Thanks, everyone, for your questions. Here's Round Two ...
Botner0104: Will Gregory Polanco be handed the right field job going into spring training, and if so, how long of a leash does he have? Will Travis Snider eat into his playing time again if he starts out slowly? Do you see Polanco taking a huge step forward this year, or did last year sour you on his prospects a bit?
I'm not worried about him. His talent hasn't changed, and it's not uncommon for 22-year-old rookies with minimal Triple-A experience to struggle in their first season in the majors. He also posted a .307 OBP and a walk rate of nearly 10 percent even as he struggled, and I'd expect him to draw a bunch of walks while increasing his average and power next season. He likely won't be handed the right field job in February, but I think he'll ultimately get it, and he'll probably only lose it if the Pirates decide he's so messed up that he would be better served playing in Indianapolis. I could understand the Pirates leaning more heavily on Snider than on Polanco down the stretch in a pennant race last season, but they'll need to play Polanco next year and let him work out the kinks, if there are any.
BattlingBucs: Are the Pirates going to non-tender anyone this year?
They've already removed three arbitration-eligible players in Jeanmar Gomez, John Axford and Ike Davis from their roster, which leaves Gaby Sanchez as the one player I think is on the bubble. My guess last month was that the Pirates would tender Sanchez, but the more I think about it, the less I like that idea. They should be able to make a cheap-talent pickup, someone like Ryan Lavarnway or Jesus Aguilar or Mark Canha, and pay less for Sanchez's production. As Vlad noted in the comments to the last Ask BD post, Canha is Rule 5-eligible. He stood out last season as a righty first base option who was productive in Triple-A and fairly young.
Grumbly1: Who, if anyone, will the Pirates lose in the Rule 5 draft?
Mel Rojas, Keon Broxton, Gift Ngoepe, Yhonathan Barrios and Jason Creasy are all possibilities. Rojas switch-hits, has posted good averages in the last two seasons, and can play all three outfield positions, so a team in need of a fifth outfielder could hide him without much trouble. Broxton had a great season at Altoona, although his track record before that is sketchy. A team could take him based on his offense and speed. Ngoepe doesn't hit well, but he plays good defense at shortstop, so a team could select him just as the Bucs selected light-hitting shortstop Gustavo Nunez a few years back.
Barrios is a converted infielder who throws a million miles an hour and had a good season pitching in relief with West Virginia and Bradenton. You never know when a team will fall in love with someone like that. Like Barrios, Creasy is a long way from the majors, but he's young and displayed good very good control pitching in Bradenton's rotation in 2014. One would think it would be hard for a team to keep Barrios or Creasy, but the Brewers managed to keep Wei-Chung Wang last year, so you never know.
IsIt2015Yet?: Now that the Giants have lost Pablo Sandoval, any chance they’d bite on gambling on Pedro’s defense and jump on an Alvarez + Nick Kingham for Brandon Belt trade and move Buster Posey to first?
I doubt any team would view Alvarez as a starting third baseman at this point, least of all a team like the Giants who are good and who likely won't be too interested in acquiring a player as an experiment. Alvarez would be a better fit for an AL team, where he could either play DH right out of the gate or move there if his throwing problems persisted. Alvarez to the Rangers still makes sense -- Alvarez is an upgrade over Mitch Moreland at DH, and that ballpark would likely be tantalizing for him. He might make sense for the Yankees, too -- they have Chris Young, who's mediocre and right-handed, slotted at DH, and who knows what they'll get out of their corner infield of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. Obviously, if the Pirates were to trade Alvarez, they would have to make other plans at first base, but as I've said before, I don't hate the idea of giving the bulk of the at-bats to Andrew Lambo. They could then acquire someone like Aguilar as a platoon partner and backup plan, and use the extra funds to invest heavily in their rotation.