Huntington: Pirates' roster mostly set for 2010
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Perhaps fittingly, the Pirates closed out the core of their 2010 roster by adding a closer.
The team and free-agent closer Octavio Dotel yesterday completed their one-year contract, which has a base salary of $3.25 million for the coming season, plus performance bonuses based on games finished. There also is a 2011 club option worth $4.5 million, plus similar bonuses, with a buyout of $250,000. If Dotel is traded, the option becomes mutual.
To clear space on the full 40-man roster, reliever Anthony Claggett was designated for assignment and, to hear general manager Neal Huntington tell it ...
"We'll continue to investigate and explore, but I do not anticipate much more activity from us. We'll continue to talk to see if there are trades out there, small or medium-sized ... I wouldn't anticipate anything big. But, at this time, I don't foresee any other activity from us."
On that small and medium front: Recently claimed outfielder Brandon Jones still will be shopped. So will Claggett and reliever Steven Jackson who was designated for assignment earlier in the week. That means a team has 10 days to trade, waive or release a player.
On the larger front: The Pirates, essentially, are set for spring training.
The everyday group, though not cemented, projects as catcher Ryan Doumit, first baseman Jeff Clement, second baseman Akinori Iwamura, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, third baseman Andy LaRoche and outfielders, left to right, Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones.
The bench projects as catcher Jason Jaramillo, infielders Bobby Crosby and Ramon Vazquez, outfielder Ryan Church, and one of the following outfielders: Delwyn Young, Brandon Moss or Rule 5 draft pick John Raynor.
The rotation will have Ross Ohlendorf, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Charlie Morton, plus one of Kevin Hart or Daniel McCutchen.
And the bullpen now will have Dotel as closer, Brendan Donnelly as setup man, Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek. Those four were identified by Huntington yesterday as locks. Javier Lopez is the heavy favorite to be the lone left-hander, and D.J. Carrasco should be the long man. Which leaves one opening out of more than a dozen candidates this spring.
Or none, if the loser of Hart vs. McCutchen goes to the bullpen. That would be far more likely if Hart were to lose than McCutchen, who could return to the minors and continue starting.
"We feel like we're going to have some great competition, not only in spring training but into the season," Huntington said. "We like the foursome of Dotel, Donnelly, Hanrahan and Meek. We like their chance of holding leads for us, and we're going to have great competition in the middle."
One influence of the Dotel signing: The 40-man roster, which was the second-youngest in Major League Baseball at the end of last season at 26.55 years, now is up slightly to 26.78. And that is mostly because of the bullpen additions, as Dotel is 36, Donnelly 38, Lopez and Carrasco 32 each. Crosby is 30, Church 31. Vazquez, 32, makes for seven players 30 or older, after he had been the only one at the end of last season.
Huntington's explanation for the added veterans was twofold:
1.He sought better balance after watching the Pirates go 19-46 down the stretch last season.
2. He views the bullpen as an area that can be addressed year to year, given internal studies that illustrate the unpredictability of relief performance.
"We've certainly not abandoned the youth movement, by any stretch of the imagination," Huntington said. "But it is important to complement that youth with experience to help those players learn. Coach-to-player education is fantastic, but player-to-player sharing is also outstanding."
The other picture crystallized by the Dotel signing -- by far the Pirates' most expensive out of free agency -- is that the opening-day payroll for the 25-man roster projects to be $35.65 million.
That might be the lowest in the majors: The San Diego Padres are expected to be near $40 million, the Oakland Athletics at $42 million and the Florida Marlins at $45 million.
The total for the Pirates' 11 signed major league players is $28.2 million. Add to that the $950,000 of Carrasco, a non-roster invitee, and the figure is $ 29.15 million. From there, assume that the other 13 players will average of $500,000 -- the major league minimum will be $400,000 again -- and that adds $6.5 million.
Performance bonuses -- of which there are more this year than usual -- and other additions and expenses will add to the total by year's end, barring trades that reduce the payroll, and the figure for the full 40-man roster is projected to wind up between $40 million and $45 million.
That figure last year was $48 million.
NOTES -- The Pirates issued an updated list of players expected at PirateFest, Jan. 29-31 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Current players will be Andrew McCutchen, Daniel McCutchen, Doumit, Maholm, Jones, Ohlendorf, LaRoche, Milledge, Morton, Meek, Hanrahan, Crosby, Steve Pearce and Neil Walker. Former players will be Bill Mazeroski, John Candelaria, Dick Groat, ElRoy Face, Bob Friend, Kent Tekulve and Jim Rooker. Andy Van Slyke had hoped to attend but will be unable. ... Claggett, 25, made one appearance with the Pirates after being claimed off waivers from the New York Yankees in September.
First Published January 22, 2010 12:00 am