Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining 40-Man Roster Ahead of Rule 5 Draft

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made many changes to their 40-man roster since the begining of the off season, but could make many more in the coming weeks.

So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have done a lot of reshaping to their 40-man roster. They started the offseason by putting pitchers Brandon Waddell and Nick Tropeano on waivers. Both were claimed by other teams, that being the New York Mets who got Waddell and the Minnesota Twins who got Tropeano.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also outrighted a handful of other players. Out of the five they took off the 40-man roster, two were on the Pirates’ top prospect list. That was utility man Kevin Kramer, who FanGraphs ranks as the team’s 22nd best prospect and Jason Martin, who is the team’s 34th best prospect. The other three were pitcher Yacksel Rios and catchers Luke Maile and John Ryan Murphy. Both Murphy and Maile became expendable with the Pirates claiming former Rays’ backstop Michael Perez.

Just yesterday they released Dovydas Neverauskas, which got the team down to exactly 40. However, they could make a handful of more cuts. Kyle Crick, Jose Osuna and Trevor Williams are non-tender candidates. Other depth pieces like relief pitchers Tyler Bashlor, Sean Poppen and Austin Davis could all go by the wayside to make room for more players.

They also have a few prospects who could make their way onto the 40-man very soon. Recently, we pointed out that Cody Bolton could eventually be part of the 2021 rotation, but he isn’t part of the team’s 40-man roster yet. Travis Swaggerty and Rodolfo Castro are also players who could sneak onto the 40-man.

The Ptitsburgh Pirates have a handful of Rule 5 eligible minor leaguers, but only a few will be on their radar to protect. The aforementioned Castro and Lolo Sanchez are likely higher priority targets to protect. Both have an ETA of 2021 according to FanGraphs.

Many of their other top prospects who are Rule 5 eligible like Santiago Florez and Yerry De Los Santos are either still in Rookie-Ball, or have barely made it past. Travis MacGregor is Rule 5 eligible, but he hasn’t pitched since 2018. Still, storing away injured prospects is what some teams do with the Rule 5 draft, so MacGregor will also probably be on the Pirates’ radar to protect. As for other prospects, any Rule 5 eligible player who’s made it to Double-A will probably get a second look.

The Pirates will probably want to keep a few spots open for any Rule 5 picks they make themselves. Finishing last not only got them the #1 overall pick in the Amature Draft, but the Rule 5 draft as well. The team with the #1 overall pick in the Rule 5 draft has never passed up their pick, so expect the Bucs to keep at least one spot open on their 40 and 25 man rosters for their Rule 5 selection.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates still have some time before they have to finalize their 40-man roster before the Winter Meetings that will be virtual this year. The official cutoff date is November 20th, giving them just under two weeks to make any final moves. The deadline to tender a contract to arbitration eligible players is December 2nd. Expect a flurry of roster moves in these coming weeks as the Bucs try and cut down on players to make room for Rule 5 eligible guys and one, possibly two selections in the draft.