In moves that prove the old adage “if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done,” the Pirates signed three players to contracts, held on to ten more that were eligible for arbitration, and non-tendered RHP Clay Holmes ahead of the Wednesday night deadline to make those decisions.
Holmes’s non-tendering did come as a bit of a surprise, as the Pirates seemed pretty high on him at the start of last season. In fact, many expected shortstop Erik González to have his head on the non-tender block, given his uneven 2020 performance and the plethora of Pirates infield options. I agree with Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic that the Pirates keeping González portends a trade, probably of Adam Frazier, who’s a little more expensive than González (the Pirates are giving González $1.225 million on a non-guaranteed contract), not to mention better bait.
Jameson Taillon was a no-brainer signing at $2.25 million, the same as he got last year. Unless something happens (it’s Taillon, I know), he’s the 2021 Opening Day starter. Reliever Michael Feliz got the third contract at $1 million for 2021.
The ten remaining eligibles for arbitration are first baseman Josh Bell; second baseman Adam Frazier; corner infielder Colin Moran; catcher Jacob Stallings; starting pitchers Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault; and relievers Kyle Crick, Richard Rodríguez and Chris Stratton. With the possible exceptions of Stallings and Moran, no one on that list is safe from a trade. I’m not particularly sold on the Michael Perez signing, but I do like the spin that the Pirates might use their Rule 5 pick on Cardinals catching prospect Julio E. Rodriguez. With Ben Cherington’s love for developing a team from within and Rodriguez’s solid defense—he’s moved steadily upwards in the Cardinals organization since his 2016 signing, landing in AAA Memphis—it might be worth a shot.
The Pirates are making moves. They’re not huge, but they’re encouraging.