Next in our Offseason In Review series, the Pirates.
Major League Signings
- Octavio Dotel, RP: one year, $3.5MM. Includes $4.5MM club option for 2011 with a $500K buyout.
- Ryan Church, OF: one year, $1.5MM. Arbitration-eligible for 2011.
- Brendan Donnelly, RP: one year, $1.35MM.
- Bobby Crosby, SS: one year, $1MM.
- Javier Lopez, RP: one year, $775K.
- Total spend: $8.125MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
- Brian Bass, Brian Burres, D.J. Carrasco, Vinnie Chulk, Neal Cotts, Wilfredo Ledezma, Jack Taschner, Tyler Yates, Luke Carlin, Brian Myrow, Jonathan Van Every
Trades and Claims
- Claimed P Justin Thomas off waivers from Mariners
- Acquired 2B Akinori Iwamura from Rays for RP Jesse Chavez
- Claimed P Chris Jakubauskas off waivers from Mariners
- Acquired Rule 5 pick OF John Raynor from Marlins
- Acquired 3B Jesus Brito from Indians for SS Brian Bixler
- Claimed OF Brandon Jones off waivers from Braves
- Jesse Chavez, Matt Capps, Chris Bootcheck, Denny Bautista, Phil Dumatrait, Luis Cruz, Robinzon Diaz, Brian Bixler, Jeff Salazar
Between Iwamura and their free agent signings, the Pirates added about $13MM in guaranteed money this winter. They also non-tendered Capps, who earned $2.425MM last year.
In Dotel, the Pirates may well get a performance similar to that of Capps. And the club option on Dotel gives the Pirates a possible second year at a defined price rather than a potential arbitration disagreement with Capps for 2011. That said, GM Neal Huntington has to be questioned for getting nothing at all for Capps. Huntington blamed his front office's leak of a potential non-tender for the disappearance of Capps' trade value, but the reliever could've been dealt during the '09 season, during Spring Training 2010, or during the '10 season.
They aren't big names, but I like the Pirates' free agent signings. The relievers could have midseason trade value, and getting Carrasco on a minor league deal was a win. Church and Crosby will challenge the incumbents and even offer a little bit of upside for $2.5MM.
Surrendering five years of Chavez for one of Iwamura, and paying Iwamura $4.85MM, diverges from Huntington's plan. Reading Huntington's comments to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the GM seems to be going for respectability with this move. Why not keep Chavez and sign Kelly Johnson at half the price, while also potentially retaining Johnson for 2011? Maybe Iwamura puts the Pirates on the radar of other Japanese players, but this move raises an eyebrow.
Despite concerns about Capps and Iwamura, I liked the Pirates' offseason. The Orioles and Nationals, in a similar rebuilding-for-2010 position, threw down $30MM each. The Pirates spent only $13MM, and most likely will be open to trading any of their new acquisitions if it improves the club in the long-term.