Yesterday at 6 p.m. was the deadline for MLB teams to add players to their 40-man rosters to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
After Ben Cherington and the Pirates cut IF/OF Phillip Evans, catcher Austin Davis, and RHP Tanner Anderson on Tuesday, that dropped their roster to 37. On Friday, it was brought back up to 40, adding three minor leaguers and cutting backup catcher Michael Perez.
One of the added shouldn’t come as a shock: shortstop Liover Peguero, the Pirates’ number five prospect. Two outfielders now on the roster went to the Bucs in high-profile trades: Canaan Smith-Njigba, who was brought over from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, and Jack Suwinski, who was part of the trade that sent Adam Frazier to the Padres. The fourth is a familiar name, outfielder Travis Swaggerty, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2018.
Now here’s where the complaints are going to start—among those left unprotected are first baseman Mason Martin, the Pirates’ #17 prospect, and the guy right behind him in the prospect rankings, outfielder Cal Mitchell.
I know a lot of the BD Commentariat were hyping Martin, particularly since no one on the big league team’s got a lock on first base. He had a .990 fielding average with eight errors at Altoona, where he spent most of last season, and he was perfect in his brief time at Indianapolis. He hit 22 home runs with the Curve and three with the Indians but had a slash line of .241/.317/.487, with an OPS of .805.
Mitchell had a better batting average in 2021, but his other numbers were lower than Mitchell’s. His slash line was .279/.328/423, his OPS was .759. His fielding average was .984 with three errors.
Others that were unprotected include pitchers Eddy Yean, Tahnaj Thomas and Omar Cruz, but none of them have any major league experience.
Of course you want to know what GMBC had to say. All quotes are courtesy of Trib Live:
“We feel really good about the progress that the four players we added have made, feel like they were at a point where the right decision was to add them. Then there were also other players we did not add who we really like and believe can be good major-league players and will be good major-league players. But there are 40 spots. We’re balancing a lot of things.”
Yeah, that was vague.
Of more pressing importance was releasing Perez. Yes, it’s awesome that Jacob Stallings is a Gold Glove winner, but considering that in addition to Perez and Taylor the Bucs got rid of Curve catcher Alden Pabst and let Andrew Susac and Christian Bethancourt hit the free agent market ... the Cheetah needs a backup. I don’t think Henry Davis is on the fast track to the Show right now, so let’s go back to Ben:
“Ultimately felt like designating Michael was the right choice for us. Wouldn’t necessarily mean that we wouldn’t have interest in him being part of what we’re doing with the Pirates next year. He did some good things this past season. Certainly there’s plenty of time between now and spring training to figure out what the rest of our catching mix looks like.”
Pull up your chairs to the gaming table, kids, because the wheeling and dealing have just begun.