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Bucco Breakfast: Roster-setting deadline approaches

Arizona Fall League All Star Game Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The deadline for adding players to the roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft is next Tuesday. The Pirates removed a number of questions, to the extent they were really questions, back at the beginning of September when they added Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Pablo Reyes to the roster. They also sort-of removed a couple of other questions by signing LHP Elvis Escobar and RHP Eduardo Veras to minor league deals for next year. Both were eligible for minor league free agency. Both remain eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but we at least know they probably won’t be added to the 40-man roster, or the Pirates would have done so rather than bother signing them to minor league contracts.

So here’s a list of the remaining candidates, or at least the ones who seem to me to be candidates:

Mitch Keller, RHP: Will be added.

Cole Tucker, SS: Will be added.

Jason Martin, OF: Will probably be added. I think this is very likely but not quite guaranteed. Martin was passed over in the draft a year ago despite a very good 2017 season. He had a great half-season for Altoona but struggled in the second half at Indianapolis.

J.T. Brubaker, RHP: Like Martin, this seems highly likely. Brubaker has very good stuff and finally started getting the results to go with it this year. He was a bit shaky when he got to AAA, but he finished very strongly. If they had to dig down the depth chart for a starter, I’d rather see them go with him than with Clay Holmes as things stand now.

Brandon Waddell, LHP: Waddell seems much more iffy. There seem to be people in the organization who like him and he finally conquered AA this year, in his third try, but he wasn’t very effective over the last three months in AAA. I keep wondering how much of his success at Altoona was due to the team’s infield defense, which was probably better than that of many major league teams.

Domingo Robles, LHP: A finesse lefty, Robles had a good year split between the two class A teams. He doesn’t dominate, though, and there’s not much chance he’ll get selected in the draft.

Christian Kelley, C: There might be some chance of the Pirates adding Kelley, because they like his defense and there’s some risk of their catching depth evaporating. He’s basically a lesser version of Jacob Stallings, though, and they left Stallings exposed to the draft.

Roger Santana, LHP: Santana has good stuff for a lefty, with a fastball that gets up to 95 and a good change. He’s only made it to Bristol, though, and he didn’t do well there, so there’s little risk of him being lost.

Tyler Eppler, RHP: Eppler probably has a limited chance of being added to the roster, but I really can’t see it. He has very good velocity, but no good secondary pitch. This was his second year in AAA and, after a good start, he ended up getting hit a little harder than league average, which isn’t the profile of a major league starter.

Adrian Valerio, SS: After taking a step forward offensively last year, Valerio took a step backward this year. The good glove didn’t get him selected in the draft last year, when he was eligible, so it’s hard to see any risk this year.

Scooter Hightower, RHP: Hightower came out of nowhere to get terrific results this year, both in relief and as a starter, at both Bradenton and Altoona. The metrics didn’t totally buy it, though, and his velocity is fringy.

Daily Links


A study that I think would be fascinating and, to my knowledge, hasn’t yet been undertaken: Testing the actual value that teams have received by manipulating service time for top prospects. I would suspect that the value in avoiding “super 2” status is much more significant than retaining a 7th year (call it the Kris Bryant Rule). I also don’t suspect that there will be enough data points to make any rock solid conclusions.

Dan Szymborski

I seriously doubt it.

Super Twos don’t get to be an additional service group above non-Arb Twos *after* that first year.

And Super Twos dont’ exactly break the bank. After a year, they’re just a regular old three.

The Super Twos will still have the salaries compared, in year three, to members of their class. It’s not like they get a “running start” that persists through four years of arbitration. There may be a *small* benefit, but it’s dwarfed by the one-year FA salary of a top player

  • Quick, who is the Dodgers’ real owner? (Hint: It’s not Magic Johnson.) This is about a week old, but it’s a good reminder of exactly who is taking over MLB. The ownership ranks are becoming the domain of Wall Street financiers. This should put to rest the myth — and that’s all it ever was — of the sportsman owner who’s more interested in championships than profits. There’s a reason ownership groups like to bring on guys like Johnson and Derek Jeter to serve as their front men; nobody is going to believe that the Guggenheim Ownership Group or Bruce Sherman is in it for the love of baseball.
  • MLBTR has posted its offseason outlook for the Pirates. (Charlie used to do these for them. <sniff>) Nothing eye-popping for anybody here, but it’s a good read. I don’t, however, buy the notion that Huntington will have $20M to play with. The piece figures the Pirates need to look for a shortstop (maybe), a right-handed hitting outfielder, and bullpen help. Somewhat relatedly, the White Sox apparently want to be rid of Avisail Garcia, to the point where they might non-tender him.