Pirates Offseason Notes 11/16/15

20 weeks until Opening Day…

Recent Stuff on the Blog

— Last week’s Offseason Notes
MLB Win Curve in the Expanded Wild Card Era
— Visualizing the Range of the Pirates’ Outfield in 2015
— Pages: Depth Chart / Payroll / Spray Charts / PITCHf/x

Rumor Mill

— Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had some rumors on the Pirates’ front last week, first mentioning that, unsurprisingly, Mark Melancon is being shopped. Heyman specifically says the Bucs’ closer is “out there for the taking.” The Pirates will look for value in return for their top reliever who enters his final year of team control and will command a salary upwards of $10 million through arbitration this winter. It wouldn’t be dissimilar (in terms of timing, payroll allocation, etc.) from the trade that brought Melancon to Pittsburgh and sent then-closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston.

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Winter is Coming: Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Outlook

First, a word on Wednesday: sighJake Arrieta and the Cubs completely shut down and killed the Pirates’ 2015 season, a result that was not totally unexpected (considering what Arrieta has done this season) but so crushingly sour. To again reach the postseason only to be eliminated as quickly as possible is… frustrating. It unfortunately overshadows 98 wins; the past three playoff exits overshadow 280 victories since 2013. 

Can they take the next step? Is a division title in the cards? A full postseason series? Dare I say a World Series? This was a good team. A great team, even. But there will be questions about the “window” of potential success closing, especially as the guy who plays center field gets older and draws closer to free agency.

This offseason should be an interesting one. The Pirates are losing quite a few names, and could part with other familiar ones. There’s still a solid core in place, but the front office will have to fill a few voids left around the roster.

Here’s a look at where the Pirates stand heading into the offseason.
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Pirates Grapefruit Report: Week 1

jung ho kang pirates

Grapefruit League play is already almost a week old. Here’s a look at what the Bucs have done this week…

Tuesday, 3/3 – Pirates 8, Blue Jays 7

Three home runs (Pedro Alvarez, Jung-Ho Kang, Elias Diaz) lead the Pirates to a win in the Grapefruit opener. 

jung ho kang pirates

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Welcome to Bradenton: 2015 Spring Training Storylines

pitchers & catchers

“It’s the fans that need spring training. You gotta get ’em interested. Wake ’em up and let ’em know that their season is coming… the good times are gonna roll.” — Harry Caray

Today is the official report date for Pirates’ pitchers & catchers, and the rest of the squad will roll into Bradenton by Monday. Spring Training 2015 is here; baseball is slowly but surely on its way back.

Neal Huntington and his staff had a tidy offseason — nothing flashy, but checking off every item on the team’s list of needs. As it stands, this team doesn’t have many question marks heading into the season, barring any injuries in the coming weeks. If you’re looking for positional battles, Pirates’ camp isn’t the place to be.

That being said, there are still some things to keep an eye on in Bradenton. Here, in no particular order, are our spring storylines for the Bucs…

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Pirates’ Winter Meetings News & Rumors: Day 4

A small bit of Pirate stuff from the fourth and final day of this year’s Winter Meetings…

– The annual Rule 5 draft basically marks the end of the meetings, and that took place this morning. As expected, the Pirates passed on everyone in the major league portion. No sense in trying to keep a marginal player on the roster the whole year.

They did lose LHP Andy Oliver to the Phillies, however. The Bucs got Oliver, 27, from the Tigers at the Winter Meetings two years ago, but he never got a chance in the bigs due to some awful command. He posted a 4.05 ERA out of Indianapolis’ bullpen in 2013 while walking 8.1 batters per nine innings; he had better results this year (2.53 ERA) but still struggled with the strike zone (6.6 BB/9). Oliver does strike a lot of guys out, but obviously the Pirates never gave him a chance and didn’t feel the need to protect him from the Rule 5. Maybe he’ll figure things out with the Phillies.

They didn’t take anyone in the minor league portion of the draft either, but lost two players: Luis Urena (a converted pitcher) to the Tampa Bay Rays and Tyler Waldron (also a RHP) to the St. Louis Cardinals.

– Things are quieting down on the rumor mill, but Pedro Alvarez might be on the Marlins’ list of first base targets. John Perrotto wrote a few days ago that Alvarez would be available in trades, add that an Alvarez for Nathan Eovaldi trade was shot down by Miami. Tom Singer tweeted today that the teams could “renew Alvarez-Eovaldi talks,” but that seemed too good to be true. Bill Brink basically said there’s no chance it happens.

Eovaldi is a 24-year-old flamethrower who tossed 199.2 innings for the Marlins in 2014. His fastball averaged 95.7 mph, fourth-best in the bigs, just ahead of Gerrit Cole‘s 95.5. Eovaldi has three years of control remaining vs. Pedro’s two.

Once again, Alvarez’s trade value is low right now after the year he just had. He’s a streaky hitter at best, strikes out a ton, can’t touch a left-handed pitcher, forgot how to throw and now has to play an unfamiliar position — who knows which Pedro will show up in 2015. Sorry, I don’t think he’s going to fetch a young, controllable pitcher like Eovaldi.

Brandon McCarthy signed with the Dodgers last night for four years, $48 million. He was a good target for the Pirates, and they were one of the teams that pursued him. I doubt they would’ve gone four years on him… all in all, they definitely did a good job of bringing back Francisco Liriano for similar money on three years.

– A couple moves out of Cincinnati: the Reds traded both Alfredo Simon (Tigers) and Mat Latos (Marlins) for prospects today, taking two arms out of their starting rotation.

– As we said yesterday, the Pirates will be unveiling a new alternate jersey on Saturday. There was an all-gold jersey floating around Twitter this morning, which was a fake. However, the guys over at SportsLogos.net have already seen the new threads — they won’t leak anything, but are saying the actual alternate is worse than the fake one on Twitter. Yikes.

The Pirates have some camo items on their promotional schedule, and SportsLogos.net sort of alluded to it… so they might be camo. Meh. For what it’s worth, the black alternate jersey and Sunday throwbacks are apparently staying in the mix. Guess we’ll find out on Saturday.

PirateFest on Saturday and Sunday.

Depth Chart & Winter Meetings Primer
Winter Meetings Day 1
Winter Meetings Day 2
Winter Meetings Day 3

Go Bucs