After taking a few weeks away from the Bucs, I dove into all the Reviews and Off Season previews. I've read all the threads and all the comments and have come up with my own path. I will use this Fan Post as the starting point of my hot stove conversation.
To start I laid out all the future pay role and penciled in all the top prospects in at the appropriate years of arrival, thanks hugely to PP. I should explain that I believe that the Pirates will find long term success keeping their top prospects and filling in the gaps with free agents.The better the farm produces the less reliant on the free agent market the pirates will be. I hate to simplify it like that, I am familiar with the level of expertise here, but there it is.
I have a dream, to be dramatic, that the promised land will be found through an endless flow of starting pitchers produced by the minor league system. Currently 2/3 of the starting rotation is under contract for 1 year. One is a free agent. The carousel begins with Cole and his 6 years of control, Locke with 5, no one at 4, 3, or 2, Liriano and Morton at one.
Beyond Cole there is an outside chance that the farm could produce a top prospect starting pitcher every year for years to come. Now I know all kinds of things can go wrong in the mean time, but Taillon '14, Kingham '15, Grasnow '16, Holmes '17, Dickson '18, Heredia '19. If we are to expect the top prospects to make it to the majors then that's how it shakes out as of now.
Let's look at the at the front end of the carousel now. The way my brain works, I want to fill in pitchers at the 4, 3, 2, and even one slots. I think the time to kick the budget up a notch is now. There is money to spend and a lot of holes can be filled for the foreseeable future.
Starting with the arbitration eligible Morton, I would like to buy out Morton's first two years of free agency. That seems to be the common theme around here when talking about extending players contracts, get a year or 2 of FA. You can argue the numbers, probably what he will make in arb. this year, +1mil. in year 2, +1mil. in year three.
Now we get in to some real money, 4 years. Who do u want to offer 4 years too? One thing i know is that when the Pirates needed a C last year and they went after the best available it worked out great. Does Liriano deserve 4 yrs.? I know there are those here that have pointed out the ups and downs. He is the left handed option that I am going to lay out. If you do renegotiate it probably means you have to pay more in '14 then you already have to. Maybe something like 6, 9, 12, 15, That's 4/42. The other options at the top of the FA market and the MLBTR predicted numbers are: Nolasco 4/48, Jiminez 4/52 and Garza 4/64. I really am fine with any of these choice. Liriano is the lefty, just saying.
In keeping with the keep em' together theme, I don't have a problem with offering Burnett 2 yrs. or 1 and a mutual option, or 1. If Burnett insists on 1 year at a time or 1 and done I think another 2 yr. buy low Liriano type deal would be the way to go.If Burnett is up for 2 yrs. then i guess that Rodriguez could be considered the 1 yr. option, but I really am not counting on him at all. Other pitchers worth noting on the 40 man that compile the depth in the minors are Cumpton, Johnson, Irwin and to an extent McPherson. Gomez slots into the Bullpen unless you want to drop him and go with Rodriguez there, witch is an expensive option.
So, that's my master plan/ assessment of the Pitching. It is a KISS plan and I believe that it could keep the Pirates from having to address starting pitching for a long time if things go right. I am going to transition into hitting now. I am going to keep this plan simple to. Warning: some of my ideas have been explored here before and argued in extent. I'd like to list the options scorecard style starting with 2.
2 catching spots on the 25 man roster. Martin for 8.5 mil. next yr. and Sanchez with 6 yrs. of control. From what I understand McKenry will be tendered, spend the year at AAA and next year come back up as Sanchez's backup. By the time McKenry is a FA McGuire will be pushing Sanchez to the bench.
3. This is where I fall into the Lambo camp. Sanchez is arb. eligible for the next 2 yrs. Lambo is under control for the next 6. Lambo gets the heavy end of the platoon with Sanchez facing the lefties and a late inning defensive replacement. If you are dead set on improving the spot then I think you have to nontender Sanchez now and go with a RH replacement. Once again the best available FA is MLBTR Napoli 3/42. This cuold bridge the gap to Bell. Dickerson and Allie are also top prospects, both LH. Even with Napoli there is a place on the team for Lambo. I do not think that money needs to be spent, but again if u want a upgrade...
4. Walker has become a LH hitter that would benefit from a platoon. My upgrade here is to put Mercer in that platoon while backing up SS. I don't know if I would extend Walker past his arb. yrs. Even if I did it would be at a Tabata level.Mercer is under control for 5 more yrs.
5. It is time to extend Alvarez. A buyout of his 1st FA year would probably be best case. Maybe at a McCutchen level, 4, 7, 10, 13, 4/34. Harrison is his backup, under control for the next 4 yrs. There are no top prospects waiting in the wings.
6. Another upgrade spot. I do not want Barmis back. MLBTR Drew 3/33 will bridge the gap to Hanson. Mercer will be a good backup and 2b platoon. Above avg. defense at SS will be fine. i no longer want to sacrifice a bat.
7. Marte, Plenty of time to extend him. Tabata is the back up here.
8. McCutchen, one day will be given another extension making him an all time franchise player.
9. Oh 9, 9 is fine with a player we have a long commitment to. Tabata looked good at the end of the year. Tabata could probably lead off better than Marte. Lambo can back up RF while still being on the fat end of a 1b platoon. Polanco is very close. Guess what? with a 7 man bullpen there is one spot left. I can only condone spending any more money at this point if it is for one year. You want a 37 YO fine. One year.
I just want to make mention of my bullpen philosophy. Grilli, Melancon, Wilson, Watson, Morris, Mazzaro, Pimentel, Hughes, Gomez, and even Rodriguez are all on the 40 man roster. Pitchers like Cumpton, Johnson, Irwin, MCPherson, non top pitching prospects, once they have used up their options and can no longer spot start are add to the list. Seems like and endless list of pitchers to pull 7 from. If they become valuable and someone else wants them, give them up. If Melancon+ a combination of non top prospects can bring in Trumbo and save the Napoli money, go for it. There i think i got it all out, and mentioned most all of the 40 man roster as it stands and top prospects. I welcome all commentators and will use this manifesto as the basis of my arguments for the coming weeks.