The Pirates are one of several teams holding a FanFest today. Reporters, including MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth, were on hand for the Q&A with GM Neal Huntington. The Pirates’ GM admitted that today’s Morton swap was mostly about payroll relief, although the club does like David Whitehead.
Here’s more Pirates notes:
- Today’s trade of Charlie Morton will likely instigate “multiple moves,” tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. After the move, the Pirates payroll is around $88MM with a target of about $105MM per Biertempfel (tweet). Huntington told reporters including MLB.com’s Adam Berry (tweet), “A big part of the motivation was to free some dollars to allow us to deepen the club, to reestablish some depth.“
- Industry sources implied to Biertempfel (tweet) that pitchers like Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, or others over $10MM per season are not on the Pirates radar. However, there is no doubt that at least one starting pitcher is on the agenda. The rotation presently consists of Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jon Niese, and Jeff Locke. Presumably, the club prefers for Locke or Niese to fill a long relief role with Allen Webster serving as minor league depth. Top prospect Tyler Glasnow is not expected to reach the majors early in the season.
- Closer Mark Melancon is expected to earn $10MM in arbitration per MLBTR estimates, but the club is under no pressure to trade him, tweets Biertempfel. The team could potentially get by in the late innings with Tony Watson, Arquimedes Caminero, and new acquisition Juan Nicasio. However, a bullpen with Melancon is certainly more robust. With the market for quality closers at a premium, Pittsburgh would find it difficult to replace Melancon. Per Huntington, “if somebody steps up and gives us a return that’s significant enough to motivate us to get a little bit uncomfortable, then we get a little bit uncomfortable.” (h/t to Wilmoth for the quote).
- In commenting on Nicasio, Huntinton told Wilmoth, “We do think there are some things we can help him with. Now, is it going to be enough to make him a good starter? Time will tell. Is it going to be enough to make him a really good reliever? Time will tell.” The Pirates have developed a reputation as a haven for reclamation projects which could make Nicasio an interesting player to watch.
- Comparing recent acquisition Jon Niese to the market, Huntington said “he’ll continue to put up numbers similar to guys who are getting sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety million dollars in free agency — we have three, essentially, one-year contracts with Jon Niese.” While Niese comes with less cachet than somebody like Mike Leake, it’s true that they project to perform similarly. As such, Huntington may very well beat the market with this swap.
- Huntington says Jung-ho Kang is more likely to return in April than May, per Berry (tweet). If true, this is a lucky break for the club. They currently have some combination of Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Alen Hanson, and Pedro Florimon penciled in for second base, shortstop, and third base. An injury or poor performance from Hanson could leave the club scrambling for reinforcements.
- The Pirates will retrench in 2016 with an aim to contend again in 2017, writes John Perotto of the Beaver County Times. While the club will still pursue a postseason berth next year, they’ll have their eyes on developing top prospects like Josh Bell, Glasnow, and Jameson Taillon.
“Huntington says Jung-ho Kang is more likely to return in April than May, per Berry (tweet). If true, this is a lucky break for the club.”
don’t say break pls
Reports say Bucs aren’t planning on pursuing another 10 mil+ pitcher (Kazmir, Leake, etc.). Money saved from unloading Pedro and Morton likely to fill the bench and bullpen
This is exactly why I hate watching the pirates off season. This is ridiculous. Why must the fans suffer through another 20 year drought cuase that’s where we are going.
At least you aren’t a Marlins fan…which is what I unfortunately am. Not only do we have a payroll half that of the Pirates, we just non-tendered an important piece in Henderson Alvarez over $4 million
he is prolly our target
Also, you guys have a good farm system, and a generally young major league roster. Don’t exaggerate. The Pirates will be fine. That being said, count down that time until McCutchen is a free agent in 3 years
This is the worst characterization of a team’s offseason ever. By being careful with spending and not trading away a lot of assets for short-term upgrades they are making sure that they *won’t* go through another dark ages any time soon.
Jung Ho Kang will have a outstanding 2 BD year I’m a Cub fan but I’m a baseball man first and I see it in him 20 hr. 80 RBI 265avg
This article pretty much answers my question of what they’ll do at 2b, 1b, and another SP…the answer seems to be nothing
It’s sad to see Charlie go, but his hip problems made him expendable. Glasnow and Taillon will likely join the rotation this year, so a patchwork of Masterson, Latos and Neise is fine by me. I am a little leary of the offense moving into this year, but I expect Polanco to have a big year, and Harrison at 2B, Mercer again at short, Kang at 3B and Hanson as backup. Not great but should be decent. Interested to see what they do with H Ramirez and and Austin Meadows when they come up.
I still wanna see Napoli get a contract and another decent SP. that will do. No more moving players around. Time to get to business on the field and play some ball.
2 pitchers that would do very well under the tutelage of Ray Searage are Dillon Gee and Doug Fister. Both should be relatively inexpensive due to down seasons in 2015. They could flip them at the deadline or ride them on into the playoffs.
I’d expect Latos for the rotation, Thornton for the bullpen, and then maybe if you had enough $ left over, take a run at a 1b to platoon with Morse–either Napoli or Dae-Ho Lee. Although I’d love Leake in our park, not to mention not having to face him since we make him look like Cy Young and Babe Ruth simultaneously.
Napoli and Lee seem like strange platoon partners for Morse since they both bat from the same side as him.
They won’t go after Leake he is pretty much a right handed equivalent to Jon Niese if you look up their stats. Niese has actually been worth over 1 fWAR more since 2011.
I like the addition of Niese, but Im very intrigued by the addition of Allen Webster. He was a highly touted prospect once and he pitates got him for almost nothing.
Top three questions for the 2016 Pirates:
1) Who’s on first?
2) Will we finally see Jameson Taillon in Pittsburgh this year?
3) will we see Gregory Polanco break out this season?
I would say:
1) Most likely Morse and a guy currently no on the roster in a platoon until Bell is deemed ready.
2) Barring injury Taillon absolutely should make the MLB this year.
3) I suspect yes. He showed some promising signs at the end of last year that leave me optimistic.