Well, the Bucs ended both the Rule 5 and arbitration questions in one fell swoop yesterday when they DFA'ed Zach Duke, Delwyn Young and Andy LaRoche.
None of the players let go came as a shock to the system, and they did try to come to terms with Duke, but the Zachster decided to test the FA market. The Pirates did have a couple of more weeks, until December 2nd, before they had to officially non-tender them. Apparently they had no luck in trying to move the threesome, so they decided to part ways sooner rather than later.
As for the savings, both LaRoche and Young would likely have earned under $1M dollars in 2011; Duke would have topped $5M in arbitration. It's enough to provide for a down payment on a free agent pitcher.
If they make it through waivers, the Bucs have 10 days to trade, release, or send the trio to the minors. They were replaced on the 40-man by LHP Jeff Locke, LHP Danny Moskos, LHP Tony Watson - none real surprises - along with RHP Kyle McPherson and RHP Mike Crotta.
McPherson and Crotta were both unexpected additions. McPherson, 23, had success at West Virginia, going 9-9 with a 3.59 ERA, 1.079 WHIP and 124 K in 117-2/3 innings. He throws a 93 MPH heater and has a good change. His biggest hurdle is that he's a fly ball pitcher, and gave up 14 HR in Class A. Crotta, 26, was lights out at a brief Altoona stop, but at Indy was 5-10 with a 4.93 ERA, 1.500 WHIP and just 89 K in 131-1/3 IP; he's a sinkerball and groundball pitcher.
The only mildly surprising omission from the 40-man was RHP Nathan Adcock, 22, who was 11-7 at Bradenton with a 3.38 ERA, 1.196 WHIP and 113 K in 141-1/3 frames of work. He's considered more a command pitcher than a guy with overpowering stuff, though, and that probably was the key factor in the Bucco decision.
None of the position players considered - IF Jim Nygrich, C Eric Fryer or IF Brian Friday - were protected, a combination of their limited upside and the theory that it's easier to carry a Rule 5 pitcher through a season than a bench player.
Tim Williams at Pirate Prospects has the list of Pirate prospects that are eligible for this year's Rule 5 draft.