Non-tender deadline looms large for Pittsburgh Pirates

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Sep 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez (24) hits a solo home run against the Milwaukee Brewers during the second inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the non-tender trade deadline looms, the Pittsburgh Pirates face tough decisions.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are trying not become victims of their own success.

With trade talks still actively in play with some of their arb-eligible players, the team now must face Wednesday’s non-tender deadline. This is the day that all teams must have made an offer to their eligible players or have the player hit free agency.

It’s no secret that the team will have to pony up some serious cash in arbitration to keep some major cogs in a Pirates uniform. As a refresher, here is the list detailing the player with their service time and projected figure courtesy of the projections from MLB Trade Rumors:

As we look at this list and attempt to analyze it, let’s look at the no-brainers. Hughes, Watson, Mercer, and Cervelli all provide excellent value at their projected figures – though Watson may soon price himself out of Pittsburgh with another excellent season.

Things get a bit cloudier when we look further. Although many had thought that he could be a strong non-tender candidate, the loss of J.A. Happ opens the door for Locke to hit the arbitration process. As a left-handed starter, Locke still provides some value at a $3.5 million salary, but the team would be better served by looking to sign two starting pitchers to shore up the starting rotation.

Stewart is an interesting case. I’ve previously written about the strong organizational depth at catcher, and Stewart may end up getting squeezed out by Elias Diaz. Stewart’s projected salary isn’t prohibitive by any means, but it’s fair to wonder if that $1.6 million –  $1 million if we factor in Diaz’s salary as a replacement – could be better spent elsewhere such as on a value bullpen arm. I expect that the Pirates’ plans for the veteran backstop could go either way.

Now that we’ve touched on some of the easier decisions, let’s look at arbitration cases that warrant more conversation.

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