Pirates News in November? Roster Moves You May Have Missed Over the Weekend

The deadline for MLB clubs to finalize their 40-man roster in preparation for the December 8th Rule 5 draft was at 6 PM ET on Friday.  In accordance with this deadline the Pirates made several moves to both free up spots and protect top prospects before the deadline arrived on Friday. 
Also, the Pirates actually made a free agent signing this weekend!

Rule 5 Moves

The Pirates had 10 of their 30 prospects Rule 5 eligible, and those eligible could only be protected if they were added to the 40-man roster by the deadline on Friday.  In order to make room for these highly touted prospects, the Pirates had already released three players from the active roster on Tuesday of last week: utility player Phillip Evans, pitcher Tanner Anderson, and catcher Taylor Davis.  This left the Pirates at 37 players on their active roster heading into Friday evening. 

 With 10% of their top 30 prospects at risk, Pirate fans were eager for news Friday evening.  However, the only corresponding move the Pirates made to make room for their budding young stars was to DFA backup catcher Michael Perez.  This was expected after Perez’s terrible season with the Pirates in 2021.

 However, I still don’t understand keeping several of the Pirates I expect the club to non-tender.  These are players like Chad Kuhl and Kevin Newman who are arbitration eligible, but are not performing well enough to take up these valuable roster spots.  Now, the Pirates still have time to non-tender these players, but if they were going to do so, why not do it when you still have the opportunity to protect your top prospects?

Shortly after the 6pm deadline, the Pirates announced that in addition to releasing Perez, they had protected the following players by adding them to the active roster:

No. 5 prospect - Infielder Liover Peguero

No. 16 prospect - outfielder Travis Swaggerty

No. 27 prospect - outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba

No. 29 prospect - outfielder Jack Suwinski

Unfortunately, this means that the Pirates left several top prospects unprotected, including 22-year old pitcher Tahnaj Thomas, ranked No. 13, 22-year old first baseman Mason Martin, ranked No. 17, and 22-year old outfielder Cal Mitchell ranked No. 18, among others. 

I could lie and say I don’t like to speculate, but I actually love to speculate based on Pirates decision so here goes.  My only explanation for not keeping Mason Martin is that first baseman rarely are selected in Rule 5 drafts.  Also, if they are selected, they are rarely kept on the drafting team’s 40-man roster the entire following season.  This is a requirement of the Rule 5 draft else the player returns to the team he was drafted from after the season.  This is why the Pirates had to send Jose Soriano back to the Los Angeles Angels last Sunday.

Also, based on the moves Friday night, I am extremely concerned that Bryan Reynolds will not receive a contract extension.  The Pirates protected three outfield prospects and eight outfielders overall, and that is a cause for concern. 

I had actually believed that Jack Suwinski was dispensable for two reasons.  He is on the older side of the top prospect list at 23 years old, and I was hoping, with all of my black and yellow heart, that Bryan Reynolds was going to be taking an outfield spot for the next five to seven years due to a contract extension.  Protecting Suwinski, Swaggerty, and Smith-Njigba, among this many outfielders in general, does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about the possibility of that extension.

Pirates Sign Quintana

The final piece of weekend news that was revealed yesterday was that the Pirates signed left-handed pitcher Jose Quintana to a reported 1-year, $2 million deal.  As the deal is not official just yet, the Pirates have not announced the signing nor have they revealed the corresponding roster move needed to open up a spot for Quintana on the active roster.  

Antonio from 2017 would be thrilled by this.  That was the year we were all clamoring for the Pirates to acquire Quintana from the Chicago White Sox, when he instead ended up with the Chicago Cubs.  However, Quintana never quite lived up to the trade return the Cubs had to send for the left-hander, so the Pirates lucked out in that regard. 

I’m not going to pretend to spin you a story about how this signing makes the Pirates competitive and the stove is heating up, but I do like the signing.  $2 million is such a small price to pay for what was once one of the most coveted arms in baseball.  Quintana is far from what he used to be, but those guys sometimes make for the best Pirates’ pitchers.  We also saw last season that productive veterans can be moved at the trade deadline for a decent return, when the Pirates traded Tyler Anderson to the Seattle Mariners for a couple of decent prospects. 

Also, I don’t need the Pirates to sign any high-profile free agents this particular offseason.  I want all of the 2022 innings and at-bats to be given to youngsters still trying to cut their teeth in the big leagues.  2022 is for development.  2023 and beyond is for success.