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Thursday, December 8, 2022

2018-2019 Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Primer

With the World Series coming to an end last night, the 2018/2019 offseason officially begins today.  Here is a quick primer of all of the offseason topics.

40-Man Rosters

Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day disabled list no later than five days after the end of the World Series, getting their rosters down to 40-men.  The deadline this year is on Friday.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have just one player on the 60-day disabled list (Chad Kuhl), and no open spots. They will need to clear a spot for Kuhl.

Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday night. The Pirates have decisions to make on the following players:

Josh Harrison – $10.5 M club option, $1 M buyout

Jung Ho Kang – $5.5 M club option, $0.25 M buyout

Harrison’s option is pretty much a guarantee to be declined, since the team moved on from him in September. Kang’s decision is up in the air. I’d be surprised if the Pirates added him after such little playing time the last two years, and with poor results in the time he actually played.

November 20th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2018 Rule 5 draft.  Here is a look from last month at the Rule 5 decisions the Pirates need to make. Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 20th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 20th and the 2018 Rule 5 draft, held on December 13th.

My prediction of the 2018 40-man roster can be found here, minus the Rule 5 additions.

Arbitration Eligible Players

Teams have until December 3rd to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2019 season.  The Pirates have four players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year. Here are the players, and their projected arbitration prices, according to MLBTR:

Corey Dickerson, 3rd Year – $8,400,000

Keone Kela, 2nd Year – $3,200,000

Michael Feliz, 1st Year – $900,000

Ryan Lavarnway, 1st Year – $600,000

Once offers are tendered, the two sides (the team and the player) will work to reach an agreement.  If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration, during the first two weeks of January.  Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures around the third week of January, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February.  The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.

If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player.  All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.

The Pirates are a file and trial team, which means if a deal isn’t worked out before players officially file for arbitration, then they will go to a hearing. This is a trend among teams to strengthen negotiations pre-filing.

Free Agency

October 29th at 12:01 AM EST marks the beginning of a five-day period in which teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their players who qualify for free agency.  The Pirates have one player who qualifies for free agency: Jordy Mercer. Pending free agents can have general discussions with other clubs during this five-day period, but can’t discuss contract details or sign with a new team until 12:01 AM EST, November 3rd.

The big topic during this period will be the qualifying offers for these players. Teams have five days to decide if they will make a qualifying offer to departing free agents. This year the offer is $17.9 M for one year. If the player accepts that offer, the team gets him for the 2019 season on that deal. If the player declines and signs with another team, the former team gets a draft pick in the 2019 draft.

The Pirates aren’t going to give Mercer a qualifying offer, although they could try to bring him back due to the uncertainty at the shortstop position.


The two notable meetings that take place in the offseason are the GM/Owners meetings, and the more popular Winter Meetings.  The first two meetings provides an opportunity for the General Managers to meet face to face, and possibly start discussions on potential trades.

The Winter Meetings take place on December 9-13.  The Winter Meetings usually mark the time when free agency starts to heat up. However, last year saw things delayed, where most moves didn’t start taking place until late-January, and some free agents were signing as late as mid-March.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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