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Notes: Lockout, Perez, Thompson Picked Up; Q & Yoshi Deals Made Official; Jake, Chad, Redbeard Gone; Other Stuff

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The LockoutAt one minute past midnight Thursday, MLB informed the union that the players were being locked out pending a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, setting off a battle for the Benjamins. The main sticking points: the owners want a cap system to control costs, while the union is opposed, seeing it as a ploy to limit the pay of the elite players. On the other hand, the MLBPA wants an easier eligibility path for young players to get paid serious dollars; the owners would rather keep their cheap labor pool intact. Other lesser points: tanking, expanded playoffs, luxury tax, service time manipulation, time of play, and universal DH were bantered about. The last baseball work stoppage was the players strike that canceled the 1994 World Series and caused the 1995 season to be shortened to 144 games.

The Pirates response to the situation was: “Like our fans, we as an organization are disappointed in the situation. We have faith in Commissioner Manfred and the leadership team at MLB, who continue to work around the clock to bring more competitive balance throughout the league. We are confident that there is a path to an agreement, and both sides will work together to strengthen the game we all love. While we are not able to make any Major League roster moves during this time, we will continue to work on the development of our talented minor league players.”

The Notes: Before the lockout, the Bucs made more moves than Mata Hari…

  • The Marlins traded C Jake Stallings in return for RHP Zach Thompson, 28, and 22-year-old prospects RHP Kyle Nicolas and OF Connor Scott, a package that received a mixed reception. Thompson is a rookie MLB swingman who’s posted 14 starts, 12 relief appearances and 75 IP with a 3-7/3.24 slash. 
  • To make up for Jake’s departure, C Roberto Pérez, 32, was signed to a one-year/$5 M deal with Pirates. The Gold Glover hit just .149 last year, but is a strong defensive player and among the top candidates in a pretty weak catcher’s class of free agents.
Ben’s back – 2021 photo/Pirates
  • The Pirates signed arb-eligible OF Ben Gamel to a one-year/$1.8M contract with playing bonuses – $100K for 450 plate appearances and $100K for 550 PAs ($1.5M in ’21). They also inked SS Kevin Newman, agreeing to a $1.95M contract for 2022. Newman made $598,000 last season. The Bucs tendered contracts to OF Bryan Reynolds and RHP Chris Stratton for the 2022 season. The FO didn’t tender a contract to RHP Chad Kuhl, who was 2021′s Opening Day pitcher. His issue appeared to be that he saw himself as a starter and the Pirates saw him as a reliever.
  • The Bucs signed RHP Jerad Eickhoff and C Jamie Ritchie to minor league contracts. Eickhoff, a 31-year-old righty, has slashed 7-15-1/5.41 for the Phils and Mets since 2017. Ritchie, 28, has never played above AAA and is a good on-base guy with a .286 BA/.404 OBP lifetime slash but no power, with 28 homers in seven MiLB seasons. Both look like Indy depth acquisitions.
  • LHP Jose Quintana was officially added to the roster after having agreed to a deal earlier this month; LHP Steven Brault was DFA’ed. Brault was hurt most of last year and arb-eligible, although his salary projection per MLB Trade Rumors was just $2.2M (Quintana’s salary is $2M). Steven & Q are interchangeable so far as roles go; looks like the Bucs just soured on Brault. 
  • Ditto for 1B Yoshi Tsutsugo, whose previous one-year/$4M handshake deal was made official. Colin Moran was DFA’ed to clear the 1B redundancy. It was a wash salary-wise; Captain Redbeard was projected to earn $4M in his first arb year by MLBTR.
  • RHP Cody Ponce was released — he plans to pitch in Japan for the Haikkodo Nippon-Ham Fighters this season.
Cody, from Pittsburgh to Haikkodo – 2021 Pirates image
  • Speaking of Quintana, he said that he liked Pittsburgh’s offer because they wanted him as a starter; other interested teams looked at him as a bullpen guy.
  • Per Kevin Gorman of the Trib, Pittsburgh has an agreement in place to add Radley Haddad, 31, who spent five years coaching with the New York Yankees, to their major league coaching staff as the Pirates’ game planning and strategy coach. 
  • Mike Rabelo will keep his field coordinator job in addition to third base duties. The coordinator is…well, Jason Mackey of the PPG explained it when Rabelo got the job last year; it’s kind of a fresh set of eyes, devil’s advocate spot. 
  • Pirates Charities donated $50,000 to the construction of an adaptive playground adjacent to the Moon Miracle League field.
  • The Cleveland Guardians signed RHP Enyel De Los Santos, late of the Pirates, to a NRI deal.
  • The Diamondbacks and RHP Mark Melancon agreed to a two-year/$14 M deal.
  • The Braves non-tendered RHP Rick Rodriguez, who was traded to Atlanta at the deadline for RHP Bryse Wilson.
  • The Padres hired Francisco Cervelli, 35, to replace Rod Barajas as the team’s catching instructor.
  • RHP Michael Lorenzen, 30, was a buy-low FA option who fit Pittsburgh’s profile and was reportedly on the Pirates wish list, but he signed a one-year/$7M deal with the Angels.
  • The Golden Days Era Committee and the Early Baseball Era Committee will meet this Sunday, and the results of their vote will be announced on MLB Network that night at 6 PM.


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