Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hot Stove Simmering...

So you think the Bucs have been idle? Well, from a blockbuster standpoint, that's true. But from an organizational point of view, it's been anything but quiet as evaluations and their consequences are in full swing, along with the usual player movement.

They've lost, in one way or another, Russ Martin, Ike Davis, Justin Wilson and Jeanmar Gomez from their pre-September roster, with Eddie Volquez as good as gone. Frankie Liriano and Clint Barmes are also FAs with an good chance of landing in other cities. Bit players like John Axford, Brent Morel and Michael Martinez are in the rear view mirror, too.

The FO has filled a couple of everyday holes, reacting quickly to bring in Francisco Cervelli to catch and AJ Burnett to slot in Edinson Volquez's rotation spot, while bringing in a cast of thousands, or so it seems, to audition for middle-inning relief and back-up middle infielder openings. There was even a bit of a coaching shuffle triggered by Jeff Bannister's well-deserved call to Texas.

The roster builders are fortunate that the position spots are adequately manned; the biggest uncertainty is whether they keep Pedro Alvarez around. If they do, first base is covered. But they are thin, particularly in the infield with Josh Harrison earning a regular gig and leaving a bench seat open. And they still need an arm for the front end of the rotation, although that may not come about until the big three of Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields find homes and the mid-market guys can generate serious bidding interest.

So far, the FO has made these moves (MLB career slashes for the new guys are included):

November 21 - C Sebastian Valle was signed to a minor-league deal along with C Miguel Perez, who is a player/coach in the system. Cot's Contracts lists P Radhames Liz (6-8, 7.50, 110-1/3 IP) as also being signed on this date, although the team has yet to confirm that deal and haven't placed him on the roster yet.

November 20 - Placed P Jameson Taillon, P Nick Kingham, C Elias Diaz and OF Willy Garcia on the 40-man roster. They DFA'ed 1B Ike Davis and C Ramon Cabrera and outrighted 3B Brent Morel  to Indy. The claimed IF Pedro Florimon (.204/10/57 - 214 games) from the Nats and placed him on the 40-man roster.

November 18 - Singed P Jeremy Bleich, P Deolis Guerra and P Blake Wood (6-7-1, 4.39, 127 IP), along with SS Gustavo Nunez to minor league deals with invitations to camp. They also inked P Collin Balester (7-16, 5.30, 185 IP) to a non-roster minor-league deal with an invite to camp.

November 17 -  P Brad Lincoln (9-11-1, 4.74, 221-1/3 IP) was signed to a minor league deal with an invite to camp.

November 14 - Free agent AJ Burnett (155-150, 4.04, 2,567-1/3 IP) inked a one-year, $8.5M contract.

November 12 - The Bucs sent P Justin Wilson to the Yankees for C Francisco Cervelli (.278/10/92 - 250 games).

November 11 - Pittsburgh sent P Shane Carle to the Rockies for P Rob Scahill (2-0, 4.42, 57 IP).

November 7 - 2B Jake Elmore (.221/2/13 - 87 games) was claimed from the Reds.

November 4 - Clint Hurdle added Brad Fischer, the Bucs' minor-league coordinator, as a bench coach and announced that field coaches Nick Leyva and Rick Sofield would switch positions, with Leyva going to first base and Sofield to third.

November 3 - The Pirates tendered $15.3M qualifying offers to C Russ Martin and P Francisco Liriano; they both refused the offer, guaranteeing the Pirates a sandwich pick if they signed elsewhere (as Martin did). They did not make offers to their other free agents, Eddie Volquez and Clint Barmes. Also, P Jeanmar Gomez, UT Chase d'Arnaud and P John Axford were outrighted.

October 25 - The Pirates bought SS Justin Sellers (.198/3/17 - 99 games) from the Indians.

October 23 - P Josh Stinson (0-2-1, 4.47, 52-1/3 IP) signed a minor league deal with an invite to camp.

October 16 - P Chris Peacock signed a non-roster minor league contract.

October 9 - OF Jose Tabata was DFA'ed.

The next big roster-building date is December 2, when the Pirates have to tender offers to their arb-eligible players. They've whittled the list down (Axford, Davis, Gomez, & Morel were let go), but these 11 guys remain: Pedro Alvarez, Francisco Cervelli, Josh Harrison, Jared Hughes, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider, Chris Stewart, Neil Walker, Tony Watson & Vance Worley.

They could add $35M to the payroll, with only Gaby being a bubble guy.

The hot stove pot may be barely simmering to Bucco fans, but it's plenty bubbly to keep the FO stirring. And that's according to plan. The Pirates are built to replace from within; if they have more than a couple of holes to fill in the off-season, they've wandered off the track that Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington have been patiently plowing since their arrival.  

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