Monday, October 31, 2011

Bucs Pass On Cedeno, Maholm, Dewey & Snyder

The Bucs had four contract options going into the off season, for Paul Maholm, Chris Snyder, Ryan Doumit and Ronnie Cedeno, and passed on them all.  Cedeno's was a surprise, not so much based on performance as affordability, a dearth of MLB ready SS's in the system and a weak class of FAs. The others were long expected.

Maholm had an option year worth $9.75M, with a buyout of $750K. Snyder's option was for $6.75M, also with a $750K buyout. Dewey had a double option; if the Pirates picked it up, they would be on the hook for $7.25M in 2012 and $8.25M for 2013. His buyout is $500K. The Pirates may try to cut a deal with Maholm and/or Dewey for a more team-friendly contract, but now they're competing against an open market and that is likely to drive their price beyond the FO's comfort level.

With RC, it looks like a matter of just running out of patience and finally severing ties. His option year was an affordable $3M with a $200K buyout. While his fielding has been above par during his Pittsburgh stay (he came to town in 2009 as part of the Jack Wilson deal with Seattle), Cedeno never showed the day-in and day-out consistency the team sought, just frustrating flashes of his talent when he was on his game. The fact that he spent half of the past season in Clint Hurdle's doghouse had to have an impact, too.

The FO says it will keep the lines of communication open with the four during free agency, meaning that if their price drops significantly, they'll deal. But the catchers are competing in a weak market, as is Cedeno, and a LHP that can take the mound every fifth day has value to contending clubs. So we wouldn't expect them to return, even if the Bucs haven't slammed the door and nailed it shut.

It cost the Bucs $2.2M to release the four, not a very hefty parting gift, and cleared $18.65M in 2011 salary (and $26.75M in 2012 payroll) from the books. But now they have two very big holes to fill behind the plate and at short and need an inning-eater to join the staff.

The internal candidates at short are Chase d'Arnaud, Pedro Ciriaco, and Jordy Mercer. None appear ready to step in everyday, but the Pirates may have decided that this was time to end the Cedeno bottleneck and audition their young infielders. Brock Holt is also in the mix, but at least a year away.

Assuming the Bucs will pass on Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, the free market SS's the Pirates may look at are John McDonald, Clint Barmes, Cesar Izurtis, Yuniesky Betancourt, Nick Punto and Jamey Carroll plus a couple of veteran heads. Rafael Furcal may hit the market, too, but is probably out of the Pirates price range.

The Pirates got through a few weeks without Dewey and Snyder, but Mike McKenry and Matt Pagnozzi haven't shown that they can become a regular tandem behind the plate. Eric Fryer has some promise, but his game needs polished. The wild card is Jason Jaramillo, who is out of options this year but is the most experienced and accomplished catcher remaining in the organization.

The market has a pair of guys that can catch 120 games in Ramon Hernandez and Rod Barajas. The rest are career back-ups or players on the downside of their careers.

The pitching will be a poser, especially with Charlie Morton recovering from surgery. Brad Lincoln may have enough to hold down the bottom of the rotation, but Rudy Owens and Justin Miller hit a wall at Indy while Jeff Locke's audition failed to impress. The FO will kick the tires of Edwin Jackson, Jeff Francis, and Chris Young along with a long list of available back-enders.

During the end of last season and into the fall, the FO has made noise about pulling the trigger on a trade or two to fill in the holes. We'll see where that chatter leads. There haven't been any signs of smoke along that front yet, but the rumors won't really heat up until the winter meetings begin on December 5th.

The first log has been thrown in the hot stove.

  • The Braves tweeted that they picked up Eric Hinske's $1.55M option and declined Nate McLouth's, which was $10.65M.
  • A-Ram declined his $16M mutual option with the Cubs and will try his luck on the market.
  • Javier Lopez agreed to a two-year, $8.5M deal with the Giants.
  • Still no word on Octavio Dotel or Zach Duke's options; the betting line is that the Cards will pick up Dotel ($3.5M) and the D-Backs pass on the Zachster ($5.5M).
  • Tony LaRussa retired while on top at St. Louis, and there should be a long line forming in St. Louis for the skipper job. He's exactly the kind of guy that opponents hated and the home crowd loved.

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