Pirates Prospects Daily: Rumors Swirling Early At the MLB Winter Meetings

Sunday was the official start of the Winter Meetings, but Monday was really when things got kicked off. We saw some big free agent signings, not by the Pirates, but around the league.

Overall, it was a quiet day for the Pirates. One of the most watched headlines heading into the meetings was Bryan Reynolds, and while there wasn’t a trade, a new team did jump into the apparent running.

The Toronto Blue Jays have joined the Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees, among others, to have reported interest in Reynolds.

There is no rush in trading Reynolds, and the Pirates would probably have to be incredibly overwhelmed by a deal to make anything happen right now. This is a good starting point to see how team’s view him right now, so they can continue planning for the season/future knowing what a possible return would look like.

Going off of Derek Shelton’s comments in his press conference at the meetings, it seems the Pirates would be perfectly okay going into the season with Reynolds on the roster, and don’t believe the trade request would lead to a distraction.

Speaking of Shelton, he talked to the media for a bit, with a few interesting things coming up.

– When asked if any of the other outfield positions have been solidified, outside of Reynolds, one of the first words Shelton said was “versatility” — which really shouldn’t be a surprise if you have followed the minors lately.

The Pirates have stressed positional flexibility, getting a lot of their prospects playing time away from their natural playing spot. Not only does that help the player, as it creates more opportunities for them to find playing time, it is also good for the team as it allows them to open things up more with the lineup.

So, when looking at how the team builds its roster, maybe there shouldn’t be as much stress when it comes to slotting players in certain positions, and instead try to construct the best 13 hitters collectively.

There are only a few players who should be ‘locked’ into a position. One of them Shelton alluded to (Ke’Bryan Hayes).

– Shelton brought up the potential impact of Carlos Santana in the locker room, especially with the Latin American players. The only thing I could think of was Jose Quintana, and what he did for the rotation. We started to see the results of that down the stretch, maybe that can happen for the second time in a row, except this time for some of the hitters. 

– If there’s another player outside of Hayes that should be penciled into a specific position, it should be Oneil Cruz, and that’s the kind of feeling you got from Shelton during the press conference. They see him as a shortstop, and that sounds like what he’s focusing on in winter ball. There may be a time when we see Cruz move off the position, but until then, he will be the shortstop.

Endy Rodriguez was brought up, and Shelton started with a simple ‘he’s really good’ before going in a little further. Also mentioned his limited experience above the High-A level, as well instantly put out there he’d start in the minors, which was probably the least surprising thing you’ll hear from the whole presser.

He recognized the talent, and with the way it sounds, if they had to pick a literal representation of what they are trying to do as far as developing players, Endy would probably be the face of that.

Next Up

Tuesday will bring the first ever MLB draft lottery, and it will take place at 8:30 pm ET on the MLB Network. The Pirates are tied with the Nationals and Athletics with the highest odds of getting the first overall pick at 16.5%.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

I don’t know about you, but I can feel the Pirates’ plans shifting to a new phase, even if the Bryan Reynolds rumors probably aren’t helping matters.

I wrote about some of the changes I’ve seen over the last two years from the Pirates development system, and ultimately why I’m still here running this site, in today’s First Pitch. This is an article I’ve been thinking about for months, and it felt appropriate to run it today. Even with this long analysis that you won’t find anywhere else, there’s still so much that is incomplete, which justifies any skepticism you have with the plan.

Even the best laid plans can fail.

I do think the Pirates have a good plan, and I think they’re getting close to the point where that will become obvious. Ben Cherington said that they wanted to add in his press conference today, so there’s a chance things could become more obvious by the end of this offseason.

**The Toronto Blue Jays are the latest team to show interest in Bryan Reynolds. The Pirates continue to insist that they don’t want to trade Reynolds. I can see a lot of teams being connected to him with interest this week. Whether he’s traded is another subject.

**John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates, where Tsung-Che Cheng made his debut in Puerto Rico, and Diego Castillo played his final game in Venezuela.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony previewed what to expect this week from the MLB Winter Meetings.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

I finished this article today around noon, but didn’t like the way I originally had it wrapped up. By 2 PM, I was finishing my first full edit, after finishing the article. I decided to give it one more read.

By 3:30, I was finishing maybe my fourth read through. Around 4:30, I finally got to a point where I was comfortable publishing it. The end result is one of my favorite articles in a few months.

First Pitch: Are the Pirates Really Changing Their Ways?

This week’s article drop will hit the site at noon on Tuesday.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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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buccobrach2

How about our buccos sign greinke,rich hill, and David price and see if any of these 3 guys have one magical season left in them. He’ll if they each gave 1/3 ofa season each they’d be better than Wilson and Thompson.

Cocktailsfor2

(Price is not playing in 2023, and may yet retire)

AdministrativeSky236

Uh Vince Velasquez? Per kiley

leefieux

Jarlin Garcia? So no Rodin?

Wilbur Miller

Jarlin Garcia?

Looks semi-decent, but they supposedly wanted to add swing-and-miss to the bullpen. He subtracts it.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Considering they had no LHP, it’s still a step in the right direction lol

Anthony

2.89 ERA in 188 appearances since the start of 2019.

AdministrativeSky236

Looks like his fip was about a run worse, but clearly he’s shown to have success if we deploy him well which is a big IF

Wilbur Miller

According to Stumpf, his 4seamer got hit a lot harder in 2022. Didn’t lose velo, gained a little bit in fact, so maybe something can be done there.

AdministrativeSky236

To my surprise, I am growing a bit of confidence in marin and co’s ability to identify and correct these things in our pitchers. Not everyone gets fixed, but he’s had several positive cases recently so I’ll choose to believe that theres something there

joesolo6181

Why keep Shelton at the helm? He seems okay with losing 100 games per year. If they want to win and I have my doubts they do they need a manager who will hold people accountable. He is not that man.

leefieux

I’m sure Ben wants to add. Probably not anybody good. Just cheap. And, unfortunately, that is no being cynical or skeptical. Just realistic.

PirateRican21

I saw the name Jordan Lyles floated somewhere…..

The Gunner

I’d be OK with a Lyles reunion. Looks like he made 32 starts last year and 31 in 2021 – maybe he could be an innings eater. But, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of suitors out there so, the Bucs probably won’t sign him.

Cocktailsfor2

We all thought Bedard was gonna be an innings-eater, too…

The Gunner

IIRC, Bedard always looked so miserable. I guess if I pitched as badly as he usually did, I’d look miserable, too.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I saw that from Beer Temple, but it sounded more like him giving “comparisons to Gibson”.

PirateRican21

Thanks for the clarification, I read it on MLBTR.

leefieux

I absolutely love Fiona’s version of that song. Better than the original, almost.

TNBucs

Blasphemy! Oh, okay, you did add “almost”. It is a very good version.

AdministrativeSky236

Draft lottery tonight and rule 5 tomorrow, the next 36 hours could, at least personally, drive an influx of optimism or pessimism for the future of the club

buccobrach2

They should just trade Reynolds for the best group of prospects they can unless all proposed deals are undervalue. Then go out and quickly sign conforto to a big one year deal to take his place for this year. If he stays healthy we won’t lose anything, and if he does get hurt , we weren’t going to win anyway unless by a miracle from God. Whether we have Reynolds this year or not we aren’t going to win unless we start signing some free agent starting pitchers like Rodon and Quintana and that doesn’t even guarantee it.

b mcferren

agree with this except for the expensive outfielder

just sign a veteran for $2mil like Dyson or Cutch

john_fluharty

No to Dyson

emjayinTN

A topic with the title of “Rumors Swirling” and a picture of Derek Shelton led me to believe he might be on his way out the door. Of course, it is the Pirates, so they will probably offer HIM an extension for his 3 years of .317, .377, and .383. Winning Percentages.

C’mon Ben, enough talent is at or near the MLB level – a new Manager would be welcomed. Don Kelly knows the players and is sitting right there being the loyal sidekick and waiting to get his chance. There is no downside to this move and this club needs a Manager with the playing background of Don Kelly.

john_fluharty

If Tim is right about the culture they’re trying to build it in the clubhouse, then whether Shelton remains or not will depend on whether he fits into that culture.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
TNBucs

I had a much longer response, but to keep it short, Shelton doesn’t seem to put the players in the best position to succeed, and then when they fail he focuses on their lack of “execution” instead of taking some of the responsibility. When you play a guy at 1B or RF who has never played that position even in the minors, a misplay that costs us a game isn’t only about execution.

Cocktailsfor2

This’ll be Shelty’s last season. Book it. GMBC is too smart to keep him. Sure, it was fine as a placeholder during the rebuild, but Shelton’s “pull names from a hat” style of lineup setting won’t work with a stable roster.

Also, re Reynolds: I don’t doubt that he’s going to go out there and bust his ass like he always has. It doesn’t benefit him to dog it, and it wouldn’t help his trade value, either. Plus, he’s just that kind guy, imo.

Wilbur Miller

There’s also the fact that the trade request adds exactly squat to the overall situation. Once they failed to reach a long-term deal, Reynolds was going to be traded. Period. The Pirates won’t wait for a guy to walk as a FA, and they’re making the trades farther and farther in advance of FA eligibility because one-year rentals are losing favor in the trade market.

With or without the trade request, Reynolds was gone by next off-season at the latest. There’s a good chance he’d have been gone in July and some chance this offseason, no matter what BC says. The only thing the trade request represents is Reynolds urging them to go ahead and do what everybody associated with the team knows they’re going to do within the next year anyway.

skliesen

Nowadays are we even sure the Manager is responsible for lineup and position for players? Seems the GM, being advised by the Ivy League computer nerds, has final say on roster and lineup with many organizations.

AdministrativeSky236

Definitely much more of a team approach than a solely managerial one. Might depend on the org who gets final say, but Im not super well informed on those dynamics

skliesen

I agree. Manager job is more about in game strategy and player motivation nowadays.

1979andCounting

BC has often said in interviews it is Shelton’s call on lineup construction.
I’d have to say that appears to be true, Shelton will pencil in Van Meter just as often as he would like without any FO input.

PiratePrimate

Casey said the most important job a manager had was keeping the guys who like you from being influenced too much by the guys who hate you.

bianco599

How amazing would it be if one of the Pirates batting average was equal to one of his winning percentage. Now that would get some kind of trade return at the deadline.

Anthony

I don’t get this take; how is the Number Two excused of any accountability here?

TNBucs

Yes, when a change is made, I’d prefer they go outside the current coaching staff. But I also think Kelly would be better than Shelton as it would be easier for him to establish a different culture than Shelton to change midstream. Plus, Shelton is known for being stubborn (and embraces that characterization), so we don’t know how often Kelly has made good suggestions (“Derek, do you really think it’s a good idea to play Castillo in RF when he’s trying to break in and has never played even an inning in the OF in the minors?”) and Shelton just pushes forward with his ideas.

Scam likely

Neil Walker manager Don Kelly bench coach, a new hitting coach and pitching coach.

Wilbur Miller

I actually think Marin did a pretty good job this year. Haines, not so much.

JoeNastasi

How do you know it wasn’t Kelly’s suggestion in the 1st place

TNBucs

Just basing things on Shelton’s reputation for being stubborn about doing things his way. Even his wife has said that.

If it was Kelly’s idea, though, the responsibility for the decision still lies with Shelton. But the next time I read Shelton taking responsibility for something that didn’t work will be the first time.

That said, again, I’d rather they go outside the MLB coaching staff when they replace Shelton

skliesen

Backup QB mentality. If the starting QB sucks, put in the backup for he’s sure to do better. Failing to realize he’s surrounded by the same players.

Josh

“Going off of Derek Shelton’s comments in his press conference at the meetings, it seems the Pirates would be perfectly okay going into the season with Reynolds on the roster, and don’t believe the trade request would lead to a distraction.”

I would disagree strongly with this sentiment, as I’m sure it’s just a manager toeing the party line. From what I’ve read, the Pirates are careful to create a development culture at each level of the system. We have a wave of impressionable talent arriving this year to find, what, a guy upset with how he was treated by management?

Any other conditions, I’d understand a team not wanting to cave to a player’s demands, but they’ve got everything riding on this core of prospect talent. Too much to risk.

Last edited 1 month ago by Josh
skliesen

You honestly think there are prospects who don’t understand how Pirates operate the franchise from a business standpoint?

This latest development will have no affect on them. They understand if they want to have a successful career, make lots of money as a consequence of their good work, they first need to perform well. Whether they get paid by Pirates, or some other organization is irrelevant. These guys aren’t fans like we are. And lastly, whether you are in a small, mid or large market organization, a prospect needs to separate himself from the competition to get paid. If anything, being in a small market organization helps them since there’s more roster churn.

Josh

Well, there’s a difference between “understanding how the Pirates operate” and having a player actively upset with the team in the same lockeroom. I’m talking about team morale. I think this has the potential to be a disruption.

skliesen

This isn’t the 1st place Brewers trading away their Closer at the trade deadline. This is a team coming off of back-to-back 100 loss seasons. Team morale and lots of other things need disrupting!

Wilbur Miller

I know people who’ve overheard prospects talking about how, if they succeed, they’ll have to go elsewhere to get paid. These guys aren’t five years old. They know what Reynolds is facing.

Josh

No one is suggesting they are five years old.

Wilbur Miller

They’d have to be if they’re unaware that the Pirates don’t pay market rate for anybody.

Josh

I feel like you’re being intentially obtuse. Have a nice night, Wilbur.

Wilbur Miller

I can’t help it if you’re too dense to understand the implications of your own comments.

Josh

83? You don’t act a day older than 78.

Scrappy2499

In the times we live in, one minute and thirty seconds after the news broke everyone in the pirates organization knew about it. At this point it just comes down to each persons individual mindset imho. If the pirates cave to the demands then some players will say I could pull a Renyolds as well. If they don’t cave then then some players will feel like the team doesn’t care about them or their wishes. No matter what they do it will all be very public. I guess the good news “if you can call it that” is that players from many different sports do this now a days where they are not happy with the contract they have and go public so it maybe will not be such a shock to the youngsters coming up to the club and effect them all that much…

jon6er

After Reynolds what players are in a position to demand a trade?

Wilbur Miller

I’ll defend to the death Bryse Wilson’s right to demand a trade.

PiratePrimate

Guys hit the ball so hard now compared to 30-40 years ago that I cringe when some pitchers throw it up there. I particularly worry when Bryse pitches.

Wilbur Miller

Oh, the huge manatee!

roberto

Actually, Reynolds can’t demand a trade. He’s got a contract.

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