Monday, March 16, 2015

The Option Game

We'd expect a round of minor league cuts sometime this week, and then it gets down to rug-cutting time: who fills out the MLB roster and who doesn't?

Just how do final decisions about who breaks camp get determined? Well, the suits will tell you the best 25 make the trip north; they lie. Young guys get sent down for seasoning/arb clock reasons, vets get released as a cost/benefit exercise, fringe guys are dealt and some bubble roster decisions are eventually decided by who can be safely stashed and who will be lost because of options.

Here's a look at the options remaining for the guys in camp (non-roster invitees are designated by * while the others are on the 40-man roster) and the option count, will almost certainly come into play on the hill and middle infield.

0 Options - *Collin Balester, Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, Arquimedes Caminero, *Deolis Guerra, *Brad Lincoln, Francisco Liriano, Radhames Liz, Jeff Locke, Mark Melancon, Charlie Morton, Stolmy Pimentel, *Josh Wall, *Blake Wood, Vance Worley
1 Option -  Brandon Cumpton, Jared Hughes, Bobby LaFromboise, Rob Scahill, **Chris Volstad (not invited to camp)
2 Options - Gerrit Cole, *Charlie Leesman, Casey Sadler, *Angel Sanchez, Tony Watson
3 Options - *Jeremy Bleich, *Wilfredo Boscan, John Holdzkom, *Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, *Clayton Richard, *Adrian Sampson, Jameson Taillon 

Stolmy Pimentel - is he doing enough to fend off the competition? (photo Pirates via

Guys like Locke, Worley, Pimentel, Liz, Caminero and Wood make this an interesting group. We think that as the spring winds down, the Bucs will make a deal or two to clear the rotation's back end log jam, especially with a lot of young talent in the pipeline at the higher levels. The same is true of the bullpen; it seems like everyone in camp is tossing zeroes.

 0 Options - Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart  
1 Option -  *Wilkin Castillo, Tony Sanchez, *Sebastian Valle
3 Options - Elias Diaz

No decisions to worry about re: catching. Sanchez is making a case for himself this spring, which at very least gives Diaz some development time, although he also looks like he's not in over his head. It should lead to some interesting decisions in 2016.

0 Options - Pedro Alvarez, Pedro Florimon, Corey Hart, *Brent Morel, Sean Rodriguez
1 Option -  Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Justin Sellers, Neil Walker
2 Options - Alen Hanson, *Steve Lombardozzi, *Deibinson Romero
3 Options - *Stetson Allie, Jung Ho Kang, *Gift Ngoepe, *Gustavo Nunez

Pedro Florimon - can the Bucs keep him as a depth guy? (Photo: Pirates via

Floriman has been impressive with the glove in camp, but there's a ton of competition for reserve middle infield spot, with Kang and Rodriguez virtual locks to break camp with the team.
0 Options - *Gorkys Hernandez, *Jose Tabata
1 Option -  Jaff Decker
2 Options - Andrew Lambo, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte
3 Options - *Keon Broxton, Willy Garcia, Andrew McCutchen, *Mel Rojas Jr.

No problems here with option issues, though it is kinda funny to see the group Cutch is with. Lambo appears to be the last man in for the roster, but Decker is at least making it interesting.

All in all, the FO did a pretty good job of bringing players into camp who they can control for a little while; the spots where they're overloaded are filled with up-and-comers or guys with some MLB experience under their belts. The Pirates are finally getting to the point where the league's personnel people will be watching and waiting for the excess talent to become available through trade or waivers. That's quite a role reversal from Neal's dumpster-diving days.


JAL said...

Lincoln signed a minor league contract with Pirates during the off season so as i understand the rules options don't affect him. They can send him to Indy without going through waivers.

Ron Ieraci said...

JAL - You're right; he did sign a minor league contract, so he's safe. That's true of all the NRI unless they have an out clause in their contract; an option is required for guys on the 40-man roster who don't make the cut. Thx for pointing that out; I should have mentioned that in the post.

WilliamJPellas said...

From everything I've read, as well as the few times I've seen him pitch, Lincoln has an exceptional curveball. His fastball, though, is pretty straight and not overwhelmingly fast. I don't know that he's been the same since his Tommy John surgery, though he's apparently been healthy since having that done. I always liked him and was hopeful he'd be at least a mid-rotation starter for the Pirates, and of course he is a very good hitter for a pitcher---a plus in the NL.

Lincoln himself, though, seems to like being a reliever more than a starter. Maybe he can help us as a sixth starter - swingman? I don't think he'll make the club coming out of spring training, though.

Ron Ieraci said...

The hook's his bread-and-butter pitch for sure, Will. We'll see how he handles the pen. I also read an article where he said he preferred a relief role, so we'll see if he can develop a bullpen mentality.