This year’s list of non-tenders includes a higher-than-usual number of interesting names, including catcher Welington Castillo and first baseman Chris Carter. There are two in particular who might, under the right circumstances, be good fits for the Pirates.
Tyson Ross, Padres. A couple years ago, I lobbied for the Pirates to acquire Ross. Well, a million arm problems later, here he is as a free agent. Ross underwent surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome in October, and his recovery time could slow his preparation for the 2017 season. He also missed most of last season due to shoulder trouble. If Ross’ medicals aren’t promising, the Pirates probably shouldn’t sign him. If he looks like he could be healthy, though, he looks like a terrific fit as a rehabilitation project. He throws in the mid-90s (although he last a couple MPH over the past two years), he gets tons of ground balls, and he had three straight good years with San Diego from 2013 through 2015. Yes please.
Rubby De La Rosa, Diamondbacks. Like Ross, De La Rosa missed most of the 2016 season to injury, and his injury problems are ongoing — he had stem cell treatment back in September, but might require Tommy John surgery if that doesn’t work as anticipated. Obviously, if he’s going to miss the 2017 season, signing him to a short-term deal won’t be of much use to the Pirates. Again, though, if there’s some chance he’ll be healthy, he looks like he could help. He throws very hard, and while he’s 27 and doesn’t have much of a big-league track record, his high strikeout numbers suggest he at least has the potential to pitch well in relief, where he’s never gotten much of a shot.