Weekly Pirates Discussion: Where the 40-Man Roster Stands After Rule 5

I began writing this before Tim Williams’ Wednesday article regarding “It’s Time For the Pirates to Start Opening the Window”, so it will be more of a continuation of the theme.

The Pittsburgh Pirates added four prospects to the 40-Man roster on Tuesday, and have the tender deadline approaching Friday evening.

I think the best way to describe the state of the 40-Man roster as it currently stands is that there is still a lot of room for improvement. As Ethan Hullihen has consistently pointed out the roster is filled with plenty of casualties for when the Pirates make additions and acquisitions.

While remaining cautiously optimistic, I have to hope this is the intent in the following months leading up to Spring Training. There is currently an even 20/20 split between pitchers and position players. Both areas requiring significant upgrades.

There is no way the Pirates can functionally enter the 2023 season with the 40-man as currently constructed. Obviously they “can”, but I foresee will be quite a few moves in the coming months.

The roster as it stands is the guts of a 100-loss team, with the addition of Ji-Man Choi. As much as we want to prop up our own prospects with personal bias, the reality is that more than a handful of these rostered players should not see significant time in the majors until the point they’ve proven they deserve an extended look. The probability of Mike Burrows or Endy Rodriguez touching dirt in Pittsburgh before the summer months is minimal.

The Pirates roster has very few assurances. It’s been almost a decade since we could go down the lineup and confidently make predictions such as: “Andrew McCutchen should provide ‘X’ amount of value, while Starling Marte will provide ‘Y’ with his speed”.

Oneil Cruz, Roansy Contreras, or Jack Suwinski have upside. They flashed potential during the 2022 season, but have yet to establish themselves to a point of a Ke’Bryan Hayes or Bryan Reynolds. With Key on the hot corner you know in the least you’re going to get Gold Glove caliber defense, while you know you’re going to get above average offense from Reynolds in your lineup.

With the Pirates depth at the upper levels of the minors beginning to consolidate, it would be a strong opportunity to begin building a stable floor for excelling prospects to step on to and be able to showcase their talents.

Now would be a perfect opportunity to begin building a winning mentality and foundation within the organization. Show the players that there is an active effort and desire to push the envelope at the MLB level. That message won’t get across with the roster constructed as-is.

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Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.

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Realistically, they’ll probably add at least a C, a RH 1b, a DH, a SP, and a few RP to the 40 man.

that’s +3 hitters and +3 Pitchers.

idk what the optimal mix is as far as pitching/hitting. Adding 6 players means that you need to cut 6 guys.

I dont think they wouldve picked up Vilade if they didnt think that he would survive offseason addition season.

I dont see any other OF getting DFA’d unless theyve soured on Marcano.

Infield: would they DFA Park or Castillo? i really dont think so.

C: i dont see them DFAing Sanchez (unless its for a better backup C). They arent gonna start Endy in MLB so theyll need at least 3 on the 40. no net cuts here.

That means that as of now, i think the 6 cuts will come from the pitching side.

Which is fine. cut 6 pitchers and add 3. a net loss of 3.

There are currently 21 pitchers on the 40 per pirates.com. is 18 pitchers enough? probably i guess?

Last edited 10 months ago by jaygray007

considering that Priester exists as a non-40-man option, and they can probably add some sort of minor league deal veteran, to effectively expand the roster, i guess 18 is enough.


another note… they could also trade from the position player side. just because i dont see them DFAing any of the position players doesnt mean that they cant be reduced.

Last edited 10 months ago by jaygray007

The Pirates do not have the luxury of not playing the prospects. But, the team should not rush anyone to the show.


Bellinger is going to be DFA’d by Dodgers. Talk about the reclamation project to end all reclamation projects.

Make it happen BC.

b mcferren

would be a fun gamble

b mcferren

how much will this cost?

is he a disaster in the field at first base?


Too much! Good defender at both Cf and 1b


12:58Get Two, Brute?: Hey Eric, love your work. How do you think the Pirates handle Davis/Endy going forward? A rotation between C/DH/OF? Will it be a 50/50 split? Thanks!
12:58Eric A Longenhagen: Davis looks bad. Scouts think his makeup is bad.

What Eric wrote on his chat at FG!!!!


That was my question! Chat answers aren’t usually conducive to detail. I think most can agree Davis is still a work in progress behind the plate. The makeup stuff, I wonder if it’s in reference to players like Kelenic. Guys who work so hard and are ultra intense that it makes the frequent failure you have to live with in baseball too difficult. Because I’ve never seen anything about Davis other than that he’s a huge worker.


Oof i wonder where this is coming from


I think is a little careless, the looking bad, I see it too, the make up? That’s a bit much.


Oneil Cruz, Roansy Contreras, and Jack Suwinski are three very talented young guys and I’m less worried about them then I am about who is managing and coaching them. I’m excited at the prospect of seeing Cruz, Reynolds, Hayes and Suwinski in the line up everyday and Contreras starting every fourth or fifth day. Seeing Bae get a starting shot would be a welcome sight to me to start the season also. I can get on board with Perez getting another shot behind the dish but not excited to see him start more than 70% of the time but him being backed up by Heineman or Day is not ideal but I can’t see wasting money or prospects on somebody to back him up while waiting for Endy and Hank. As far as using Peguero as trade bait with everyone pushing for a position move with Cruz that might be a bad idea.


Sounds like most everyone is relying on faith and hope. Faith that Nutting will start giving a shite and hope that BC will get it right. ‘Tis the season.

b mcferren

LH reliever Chapman at $5mil one year
RH First baseman Sano at $6mil one year
Catcher Roberto Perez for $2mil one year
LH starter Jose Cantina for $25mil two years
LH starter/reliever Steven Brault for $800k one year

that buys 83 wins


Rather than spread out 13.8 million on Chapman/Sano/Perez/Brault, I would go get a good starting pitcher at 13.8 million a year (per two years).


Might want to check the math, those 5 guys would at best add 10 WAR, based on recent results more like 7. No way signing a bunch of also rans turns this ship around. To add 20 wins in FA you are looking at JV, Correa, and Judge.


Instead of Chapman, I’d go with Taylor Rogers, who is also a lefty and could be a bargain without the baggage of Chapman. I think he’s a strong bounce-back candidate and one of the national writers posted something similar. Otherwise, I’m on board with the rest of the list. It would be fun to see Sano as a Pirate after all these years.


Missing two names with still too much dead wight
I’m not sure why Sabol or Gorski were not #6 & #7 added
Also its mind boggeling why teams as in the past, reach for
the Dariel Lopez 20 yr olds (eta 2025, without a position) rather than two advanced college kids who IMO are ready to contribute to the pirates
Its obvious who stands a better chance sticking for 162.
Both will stick because they hungry, good enough and ready
New regime inherited BS and MG few months after 2019 draft
They also have played a huge part in their development
Maybe too much for some teams to pass up.
Gorski has not stopped raking since his days at Fishers high school
2021 K’s were an issue but still mashed XBH’s
and came close to 20/20 in just 95 games
2022 The late June quad injury foiled a 30/30 season for sure
and a run 40/40
Hopeful the injury deters teams that did their homework from pouncing


Most teams face the same roster crunch as the Bucs. So far FG has only reviewed the AL East and Central, but most teams have full rosters.


Here is likely the main issue with putting Gorski or Sabol on the 40 man roster right now. Let’s say you reserve 20 slots on the 40 man for non-pitchers. You have these taken up right now: Cruz, Reynolds, Hayes, Choi, Castro, Suwinski, Andujar, Mitchell, E-Rod, starting catcher, backup catcher, Newman, Bae, Castillo, Triolo, Peguero, Swaggerty, Marcano, CSN.

So that is 19.  If you add Gorski and Sabol now, then you are at 21.  Therefore, if you want to add some other positional players, either externally or from the farm system, you would have to put someone on waivers. You are much more likely to lose someone on waivers than on the Rule 5 draft. Because a waiver pickup will mean that the other team just needs to keep them on the 40 man and can put them in the minors, all of the above would be lost on waivers, as would Gorski or Sabol.  So, you either don’t protect Gorski and Sabol, or you go with less than 20 pitchers on the 40 man, or you protect them and expose someone else to waivers probably early on in the season, if not spring training. What they did carries some risk, but it was the only way to also have flexibility to add players early, without losing any of the above. You can argue some of those 19 should not be on the 40 instead of Sabol and Gorski, but that is a very subjective argument.

Last edited 10 months ago by EightMenOut

18-22 now

20-20 is not mandatory
21-19 would work in April (more off days)

Plus everyone listed above except Cruz and Andujar have at least one option left good for the whole year, that coupled with the dead weight,
and you know its there without argument

It seems the flexibility is conducive
Please correct if I’m wrong


20 positional – 20 pitchers is not mandatory, but for the sake of argument we need to pick a number.  So let’s say the Pirates are ok with 21 positional and 19 pitchers. Go with the 18 I have above (all those names minus Newman) and that they added Gorski and Sabol to protect them from the rule 5 draft. Then in February a right handed hitting first basemen falls into their lap, as a free agent, so now they have 21 positional. Then during spring training a rebuilding team wants to trade a good corner outfielder for two of our minor league pitchers (for example Mlodzinski and Nicolas). We can’t pass it up, so we make the trade. Now to put corner outfielder X onto the big league club, we need to move off one of the above 21 from the 40 man. So they put Marcano on waivers to move him off the 40-man. Now any other team can claim Marcano, put him on their 40-man, but keep him in the minors if they want to. So we then lose Marcano on the waiver wire. Then in April/May Gonzales is hitting great, we want to put him on the 40 man and on the big league club, so we have to put someone else on waivers, this time Castillo, and he gets taken.  (Then two infielders get hurt, and we are thinking “darn, wish we had Marcano and Castillo to fill in now”) Basically, for every player we add, we lose one. Now you can argue that losing Marcano/Castillo because you replaced them with “better” players is better than exposing Sabol and Gorski to the rule 5 draft. But at some point, you have to see how they need to have some roster flexibility entering winter trading season, spring training,early year performances, and injuries. This is why right now I think players like Park and Vilade are just placeholders for what they hope will be pickups between now and opening day and maybe a little bit beyond that.


Geez, I feel bad you typed all that cause your preaching to the choir. They used a record 68 different faces in one year!
You just explained the gutless tanking season that tortured you and I and everyone else that cares to a T
Add a lefty in rule 5 and sign another, cut 2 holdovers
And lock up Endy
I should of explained my self better, I’ve known this stuff
inside out since Moby D was a minnow
I don’t agree with
Kraynick-14 to16 months away?
Mears- he’s 26 and thrown 30 innings in his life
Underwood- I’m sorry but he just aweful
Ramirez- Don’t see it
Now please understand that i understand how this works
I just don’t agree with the handling thats all
Pirates have to add BS and MG anyway
Hopefully both are still here
Bag the flexibility for once and ignore the lottery gift


You gonna drive yourself crazy trying to teach this to people who do not want to learn it! But I appreciate your efforts!


Fwiw, here is the current 40 man roster. As I go down the list, I see at least 5 easy ‘cuttees’. Not sure how Fangraphs has us winning 76 games. We have only upgraded (slightly) at 1b. No other upgrades yet.


Wilbur Miller

I see at least 5 easy ‘cuttees’.

Were there any on the other two-thirds of the roster?


Cuttable yes but not as easy. 🙂


Full seasons of the guys that looked promising at the end of 2022. Steamer loves Endy to be very good right away and has Cruz jumping to almost 3.5 WAR.



Just was over at the Baseball Trade Values to try to see what it might take for the Bucs to acquire Trevor Rogers, as MLBTR had an article saying the Marlins might make him available. In my most reasonable attempt to take into consideration both teams needs, looks like it would take a return of Suwinski & Peguero or Bednar.

With multiple years of control left from Rogers & him being a LHP, I would take that gamble, preferably giving up Peguero over Bednar. What do you guys think?


While I like the idea of dealing from both a surplus (SS with Peguro, if they’re going to commit to Cruz there) and a volatile asset (Bednar), I may target another team that’s in a similar spot, rather than the Marlins. Maybe KC with their pair of young 1B?


I know almost all fan bases over value their prospects and players, but that seems like a lot. I wish I understood some of the reasons for Rogers big drop-off from 2021 -> 2022. If he will be the 2021 version then I would do the trade as his 2021 version was #2 like starter numbers.


and the addendum of course. If they were sure he would perform at the 2021 version, Baseball Trade Values would have his value even higher.


Absolutely, agree with your analysis. Sucks to give up alot to get something decent. From watching some video on Rogers, he has 3 really good pitches, but I noticed his velo tailed off later in the game.

I should’ve mentioned it in the initial post, but the Marlins would have to include Garrett Cooper with Rogers for Suwinski & Peguero, which Cooper would also fill a need.

b mcferren

Bednar has as many years of control and would like to see him and Rogers in the same bullpen

Certainly Peguero and prospects should be considered

Or just put bank in a bounce back of Ardolis Chapman


fwiw Rogers is a LHP starter


His velocity is down some 3mph from his pinnacle, and he was a guy who other than overpowering with you didn’t exactly hit his spots. If he goes from plus plus plus velocity, to plus velocity, does he have anything left???


See if this image loads


Thank you for the digging and this may answer why the drop-off in performance…. now of course the next question. Was he hurt and is now healthy or was 2021 his peak year.


I personally don’t like it, Im not opposed to trading any of those players if it makes the team better, but don’t think Rogers does.


Can’t trade JS,

FO and Shelty should get 5-10 for how they handled his rookie season,
This kid has more power to CF and RF than he’s shown
Some of the bombs I watched him hit in freezing April temps at Altoona still haven’t come down.
Saw his last game in Altoona Sunday April 24.
Monday, 25 was an off day for Pirates when news broke Reynolds and Tucker had the covid. If those guys don’t get sick, who knows when they would have called him up. Started slow but once he got going
they continued him in the 7 spot mostly protected by Michael Perez,
Knapp, tucker, marsinick, van meter etc.but he keeps hitting
July comes with a 7 day full time 0-20 slump w/ strike outs but walking more. He then was benched than a PH every other game ,not a good way for the NL rookie HR and Assist leader to fight out of a slump,
Sent him down blaming contact issues when it was a service time issue.
Kid is a student of the game and the second looks would have been a major asset for him and the team moving forward instead he rotted away in Indy when he could have been closing out ROY with 30 HR and Gold glove like fielding anf throwing
Sadly I look for them to do the same thjing with ER

Hope this FO understands that sooner than later there will be



Suwinski got a huge break and opportunity in MLB in April. But his demotion in July was deserved, gave him a chance to get ABs and his feet and head back on the ground. Then called back up and Shelton stayed with him thru the end if season and saw Jack get his stroke and contact back. Don’t see any problems at all with how Shelton used him.




38% K-2 rate-his

31 G
130 PA
11 BB
49 K’s
48 TB

You right he def found his stroke and cleared his head


Personally I didn’t know much about Rogers until watching this video of him with the MLB Central guys analyzing him vs an AB vs Harper:


He’s a 6’5″ Starting Left Hand Pitcher, was runner up to NL ROY & throws 97 mph (Not a finesse LHP). I would think a guy like that would be an upgrade over several on the current 40 man


Kind of a repeat of my previous comment but 2021 Rogers is exactly the type of player (ability and years of control) that the Pirates should leverage their prospect capital to acquire. He looked like a future near top of the rotation stud. They could look like a genius if they buy low and he bounces back… or it could be another regular reference on trade failures.


This is why I don’t see us making any trade or FA ‘splashes’. We have no idea if our 2023 rookies will take a step forward or backwards. But, I would rather see them all get regular playing time over some retread vets.

Last edited 10 months ago by leefieux

And I’d like to see as much of the bullpen filled with guys from inside the org as possible so we can see what they have


2023 needs to be the final act of all these so-called prospects…will they cut it or will they die on the vine, they must play in 2023 to find out…


I agree. From a pure ‘earning’ a shot perspective, Bae and Mitchell had stellar AAA seasons and need major league at bats. Castro with his power is in the same situation. Suwinski while a roller coaster of performance needs steady at bats somewhere. Of these 4, he is the one I would want to see some level of performance in spring training.


This is my fear. You have one bonafide OF and about 4-5 AAAA guys. If you continue to give these guys opportunities and they continue to fail, you are completely f*cked. At some point you have to cut bait and fill those spots with productive players, either offensively or defensively. So, if you decide to continue giving these young guys a shot, when do you pull the plug if the experiment fails?

Last edited 10 months ago by Anthony

You are spot on regarding the challenge but even with a real owner, the best model IMO for a low income team is to build from within and then trade some of that depth for that bonafide player(s) you suggest. The cutting bait is by individual player not by changing the overall plan. From playing time and opportunity they may have already cut bait on Castillo and Park while Cruz, Castro, and maybe Suwinski have laid some groundwork as successes. Each success plugs a hole and it appears those getting closer to the majors are of higher likelihood of success than the current wave. I would welcome a trade of some of the prospects for a 25 year old solution (SP, 1B, OF?) but not many teams want to make that trade.


Agree. All 4 could bust out and all 4 could bust. Or any combination in between.


For the record, fangraphs has the pirates at a 76 win team as of right now.

yes i know that other teams will add more than the pirates will add, but lets not give them the easy way out by saying “theyre a 100 loss team”.

Right now theyre a 75 win team and the correctly spent 50 million dollars can probably get them into the 80s.

Last edited 10 months ago by jaygray007

I was saying this yesterday that looking at how many black holes. We had 19 hitters and 14 pitchers (some overlapped with JVM) who had negative WAR last year….compared to mid single digits for playoff teams like the dodgers, astros, phillies.

We have easy marginal upgrades available to become an 80 ish win team, and then if things break right……more sooner!


Hmmmmm….I used to think FG was fairly solid, lol.

Last edited 10 months ago by leefieux

I think the 75 wins is actually a transposition…


65 is more like it.

Wilbur Miller

You still have to account for BC’s practice of making the team worse in the offseason.


Oh ye of little Benny Faith. 🙂

(Why do .I agree with you then, lol?)


I’m not seeing the reality of a lot of movement of the current 40 man. Hayes-Cruz-Somebody Internal-Choi sounds like the infield. Outfield lock is Reynolds, and then you have a bunch of internal options, not sure how you can pay for someone that has an OPS over 800, and lacking that, they will just go for internal options, which is what they have been planning for as players move up the farm system.  A catcher pick up would be nice, but again they may keep that internal if they can’t get a catcher that hits for an OPS over 700. What they could realistically get are two starting pitchers, then move the current SP “surplus” to the bullpen to mostly solve the bullpen issues.  They could structure the SP salaries at 14/12/10 over three years, to land some quality starters, and also that way to have more money to spend later, or if the starter is doing very well and the team is not, then the pitcher would make for a very good trade. If the pitchers are bad, then that is costly, but not like it sinks the club, and you have to take some risk at some point.


The only external Catchers for me are Stallings and R Perez. Otherwise, I can live with what we put out there last year until Endy is ‘ready’ in June/July,


I wouldn’t say no to having Stallings back to fill in until Endy is ready then to back him up.



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