Baseball America released the list of minor league free agents yesterday, and there were ten Pittsburgh Pirates players on the list. Here is the breakdown of those players.
RHP: Juan Diaz (R), Jason Erickson (Lo A), Justin Masterson (AAA), Jhondaniel Medina (AAA), Drew Rossi (R)
LHP: Jim Fuller (AAA), Kelvin Marte (AAA), Rinku Singh (Hi A)
OF: Stetson Allie (AA), Danny Ortiz (AAA)
There aren’t really any notable losses. Most of these guys were signed to minor league deals last season. The guys who came up through the system (Medina, Allie, Singh) had seen their careers stall in the upper levels, or due to numerous injuries in the case of Singh (although he was unlikely to make it far beyond A-ball).
There are two players who were expected to be on the list, but who didn’t show up: Brandon Cumpton and Anderson Feliz. I was able to confirm that neither player was eligible for free agency, although both are Rule 5 eligible.
The Pirates drafted Cumpton in 2010, the same year that Jared Lakind was drafted, and the same year that Jose Osuna and Dovydas Neverauskas were signed. They had to add Osuna and Neverauskas to the 40-man roster to prevent them from becoming free agents. They re-signed Lakind to a minor league deal. But Cumpton wasn’t eligible for free agency, despite signing in the same year.
The reason for this is because Cumpton didn’t have seven years in the minors, and didn’t have seven active years. He spent the entire 2015 season on the MLB disabled list while recovering from Tommy John. That year on the disabled list didn’t count toward his free agent eligibility, which means he has one more year in the Pirates’ system before he’s eligible. Cumpton missed all of 2016 with a shoulder injury that came up at the end of his Tommy John rehab. The hope is that he can return and perform in 2017, although his status is up in the air, as it’s difficult to project how he will do following two major arm injuries.
Feliz is a different case. He was signed in 2009, but spent all of 2015 in Indy ball. He was also released at the end of the 2009 season, and didn’t rejoin pro ball until May 2010, so his 2010 season wasn’t a complete year in pro ball. For this reason, he only has five complete years in the minors, rather than the six needed to be eligible for free agency. Feliz is an organizational player who can provide depth in the upper levels, and isn’t as notable as Cumpton, but it’s important to note why he’s still in the system.