First, players whose contracts ended in 2016 become free agents after a five-day negotiating window with their current club. The Buccos are Neftali Feliz, Matt Joyce, Ivan Nova, Sean Rodriguez and Ryan Vogelsong. None will receive qualifying offers from Pittsburgh and should be on the market soon.
On November 7th all the players on the DL have to be returned to the 40-man roster; several teams have already begun that process. The Pirates have Gerrit Cole, Elias Diaz, Josh Harrison, AJ Schugel and Chris Stewart stowed away on the 60-day DL. They currently have 37 players on the 40-man, and that's a pair too many.
On November 18th, the team further fidgets with the roster to protect minor league talent otherwise eligible for the Rule 5 draft which is always an interesting selection. Finally, on December 2nd, the clubs have to offer a contract to pre-arb and arbitration eligible players; those not tendered a contract become free agents. This year's crew of arbs includes Cole, Drew Hutchison, Jared Hughes, Wade LeBlanc, Jeff Locke, Jordy Mercer, Juan Nicasio and Tony Watson.
All that shake-and-bake sets the stage for December 5th, the opening pitch of the hot stove season when the four-day Winter meetings are held in Washington, DC, capped by the December 8th Rule 5 draft.
The stuff that happened between that last-day loss and today:
- Gregory Polanco had platelet-rich plasma injections in his left shoulder and knee after the season ended, per @MattGajtka. That would help explain his second half swoon. He also had a PRP injection on his knee at the end of the 2015 season; kinda makes one wonder why he wasn't shut down a little sooner.
- There was some less painful news for El Coffee, tho. He was the Pirates nominee for the 2016 nominees for the Hank Aaron Award. The award honors the best offensive performers in each league.
- Starling Marte was named to The Sporting News 2016 NL All-Star team. No other Pirate received all-star consideration. He's also a Golden Glove finalist; he won his first GG last season.
|Starling's been grabbing some attention during the off season (image Root Sports)|
- John Jaso is spending the off season learning all the corner positions - the Pirates would like to be able to use him at third base and the corner OF spots in 2017 with Josh Bell and David Freese already in the queue for first base. Bell is also working on his versatility as a corner OF/1B; Freeser can already play both corner infield spots.
- 3B coach Rick Sofield was dismissed and 1B coach Nick Leyva was retasked as a roving minor league instructor. Sofield was also the running/outfield coach, while Leyva handled the infield and helped design some of the shifting the Pirates used. Also on the move are bench coach Dave Jauss, will remain with the staff, and Brad Fischer, who has been offered but not yet accepted a role in player development.
- Joey Cora, the Altoona manager, took Sofield's spot. Cora spent 11 years in the majors and was a MLB coach with the White Sox and Marlins. He'll coach third and the infield. Former big league OF'er Kimera Bartee is the new 1B, OF and running coach; he had been a roving instructor for the Pirates and was skipper of the State College Spikes. Tom Prince became the bench coach. He caught for Pittsburgh and been working his way up the organizational ladder as a manager. Here's the Bucco's official release regarding the coaching-go-round.
- The 2016 coaches left standing are Ray Searage (pitching), Jeff Branson & Jeff Livesey (hitting & ass't hitting coaches), Dave Jauss (switched to assistant coach w/o portfolio), Euclides Rojas (bullpen) and Heberto Andrade (bullpen C).
|Herbie Andrade is the longest tenured field staffer at 13 seasons (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
- The Pirates acquired RHP Brady Dragmire from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash after Dragmire, 23, was DFA'ed last week. To clear space on the 40-man, the Bucs DFA'ed LHP Phil Coke, who would have been a FA this off season. Dragmire is a control, ground-ball reliever and should start the year at Indy if he makes it through the roster games between now and camp.
- They also picked up 2B Chris Bostick from Washington for C Taylor Gushue and cash. Neither has shown much with a bat, making this an organizational depth/change of scenery deal.
- The Pirates have re-signed RHPs Casey Sadler and Angel Sanchez to minor league contracts. Both missed all of 2016 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Pittsburgh also inked a minor-league deal with Altoona lefty Jared Lakind, while losing pitchers Curtis Partch, Jorge Rondon and Trey Haley, who have declared free agency as reported by Baseball America.
- The Pirates sent RHP Zach Phillips, IF Pedro Florimon and C Jacob Stallings outright to Indy, clearing three spots on the 40-man roster.
- Prospects RHP Edgar Santana and IF Connor Joe will play in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game November 5th. Though there are no elite Pirates pups playing AFL ball this year, Eric Wood, Jin-De Jhang and Edgar Santana are looking good.
|Edgar Santana 2015 West Virginia Black Bears|
- Sally O’Leary, who was with the Pirates PR department from 1964 until her retirement in 1996, continuing to work after that with the Alumni Association, passed away on Saturday.
- The Pirates draft position is #13.
- Not exactly a breaking news bulletin, but Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow have been named MiLB Pipeline's Pirates Prospects of the Year.
- The Tigers hired Lloyd McClendon as their hitting coach.
- Zack Duke, 33, had TJ surgery during the off season. The Zachster had a pretty solid campaign, with a 2.36 ERA in 83 appearances covering 61 IP.
- The Rangers claimed RHP off waivers from the Mariners. Sampson was the pitcher the Bucs sent to Seattle in the JA Happ deal.
- The Pirates regular-season and training camp schedules are out.