Monday night at 11:59 pm is Major League Baseball’s deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. Therefore, plenty of decisions are to be made on that front.
But first, the Pirates made a trade: they acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later. Mike Axisa, who writes about the Yanks at River Ave. Blues, tweets that the PTBNL will likely be a non-40-man roster minor leaguer who has to go unclaimed in next week’s Rule 5 draft before being named.
Stewart, 31, is a very light-hitting catcher (.566 OPS in 2013) but brings value defensively, especially with pitch-framing. It turns out that Stewart was the second best pitch-framer in baseball last season, ahead of exceptional defensive backstops like Yadier Molina, Jose Molina, and the Pirates own Russell Martin. He has also thrown out 33% of base stealers in his major league career, showing off what is apparently one of the best arms in the game. We’ll have more on Stewart’s role with the team and the future of Tony Sanchez in the coming days.
The acquisition of Stewart means the end of Michael McKenry‘s time in Pittsburgh. McKenry, who achieved Super 2 status to become eligible for arbitration this year, was a non-tender candidate and got designated for assignment this morning. The Fort evolved into a fan favorite over the last few years but really struggled with throwing out base runners. With the Pirates increasing their valuation of defense, Stewart represents an improvement at a similar price.
This post will be updated as soon as the Pirates release more information on their tender/non-tender moves.
UPDATE 12:15 am
Finally, 15 minutes after the deadline, the Pirates have made an announcement.
– All other arb. eligible players – Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider, and Vin Mazzaro – have been tendered contracts. Those are mostly no-brainers, with the exception of Snider. We wrote a bit back in June about how patient the club should be with him. With a crowded right field competition to begin with (Jose Tabata, Andrew Lambo, Jaff Decker, Jerry Sands) and Gregory Polanco on the way, it’s interesting to see them give him another shot.
The 40-man roster is full at this point. More moves surely on the way.