Today, Mat Latos signed a one year, $3 M deal with the Chicago White Sox. The deal didn’t include any incentives, which makes it largely preferable to the deal the Pirates reached with Ryan Vogelsong (one year, $2 M, plus $3 M extra in possible incentives). I’ve written many times this off-season that Vogelsong wasn’t a good choice for the rotation, and someone like Latos looked like the better choice. There are potential attitude problems with Latos, but it’s hard to compare these two deals without feeling like the Pirates missed out on a great opportunity to upgrade the pitching talent in their rotation.

The good news is that they’re not going to be waiting long for their upgrade. The Pirates have a wave of pitching set to hit the majors this year, with a very talented prospect group in Triple-A. Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon are two of the top pitching prospects in the game. I wrote about Chad Kuhl this evening, noting that his sinker and slider really improved in 2015. There’s also Steven Brault, who is a very underrated guy, and Trevor Williams, who only adds to the depth with his control and deception approach.

The Pirates ran into a bad situation last year where almost every prospect they had in Triple-A went down with an injury. It was Tommy John for Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadler, Nick Kingham, and Angel Sanchez. Jameson Taillon suffered a setback right as he was about to start pitching in real games. The only prospect who stayed healthy was Adrian Sampson, although he struggled and was traded for J.A. Happ.

It was kind of a worst case scenario last year with all of the injuries, but fortunately the Pirates have reloaded with their strong group this year. And they’ve got enough pitching in the pipeline, even behind the 2015 Indianapolis group, that they should be able to withstand the inevitable injuries that will come in the future.

Beyond the Triple-A group, the Pirates have Tyler Eppler and Clay Holmes set to start the year in Altoona. Both right-handers can hit 96 MPH with room for some additional velocity increase. They’ve got Yeudy Garcia and Stephen Tarpley both set to start in Bradenton, with a shot at Altoona in the second half. That could give Altoona up to four starters in the top 25 of the system at various times throughout the year. This group, along with the return of the guys injured in 2015, should help provide additional depth if anything goes wrong with the 2016 class of pitchers.

But going back to Vogelsong, the Pirates have a clear need for starting pitching from their farm system right now. They’re going to have to wait a bit, unfortunately. You can expect the replacements to arrive by mid-season. At that point, hopefully the strong wave of pitching depth will keep flowing into the majors, which will mean that the Pirates won’t be in a situation again where they have to rely on a starter like Vogelsong, even for a few months.

**With a Sinker That Hits Upper 90s, Chad Kuhl Has Become a Pitcher to Watch. Today’s article on Chad Kuhl. If I could go back and re-rank one player from the 2016 Prospect Guide, it would be him. Unfortunately, for him to make the majors in a big role this year, the Pirates would need something to go wrong with Jon Niese, or one of their big two pitching prospects. And none of those scenarios sound good for winning.

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120 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t even relate how pissed off I am right now. Cancelling my spring training trip…and before you are asking if i’m being sarcastic. No, i’m not. The fact that they wouldn’t go out and get Latos at that small cost infuriates me while we have trash like Vogelsong in the rotation. Unacceptable.

      • sure- pitchers always turn down more money to pitch for a competitive team and a pitching coach staff that is known for turning around bad years and fixing mechanics.

        • Players turn down more money from competitive teams all the time. Cahill turned down a 2-year deal and a starting role with the Pirates in favor of staying in the Cubs bullpen. James Shields turned down 4/$80M from the defending World Series champion Giants to get a 5/$75M deal with San Diego (with less upfront money). Jason Hayward took $16M less than the Nationals and Cardinals were offering. Shin-Soo Choo took $10M less than the Yankees were offering. All contending teams spurned for less money.

          There’s every reason to believe the White Sox are a competitive team too – hell, every team in the AL is competitive. They brought in Frazier and Lawrie to improve 2 of their 4 weakest positions, are reportedly looking at Desmond to fill a 3rd and Austin Jackson to fill the 4th, and nobody else in the AL Central looks dominant.

          Then there’s that alleged assault on Latos’ wife during the ’13 WC game; we don’t know whether that played a part in his decision. Could very well have been a non-starter.

          The fact that the Pirates are known for fixing mechanics is quite possibly irrelevant. For one thing, the White Sox’ pitching coach Don Cooper has at least as stellar a reputation as Searage has. But beyond that, Latos may not even concede that he needs fixing. He needs to stay HEALTHY – and that is one thing the White Sox excel at. But as for performance, Latos had a 3.40 FIP in the first half last year, before his knee flared up and his peripherals started to climb, presumably pitching hurt. With an offseason of rest, maybe he figures he’s fine as he is and he’ll go back to being what he’s generally been.

          We just don’t know whether Latos could be “gotten” let alone whether NH tried hard enough to get him.

          • Stephen- I respect you- but you are pulling a Tim Williams here and are spinning this in a way to prove your point. I can’t stand when people do that. Lets look at each one of the players you named in more detail:

            1. Trevor Cahill- re-signed with a club he already was playing for, and resigned for a team which will probably be better than us. I’m sorry, but your point is flawed here (I knew you’d bring him up)
            2. James Shields signed for a team he believed was going to be equally as competitive, and James Shields wasn’t coming off a bad year where he needed to re-establish himself and his market value. Your point is flawed here.
            3. Jason Heyward is not a pitcher- so my whole point of needing to re-establish value with a coaching staff that is known for it, has no bearing on him or Choo- I’m really not even sure why you brought either of these two players up in the conversation.

            — you can’t just pick and choose parts of my statement to retort. My statement was a package deal- players don’t turn down more money from a competitive team when they need to reestablish value from a team that is specifically known for that ability coming off a down year. They just don’t. Latos would sign with the team that would give him the best chance and turning into the next large contract- period, and if you give him more money as well, there is really no chance he is going to turn it down. He didn’t resign with a place where he already established value, this wasn’t an issue of getting 140 or 130 million dollars, this is a small 1 year deal specifically for him to regain his market value.
            – your statement about the white sox being competitive, to me- is laughable. If you mean they have a chance at being a .500 team then sure, that is possible, but there is no comparison here. I’m not sure if you have ever been to “new comiskey” but trust me, no player would “rather” play there than in PNC, all things considered equal of course

    • There is a lot of things you are missing here. Trust you’re GM and ownership we have made a ton of great moves over the last 4 seasons we have a bunch of upcoming talent not everyone is going to be bad and we always have a knack for finding talent that nobody else sees . Do Not be surprised if Lincecum is signed with us as a #3 starter, and I AM SICK OF HEARING ABOUT Neice not being good a great gb pitcher that had a off year last year had 2 + great years before last year’s bad 1 give this guy a chance . Or is there 1 thing this whole site forgot we do well with these type of pitchers ,and with our d shift I see him being what Adriano was when he came to us without the k’s . Give this organization credit where it’s due we always figure out how to get good talent , also the overlong deal I like it it’s better than Locke or morton which I was so happy to see his $ off the books and we got something in return that also could help this year . I was very impressed with that move hell I would have took him for a half a 6 pack of the worst beer made over him starting again he HAD 1 GOOD YEAR , Neice 2+ years in 3+ of pitching that’s already topped what morton gave us in his career!!!!!!!!!

      • If we sign Lincecum, I will boycott the whole season. Lincecum is more washed up than when we signed Matt Morris back in the day. Locke will outpitch Lincecum…..just as he has the last 2 seasons.

      • Neise has never been a great pitcher- ever- in his career. He doesn’t pitch late into games. He will likely be a good #4, I have nothing bad to say about him, but he is what he is. I cannot trust our GM and ownership here because I don’t believe that their strategy is to WIN this year- and that is what pisses me off. They have given noone, noone…..any reason to think they are trying to win the division in 2016.

        • I say yes we are way way better in the field since Pedro has came here and walker also plus we have a ton of guys that takes a lot of walks gets on base baseball is not the long ball I love the long ball as much as anyone else but I can see 6-7 guys with more than 60 RBI’s on this team and the whole outfield has a chance if they move polanco down in the order to have over 80 + and that’s not including Kang who will be the r e also BP is in great shape I can see us pulling a Chris Bryant and by the end of April calling up a starter say Tallion still would have him for 6 more yrs just 4 of them would be arb eligible that would be a help and Locke is not what I like but 16-14 in him starting is not horrible for a 5 guy don’t see him or Vogelsong being on this team that long and that will help also . The thing I don’t get is we are keeping these prospects back and I love Hanson he is something we have been desperately missing 1 a great defensive 2nd baseman and the true leadoff hitter we so badly need with speed they say is the best on this team plus not 1 yr has he not hit double figures in doubles, trips ,and hrs which I love seeing that

      • I’ll take Neise over Morton- but the problem is- we haven’t replaced Burnett. The problem here isn’t neise, it is that we essentially replaced Burnett with Vogelsong.

  2. Regarding the infield – player A, .989 fielding pct, 7 errors; player B, .958 fielding pct, 14 errors. Want to guess which one was Neil Walker and which one was Josh Harrison? J-Hay has more range but I’d rather have someone who catches the ball once he gets it. And who has any idea if Jaso can play 1B?

    • Comparing Walker’s FPC at 2B with Harrison’s across 5 positions, including 3B and SS, is comparing apples to tennis shoes. At least set them up side by side at the same position before you make the comparison.

      Considering only innings at 2B, Harrison’s lifetime FPC is .982 (it was .983 in 2015), and Walker’s FPC is .989. Much smaller difference there, and it’s more than made up for when you consider Harrison’s rate of plays made is 18 points higher than Walker’s (.793 to .775 lifetime).

      Basically, for every additional error Harrison makes when compared to Walker, he turns 2-3 more hits into outs (there’s a reason Harrison grades out as 8 runs better than Walker at the position).

      Are you sure you still would rather have Walker back there?

    • If J Hay has the lower fielding pct. Who cares there was 21 eligible players at 2nd base and going by the metrics you’re God (walker) had the worst range, defense and he flat out stinks hitting from the right side J Hay can hit is a spark plug for this offense which is going to be needed and I honestly would like to see Kang out for 6 weeks , love him 1 of my favorite players but so Hanson can play this kid has what we need a defense gold glove and speed the perfect leadoff hitter just hope he has the chance to prove it only 23 all year and has never hit under 10 hrs or 10 trips that leads into runs fast plus not to mention the steals and doubles

  3. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but in Ray I trust. I do also believe because of the tools Glasnow, Taillon, and Kuhl all possess their floors seems to be 4th or 5th starters, so I understand Locke and a reclamation filling those roles. I also understand the concern in relying on prospects, unfortunately that’s what small markets must do, because their stars must come from the minors. They can buy the rest of the team, but they will never be able to out bid the yankees and cubs for the stars, so they must hope the stars are being developed.

  4. What on earth do the Pirates do if one of their more reliable starters gets injured near the start of the season? Go with a rotation that includes Locke, Vogelsong, and Kyle Lobstein? We learned last year how costly it can be to come out of the gate slowly, they’re now baiting a disaster with their complete lack of major league ready opening day rotation depth.

    • Really valid point, but i think its far more likely Nicasio is the guy who steps in if someone gets injured on day 1-30. I imagine it’d be like the Gomez situation from a while back where they want Nicasio to go 5 innings and have the bullpen cover innings.

      • Or instead maybe make that turn a bullpen game? Call up filler from AAA and hope they can make it one time through the order before turning it over to Nicasio/Caminero/Feliz for two a piece?

        That would be fun!

    • You have the Williams kid we got for morton and he is decent and don’t you only have to go a month and you still get that extra year but it’s 4 years of arb well if that happens then you call Tallion he’s ready right now and will show it in ST

  5. It will probably come out that the Pirates “ALMOST” had Latos—i.e., offered him 2.9 million. Classic Nutting propaganda. Any post that claims that this had nothing to do with money is patently false. With Nutting, its always about the money. Its why we didn’t resign Volquez—a solid #2 starter—to a reasonable 2 yr/$20 million, its why we traded Morton for a bag of baseballs, and its why we let Happ walk. I have never seen a 98 win team move backwards the following off-season (other than the Marlins teams which were completely dismantled after winning the WS). Most playoff teams are looking for a bench bat or a #6 starter. The Pirates, on the other hand, have multiple holes at STARTING infield spots and Locke and Volgelsong in their starting rotation. At least 7 springs will get the new ski lift…

    • Not signing Laos has absolutely nothing to do with money!!!! He’s a mediocre pitcher coming off injury & is a complete jackass. I would have signed Volquez for 2 or 3 years, but they decided to go with AJ. I think it was a bad decision, but at the time they thought they had Taillon & Kingham coming on AJ’s heels. I didn’t agree with it, but I understood it.

      • Why didn’t they resign Happ? Even assuming, arguendo, that TG and JT are ready to come up this June and pitch well in the majors, they could always trade Happ prior to the deadline for prospects. Furthermore, if the Pirates get off to a slow start and are 15 games back in June, then it will be all for not. The current construction of this big league roster is fine for a rebuilding team, but is an absolute JOKE for a team coming off a 90-win season with most of its core in their primes.

        • Even more confusing about the non-play for Happ was turning around and essentially signing Niese for 3/$30 PLUS Neil Walker.

          Nobody should expect Happ to be a sub-2 ERA guy, but he should absolutely be as good if not better than Niese, and the difference in salary is easily made up by Neil Walker, either as a player or trade asset.

          Poor roster management.

        • Your post said nothing of Happ. You said NH was to cheap to pay Latos & it was all because of money. Which I pointed out was not close to being the reason, but feel free to keep jumping around. Happ got an extreme overpay for 3 great months of pitching, which doesn’t match his last 3 years & he’s in his mid 30’s. Probably will be a decent deal this year, but by 3rd year more than likely not so much. Next?

      • Agreed. Volquez is one NH and most of Allegheny county would want a do over on. Especially where the SP market climbed.

    • Describe a past scenario where the Pirates have said they almost had a player like that? Isn’t it telling to you that none of the other 28 teams also didn’t want Latos for more than 3 million. That tells me that the Pirates have more faith in Vogelsong than Latos.

        • I’m glad that Pirates didn’t offer Martin what the Blue Jays did. The Pirates have way too much depth at catcher and Cervelli put up a higher WAR than Martin last year. The Price deal rumors didn’t come from the Pirates though. It came from Tampa I believe and the reporter said the Pirates offer of prospects was actually better than what the Rays got but the Rays wanted major league players and not prospects. I’m not sure what to think about them not offering a 3rd year to Bastardo. NH isn’t exactly an open book when it comes to the plan.

      • A below average shortstop, an entire right side who’s never started, and a third baseman coming off a serious injury who may or may not be healthy.

        But other than that, solid.

        • Jordy’s only below average with the bat. I’d love to see them upgrade over him but he’s a solid defender. J-Hay is better defensively at 2B than Walker, I think Jaso ends up being this year’s Cervelli. If Kang is ready to go right away, I think they’re fine.

          • Not at all saying they’re doomed or anything like that, but this is simply not a safe and/or quality infield. Not where we stand today.

            Hopefully these questions will quickly be resolved – Jaso will take to the position immediately and stay healthy for once, Harrison will prove ’14 wasn’t a fluke, Kang won’t miss a step – but in the meantime it seems more than fair to consider the possibility of any one of these *not* happening.

            Every team has questions, of course, but it seems like more than a couple have far fewer than the 25-man as it currently sits.

      • Assuming Kang is not back by the start of the season, there starting infield is Jaso (a catcher), SRod (better served as a Super U guy), Jordy (Mr. .100 himself who makes the fantastic play, but also bones routine ground balls) and Josh Harrison. How many HRs did these guys combine for last year? 10?

    • I understand that Nutting was to blame for the snow storm that Baltimore got recently too.

      Let’s get back to those wonderful years when the media guy ran the team. Back in those days, we lost the old fashioned way. Incompetency.

      In all seriousness, I see your point, but the Nutting Is Bad For The Pirates mantra is getting really old for me.

      • Love the straw man argument. Nutting has made some very prudent moves, but he still doesn’t put enough into the team to make them a WS contender. One only needs to look at the Royals to see what the Pirates could be with a SLIGHTLY higher payroll.

        • 2015 Average ticket prices:
          Kansas City Royals $29.76 (11th in baseball)
          Pittsburgh Pirates $19.99 (27th in baseball)

          It’s easier to spend the money when you have it to begin with.

  6. Filed in the “arguing conjecture on a boring February morning category”…

    Give Huntington credit for sticking to his guns, from what I remember, after the Vogelsong and Morton transactions. Most were predicting a cascade of other moves – rightfully so – in order to make much sense of what was going on, but Huntington never really gave any indication of that and sure enough, here we are.

  7. I think Tim’s got the right attitude here.

    You can’t argue with anyone who’d rather a team at the top of the win curve build a complete, competitive roster and make prospects force the issue instead of leaving holes wide open for them – or at least I won’t – but that’s a decision made in Nov/Dec, not February. Latos simply doesn’t move the needle at this point.

    Enjoy watching some fun, young talent play a lot of baseball this summer and hope things break really favorably.

  8. I was hoping the Pirates would sign Latos, but the contract he signed — 1 year, $3 million, no incentives, 2 weeks before spring training — makes me question whether there was much demand for his services.

    Other teams have starting pitching needs, but it’s entirely possible that they joined the Pirates on the sidelines when it came to Latos (unless he declined higher offers that we don’t know about). Maybe because of his reputation, maybe because of performance concerns, maybe something else … who knows.

    Other non-perfect pitchers got paid larger AAVs and/or got more years (think Bartolo Colon, Doug Fister, Rich Hill, JA Happ, Hisashi Iwakuma, Colby Lewis, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Young). There is at least some indication that the Pirates had a good reason(s) for passing on Latos.

  9. If they didn’t pursue Latos, I’d bet it wasn’t due to his attitude but due to the Pirates not seeing something that they thought they could fix. Not every pitcher who has had success in the past is a candidate to be a reclamation project.

    As for Vogelsong, I think we’re underselling him. He knows that his chance to help the team is in the first three months and that will impact his mindset and preparation. I wouldn’t expect him to put up a quality full season, but 2-3 months of pitching like a #4 wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    That said, we still need other starting options–there’s too much of a chance that at least one of the five slotted for the rotation will need time off for an injury.

    • I mentioned this in another post, but I’ll repeat here…because some folks, for whatever reason, don’t bother to read every word I write…

      🙂

      I would not call Latos a reclamation project. True, he imploded after being traded, but until 30 July he was carrying a FIP of 3.41…which is pretty much dead on his career mark. So I really don’t think there was any rebuild necessary for him.

      As for the rest…yup…depth is needed…I wouldn’t mind RV half as much if he were the #6 guy.

  10. Just a thought if Cole has a great year he has his arbitration process starts after the season. His salary should be acceptable but if he goes lights out in 2017 do you think that PBC will not want to pay him $18-$20 million for 2018 and he is jettisoned? NH always talks years of control but the arbitration process really doesn’t matter in terms of money. You control the asset but you might not be able to pay the asset.

    • I don’t think you’d be looking at a value that high for ’18.

      I’m far from an expert, but I think you’d be looking at $5M for ’17, maybe $10-12M for ’18, then $16-18M for ’19…if he continues with current production.

      If that’s the case, the question is valid…it’s just pushed back a season.

      Would Huntington trade him? I dunno…it’ll be interesting to see. Should Huntington trade him? Yup.

      This thread is now about trading Gerrit Cole 🙂

      • I’m glad you took Cutch off the block :). That’s the first time I used one of those symbols. I assume it’s not something controversial.

        • Who took Cutch off the block?

          With 1.5 – 1 year of control remaining…no one is safe! No one, I tell you!!!

          Someone is always willing to overpay for a star you can’t retain…last year it was Preller in SD, this season it’s Stewart with the D’Backs.

  11. Tim,
    If Vogelsong is an epic failure which is my biggest concern by far this year and can not hold down the fort until midseason, what do you think the Bucs will do?
    Nicasio? Speed up prospect timetable? Turn on bat signal?

  12. I’m rooting for a stretched out Nicasio to beat out Vogelsong in ST.

    Also, JT, Taillon, etc are probably not going to come up and become world beaters. Think Cole when he first came up. He was a #4 like pitcher.

    • I agree with the assessment, but not the example.

      Cole gave up three runs or less in 18/19 starts and his season ERA never topped 4.00.

      That’s only a #4 for the Mets 🙂

      But, yeah, put me in the camp that thinks there’s a high probability the rookies aren’t going to step in and be dominant pitchers.

    • You should’ve taken a better look at Cole’s 2013 numbers before making a rather ..uh…..” uninformed ” comment like that.

    • F Nicasio and F this whole situation. Neal is really ticking me off. This whole offseason is truly pathetic…..a few weeks before the season and this is the crap we have to go to battle against the cards and cubs. It’s F’ing sad.

  13. I think it all has come down this entire time to who is comfortable being given 10-12 starts and then moving to the spot starter, long relief role. When Vog and his agent said ok… He pulled that trigger probably not believing he’d find a better one who would be OK with that transition.
    No agent wants to send his SP on a 1yr deal somewhere to have 8-10 weeks to prove themselves or they’re put in the pen where they’ll theoretically have to take another one yr deal the following yr and be another yr separated from their possible bounce back year. Neal Huntington, IMO, couldn’t play by the same rules he has the past 3 offseasons in searching for a SP and that’s because his organization is in a better spot today then it was then. I think the strength and depth that is on the cusp actually “hurt” that FA hunt for a SP in the very short term.

    • Why is it assumed that it would be Latos (or other free agent acquisition) going to the pen? Why not Locke? Not to mention you have injury risk among the starting 5, and the very real possibility that neither Glasnow nor Taillom will be ready to get major league hitters out by late June. In short, you cross that bridge if and when you get to it. Doesn’t need to be a deterrent. Just look st Oakland – they had 7 legit starting candidates and still added Alvarez. And I’m sure Alvarez had other suitors.

      • I’m not assuming anything. But neither is an agent or SP going to assume it’s going to be Locke. My point is that it’s not as much of a normal perfect fit for a bounce back pitcher as it has been in years past in Pittsburgh.

        It also still doesn’t answer my concern most agents probably have which is their client still probably only has that 8-10 week window. Locke has shown the ability to pitch well for stretches that long, a bounce back guy may need that long just to start his bounce back. I personally think that even if they made an overpay on a one year guy nothing was going to be guaranteed this year on who would bite. Once again, just a personal opinion, I could be 100% wrong.

        • I mean, Cahill took less guaranteed money to pitch in the Cubs bullpen so I think it’s questionable that your scenario actually happened, but it is worth thinking about.

          • I think the Cubs situation with Cahill was his comfort level there. The Pirates weren’t his only offer outside of the Cubs…
            And my scenario isn’t really my scenario… It’s kind of right there in front of everyone. No one has to agree with how they’re doing it, but you can’t sign a FA to a multi year deal like some have said and then flip him at the deadline as then who would want to sign multi-year deals in the future if they have no idea if they’ll even make it through the first 4 months of the season before being sent off.
            You can count on prospects just like you can count on bounce back candidates. The only difference is we’re bringing him or them up in June instead of April.

        • To that larger point, guys don’t wind up on the “looking for a 1-year contract” list without bringing considerable risk. No GM is going to guarantee these guys 30 starts come hell or high water – it will come down to performance. No one on a 1-year deal should expect to stay in the rotation putting up 0-1 WAR. It so happens that is Vogelsong’s ceiling these days, he knows it (and others of his ilk such as Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang and Jeremy Guthrie know this of themselves as well). So when the kids are ready, he moves aside.

          Just because Neal Huntington also spoke to Mat Latos’ agents doesn’t mean he made the same pitch, however. Latos has a 3-4 WAR upside. Huntington knows this going into the conversation. And he tells Latos’ agent something along the lines of, “if Mat can get back to form, he’ll make 30 starts for us. Don’t worry about the kids.” Because you don’t demote a 3-4 WAR starting pitcher in favor of Jeff freaking Locke when you’re trying to win a pennant.

          In short, I don’t think the impending arrivals of Taillon and Glasnow are as much a deterrent as they would seem to be.

        • Locke had to battle Worley for #5 last year, and barely held onto it at the end of the year. Nothing has happened since last night…… Locke is the first one out of the rotation, everyone knows it

  14. I’m certainly not heartbroken we didn’t get Latos but if 3 million was all it took to get him it seems like he would have been well worth taking a shot with him. While his clubhouse attitude would not be welcome I think his arm would be an upgrade over Vogelsongs.

  15. If Latos comes out and does very well and the back end of our Rotation does not come through, then NH left the door open for criticism. However, I think NH has great confidence in this team and well he should after they posted 98 Wins in 2015.

    There are guys in MLB that can be Clubhouse Cancers, and I think that is just one of the reasons NH did not pursue Latos. We are bringing up 2 or 3 of our best young SP’s in 2016, in addition to 2 or more young position players, and a strong clubhouse is an absolute essential.

  16. I wonder if agents for pitchers like Latos shied away from the Pirates knowing their clients only had about 10 starts to prove themselves before two of the best starter prospects in baseball are ready. That’s a short window. In Chicago Latos will have a long leash.

    I would still like to see them take a shot on Lincecum. 3 time World Champ, two time Cy Young winner coming off hip surgery that may increase his volocity. As it was, he was better than Locke or Vogelsong last year. He could also impart a lot of wisdom on the rookies as they break in. He is a good clubhouse replacement for AJ.

  17. Aside from Gallardo, Latos was the last available free agent arm whom one could reasonably expect to deliver a 2+ WAR. Every other available arm from this point forward is a high-risk depth option, and not someone you could readily plug into the #3/#4 slot and feel optimistic about April/May/early June. So two things become apparent:

    1) Either Latos didn’t want to pitch for the Pirates, or NH didn’t want him (or both), because money clearly wasn’t a deterrent in this case; and

    2) NH wasn’t just playing coy with the Vogelsong signing – Vogs really is the guy, at least for 10-12 starts. I mean, not even a #6 brought in for a Spring Training bake-off. Wow.

    Still have to think there’s one more move left if for no other reason than you can’t seriously believe this team goes into the season one bunt to the orbital bone away from Wilfredo Boscan/Kyle Lobstein. Right? Right???

    • There’s somebody out there I’d want a whooooooooooooole lot more than Latos or Gallardo….Mark Buehrle.

      Last season he had 4 CG…which was four more than all Pirate starters combined.

      A soft tossing, pitch-to-contact lefty easily capable of pitching 200 innings? Back the money truck up…

    • Obviously not too many other organizations were really interested in Latos either for his value to decline like it has.

      • Honest question…should it matter? There weren’t many interested in Burnett, Liriano, and Volquez after all.

        Is this the type of player left as an “inefficiency” in the game?

        I’m not even necessarily making the argument for or against, but it seems pretty clear that the days of low risk (~$5m) reclamations are coming to an end.

        I’d think having a Manager with Hurdle’s reputation would make the Pirates a perfect place for these kind of guys…and they may not have a choice.

          • I’m guessing NMRs point is that Latos is not low risk. You could sign a Volquez for 5m prior to this year, whereas now the only guy you get for that amount is an injured, mechanically tricky, outspoken guy who has worn out his welcome in at least 4 previous baseball cities.

            • I’m not sure that, that is his point. But- he is low risk because we would not be in the situation where his 3 million salary would prevent us from DFA’ing him the moment he said something out of turn if we thought it was necessary or his arm fell off. It is as low risk for a potential #3 pitcher as you will ever get honestly if we are trying to put it in perspective

              • I think the market has a different opinion of Latos’ risk than you do, else he would have signed for more than $3M. For Pete’s sake, that’s half as much as Rich Hill and less than Mike Pelfrey will make this year. That’s a huge discount off what you would expect potential #3 should get on a 1-year deal.

                • Pretty much exactly why i couldn’t be more strong in my statement that we should have signed him. I don’t really see you arguing with any of my points so I’ll assume we are on the same page.

  18. It seems like the Pirates were trying to avoid a Jonathan Sanchez 2.0 in Latos, and Vogelsong probably said he is willing to move to the pen if the team needs him in a Blanton type role. It is very risky to count on prospects like they are though.

      • Can’t have it both ways, Steve.

        How many times have we had “trusting” the Pirates reclamation strategy shoved down our throats this winter?

          • We’re talking pitchers, Steve. Pointing out risk in any form is like saying it might snow in Pittsburgh between Christmas and Opening Day.

            But it can’t be argued that this org has had far, faaaaar more success with reclamation arms than prospects which is why I think Daniel’s point is a good one.

              • Words are hard, Steve.

                “But it can’t be argued that this org has had far, faaaaar more success with reclamation arms than prospects…”

                • Going back five years, on the prospect side of the ledger I’ve got Cole…on the reclamation is Burnett (twice), Worley, Volquez, Liriano, and Happ.

                  As far as reclamation failures, I’ve got Sanchez and Bedard.

                  Then there’s Correia…not sure where to put him.

                  Am I missing some?

                • I can because that’s a very unfair evaluation . We have had only 1 prospect come to the majors as a starting pitcher since this GM guys got hurt it happens they are now healthy so let’s see and, oh my the 1 prospect I am talking about I think he is possibly a top 10 pitcher in the NL and is big in big games, we have signed a lot of reclamation arms as free agents and have had far more success in getting guys on the cheap unfortunately this is what we have to do they have (MLB) figured out everyway for us the, A’s and all small market teams impossible to win you have to spend double what we do to put a better team then we was last year by paper , but watch this team I think you will see a lot of surprises, and I think we do a great job over the last 4 years to better this team every year . Let’s see by the end of next year is then let’s talk about how the success is with our prospects and free agents as far as SP goes though not fair to say when Huntington has only had 1 guy come up of his draft starters and we have almost 2 waves of 5 within the next 2 seasons so if we can’t have 5 way above avg pitchers and lead the no in SP then we can’t draft but I trust that we will have to trade a starter or 2 of these guys from that many being that good . 2 years and we will have an idea

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