Thanks, everyone, for your questions. If you want to keep asking them, I'll keep answering them, so keep firing away.
Woobie: Assuming he is gone, how should Pedro Alvarez’s career as a Pirate be remembered? Massive disappointment? Mild disappointment? Something else?
Mild disappointment. No. 2 overall draft picks typically produce about 10 WAR in their first six seasons. Alvarez has 6.1 career fWAR, which is worse, but not by orders of magnitude or anything. Alvarez has, of course, been much worse than fans' expectations, but those probably weren't fair. As the first draft pick of the Neal Huntington era, Alvarez looked like a very exciting talent, especially since his greatest attribute (off-the-charts power) was easy for fans to appreciate. In retrospect, we should have expected him to have trouble hitting for contact -- those problems were obvious even during his minor league career. He hasn't become a star, or really anything close, but he was useful until his defense fell off a cliff. He's also currently 13th on the Pirates' all-time home run list, and he's hit any number of memorable light-tower shots. That's something.
Wil (via email): Any chance the Bucs could package together something that could bring Chris Sale to Pittsburgh? Maybe Pedro, Mark Melancon, Jeff Locke, Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson. Too much or not enough?
Nowhere near enough. Imagine how you might feel if you were a White Sox fan and you heard someone suggest that. Two of those players (Alvarez and Locke) have very limited trade value. Hanson is a good prospect, but hardly a great one. Taillon hasn't pitched in two years. And Melancon, while obviously terrific, has limited utility for the White Sox, who already have a great closer in David Robertson. Sale is an elite starting pitcher who's controlled at reasonable prices through 2019. Unless the White Sox can pretty much get a team to empty its farm system for him (which is possible), there's no reason for them to trade him. They're certainly not going to deal him for a bunch of odds and ends.
Chiburgh: Which current member of the Pirates top 30 prospects list is most likely to be a pleasant surprise in 2016? Name a player or two who will join the top 30 in 2016.
Maybe this is too obvious, but the main reason Ke'Bryan Hayes isn't in the top five yet is because he doesn't have much experience. Given his youth and the understanding of the strike zone he demonstrated in 2015, he looks like a great bet to move up next year. Also, I think Yeudy Garcia and Stephen Tarpley should be ranked a bit higher on MLB.com's list than they currently are, so they look like good bets as well.
As for players who could join the top 30, Max Moroff should probably already be on there. Carlos Munoz will almost have to be added if he hits half as well in 2016 as he did this year. There are also a number of good peripheral candidates, like Adam Frazier, Kevin Kramer, Trae Arbet, Tyler Eppler, Billy Roth, Michael De La Cruz and Michael Suchy and possibly others I'm forgetting.
ThinWhiteDuke: Should the Pirates push hard in an attempt to lock up Gerrit Cole now? And has there been any indication by Cole and Scott Boras that they would be willing to consider an extension that would delay free agency?
Not specifically, no, but Boras is willing to consider extensions for his clients if they want them. If the Bucs do want to extend Cole, though, it probably needs to happen soon. He'll be eligible for arbitration following next season, and his incentive to take a long-term deal will diminish once he gets there, given the monumental payday he'll stand to get if he can stay healthy and effective through 2019.
Long4Willie: Okay, so the Pirates have gotten talent from Africa and Korea and tested India, so where will they look for their next nugget? Or do you think they go back to Korea for Kang II?
I'm sure they'll continue to have a presence in Korea, but they'll have trouble getting lightning to strike twice there, now that the other 29 organizations are well aware of Kang's success. Actually, the country where they've quietly done well and could continue to do well is Colombia. Top prospect Harold Ramirez is from there, and so is young pitcher Luis Escobar, who performed well in the GCL this year. The Pirates already used two other Colombian prospects, Dilson Herrera and Yhonathan Barrios, to add talent for their playoff runs, and they recently sent another Colombian player, Richard Mitchell, to the Marlins in the Jim Benedict / Trevor Williams deal. That's a ton of talent from a country that has only produced a handful of big-league players.