Pirates’ Depth Chart, Payroll & Winter Meetings Primer

neal huntington pirates

Neal Huntington and the Pirates have been fairly quiet so far this offseason, but that should change this week as the league’s annual Winter Meetings begin in Nashville.

By this point last year, the Bucs had already added A.J. Burnett, Francisco Cervelli, and Sean Rodriguez, then focused on re-signing Francisco Liriano and acquiring Antonio Bastardo at the Meetings. While they’ve surely laid some groundwork for deals over the past few weeks, their activity should ramp up in the coming days.

Here’s a look at what the Pirates currently own across the roster, what they might be looking for, and how many dollars they may have to work with…

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How well Pedro Alvarez needed to hit to offset his defense

PedroAlvarezPirates

Last night, the Pirates officially non-tendered their enigmatic first baseman, Pedro Alvarez, making him a free agent. The Bucs had been shopping him, Pedro himself had been looking for a trade, and it was clear that his days as a Pirate were numbered. However, the trade offers never came, or at least weren’t satisfactory. That became more and more apparent, as Mark Trumbo (essentially a right-handed hitting Alvarez) needed a reliever to be packaged with him just to fetch Steve Clevenger.

Alvarez, National League home run champ in 2013, had lost all value. In the years when defense has become more and more appreciated in the game, El Toro has gotten worse and worse. His case of the yips in 2014 forced a move to the other side of the diamond, but first base proved to be even more of a struggle. Alvarez was charged with 23 errors (tied for 3rd worst in MLB) and -14 Defensive Runs Saved (tied for fourth worst). Although his power returned and his overall offensive production matched his 2012 & 2013 output, his defensive deficiencies made him a near replacement level player by whichever version of Wins Above Replacement you prefer — FanGraphs (0.2) or Baseball-Reference (0.1).

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Pirates Offseason Notes 11/30/15

Allen Webster Pirates

18 weeks until Opening Day…

Recent

— You can check out last week’s offseason notes here.

— In case you missed it, the Blue Jays signed J.A. Happ for three years and $36 million — which is the going rate for a mid-to-back rotation starter like Happ.

Roster Moves

— On Wednesday, the Pirates announced the signing of 1B/OF Jake Goebbert. His only MLB experience came in 2014 with the Padres, when he appeared in 51 games. Goebbert, 28, batted .294/.392/.452 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (AAA) this past season, and he’s consistently been an above-league-average hitter at the upper levels. A walk machine (his 13.5% BB rate ranked fifth in the PCL), he has no trouble getting on base.

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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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