The Pirates' 40-man roster will need to be set about a month from now in preparation for the Rule 5 draft. Any moves the Pirates make between now and then will probably be made with late November in mind. So here's the Pirates' 40-man roster and what I might do in the next month to prepare the Pirates.
First, you'll want to check out WTM's article on a similar subject, which discusses which Pirates prospects need to be protected.
Here's the roster:
Jimmy Barthmaier, Jason Davis, Zach Duke, Phil Dumatrait (60-day DL), Tom Gorzelanny (60-day DL), Yoslan Herrera, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Snell, John Van Benschoten
Denny Bautista, TJ Beam, Ronald Belisario, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, Dave Davidson, John Grabow, Craig Hansen, Marino Salas, Romulo Sanchez, Tyler Yates
Raul Chavez, Robinzon Diaz, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino
Pedro Alvarez, Brian Bixler, Luis Cruz, Chris Gomez (FA), Adam LaRoche, Andy LaRoche, Doug Mientkiewicz (FA), Luis Rivas (FA), Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson
Nate McLouth, Jason Michaels (FA), Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Moss, Steven Pearce
There are currently 42 players on the roster because Dumatrait and Gorzelanny are on the 60-day DL. They can't stay there, which means right away, two players have to go. So, right away, let's grant free agency to Luis Rivas and say that we aren't going to take Raul Chavez to arbitration.
Next, the Pirates need to make room for a number of prospects. Here are the ones that could be lost in the Rule 5 draft:
Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Jamie Romak, Evan Meek, Juan Mateo, Jeff Sues, Eric Krebs, Kyle Bloom, Ronald Uviedo, Steve Lerud, Brad Corley, Jason Delaney, Brad Clapp, James Boone, Jonel Pacheco
Right away, Lerud, Corley, Delaney, Clapp, Boone and Pacheco don't need to be added, while Jose Tabata, Neil Walker and Jamie Romak are definitely in. So let's grant free agency to Chris Gomez, Doug Mientkiewicz and Jason Michaels to make room for those three. (The Pirates have said they're interested in retaining Mientkiewicz and Michaels, but I don't think they actually will, and anyway I wouldn't.)
Meek, Mateo, Sues, Krebs, Bloom and Uviedo all have interesting cases to be added, especially given the Pirates' weak bunch of pitching. Evan Meek wasn't ready when he started the year with the Bucs, but he pitched very well after being booted off the roster and sent to the Pirates. He's in; Denny Bautista, who's eligible for arbitration, is out.
Juan Mateo was fantastic as a reliever for Altoona and isn't terribly old for a minor league free agent who has major league experience. He could pitch multiple-inning stints out of the Pirates' bullpen as early as next year. He's in; the pointless Ronald Belisario is out.
Jeff Sues, after missing two entire years with injuries, finally established himself as a decent relief prospect last year. He had a good strikeout rate at Altoona. He's not especially young, but he doesn't have a ton of pro experience because of the injuries and he's got good stuff, so there could be upside here. He's in; Luis Cruz is out.
Eric Krebs has good stuff and had a good strikeout rate for Lynchburg this year; he's currently pitching in the Hawaii Winter League. If the PIrates' relievers weren't terrible, adding him would be a stretch, because he's not ready to contribute. Fortunately for him, the Pirates' relievers are terrible. He replaces Dave Davidson.
Ronald Uviedo is currently pitching winter ball in Venezuela. He may have the strongest statistical case of any pitcher the PIrates need to consider adding, but he's a long way from the majors. Teams may consider him in the Rule 5 draft, though, because no one could hit him in his brief cameo at Lynchburg at the end of the year. Let's replace the arbitration-eligible Jason Davis with him.
Kyle Bloom had a strong season for Altoona and counts as one of the Bucs' few starting pitching prospects. He's not very likely to be chosen in the Rule 5 draft, I don't think, because his walk totals were high. He's off the roster for now, but I might consider making room for him if he continues to pitch well in Hawaii winter ball.
That makes the 40-man roster the following:
Jimmy Barthmaier, Zach Duke, Phil Dumatrait, Tom Gorzelanny, Yoslan Herrera, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Ian Snell, John Van Benschoten
TJ Beam, Sean Burnett, Matt Capps, Jesse Chavez, John Grabow, Craig Hansen, Eric Krebs, Juan Mateo, Evan Meek, Marino Salas, Jeff Sues, Romulo Sanchez, Ronald Uviedo, Tyler Yates
Robinzon Diaz, Ryan Doumit, Ronny Paulino
Pedro Alvarez, Brian Bixler, Adam LaRoche, Andy LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Neil Walker, Jack Wilson
Nate McLouth, Nyjer Morgan, Brandon Moss, Steven Pearce, Jamie Romak, Jose Tabata
That puts the Pirates at 40, but there are still several expendable players on the roster--Van Benschoten, Herrera, Bixler, Salas, Romulo Sanchez, Paulino--who can be moved if and when the Pirates find a free agent or someone in the Rule 5 draft. Yates is eligible for arbitration and normally isn't the sort of player I'd want to take there, but with the extreme absence of experienced relievers, it might not be a bad idea. Still, I think Mateo, Sues and Meek could all help out relatively soon.