Opening Day is Thursday, and the trimming of the roster continues as the Pirates made a series of moves to get the club down to their best 25-man roster.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were deciding between carrying four bench players and 13 arms or five bench players and 12 arms. Today, they made their decision by optioning Jose Osuna and Kyle Crick to Indianapolis, along with other roster decisions, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Osuna played 104 games for the Pirates last season, hitting .233/.269/.428 with a .293 wOBA and 78 wRC+. STEAMER projects a .262/.307/.427 slash in 2017, nothing spectacular but a .312 wOBA and 91 wRC+. That’s good enough as a bench bat. However, Osuna ripped the cover of the ball this spring, hitting .327/.370/.673 with five home runs. The problem for him came with his position, as his natural spot is taken by Josh Bell, and he wasn’t the strongest of outfielders. He’ll continue to develop as a third baseman in Indianapolis.
Kyle Crick being optioned is a surprise, just from the optics standpoint of being in the Andrew McCutchen trade. The 25-year-old right hander throws hard, but he only struck out 19 percent of batters this spring. If the Pirates do try to bullpen this season, he’ll get his fair share of callups to Pittsburgh, but for now he will have to work on his control and swing and miss stuff in Triple-A.
Then there’s the other three moves. Kevin Siegrist was reassigned to minor league camp. The veteran left-handed reliever has two opt out clauses in his minor league contract, so it’ll be interesting to see if he sticks around.
Jack Leathersich and Jordan Milbrath were placed on waivers. Leathersich walked more batters (six) than he struck out (four). The control problem, didn’t help him in the battle for the bullpen, especially with Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault securing their places.
Milbrath is already 26 and has no innings pitched in Triple-A or the majors, but he throws side arm and had a nice groundball rate last year in the minors. It was an interesting arm that the Pirates took a spring gamble on in the rule five draft, but it did not work out. If Milbrath clears waivers, the Pirates have to offer him back to the Indians or work out a trade to keep him in the system.
The Pirates will break camp with 13 relievers and four bench spots, with Kyle Crick being optioned and Kevin Siegrist being reassigned as the biggest surprises. Jose Osuna will continue to try to learn a new position in the minors after hitting the ball well this spring.
*Updated at 11:55*
Lavarnway, 30, was a long shot to make the club. Francisco Cervelli looks healthy and will be the starter, followed by Elias Diaz in the backup role. Jacob Stallings will serve as depth in Triple-A, so the only real way Lavarnway would have made the club was if two of the catchers went down this spring.
Schugel appeared in one-third of an inning this spring, and he has dealt with right shoulder soreness. Given the lingering effects and not making an outing in Grapefruit action since February 25th, this does not come as a surprise. Schugel is out of options, however, and once back healthy will either need to placed on the 25 man or pass through waivers.