On Tuesday, the Pirates have to make some decisions about who to include on the 40-man roster in preparation for the Rule 5 draft, held at the end of the baseball meetings in Nashville on December 6th. And they've done a pretty fair job of housekeeping this season, getting the list in trim to take on a few new players. Here’s the current 40-man roster, which is now at 34 players:
Pitchers: Chad Beck, A. J. Burnett, Joel Hanrahan, Jared Hughes, Jeff Karstens, Chris Leroux, Jeff Locke, James McDonald, Kyle McPherson, Bryan Morris, Charlie Morton, Chris Resop, Wandy Rodriguez, Rick Van den Hurk, Tony Watson, Duke Welker and Justin Wilson.
Catchers: Mike McKenry.
Infielders: Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes, Chase d’Arnaud, Matt Hague, Josh Harrison, Brock Holt, Jordy Mercer, Yamaico Navarro, Gaby Sanchez and Neil Walker.
Outfielders: Garrett Jones, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, Travis Snider and Jose Tabata.
This year, high school players picked in 2008 and college players chosen in 2009 are eligible for the Rule 5 draft. In a good news, bad news scenario, there aren't all that many hard decisions to make because neither draft has exactly churned out very many MLB ready guys. In fact, Holt, who was selected in 2009, is the only prospect from those classes already on the 40-man, and he was just added in September.
Three minor-league guys are no brainers to be included on the roster: C Tony Sanchez, RHP Phil Irwin and RHP Victor Black, all who could land in Pittsburgh sometime during 2013.
There are three others that are quite likely to be seriously considered - SS Gift Ngoepe,
who has the legs and glove to stick as a bench warmer in the Pedro Ciriaco mold, RHP Kyle Kaminska, who was strong in a small sample size as a starter in the Pittsburgh system and in the Arizona Fall League after joining the club from Miami, and C Ramon Cabrera, who can hit and plays a premium position. All three could make the cut; we'd give Cabrera the best chance and Ngoepe the least of the trio.
Six guys, six spots. Seems pretty cut and dried. Well, not exactly. The FO may have a couple of guys that underperformed in the minors last year but are still on the radar. The Pirates also have to leave a space if they want to roll the Rule 5 dice again, and they haven't missed taking a shot in the Huntington era - remember Evan Meek, Donnie Veal, John Raynor, Josh Rodriguez and Gustav Nunez? So there's that.
Plus necessity requires the FO to bring in some new guys - RHP Chad Beck has already joined the roster, claimed from Toronto, and C Ali Solis, formerly of San Diego, was on the roster for a minute before being waived to the minors. There will certainly be a call for pitchers, particularly for the bullpen, Mike McKenry is the only returning catcher, there's no veteran bench presence...the Pirate to-do list goes on and on.
So Tuesday's 40-man roster will just be a snapshot in time; there will be several alterations after the draft is done. There are still a handful of players that are hanging on - Chase d'Arnaud is somewhat redundant, Rick Van den Hurk was hammered in his September outings, Matt Hague missed the September call-up, and a couple of others are marginal - and transition will be the storyline before the Bucs finalize their roster for 2013.