In an expansive Q&A with Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington discusses the challenges that accompany running a low-payroll club, noting that “large-dollar free-agent signs are not available to us,” so the Bucs must rely on developing cheap talent from within. As a result, Huntington has found it difficult to part with packages of prospects in trades for established major leaguers (Jose Quintana, for instance). “You can look around our entire club right how and anybody that came through our system, we could have traded somewhere along the way,” said Huntington. “Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Josh Bell, Tony Watson; we could have traded any and of all of them at some point, and every single player we would have acquired wouldn’t be with the Pittsburgh Pirates anymore. They would have left for somewhere else because of free agency.”
More from the Central divisions:
- Superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor is under Indians control for the next five seasons, including two pre-arbitration years, but Zack Meisel of cleveland.com wonders how much the Tribe would have to pay to keep him in the fold for longer. Noting that the Indians would like to buy out at least one free agent year, Meisel proposes a six-year extension worth between $65MM and $75MM. Such a deal would indeed keep Lindor with the Indians for an extra season, and it would make him the first shortstop with between one and two years’ service time to ink an extension since then-Brave Andrelton Simmons (1.125 years) signed a seven-year, $58MM deal that bought out two free agent years in February 2014. At that point, the defensive virtuoso was a .256/.304/.400 hitter who had swatted 20 home runs, stolen seven bases and accounted for 6.6 fWAR over his initial 840 plate appearances. Lindor, who has one year and 113 days of service time, owns a .306/.356/.454 line, 27 homers, 31 steals and 10.4 fWAR in 1,122 PAs. He’s also an elite-caliber defender.
- Speaking of extensions, neither the White Sox nor shortstop Tim Anderson’s representatives wanted discussions on a new deal to drag into the season, according to Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Thus, it was a must for the two sides to reach an agreement by Opening Day, which they did Tuesday. Anderson’s camp was skeptical of signing a long-term pact when the White Sox contacted them several weeks ago, per Hayes, who reports that they rejected the team’s initial offer. But talks intensified from there and ultimately yielded a six-year, $25MM guarantee. “In the end, what really mattered was the fact that Tim wanted to do the deal, so we pulled the trigger,” said Patrick Murphy, the COO of Anderson’s agency, Reynolds Sports Management.
- The Brewers demoted reliever Michael Blazek to Triple-A on Wednesday, which frustrated the right-hander. “I’m not happy about it,” he said (Twitter link via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Blazek is indignant mostly because he followed the Brewers’ orders to throw more fastballs during big league camp and still couldn’t crack their roster, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “I did what they told me to do,” stated the breaking ball-reliant Blazek. “I came into camp ready to go and they wanted me to throw the fastball more. That’s not the kind of pitcher I really am; I’m a guy who mixes stuff up. If they’re going off the way I was pitching in Spring Training throwing just fastballs, I mean, they didn’t really see the kind of pitcher that I am.” Blazek’s unsuccessful bid to land a roster spot came after he endured a rough 2016, in which he battled elbow troubles and logged a 5.66 ERA, 7.84 K/9 and 5.88 BB/9 over 41 1/3 innings. The year before, he registered a 2.43 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.91 BB/9 over 55 2/3 frames.