Friday, October 23, 2015

2016 Team By Position: Outfield/Catcher

Part Two of the Peek at Position Players:

Outfield - The starting three are set.  The only question regarding Cutch and Starling Marte is when they'll swap positions, a decision we're pretty sure is up to Andrew to make. He's signed thorugh 2018 and Starling is in the fold until 2021 (assuming their options are picked up) and are long term pieces. Gregory Polanco looked to have turned the corner in the second half of the season, but his tenure as a Pirate may depend on whether or not he is willing to come to terms with the Bucs FO.

The Three Amigos (photo: Getty Images) 
There's no immediacy to shake hands as he won't even be eligible for arbitration until 2018. That amount of team control makes him attractive to the Pirates, certainly, but also to other teams looking for a toolsy outfielder. With Harold Ramirez, Keon Broxton, Brandon Barnes, Willie Garcia and eventually Austin Meadows in the pipeline, the Pirates will be deep in OF'ers. With that logjam, the Pirates would be foolish not to deal one or two pieces from a position of strength, and  El Coffee is the biggest bangle the Bucs have to offer.

Of the returning roster outfielders, Travis Snider, a free agent, and Jaff Decker, who is out of options, may be battling for a fourth OF spot, though there is no guarantee either one will be at camp; the young guys mentioned above may finally be knocking down the door. Andrew Lambo, who has options left, may or may not make the 40-man thanks to talent unrealized because of a constant stream of injuries, the latest costing him the 2015 campaign because of plantar fasciitis. Gloveman and cup-of-joe Bucco Gorkys Hernandez is gone, opting for minor league free agency.

Josh and S-Rod are also OF options in a pinch. Mad scientist Clint would be better served to use them as infielders, but both are competent in the pasture.

Catcher - Fran Cervelli played like he always has, with the exception being that he played all the time. He caught a career-high 128 games; his prior high was 90 games behind the dish in 2010 & only 234 games total cayching in his seven year Yankee stint. He came as advertised defensively; a good framer, strong pitch receiver, knows his pitchers and a so-so guy against the running game (aggravated by the staff in general). Offensively, his season was good, but not far from his usual standards. His 2015 slash was .295/.370/.401; his career line is .284/.357/.415. He's in his last year of arb, and we wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs tried to ink him to a deal to buy out a year or two of free agency before he hits the market in 2017; that way, they can get a read on the young guys coming up.

Fran da Man (Charles LeClaire/USAT)
Chris Stewart had a second nice year as the #2 guy (.289 & 28% CS rate in 2015), with heir-hopeful Elias Diaz getting a September taste. Stew's in his last arb season and looking at $1.5-1.75M or so; he should be back, with Diaz picking up some more Indy time to improve his stroke before his boat docks on the shores of the Allegheny.

Reese McGuire, the 14th selection in the 2013 draft, is the catcher to watch in the system. He hit just .255 at Bradenton, but showed a strong game behind the plate and was named the #11 prospect in the Florida State league by Baseball America. Reese will be 21 next season and should make the move to Altoona. Jacob Stalling, a good glove, no-hit guy, will either hang with the Curve to tutor McGuire or get bumped to Indy as Diaz's caddy.

And that should mark the end of days for Tony Sanchez. He hit .236 at Indy and still has his well-documented throwing issues with an 18% toss-out rate in 2015. Tony is both out of options and eligible to become a free agent, and that looks like what he'll be when the 40-man is set. Ironically, the 27 year old was the fourth pick of the 2009 draft largely on his defense (and signability) and it's been his glovework that's failed him in the organization.

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