Shortstop Engelb Vielma has been claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. The Pirates traded away Shane Carle yesterday, so both players who were designated for assignment after the Gerrit Cole trade are no longer in the system. Vielma was selected off waivers by the Pirates from the Philadelphia Phillies back on December 11th.

The 23-year-old shortstop is a gifted defender, but he has a career .618 OPS in the minors, including a .493 mark over 87 games in his first trial at Triple-A. He had a .613 OPS over 34 games this winter in Venezuela, then batted .292 in seven playoff games.

With Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer likely both seeing time at shortstop for Indianapolis, plus Erich Weiss and Eric Wood also taking up infield spots, there didn’t seem to be a good spot for Vielma. That doesn’t even include the possible promotions of  Wyatt Mathisen or Pablo Reyes from Altoona, or Christopher Bostick seeing infield time, and even Max Moroff if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster for the Pirates. As far as losses go, this one has very little impact.

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  1. Like the “Kevin’s” reference, but something has to happen quickly with infielders (3B, SS, 2B) at the upper levels. Right now we have 7 guys at AAA/AAAA, who are all 25 or will turn 25 this year, and we just added Colin Moran making it 8. A few may establish themselves in MLB, but most are just going to be dead-ended at AAA, and keeping them all will just impede the progress of younger, more talented players.

    At AA this year we will have Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Valerio and Alemais are right behind them. I think Newman will come up as soon as possible in 2018 and play 2B opposite Jordy Mercer. Sign Mercer to a team-friendly extension as our Utility IF after we unload Rodriguez, and keep him at SS until Tucker is ready. Why Mercer? He can help Bell, Newman, Moran, and Tucker and he has experience playing every IF position coming up through the Pirate system. He fought his way through that system to earn that SS position, and he is well respected.

    • I watched to the 2013 NLDS last night to punish myself for being an apologist. As I was watching though I forgot Mercer & Barmes split time and JHay was solely a bench player. So I expect the Pirates to take a similar approach and have Newman, Moroff, etc. come in splitting time, bench roles.

    • Why would Mercer want to sign a contract as a part time utility player when he’s in his prime as at least an average starting major league shortstop? I would think such a situation would be a fallback position for him after 2018 at best.

  2. Off topic but, I wonder if the Pirates will use all that remaining international bonus money to make a run at Julio Pablo Martinez? He might be made a free agent during this signing period. If not I don’t understand why they received bonus money from the Giants.

    • They signed an 18-year-old pitcher today. If I knew anything more than his name and birthday, I’d elaborate.

      They did sign seven international players in December as well, so they have spent some of their money

      As for Martinez, there is no guarantee he signs this signing period, but the Rangers are said to be highly interested and they have the money to spend, so the Pirates might be able to get a prospect in exchange for int’l bonus money. Give the Rangers more money to up their offer.

      • Thanks John. I like the idea of trading the pool money. And obviously they have used more of it than I’ve realized or than we even know.

        • It is rare that you hear a mid-year update on how much bonus pool money teams have left. Usually from known bonuses we can figure out that they came close to, or spent all of, their bonus pool money. Unfortunately this year, 35 players have signed and only 1/4 of the bonuses have been announced.

          What we know is that they had $2.26M left during the Ohtani sweepstakes, traded and got back $500K (leaving them right where they were), and signed eight players for unknown bonus amounts since. Five of those players are first-time eligible signings this year, so they probably all cost at least $50K each and quite possibly six figures each for one or all of them.

          They definitely have a good deal of money left still, but it’s also safe to say they are under $2M (and it could be closer to $1.5M)

        • Oh, yeah, that’s not a bad idea. I hadn’t thought of that. I was hoping myself they were going to try to be especially ambitious with their bonus money this signing period, no longer deluded by Gayo’s diamond in the rough strategy. Look for a diamond in a diamond mine every now and then.

          I love metaphors.

    • Right place, right time for the information. Vielma’s main purpose was to help fill out the winter league articles. Now that his team has been eliminated this winter, he didn’t have much value.

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