2019 salary breakdown makes one think
There is a fairly good chance that David Freese, Josh Harrison, George Kontos and Jordy Mercer could depart the Pirates after this season. This is based on younger players like Kevin Kramer, Kevin Newman, Colin Moran, Max Moroff, Adam Frazier etc. being ready to play everyday. By my estimation that leads to 18 players making league minimum who could probably be on the roster:
|Players on League Minimum||Players under contract||Arbitration|
|Bell||Cervelli $11.5M||Michael Feliz|
|18 x $550,000=|
While we could dream on a $30M contract for a Machado or Harper type I think the more realistic use of the free payroll space would be extensions to Bell and Taillon.
MLB Pipeline puts Reynolds at #4
Friend of TPOP, Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com, reshuffled his Pirates Top 30 prospects after the trades and I was pleasantly surprised at the results. Mayo had new acquisition Bryan Reynolds ranked #4 just behind Shane Baz, but ahead of Colin Moran, Cole Tucker, Ke’Bryan Hayes…and everyone else.
This is relevant for a couple reasons. First and foremost it tells you that some people might like the trade return better than others. Second, for some reason certain media outlets overlook MLB.com’s prospect analysts (Mayo and Jim Callis), even though they are highly respected for their draft and prospect knowledge within baseball and overhype Baseball America and Keith Law. Finally it shows you how arbitrary this prospect process is and how you need to look at predictions several years later instead of industry consensus while they’re in the minors.
Nova needs to put the bat away
If you missed it the other day, Kevin had a tremendous article about the Pirates starting to “bullpen”. Obviously there are the common ideas about the Pirates doing this, from Tyler Glasnow possibly pitching 100 innings with many being 2-3 innings to the myriad of relievers the Pirates having lined up and are waiting in AAA. I’ll throw another idea at you.
I remember an interview with Neal Huntington after the re-signing of Ivan Nova in which Huntington hedged his bets on Nova. He stated, and I’m paraphrasing, ‘if Nova doesn’t work out as a starter we think his arsenal fits well in the bullpen.’
First, can you think of a starter who has a better closer pedigree than Nova? His control is legendary. If he could gain a couple miles per hour on his fastball and keep the control he could evoke memories of Mark Melancon (low BB/9, high WAR reliever).
The other benefit of Nova becoming a reliever: you’d take the bat out of his hands. Last year, Nova was a -0.7 WAR offensively. Yes, honestly almost 1 WAR to the bad due to his .020/.020/.020 line.
Cutch worth 2/$6M?
Let’s be honest — most fans don’t really know (or care) about what other clubs are doing, so they probably missed a signing of a CF which I found interesting.
When we traded McCutchen to the Giants last week he left as our center fielder. The Giants promptly stated “he’s not a CF” and then went looking for one. The Giants signed Austin Jackson to play CF this week. They signed him to a 2 year/$6M contract. When they did this I thought, “OK, strong defensive player in the middle of McCutchen and Pence,” then I looked at his line.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that Austin Jackson has the pedigree of Andrew McCutchen, as his highest WAR ever was 5.0 back in 2012 and his hasn’t come close to that since. There is a chance, though, that he might be more valuable now in that he can play CF for most teams and had a good 2017. Maybe he was part of the flyball revolution. Maybe the Pirates should have considered signing him as a stopgap?
Harrison is pro-“bullpenning”
Here lies before you Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez’s career position breakdown per Baseball Reference:
With bullpenning, it allows for more pinch hitting and provides the opportunity for players of different positions to possibly enter the game. This could easily coerce SRod and JHay to play 2, 3 or even 4 positions in the same game. Add the fact that Adam Frazier can play in the infield and outfield, with Max Moroff playing an adequate shortstop in addition to 2B and 3B, and the Pirates are ready with bench pieces to bullpen.
Value Factor Tease
Since I’m an engineer and feel just as smart as many of the sabermetricians out there, I came up with my own stat back in 2015. I called it Value Factor. I looked at pitchers who could be signed or acquired that had value based on what they could be acquired for (ie. Burnett, Liriano, Melancon, Happ, etc.). I’m working on crunching the numbers but I’ll hint to you who had a high Value Factor. His initials are JM and he pitched in the state of Texas. Article to follow…..
I very much like fellow baseball writer John Sickels and the community that he’s built at minorleagueball.com. Every offseason before his prospect rankings he does a thread for each fanbase called “Organization Discussion”. He tries to start up dialogue about your team and it’s usually some pretty informed fans. The Pirates Organization Discussion was sparser than normal this year so I wrote stuff I hope the other fans appreciated. Here’s what I said:
Trade return is fine. Musgrove could easily be another Chad Kuhl or better. If Moran’s power is real he’s a 6 year starter at 3B (probably will get reps at 1B and RF in PNC as well). Feliz and Crick are 11 years of nice bullpen pieces who could be very nice bullpen pieces. Jason Martin will be one of the youngest players in AAA and since the Astros snuck him through the Rule 5 he’ll have 3 options after 2018, i.e. he has a decent chance to be a average regular in a corner. MLB.com ranked Reynolds the Pirates #4 prospect ahead of Ke’Bryan, Tucker, etc. People are also forgetting $500k of international bonus money too.
While the Pirates don’t have any players (outside of Polanco) who have 6 WAR potential, they have several potential 4 WAR players (Polanco, Marte, Meadows, Harrison, Moran, Cervelli, Bell, Taillon, Kuhl, Glasnow) and others with 2 WAR floors (Nova, Trevor Williams, Musgrove). They have potential for a 5 WAR bullpen with Rivero, the new guys, and some converted starters from AAA. LOTS of depth. I think they’re solidly [get] 76-86 wins with chance of wild card if things break right.
John will tell you in a couple days but the system is crazy deep. Many C and C+ that could develop into B and B+ types. Keller and Baz are nice. Meadows is still really young and oozes potential and Glasnow will be 24 this year and is 30 innings from still being a prospect.
Also they have a nice young core to sell the fans on: Taillon, Josh Bell, Rivero plus the very average but incredibly fan friendly Trevor Willams and Steve Brault.