Pittsburgh Pirates: Projected 40-Man Roster After Protecting Players From Rule 5 Draft

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Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 16: Endy Rodriguez #80 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a picture during the 2022 Photo Day at LECOM Park on March 16, 2022 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates will have to make a handful of choices when it comes to the Rule 5 Draft, but this is how Rum Bunter staff writer Noah Wright would construct the 40-man roster

The Pittsburgh Pirates will face a handful of 40-man roster decisions for this upcoming off-season. The Bucs have a ton of notable Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects, and they’ll need to protect as many as possible. They were able to get away with it the last off-season because of the lockout. However, they won’t have that luxury this winter.

Based on what the Pirates currently have on the 40-man roster and who they need to protect, this is who I would add and subtract from the roster. There are plenty of top prospects and some who fly under the radar; however, a ton of roster moves need to be made this off-season.


There are at least three apparent additions. The first is Endy Rodriguez. No way the Pirates leave Rodriguez unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, especially after the season he had and how good he looked at Triple-A at the end of last season.

The second is Malcom Nuñez. While first base type prospects are not usually picked in the Rule 5 Draft, Nuñez had a fantastic second half that saw him post a 142 wRC+ and reach Triple-A, where he looked like a quality batter. On top of that, the Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t about to lose a prospect they just acquired less than six months ago.

The last is Mike Burrows. While Burrows may not have been as good at Triple-A Indy as he was at Double-A, he’d be selected if the Pittsburgh Pirates left him unprotected. Given he’s one of the system’s better pitching prospects, he’s a no-brainer for a 40-man spot.

Matt Gorski also seems like a decent candidate for a 40-man spot. The outfield prospect followed up a mediocre 2021 season by posting a .318 isolated slugging percentage and 153 wRC+ this season. Sure he had a poor 28.6% strikeout rate, but the fact he can play center field and has the rare power-speed combo, he should be high on the Pirate priority list.

Jared Triolo also seems like he could be higher on the team’s roster priority. For the third season in a row, Triolo had a wRC+ of at least 110 and a sub-20% strikeout rate. Triolo also had a great summer, seeing him post a 140 wRC+ and .194 ISO. Given that he is a great defensive third baseman and can play both shortstop and center field, he’s someone the Pirates need to consider heavily.

Blake Sabol is another position player I would opt to protect. Last season, Sabol had a 131 wRC+ between Double-A and Triple-A. He also had a 158 wRC+ with Triple-A Indy and cut his strikeout rate down by 4.2%. Sabol is versatile, playing behind the plate and left field, and he could also likely play first base if asked to, which is a position the Pirates desperately need help at.

There are two pitchers I would protect. The first is Tahnaj Thomas. Thomas is coming off a quality season for Double-A Altoona in which he had a 1.98 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP from June through the end of the season. J.C. Flowers also had strong numbers when the weather started to heat up, with a 2.61 ERA, 3.31 FIP, and 1.03 WHIP through his final 38 frames of the season. Both pitched their entire seasons at Double-A Altoona, and given their skillsets, they’d likely be picked up in the Rule 5 Draft.