Offseason Outlook: Pittsburgh Pirates

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Pirates.  Their commitments for 2010:

C – Ryan Doumit – $3.55MM
C – Jason Jaramillo – $400K
C/IF – Robinzon Diaz – $401K
1B/OF – Garrett Jones – $400K
2B – Delwyn Young – $406K
SS – Ronny Cedeno – $823K+
3B – Andy LaRoche – $414K
IF – Ramon Vazquez – $2MM
IF – Steve Pearce – $408K
IF – Brian Bixler – $404K
LF – Lastings Milledge – $452K
CF – Andrew McCutchen – $400K
RF – Brandon Moss – $415K

Other possibilities: 1B/C – Jeff Clement – $405K, 3B/OF – Neil Walker – $400K

SP – Paul Maholm – $4.5MM
SP – Zach Duke – $2.2MM+
SP – Ross Ohlendorf – $414K
SP – Charlie Morton – $405K
SP – Daniel McCutchen – $400K

Other rotation candidates: Jeff Karstens – $402K, SP – Kevin Hart – $408K, Jose Ascanio – $405K

RP – Matt Capps – $2.3MM+
RP – Jesse Chavez – $402K
RP – Evan Meek – $401K
RP – Joel Hanrahan – $420K
RP – Steven Jackson – $400K
RP – Phil Dumatrait – $402K
RP – Failed rotation candidate

Other commitments: Pedro Alvarez – $500K

Non-tender candidates: Tyler Yates – $1.3MM+, Craig Hansen – $825K+, Denny Bautista – $400K+, Chris Bootcheck – $600K+

Because of all the competition on this club, the above roster is just a rough projection for 2010.  The Pirates entered the 2009 season with a $48.7MM payroll.  My rough estimate has their 2010 commitment at about half that, before arbitration raises for Cedeno, Duke, and Capps.  The payroll should still fall under $30MM.

In my opinion, the Pirates are taking the right approach to rebuilding under GM Neal Huntington.  Huntington has a clear long-term focus, and isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a trade that will help the team in the future.  Gone from the team's Opening Day lineup: Nyjer Morgan, Freddy Sanchez, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson, and John GrabowEric Hinske, Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, and Sean Burnett were also traded. 

The game's best prospects are almost always off-limits, but the Pirates have added a variety of quality young players.  Since they don't have veterans clogging up starting jobs and payroll, there's been an opportunity for players like McCutchen, Jones, and Ohlendorf to emerge.  Based on his recent history it would not be surprising if Huntington is willing to listen on Doumit, Maholm, and Capps this winter and next summer.

It's a boring analysis, but expect the Pirates to stay on course by mostly avoiding the free agent market, remaining open to trade ideas, and spending on the draft.  2009 was a year of transition as the veterans were sent packing.  The team will continue sorting through its inventory in 2010; competing in 2011 does not seem out of reach.

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