The Pittsburgh Pirates trimmed their Spring Training roster down to 49 by reassigning Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman, Yeudy Garcia and Alex McRae to minor league camp. This is their third round of cuts and it comes with exactly two weeks left before Opening Day.
None of these players were competing for Opening Day jobs with the Pirates. They will go down to minor league camp where Spring Training games began on Tuesday and get ready for the regular season. Kevin Newman will play for Indianapolis this year, while the other three hope to make the jump from Altoona to Indianapolis to begin the season. Their placements could depend more on how a crowded Indianapolis roster, both on the position side and pitching side, plays out.
UPDATE 9:00 AM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
The Pirates continue cutting the roster down with minor league games starting this week at Pirate City. Just like the moves at the start of the week, none of these moves are a surprise. Newman and Kramer are expected to start the season in Indianapolis, although that could be up in the air for Kramer, depending on some of the other cuts from big league camp.
I’d expect Newman to arrive in Pittsburgh at some point this season, and he could be the future starter at shortstop, at least until Cole Tucker is ready. Kramer could have a shot at the second base job, but Max Moroff is currently ahead of him on the depth chart, getting the first opportunity. if Kramer does open the year back in Altoona, I’d expect him up in Indianapolis quickly, with a shot to arrive in Pittsburgh as a September call-up.
McRae should join the rotation in Indianapolis this year, with the only question mark there being whether he pitches as a starter or a reliever. I think it will be a starter, based on how he’s been used in big league camp. I don’t see McRae as a starting option in the majors, but a relief option who can specialize in ground balls. I think it will be difficult for him to break into the majors this year with the Pirates, considering all of the options they have ahead of him.
Garcia was converted to the bullpen last year, after continued struggles with injuries and with his stuff. The amount of bullpen options in Triple-A could push him back to Altoona at the start of the year. He showed better stuff at the end of last year, and if he carries that over into the 2018 season, he could be in Indianapolis quickly, with a shot at the majors by the end of the year.
Basically, the cuts today included four guys who could have a shot at Pittsburgh this year, with Newman being the most likely to arrive with the big league squad.