In a move that will impact the Pittsburgh Pirates and all of baseball, with the CBA set to expire and a lockout looming MLB has moved the deadline to non-tender players
It has been a few years since Major League Baseball last had a “normal” offseason. While most of the 2019-2020 offseason was rather normal, things got thrown into a tizzy for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of baseball in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last offseason continued to be an abnormal one. Due to the ongoing pandemic, meetings were held virtually, there was debate over when/how for Spring Training to begin and raging debates over how to safely have fans return to the ballpark.
This offseason will, once again, be far from normal for Major League Baseball. That is due to the CBA being set to expire on December 1st and the lockout that is looming.
With the looming lockout teams have already begun to operate differently. Many of the trades, free agent signings and contract extensions we would see take place during/after December’s Winter Meetings, have already started to take place. This is undoubtedly due to the uncertainty of when the lockout will end and teams not wanting to have to scramble to make moves and construct their roster if there is not much time to do so between the new CBA being agreed upon and the start of Spring Training.
In response to the looming locked MLB and their Player’s Association came to an agreement on Tuesday. This agreement moved the deadline to non-tender arbitration eligible players from December 2nd to November 30th. This will allow teams to make these moves before the lockout sets in, as well as allowing players who might be non-tendered time to sign with a new club pre-lockout.
How could this impact the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Well, the Pittsburgh Pirates started the offseason with 11 players who were arbitration eligible. Earlier in the offseason I took a look at four players who could be candidates to be non-tendered by the club.
After Chasen Shreve elected free agency and Michael Pérez and Wilmer Difo were both designated for assignment, the Pirates now have just 8 arbitration eligible players remaining. They are Ben Gamel, Bryan Reynolds, Chad Kuhl, Chris Stratton, Colin Moran, Jacob Stallings, Kevin Newman, and Steven Brault.
Of this group Reynolds and Stallings are slam dunks to be tendered contracts, the only way Stratton and Moran would not be tendered is if they are traded before next Tuesday’s deadline, which should not be ruled out. Gamel and Newman, the latter of which’s name has popped up in trade rumors this month, are likely in the same boat as Stratton and Moran.
This leaves Kuhl and Brault. Kuhl and Brault were among the four non-tendered candidates identified earlier this offseason. The signing of José Quintana only further increases the odds of Brault being non-tendered as he can replace Brault as the veteran lefty in the Pirate starting rotation.
Before this upcoming Tuesday Ben Cherington will have to make decisions on these players. With MLB moving the non-tender deadline up it would not be a surprise to see the Pittsburgh Pirates attempt to work out a few trades in the next week to move players such as Moran, Stratton, Gamel, Newman, or even Brault.
Any other additions the Pirates make in the next week could be an impact as well. Their 40-man roster is currently full. In fact, they still have yet to clear a 40-man roster spot for Quintana. So at least one players will already need to come off the 40-man, any non-tender candidates could be the players removed from the 40-man to make room for Quintana. They could also be on the chopping block for any other additions the Pirates may make in the next week.