            • I don’t know NMR. I think Cervelli had a slightly off defensive year and if he is even a .270/.330/.410 offensive catcher in 2016 his value will be substantial in the free agent market.

      • If he has a similar year to 2015 it’s a nice position to be in because you can do the QO and know for sure a team is going to outbid you…I’ve seen writeups that had Cervelli as the #2 C in the majors for 2015…and you have Diaz, then you just add another catcher and wait a year for McGuire to be ready…or possibly a few months. The option of keeping a cheap Stewart is still there too.

  • Must say I like this feature, especially since there’s not much going on.

    As far as I know, this subject hasn’t been discussed…so my question is what happens with Jaso when Bell arrives?

    • I could see a possibility where Jaso performs well enough to allow the Pirates to hold Bell back a bit. However, if Bell is ready, the Pirates might be better off moving Jaso to the bench, and using him occasionally at first base to ease Bell into the majors. That would provide a very strong bench option, and be the best case for the Pirates and Bell, in a year where they expect to contend, but also need to bring in a few rookies around mid-season.

      If Jaso does well enough in his move to first base, then the Pirates will either have a really affordable, strong bench option in 2017, or a great trade chip for a team looking for a first baseman. All of this assumes Bell handles his jump to the majors well.

      • piraterican21
        January 6, 2016 2:47 pm

        Jaso is getting pay bench player money, so if they have to move him there it won’t hurt at all.

        • Elite, rich team bench money but if Bell pans out it will be nice for the Pirates to have that luxury at least for a few months or maybe 1.5 years.

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