David Freese Improves the Pirates in Many Ways in 2016

BRADENTON, Fl. – It’s rare for a team to make a move this late in the year that will impact the Opening Day roster. That’s exactly what the Pirates did yesterday when they signed David Freese to a one year, $3 M deal. Freese will be the Opening Day starter at third base with Jung-ho Kang expected to miss the start of the season. When Kang returns, Freese will move from third base over to first base, where he will be the right-handed platoon option, opposite John Jaso.

“We felt like it was the right move to make,” Neal Huntington said. “Kang, we’re still projecting mid-to-late April. He wants to come back earlier. If he comes back mid-to-late April, then we’ve had David Freese at third base for a good chunk of time. If there’s a setback, then we’ve got an established Major League ready third baseman ready to step in for a longer period of time.”

Huntington and Freese both talked about how this didn’t suddenly happen, and how the Pirates had been pursuing Freese for a long time this off-season. Freese had been watching the Pirates for a longer amount of time, admiring what they have been able to do the last few years, and especially noticing when he was with the Cardinals. Of course, the last time Freese saw the Pirates, he hit the two run homer in game five off Gerrit Cole that ended up being the winning run. So has he gotten a chance to talk to Cole yet?

“No, that hasn’t come up,” Freese said, laughing. “Two years, especially in this game, is a long time. The runs that we had in St. Louis that I was a part of, that feels like forever ago. I know what these guys have done the last three years, and it’s awesome to watch. They obviously have an attitude that understands winning, and what it takes. It’s great to be a part of it. I know there’s unfinished business here, and that excites me.”

Freese looks like a great addition for third base depth. He’s been a 2.0+ WAR player in four of the last five seasons. He’s in his age 33 season, but is coming off a year where he hit for a .743 OPS. He’s stronger defensively at third base than Harrison, but Kang will be the better option offensively and defensively when he returns. And Freese understands that he’s only keeping the position warm until that return takes place.

“Whenever Kang gets back, whatever my role is, I’m cool with it,” Freese said. “I love being here already. I’m going to probably take some reps at first, and continue to stay ready for third. With the NL, you can pinch hit and get some at-bats, and maybe go to the AL and there’s an extra spot in the order. I’m here to do whatever Clint wants me to do, and try to get back to the post-season with these guys.”

The question is whether Freese will be a good option at first base when Kang returns. Again, on offense he’s not a bad option. He has a career .826 OPS against right-handers, and outside of last season, he’s been over an .800 OPS against lefties every year. He also provides added depth on the team at third base later in the year, where their depth is easily the weakest spot. On defense at first base, there would be some questions.

“He’s played a little bit of first base in the past,” Huntington said. “We do anticipate that he’ll be able to make that transition over there. And then obviously he’s available if Kang does take longer than we expect. If it’s longer than late-to-mid April, we’ve got an incredible insurance policy there. He’s a veteran right-handed bat that’s been a winner, that’s been on championship calibre clubs, and wants to be a Pirate. Wants to join this group and help them take that next step forward.”

The question mark is whether he can handle first base. He’s played first base in the past, but only 21 innings in his MLB career, and not since 2011. So once again, the Pirates are taking a guy with limited first base knowledge, and putting him at the position.

“It’s a transition,” Freese said about the move. “If I start getting some reps over there, it will be alright. I played on the other side. Just kind of the opposite field I guess. And you have to work the bag a little bit more over at first. I think for that part, it’s just going to be about the timing of how plays occur — choppers in the four hole, what to go after, what not to, and that type of stuff. That’s just going to come with time, and I think I’ll transition pretty well.”

With Freese at first base, the Pirates don’t have much room for Michael Morse and Jason Rogers. Neal Huntington said that Morse will be the right-handed platoon option on Opening Day, while Rogers could still make the bench. After that, Freese will take over for Morse, and that might make it difficult for the team to carry both players on the bench, along with Freese.

“We do like what we’ve seen out of Jason at third base, and feel like he can fill a role there,” Huntington said. “We just felt like David Freese made us better, in the short-term and over the course of a season. Once Kang gets healthy, we’ll have to see where everybody else is health wise, the configuration of the bench, who is playing well, who is healthy, and who fits, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

This move makes you question why they added Jason Rogers in the first place. Huntington said that this deal wasn’t made because of something they saw this spring with Rogers, but that it was an ongoing conversation. Still, the move being made now means that Rogers is the number three option at third base (or number four, if you count Harrison), the number three right-handed option at first base, and I don’t know how far down he is on the outfield depth chart. That’s good depth to have, but the Pirates paid two top 50 prospects to get him.

Granted, they can’t predict the future, and couldn’t predict that they would have gotten Freese on this deal. But even without Freese, there wasn’t a big role for Rogers. He was competing with Morse for the first base job, wasn’t a realistic option to start at third base, and wasn’t a guy who should factor into the outfield mix. Beyond 2016, he wouldn’t factor in at first base with Josh Bell, and had an even smaller chance at third or outfield with all of the Indianapolis prospects coming up. He now becomes a very expensive depth option.

As for Freese, there will certainly be questions about his defense at first base as he makes that transition. But this is a quality MLB hitter who can provide strong defense at third while Kang is out, and strong depth off the bench. He strengthens the lineup in the short-term, and strengthens the depth of the team in the long-term this season. That’s something the Pirates could use, and it’s exactly what Freese was looking for.

“I wanted to go to a place where I had a chance to win first and foremost,” Freese said. “But to get in there and have an opportunity to play a little bit, this is a good spot.”

  • Still believe he stays at 3rd and Kang eventually takes Mercers spot.

  • The team didn’t need him. He makes them marginally better but shouldn’t that money and more been spent on adding a better than Niese, Locke or Vogelsong starting pitcher?

    • I agree that they didn’t absolutely need Freese, but at a nominal cost, they greatly improved their depth. Remember two seasons ago lack of depth was a major reason why they didn’t win the division. And I think I’m in the minority here, but I’ve been watching Niese for years, and I think he’s capable of producing #3 starter results.

  • As outlined in the article the Freese signing addresses an early season need at a bargain cost with a proven major league bat. What I don’t comprehend is why there is so much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about blocking prospects….specifically Hanson.
    Hanson is not a third baseman….the Bucs want him concentrating on second base, and we all know they don’t want to burn a year by placing him on the opening day roster. Freese will help this team win in April and beyond. As for why Rogers was traded for I think it comes down to years of control of a bat they like, and unsuccessful attempts to trade Morse. First base does look like the annual Clusterf—ck. Jaso, Morse, Rogers and Freese, and not a glove among them.
    I hope Neal and friends are attending the upcoming sessions for Tim Lincecum and Justin Masterson. Those will be very interesting workouts for teams looking for a starter at this late date. After this move on Freese and all the quotes about a good start and the winning curve anything is possible if the price is right, including a trade for a starter.

  • I’d like to add a little perspective to this discussion. I absolutely believe there is no way we can call the Rodgers trade a good one. He’s a serviceable ball player who adds some depth, but the Bucs now have little use for him. And for what little value he has to the team they gave up too much for him, but not castastrophically so. The trade won’t sink the club or anything ( so there will be no need for him to legally change his name to Herschel Walker or Ricky Williams). It’s hard to imagine what the plan was when they traded for him, but it could have been a situation where at that time it seemed like the best option for the club (I can imagine building a team is really difficult – you maybe target one player only to see him sign elsewhere, then a domino effect makes you redo your entire strategy, etc.), or maybe they just made a mistake. Let’s remember that, although these guys are seasoned professionals on the business end of baseball, they’re still human, and prone to screw up. We can call the Rodgers trade a bad one, but let’s not get too worked up about it, because it seems to me that Huntington and company make way more good transactions than bad, as reflected by the recent success. This specific trade was a bad one, to be sure. We see bad transactions across the league every year. It happens. Does that make it OK? Maybe not, but it’s definitely not a repeated problem with this club. And if you’re still angry about that trade, stop for a moment and imagine being on an Orioles site right now…imagine the bitching and moaning that is still probably going on about the Snider for Tarpley and Brault deal. That should make any fan smile.

  • Regarding obtaining Rogers I think there is a possibility that they didn’t like something about Supa once they had him and they traded him while he is still projectable.

  • Is Freese better than Harrison defensively at 3B? I always saw Freese as Walker like at 3B, made the plays he got to, never the best and declining range.

    And damn as Alvarez skewed everyone’s view of the defensive spectrum, 1B isn’t that difficult to play.

  • I think down the road next year when Freese and Morse are gone Rodgers will be our bench 1B and will back up Bell, we control him for a long time and from his performance with the Brewers it seems like he’s great in PH and big AB’s

  • Rogers remains the mystery in all of this. They paid a not-insignificant price to get him (but nothing they’ll certainly miss) and must have just liked the bat and decided to pounce when he became available. Worst-case scenario they have him for his peak years at a pre-arb price and maybe he can become a 300 at bat 1B/3B guy. But he sure doesn’t seem to have a place on the 2016 team as constructed.

    • I agree with the head scratching about Rogers, yet, he is not a one year investment with all three options remaining, and Morse and Freese are one year players.

    • for what they gave up for him, he has to make the team out of spring training. That’s the only way i’ll like this trade, and even that’s effy.

  • NH maybe played poker with Freese and waited to call his bluff? Still can’t figure out Jaso/Roger/Morse and the perverbial ” he played (fill in the blank) games at first”. We need a glove you can trust. This team needs to settle in and focus on April.

  • Good value move, first and foremost.

    Freeze has been a good hitter in the past, but is dangerously close to cratering offensively. We’re talking about a guy who struck out just 3% less and essentially matched OBP’s with everyone’s favorite punching bag, Pedro Alvarez.

    6%BB / 23%K is an extremely shaky profile for a right handed hitter with marginal contact authority playing half his games at PNC. His elite BABIP was his calling card as a Cardinal, and that has predictably cratered down to just above average.

    Depth is good, but Freese shouldn’t be taking at bats away from Hanson or Bell by the second half of 2016.

    • I agree 100%.

      As jumbled as the bench looks now, this pickup doesn’t only make the Rogers trade a head-scratcher, but now the S-Rod signing seems absolutely silly. Well, it was already that…so now it just seems even worse.

      • Would never have resigned him – let alone paid him $2.5M if his last name wasn’t Hurdle

        • I agree with Rodriguez and I’m not a fan of him being here, but you type the same garbage every single day. I thought having Rogers and Morse on the roster was redundant….But that’s nothing compared to the redundant bullshit you type.

    • Pedro’s bat was not the issue for why he’s not here anymore. Yes, people got irritated with his inability to hit lefties very well. People had hoped for more from him. That said, 243/318/469 with 27 homers I think was 3rd best on the team last year. He’s not here, because his bad defense took away from alot of what he could with his bat.

      Freese very well may be on the downswing of his career, or maybe he may be motivated and improve from last year. Even if he duplicates what he did last year, it would be a very solid bat to have. His numbers are very comparable to Neil Walker.

      257/323/420 743 ops, 14 homers, 2.4 WAR for Freese

      269/328/427 755 ops, 16 homers, 2.6 WAR for Walker

      Walker was just a shade better. Freese had much better numbers than Harrison.

      I think the lineup and bench depth this year depite the loss of Walker and Pedro could be even deeper and more improved than ever, between the additions of Jaso, Freese, Rogers, Joyce, Goebbert and then having guys like Bell, Hanson, Diaz just behind them. Freese and Morse coming off the bench in PH situations are good options to have. Both have some power to be dangerous.

      Quality depth is going to be needed to contend in the Central this year. Cubs are very deep from the bench out.

    • Seriously, man???? Alvarez career OBP is .309, Freese is .344. Then, you completely ignore the train wreck that is Alvarez playing the field. Not only is your argument extremely weak, it’s also not factually correct….You’re better than this!

      Even if you’re CHERRY PICKING and only including what each player did last year, you fail to include Freese was a 2.3 WAR player and Fat Ass was a 0.1 WAR.

      • See, if you strain yourself enough to look past the last line on his baseball card you may just learn something…

        Freese hasn’t come close to approaching his career-average OBP – which was *always* propped up by an unsustainable BABIP – in three years. What has that decline in OBP directly coincided with? BABIP! Combine that with a declining walk rate, above average strikeout rate, and where he’s at on the aging curve.

        I’m really starting to think you don’t know what “cherry picking” actually means. First Tim, now this? I’m talking plate discipline, power production, contact authority…you throw out the career average of one stat for a 33 yo…and *I’m* the one cherry picking? That’s not how this works.

        I gave everyone enough credit that they could figure it out without me, but I’m clearly talking about about offense only when comparing Freese and Alvarez. You guys are lying to yourselves if you try to tell me Alvarez wasn’t bashed here til the day he left for striking out too much and not getting on base enough.

        • Alvarez was bashed for defense as well. Something you’re ignoring, which doesn’t make much sense since the NL has no DH and no place for a player like Alvarez.

          • No, I am most certainly *not* ignoring defense. Nobody is or was arguing that Feese is the better overall baseball player.

            I made a specific point about a specific part of his game and you can’t seem to get that through your head.

  • One good thing… The days of an injury and seeing the likes of a morel, martinez or nyx seem lomg gone. Worst case would be jordy going down – I do hope we are able to stash florimon in Indy if he’s not on opening day roster. Him and gift are good insurance

    • WhIle the backups won’t impress anyone with the bat, we do at least have 2-3 capable defensive options. Gift or Flormon will put pressure on others to hit, but that’s some really capable defense at a premier defensive spot.

  • One of the Pirate goals this year is to get off to a better start than they have in the past few years. I suspect Freese was signed because management didn’t want to depend on a rookie (Hanson) who has never played at the ML level and has a history of being a slow started at each new stop on his development. Had Freese been available earlier in the off-season on a reasonable deal they likely would have taken him them and not signed Rogers (or may have anyway, if he fit their long-term plans). I look at this mostly as a short term insurance plan to get them off to a good start – they recognize the Central will be tough this year and they can’t afford to let any games slip away.

  • What’s the opening day bench look like now?

  • I don’t understand why Morse can’t get a chance at first base full time. Put him there and let him play. This platoon garbage is beyond frustrating. Especially when the other 20 platoon options at first base aren’t even first basemen.

    • Why is a platoon garbage? Jaso has been one of the best hitters vs RHP the last several years, why doesn’t it make sense to let him hit righties, and then put someone who hits lefties better play when the face lefties?

  • Freeze at 3m is a good investment. But as article points out, really makes me question the price we paid for Rogers. And I do wish they woukd have used figuerosa or hanson and not spent money on srod. I would have rather spent another 3-7 on a pitching wild card such as fister, Norris or petit.

    • JohnW….I am with everything you said.

      The lack of a solid #3 SP is going to hurt more.

    • Agree, I’m thinking we wasted a couple of prospects on a player who probably won’t get a real shot in Pittsburgh

  • This guy’s bat fills the hole left by Neil Walker’s bat, and gives better all around defense. A big plus to the lineup.

    Although it’s kind of frustrating to see the prospects leapfrogged yet again, most of those guys are bench players. If Huntington sees a chance to make his team better, he should take it. And that he got a one year deal on a guy who’s going to be 33 next month, that’s even better; if this guy goes all Lyle Overbay/Corey Hart on the Bucs they don’t have to eat a contract.

    • Are you talking about Jason Rogers???

      • Tom Brenholts
        March 13, 2016 10:50 pm

        No, I think Rogers might be really good, and I don’t think the Pirates have a spot for him. But I think that guy needs to be on the field.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    March 12, 2016 1:33 pm

    I realize there is a need to put a positive spin on the Freese signing, but I think its a little pre-mature to conclude that he represents a significant upgrade to the team. He is on the downward trajectory of his career and coming off a sub-par year and there are questions regarding his long-term health. He was never a great hitter, and certainly never a power hitter and big run producer. He is an upgrade at 3B defensively over what we had available, but he’s not a Gold Glover.
    I guess, if I put my “devil’s advocate” hat on, I have to ask why was he still sitting around and unsigned, if he can significantly help a team that won 98 games last year? Plus, he was willing to accept $3 million to play.
    I’m very frustrated with the FO’s continual overlooking of their own prospects, and instead pursuing old retreads. This team needs more speed and athleticism, especially behind the plate and in the infield. So, it looks like Diaz and Hanson will waste away for another year in AAA – even though they would be immediate upgrades over Rodriguez and Stewart. Then there is the ill advised overpay for an overweight AAAA player (Rogers) who apparently is not much better defensively than Pedro.
    I am very concerned about the starting rotation, the infield defense, and the inability of this team to control base stealers. We really didn’t significantly improve in any of these areas, from the team that lost to the Cubs in the playoffs.
    I know Nutting and NH likes to brag about how great their FO is, but they really blew it this off-season. I assume money dictated what they did and what they didn’t do. If they had not signed Rodriguez, Jaso, Stewart, Vogelsong, and Freese – and not traded for Niese and Rogers, they could have signed a Kazmir and a solid LH reliever. And they could have backfilled the rest of the roster with youth, at much lower payroll numbers.

    • “I realize there is a need to put a positive spin on the Freese signing”

      There’s never a NEED to spin a move as positive, and there’s never any spin period. I give my honest opinion in every article.

      I mean, this very article has me questioning another move they made this off-season, dealing for Rogers. If I’m trying to provide positive spin here, I’m doing a bad job of it. Freese is just a good signing that fits this team’s needs right now.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        March 12, 2016 2:07 pm

        Well, these kind of articles come across as spin – when you look at the details of who they signed and when they signed him. Why was he sitting around well into March looking for someone to pick him up?

        • They come across as spin to someone who wants to see it that way. I read it as completely unbiased, and informative. Not to say that I don’t agree with your larger point about the roster construction, but this article should be the target of the criticism

        • This has been a slow off season for a lot of players. Ian Desmond was signed about a week ago.

          When they signed doesn’t matter.

          • David_Orlando
            March 12, 2016 9:27 pm

            Is it too late to sign a reclamation project, since now they will have a month less to work with them? Is there any chance you could see the pirates sign someone Masterson or Lincecum at this stage?

        • Part of the reason is probably his reported asking price this off-season, which started at 3/$30M+…Seeing as he took less than 10% of that price, I’d say his price just didn’t decline sharply enough to sign earlier

        • The Indians looked at him and Uribe – and chose Uribe…
          Am I the only one who finds that troubling?

          It Uribe at $4M was a better option than Freese at $3M why are we talking about Freese? Or are the Indians stupid?

          • Uribe is a weirdly good player, so you probably shouldn’t find it troubling that a team chose to sign him when they could get him for so little.

      • About the Rogers trade, maybe they were looking for the guy who hit the ball well for the Brewers. I also wonder if the pitching prospect we gave up was less than expected by the Plirates after the draft. Hard to tell, but it was an opportunity for Rogers that he did not take advantage of during his SSS period of ST. Hanson, on the other hand, clearly took full advantage of his time in the sun and if he gets the promotion he has earned it.

        • Trey Supak threw 52 innings in two years. Hardly enough to make a decision, and after they gave him $1m. I’ll keep saying it, this trade makes no sense.

          • There’s really no good way to look at that part of the deal, if any part at all.

            Either the Pirates gave up on a promising high school arm too early, or they through away *another* million dollar high school draft arm.

      • Rogers is a mystery.

        Everyone brings up Supak, and that might come back to bite the team, but, in Broxton, they gave up a true outfielder on a team that needs a #4. Now they’re stuck with IF castoffs like Morse and S. Rod to patrol the grass. Not that Broxton is going to be a world-beater, but his skills and the Pirates’ needs seemed to be aligned.

        The only way that deal makes sense to me is if the Pirates thought they had a taker for Morse and were going to use Rogers as the RH platoon at 1B. Even if that were the case..it’s still strange as they hadn’t filled the LH 1B position yet.

        I don’t know…just odd to trade a player with a role for one who’s blocked.

        • Wanna hear something really funny?

          The Pirates control Rogers through his age-36 season without needing an extension.

          That’s gotta be a record!

        • The need for a true 4th OF isn’t great considering the starters.
          If an OF does go down for an extended period of time they can call up Joyce or Garcia from AAA.
          But for a spot start there is enough versatility on the current roster to handle that.

          • On the surface, yes…but, while none of the big three hit the DL last season, there were 98 games in which they didn’t notch complete games as OF’s.

            That equates to a fair amount of playing time and I’d rather have it filled by someone who’s an actual outfielder…especially when he’s good at it. And this doesn’t even touch on Broxton’s speed on the bases.

            Again, I don’t think Rogers is a bad player…in fact, I kinda like the guy’s skillset. It just happens to be one the Pirates have no use for. Not only does he not have a spot at the ML level…heck, he’s going to be caught in a logjam at AAA as I don’t see anywhere for him to play regularly there, either.

        • maybe there’s a player to be named later, like a top draft choice. lol.

    • If Hanson had done anything at all to warrant a promotion, I might agree with you, but as he clearly demonstrated over a full season at AAA his focus is still lacking. That won’t play at the top level. And he’s hardly going to waste away in Indy – if Hanson plays well, he’ll force his way onto the roster.

      As for Diaz, I’m sure he could contribute, but Stewart is one of the best backup catchers in the league right now. Knowing Cervelli’s injury history, I’d rather have 3 ML-viable catchers with Diaz full-time in AAA than have only 2 with Diaz in the show, catching 2 days a week. 2011 is still fresh in my mind.

      Rogers a AAAA player? With an .808 OPS and a wRC+ of over 120? That’s a good one.

      The infield defense is MILES ahead of the 2015 vintage, probably 20 runs better off without Walker and Alvarez. That will help.

      And your “if they had not…” scenario makes no sense at all, from a financial or a team building standpoint. Rogers is ticketed for AAA, and has zero impact on the payroll. Even if he makes the team, he’s making the league minimum.

      SRod, Stewart, Freese, Vogelsong and Jaso combined will make $12.85M in salary across 5 roster spots. Kazmir alone is making $16M. And you would still have to pay for a starting 1B and 3 bench guys. Even at league minimum, that’s $2+M, and you’re throwing guys like Bell and Hanson into the fire with no backup plan.

      Undo the Niese trade and your payroll goes UP $1M, you have an aging, stationary Neil Walker, and now you have to find yet another SP.

      Don’t worry, though. The Pirates will be implementing your plan in 2017.

      • Oh for Christ’s sake. To talk of Walker like that in the article praising a lesser player is laughable.

        • OK, I was laying it on a bit thick maybe, but the central point stands, if you undo that trade, you’ve got to find another SP.

          • And this is where the logic gets circular for me.

            If there is one thing that everyone but the most unrealistic cynic could agree the Hunrington-led Pirates have been good at consistently finding, it is what?


            Tim wrote entire articles this winter about how much we should “trust” that ability, and Tim knows what he’s doing. The Pirates, for years, have found far better arms for far less expenditure.

            BTW, still waiting for the first article to even attempt to explain precisely *what* the Pirates are changing in Niese in order to extract this previous 2+ WAR starter. Searage Magic, indeed.

            • I think when Hill signed for 6m and Pelfrey signed a 2 year deal with Detroit, it was a clear signal that the market for pitching had changed, and exploiting inefficiencies was going to be more difficult. Because even if Niese was part of the plan all along, how do you otherwise explain signing Vogelsong to a guaranteed deal in December.

              There is no getting around the fact that this team feels undermanned in the pitching department. I’m left to contemplate lopsided trades for Andrew Cashner.

              • latos signed for 3- fister signed for 8- both one year deals……

                • Fister actually only got 7M guaranteed with incentives that could take him to 12M, but even the base guarantee is eyebrow-raising given that he trended in the wrong way in every important metric/component – GB%, K rate, hard hit rate, sinker velocity. And was moved to the bullpen. And had a flexor tendon strain that sidelined him in May. And was no better when he returned. That guy, with more red flags than a Chinese military parade, got a 7m guarantee.

                  Latos certainly is a bargain for his performance risk…apparently 3M is the market clearing price for a guy nobody wants in its clubhouse? A month before he signed, his suitor list was Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Baltimore. They all passed, despite both Pittsburgh and Tampa being well-known for exploiting market inefficiencies. I think there’s got to be something more we don’t know about him because too many well-run organizations ran the other way.

                  • Stephen- this is why they are market inefficiencies or reclamation projects and why fister wasn’t getting 15M or why latos wasn’t pulling down a 50M contract. If he didn’t have the flexor tendon problem or see those things you mention, or if Latos hadn’t struggled last year and be generally perceived as an assclown, you don’t get those deals, we couldn’t even have had the opportunity to take a swing at them following their 2014 seasons.

                    • Sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear. It’s not that there aren’t inefficiencies, it’s that inflation in the pitching market has made the “bounceback candidate” a lot more expensive and risky.

                      Take Edinson Volquez and Doug Fister side by side. Not only is Fister 40% more expensive than Volquez was two years ago, but he carries both higher performance risk (2015 replacement level season vs. Volquez’ 1 WAR 2013) and injury risk (Volquez had been healthy for 3 years, Fister missing time with the flexor tendon issue). Fister’s upside may be higher than Volquez’s was prior to 2014 (though I’ll happily wager he falls short of the 2.6 WAR Volquez earned in ’14), but I just don’t see the Pirates guaranteeing $7M to someone who carries that much risk. It’s telling that they would rather spend $2.5M on Vogelsong, who has almost no upside at all, than spend a few more shekels on a guy like Fister.

                      It looks like in 2016 the Edinson Volquez “bounce back” candidates – the low injury risk, reasonable floor with some upside – are guys like Juan Nicasio and Trevor Cahill.

                    • I see what you are saying, but I disagree. I don’t see much risk in Fister because I don’t believe he can be any worse than he was in 2015, and because I believe it was caused only by a lingering injury issue, which should be completely behind him at this point. I think by the end of April, we would have been happy to have a replacement level pitcher in our rotation over what we have currently, though as a die hard fan I hope i’m wrong. The only thing that is “telling” about it, is that we made bad roster decisions or made decisions based off scenarios that quite simply didn’t fit what we thoguht was going to happen. Its a front office fail all the way around.

                  • Pretty much all of those bad advanced metrics are caused by the flexor strain honestly when you are talking about a pitcher who lives on command and movement.

      • And Rogers is the definition of AAAA.

        A 28 yo with a hot September is not anything more than that.

        • perhaps that’s your and BuccosFanStuckinMD’s definition, but I would think you need to have failed at the ML level at least once to qualify. This is a 32nd round draft pick who has done nothing but hit at every level, including in the show. That it took him 5 years to get there says as much about the flaws and biases in player development as it does his ability to contribute to a major league team.

          • I really, really like and respect you, Stephen, but this is going to look very silly I’m a few years.

            • Won’t take that long…

            • Are we talking about the same thing? Because when I think AAAA player, it’s guys like Jeff Clement, Wily Mo Pena, Kila Ka’aihue and Dallas McPherson – kicked ass at AAA, had multiple chances to do something at the major league level, failed each and every time.

              Rogers has already separated himself from that class. He has no secondary skills, which makes him difficult to roster, but he hits major league pitching, which in my book already disqualifies him from the “AAAA” tag.

              • Wily Mo Pena never really failed…….just for arguments sake.

              • “… but he hits major league pitching…”

                Again, you don’t get to say this after one good month.

                • “Again, you don’t get to say this after one good month.”

                  This is my entire point, NMR. You and BuccoFanStuckinMD are jumping the gun on Rogers. If I can’t say he hits major league pitching after 180 PA of, you know, hitting major league pitching, then how in the world do you justify a statement like “Rogers is the definition of a AAAA player”?

                  Especially when there actually IS a definition of AAAA player:

                  “A AAAA player, or four A player, is a player who is an outstanding player at the AAA level but always has trouble succeeding at the major league level” (Baseball Reference)

                  • Chris Shelton. Bryan LaHair. Jerry Sands.

                    Not a person other than their mothers would argue these guys are/were anything more than AAAA hitters; all performed better than Rogers over their first ~175 big league PA.

                    Of course we can’t *definitively* say that about Rogers until his career has actually ended, but we’ve seen this kind of player dozens and dozens of times before. Honestly blows my mind that the guy couldn’t find a role on a rebuilding team *nor* a contender lacking depth in the very positions he’s supposed to play after giving up a significant prospect to get him and folks don’t take that as a sign.

                    Again, I love your optimism, but this will look silly in a few years. Trust me.

                    Former Gaby Sanchez Fan

  • Thanks for the article- I was waiting for it!

    My only concern for both the lineup and the bench is that it is far too right handed. Only two lefty bats in the lineup, and looks possible that there won’t be one LH bat on the bench (is Joyce going to make the squad now?)

    Other than that I think this is a good add. If they felt Hanson wasn’t ready yet this is a way to not have to rush him, or the other middle infield/utility prospects, and allow Kang to take his time healing.

    I guess since Morse doesn’t have much of a platoon split he’s almost like a LH bat…if you squint…and he probably would have been poorly served as a platoon player. And I have not been at all impressed with what I’ve seen of Rogers thus far.