The Pittsburgh Pirates were plenty busy during the MLB Winter Meetings, adding through free agency and the Rule 5 draft.
Over the course of the week, they worked deals to add three pitchers to the roster. That includes agreements with Jarlin Garcia and Vince Velasquez, who have yet to be made official. The Pirates have expressed the intention to sign additional players, so don’t be surprised if there are more moves to come after this week.
In the meantime, here’s a look at how the roster is shaping up, with one open spot on the 40-man.
Starting Pitching Options
Max Kranick – Injured
Vince Velasquez – Not on 40-Man Yet
That last one might be a little strange to see there, as he pitched much better out of the bullpen than he did as a starter this past season. I’m not saying that the team is finished adding in the rotation, but they did give more money to Velasquez than they did to Tyler Anderson and Jose Quintana.
As it is currently constructed, Wilson may have an inside track to be the fifth starter, seeing as he is out of options and Ortiz only pitched 16 innings in the majors last year. Brubaker, Keller, and Contreras seem like locks, and Oviedo could slot in as the fourth starter.
The Bullpen is Growing
Chase De Jong
Yerry De Los Santos
Jose Hernandez – Rule 5 Pick
Duane Underwood Jr.
Jarlin Garcia – Not on 40-Man Yet
Garcia and Hernandez give the Pirates a pair of lefties they didn’t have when the week started.
Stephenson finished strong and was retained for a little over $1 million. De Los Santos and Holderman are returning from injury. Yohan Ramirez put up some intriguing pitch metrics, especially with his sinker.
The added depth should keep the Pirates from having to use Wil Crowe in spots he was obviously uncomfortable with last year.
There’s No MLB Catcher
Derek Shelton said Endy wasn’t going to start the year in the majors, so the Pirates will have to add two players at the position at some point between now and the start of the season. With Max Kranick out for the season, his roster spot could be used to eventually add the backup from a group of minor league free agents.
A Young Infield
Choi and Santana will split time at first, while Hayes and Cruz have their positions locked up. That leaves second base, where Castro could be the front runner at the moment. Bae’s speed had him playing in the outfield mostly when he came up, but is an option at second and has played some shortstop in the minors.
Outfield Up in the Air
The interesting camp battle, if it gets there, will be Andujar against Vilade as both are the only righties among the outfielders. Smith-Njigba is returning from a wrist injury, and Suwinski finished in a tie for the NL rookie lead in home runs, despite struggling to hit lefties (.511 OPS), or even on the road (.395 OPS). So, for now, the outfield picture consists of Reynolds and everyone else fighting for a spot.
One thing to note, is that the Pirates went into the Winter Meetings with a 40-man roster with only two spots open. They were able to hold back making the Jarlin Garcia and Vince Velasquez deals official to allow them to still select Jose Hernandez in the Rule 5 draft.
Now that the meetings are finished, someone is going to have to be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for the new pitchers.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**In our latest Prospect Roundtable, we each picked a player who we would have liked to have seen kept in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, along with our top three players lost.
**The Pirates added Cale Johnson from the Atlanta Braves system to join their minor league system as a pitching coach. John Dreker has more on the addition.
**Oneil Cruz hit a monster home run, which you can read about in John Dreker’s latest Pirates winter league report.
**Missed yesterday? We recapped the Rule 5 draft and the roster management issue the Pirates had.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
The Pirates lost 11 players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. In this week’s Roundtable, we each picked a player that we would have liked to have seen kept around, along with our top three players lost.
Check back on Friday at noon for the latest Pirates Discussion from Jeff Reed.