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Pirates option Gregory Polanco, Duke Welker

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates have optioned top prospect Gregory Polanco and reliever Duke Welker to the minors. Both will likely begin the season at Triple-A.

As I wrote last week, starting Polanco in the minors makes sense, and I doubt the Pirates were ever seriously considering having him break camp with the team. Having him play in Indianapolis, a level at which he has little experience anyway, for two months could save the Pirates a ton of money, or maybe even a year of free-agent eligibility. That's big, given that Polanco projects to be a better player several years from now than he is currently. And for now, it's still not particularly clear what the Bucs have in Jose Tabata, but he's still young-ish and played fairly well most of last season. In any case, if Polanco hits as we hope he will, the Pirates will surely consider promoting him in June, when the Super Two cutoff will pass.