The Pirates agreed to deals with all of their arbitration eligible players over the weekend. Their roster is far from set, and the current payroll projection is just below $60 M.
At this point, the Pirates should know how much money they have remaining to spend this offseason, and their exact needs for the 2020 season and beyond.
Today we’re going to take a quick look at each position to see what those needs are for the remainder of the offseason.
The Pirates have Luke Maile and Jacob Stallings as their top options, and they just signed John Ryan Murphy to be added to the mix. They’ll need to boost their catching depth the rest of the offseason, preferably getting someone who might be the next Russell Martin or Francisco Cervelli to help multiple years.
Josh Bell has this spot, assuming he’s still on the team. I don’t see him being traded this offseason.
Adam Frazier is at this spot if he isn’t traded this offseason. I’d rate him as the second most likely player to be traded behind Starling Marte. If Frazier goes, the Pirates could go with some of their young players like Cole Tucker, Kevin Kramer, and/or Erik Gonzalez to fill the second middle infield spot.
Kevin Newman has this spot. He could move over to second if another shortstop steps up. For now, he’s the head of the pack for the younger middle infield group.
Colin Moran is here, and it’s just a wait for Ke’Bryan Hayes to arrive at this point. The Pirates could use someone else at third, but it wouldn’t hurt to give Moran one last shot to see what he can do.
I don’t know if Marte will be traded. Bryan Reynolds is a lock for one of the outfield spots. Gregory Polanco will get his playing time to try and regain value on his contract. The Pirates could use another outfielder this offseason, especially if they trade Marte.
The current Opening Day rotation projects to have Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Mitch Keller, and Steven Brault. The Pirates are going to need some starting pitching help. They need at least one starter added to the group for Opening Day, in order to push Brault to a depth role. It wouldn’t hurt to add more than one.
They need a lot of options here. With Felipe Vazquez gone, they’ll need someone to step up into the closer role. That will probably be Keone Kela. They’ll also need some late inning options. The best approach here would be getting a lot of fliers, and hoping a few of them work out and become long-term options. This would be similar to 2018 with Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez emerging.
SONG OF THE DAY
Checking out some new music today.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
By John Dreker
One trade of note and ten former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.
On this date in 1954 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded starting pitcher Murry Dickson to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for relief pitcher Andy Hansen and infielder Jack Lohrke, along with $70,000 also going to the Pirates in the deal. It was a cost cutting move for the Pirates. They were just 50-104 in 1953 and they finished seventh out of eight NL teams in attendance. Dickson was their win leader in 1953 and he had also won as many as 20 games just two seasons earlier, but he was also one of the higher salary veterans on a team that was far from competing. He was 37 years old at the time of the trade and had led the NL in losses each of the last two seasons. His first year with the Phillies would be no different as he went 10-20, although his ERA was still a respectable 3.78 in 226.1 innings. Dickson pitched until 1959 and won 172 big league games. Neither played acquired by the Pirates played for them in the majors.
Elmer Dessens, pitcher for the Pirates from 1996-98. He was an amateur free agent signing by the Pirates in 1993. He pitched two seasons in the Mexican League before the Pirates sent him to Double-A in 1995, where he went 15-8, 2.49 in 27 games. After pitching briefly in the minors he made his Major League debut in late June 1996 and went 0-2, 8.28 in 15 games, three as a starter. He returned to the Mexican League for 1997, making three late season appearances for the Pirates. Dessens spent most of the 1998 season in the Pirates bullpen, posting a 2-6, 5.67 record in 43 games. He was released by the Pirates just prior to Opening Day in 1999. He pitched 380 major league games after leaving Pittsburgh and was active up until 2011.
Odell Jones, pitcher for the 1975, 77-78 and 1981 Pirates. He was an amateur free agent signing in late 1971. He earned a brief look in September 1975 after going 14-9, 2.68 in 26 Triple-A starts that year. Jones spent all of 1976 in Triple-A, then all of 1977 with the Pirates, going 3-7, 5.08 in 34 games, 15 as a starter. He returned to Triple-A in 1978 to start the year and had a 4.57 ERA in 181 innings before making three late appearances with the Pirates. In December of that year he was part of a six player trade with the Mariners. The Pirates got him back just prior to the 1980 season in exchange for relief pitcher Larry Anderson. He spent 1980 in the minors, then made 13 appearances with the Pirates in 1981, eight as a starter. He posted a 4-5, 3.31 record in 54.1 innings. Back in the minors all of 1982, the Pirates lost him in the rule 5 draft to the Rangers in December 1982. He pitched four more seasons in the majors, finishing with a 24-35, 4.42 record in 201 games. He won a total of 118 minor league games.
Jim Foor, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1967. At age 21 he had an 11-6, 1.93 record, spending most of the season in Double-A. Foor made the Tigers Opening Day roster in 1971, but recorded just three outs in his three relief appearances before being sent back to the minors. He returned to the majors in August 1972 and pitched a total of 3.2 innings over seven appearances. The Pirates acquired him in a November 1972 trade along with another young pitcher named Norm McRae in exchange for minor league outfielder Dick Sharon. Foor made three big league appearances for the Pirates, pitching 1.1 scoreless innings. The Pirates then traded him for pitcher Wayne Simpson prior to the 1974 season. He pitched three years in the minors, never appearing in the majors again, leaving him with a 12.00 ERA in six innings over 13 games.
Ron Brand, catcher for the 1963 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates prior to the 1958 season. He played five full minor league seasons, twice hitting over .300, before he got his first chance at the majors. The Pirates called him up in late May 1963, using him as a backup catcher the rest of the season. In 48 games he hit .288, but had just 77 plate appearances, with 24 of them coming during the last week of the season. He spent the entire 1964 season in Triple-A for Pittsburgh before they lost him in the November 1964 rule 5 draft to the Houston Colt .45’s. He played seven more seasons in the majors and finished as a .239 hitter in 568 career games.
Ben Guitini, outfielder for the 1946 Pirates. The Pirates took the 26-year-old outfielder in the 1945 rule 5 draft from the Giants after he hit .283 in 109 games for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. He started pro ball in 1940, missed two seasons due to the war, returning in 1944. He was on the Pirates 1946 Opening Day roster and pinch-hit in his first game (team’s fifth game). Four days later he went 0-for-2 while playing right field. The Pirates shipped him back to the PCL after that two-game trial. He played in Triple-A for the Pirates in 1947, before they sold him to his old team in San Francisco. He went 0-for- 7 in five MLB games.
Spades Wood, pitcher for the 1930-31 Pirates. He went 22-3, 2.65 in the minors for the Pirates in 1930, earning an August call-up which resulted in a 4-3, 5.12 record in nine games. The ERA wasn’t that good, though two things stand out about it. The 1930 season was one of the highest offense years in baseball history, so a lot of pitchers got hit hard that season. The second thing that stands out is the fact Wood threw two complete game shutouts. Those shutouts came in his second and third career starts and both were the first game of a doubleheader. Wood was seldom used the following year, pitching 15 games spread out over the entire season. He went 2-6, 6.15 in 64 innings in what would be his last MLB season. He was still Pirates property for the next two seasons in the minors and he pitched pro ball until 1934.
Fred Schulte, outfielder for the 1936-37 Pirates. Fred had nine seasons in already when the Pirates purchased him for $8,000 from the Senators in January 1936. He had hit .294 or better in six of those seasons, but was coming off a down year in which he hit .265 and saw his playing time diminish. He mostly played CF for the Pirates in 1936, getting plenty of pinch-hitting appearances as well. He hit .261 with 17 RBIs in 74 games that year. He was almost glued to the bench in 1937, playing 29 games spread out over the entire year, with just two starts. He hit .100 in what would be his final season in the majors. He played pro ball until 1944 and also managed during three seasons in the minors. Fred was a .291 career hitter in 1,179 games.
Edward “Goat” Anderson, outfielder for the 1907 Pirates. He replaced Ginger Beaumont after Beaumont was traded to the Braves during the off-season. The 27-year-old Anderson hit .206 with 12 RBIs in 510 plate appearances during his only season in the majors. He did manage to take 80 walks, steal 27 bases and score 73 runs, but Beaumont led the NL in hits that year. Anderson played ten total seasons in the minors, six after the Pirates released him prior to the 1908 season. He never hit higher than .249 in any of those six seasons. He holds the Pirates rookie record for walks.
Jud Smith, third baseman for the 1896 and 1901 Pirates. Smith spent a long time as a player in pro ball (1887-1909), but he played just 103 major league games spread out of four seasons and even the seasons were spread out. He hit .196 playing for two different teams in 1893, then next appeared with the 1896 Pirates where he hit .343 in ten games. Two years later he hit .303 in 66 games for the Washington Senators, but still couldn’t hold a Major League job. The end of the 1901 season saw him play six games and hit .143 for the first place Pirates, the first team in franchise history to win the pennant.
Al Krumm, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Alleghenys on May 17,1889. Krumm had a brief minor league career and an even shorter big league career. He spent two seasons in the Tri-State League and had just one tough outing for the Alleghenys. Going up against the New York Giants in his major league debut, Krumm had some wildness, issuing ten walks (some newspapers from the time say nine) and that helped the Giants to an 11-7 victory. He was signed by Pittsburgh on May 15th when injuries to Pud Galvin, Ed Morris and Pete Conway left three of their four starting pitchers unable to play. Following his only game, it sounded like Krumm would get a second chance, as a front office member told the local paper that they were satisfied with his showing against New York and they would keep him around for the time being. He was even announced as the probably starter for May 21st, though Harry Staley ended up pitching instead. Pittsburgh then had a rainout and also signed a local kid named Alex Beam and a 17-year-old named Andy Dunning. Both of those pitchers got two starts without any success and due to their presence, Krumm never pitched again.
Krumm was with the team working out and felt so good about his control getting better, that he offered to buy a hat for any opposing player than was able to draw a walk off him in his next start. Obviously the hat makers in Pittsburgh were never able to profit from that claim. Krumm was again listed as the probable for May 29th, but that game ended up being the second start from Alex Beam instead. The final straw for Krumm’s career was a natural disaster, the Johnstown flood. It occurred on May 31, 1889 and kept the Alleghenys from returning home from a road trip. It also caused them to play just one game over a six-day stretch. When they finally resumed play, both Pud Galvin and Ed Morris returned to the team and the services of the young players were no longer needed.