Pittsburgh Pirates: Arbitration Eligible Position Players, Who Stays?

Photo Credit: MLB.com

 With the World Series getting under way on Tuesday, that means we are that much closer to the offseason. While it has come out lately that the likelihood of a work stoppage is nearly inevitable, that doesn't mean teams will stop preparing for the next season, whenever that may be.

One of the things the Pittsburgh Pirates will have to decide on is who of their arbitration eligible player they will tender offers too. Some decisions will be easy, and to an extent you can see a scenario in which each player will return to the organization in some capacity. 

The Pirates could opt to not offer arbitration to a player, which would then make them a free agent. They could always bring them back as a non roster player, and have them compete for a spot during Spring Training.

While the player could sign with any team at that point, the Pirates would still present a better opportunity for them to remake the major league roster out of camp compared to some of the other organizations in baseball.

About a week or so ago, MLB Trade Rumors released projected arbitration amounts for each player eligible this offseason. Below are each position player on the Pirates that's arbitration eligible, what their projected amount is and whether I feel they should be offered or not.

Ben Gamel - 400 PA .247/.347/.388 101 wRC+ 8 HR 26 RBI - $2.9 million - Keep

The 29-year-old outfielder was one of the few Ben Cherington bargain bin findings that worked out for the Pirates. There are some concerns for Gamel, but he plays a position that the Pirates have almost no depth at the major league level, so he returns. At that price, it's still a steal for some of the hits he provided. When it comes to the Baseball Savant statistic, Outs Above Average (OAA), he was the worst defender on the Pirates.

Kevin Newman - 554 PA .226/.265/.309 54 wRC+ 5 HR 39 RBI - $2.2 million - Pass

His glove alone gives him some value on a major league roster, obviously more so in a backup role. History shows that his defensive numbers are due for some regression, which would leave no reason for him to be on a major league roster.

I'd rather use that money elsewhere, even if it's to bank it for a possible extension down the road. Whenever we play baseball next we will start seeing the Pirates transitioning to more of the younger players, with one of their best prospects in line to play the same position Newman plays. Cut ties now and go with a more traditional (cheaper) stop gap to whenever Oneil Cruz comes up.

Wilmer Difo - 240 PA .269/.329/.384 95 wRC+ 4 HR 24 RBI - $1.1 million - Keep

It was an interesting year for Difo. He was invited to Spring Training, sent to Indianapolis, had his contract picked up and brought to Pittsburgh, only to be DFAd and not claimed. He obviously ended back up in Pittsburgh, and was one of the Pirates go to pinch hitter towards the end of the season.

While his glove isn't anything special, his OAA was second worse to Gamel, a lot of that was due to poor analytics for his time in the outfield.

In the end, I like Difo's bat at $1.1 million more than I do Newman's glove at $2.2 million.

Colin Moran - 359 PA .258/.334/.390 98 wRC+ 10 HR 50 RBI - $4.0 million - Keep

This will get interesting if the Pirates bring back Yoshi Tsutsugo but regardless you bring Moran back at least to start. It was a tough year for the first baseman, breaking his hand on two separate occasions which limited him to just 99 games in 2021.

When he's healthy he gives the Pirates an option in the middle of the lineup, one that plays solid defense at first base. Bring him back if only to hope that he stays healthy and you can trade him depending on what options emerge internally in 2022.

Jacob Stallings - 427 PA .246/.335/.369 95 wRC+ 8 HR 53 RBI - $2.6 million - Keep

Yea this one is easy. The bat really took a step back in the second half, which was unfortunate, but his glove and work with the pitching staff makes him well worth keeping. He led all catchers in runs saved in 2021 and should be an easy choice for a gold glove.

Michael Perez - 224 PA .143/.280/.347 38 wRC+ 6 HR 22 RBI - $900,000 - Pass

This will be one of those situations where I want to say 'I hope you're not thinking of doing what I think you are thinking of doing'. In no way should the Pirates bring back Perez after the 2021 he had, but at that price tag, I feel like it's something that could happen.

If for the very least the lack of options in the system that's ready for the majors.

Bryan Reynolds - 646 PA .302/.390/.522 142 wRC+ 24 HR 90 RBI - $4.5 million - Keep

If the Pirates are able to get Reynolds signed for $4.5 million next year it will be the steal of the offseason. While it'd be smart to get extension talks underway as soon as possible, if the Pirates mention 2020 in any such way during negotiations and I'm Reynolds I would walk away, so Cherington needs to proceed with caution.

It's not that they should be hesitant about 2020, Reynolds proved it was a fluke, that's just how some negotiations go sometimes.

Sign him. Get it done and let him be your franchise player for a long time.

Stay tuned for the pitching side of things, as the Pirates have four that are arbitration eligible this offseason. Follow us on Twitter @__Murphy88 and subscribe to the site using the link at the top of the page.


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