Diving into the depths: Pittsburgh Pirates

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Pittsburgh Pirates
Rotation
1. Paul Maholm
2. Ross Ohlendorf
3. Zach Duke
4. Charlie Morton
5. Kevin Hart
6. Daniel McCutchen
7. Brad Lincoln
8. Donnie Veal
9. Chris Jakubauskas
10. Jeff Karstens
11. Tim Alderson
12. Virgil Vasquez
13. Brian Burres
14. Brian Bass
15. Daniel Moskos
Hart will be the heavy favorite to hold off McCutchen for the last spot, but my guess is that he’ll finish the season in the pen. I see McCutchen as the superior option, and Lincoln, Veal and Alderson could all earn shots as the season progresses.
Bullpen
1. Octavio Dotel
2. Joel Hanrahan
3. Brendan Donnelly
4. Evan Meek
5. D.J. Carrasco
6. Javier Lopez
7. Steven Jackson
8. Jeff Karstens
9. Brian Bass
10. Donnie Veal
11. Vinnie Chulk
12. Jack Taschner
13. Chris Jakubauskas
14. Anthony Claggett
15. Daniel McCutchen
16. Wilfredo Ledezma
17. Brian Burres
18. Justin Thomas
19. Daniel Moskos
20. Ramon Aquero
Yeah, there’s going to be a lot to sort through here. Jose Ascanio, Neal Cotts, Craig Hansen and Tyler Yates will also be in camp with the Pirates, but none of them may be healthy enough to compete for a job in spring training.
Dotel, Donnelly and Carrasco should bring stability to the pen, though it still looks like a pretty weak group. I’m penciling Jackson into the last spot, even though he was recently bumped from the 40-man roster.


Catcher
1. Ryan Doumit
2. Jason Jaramillo
3. Luke Carlin
4. Hector Gimenez
First base
1. Jeff Clement
2. Garrett Jones
3. Steve Pearce
4. Brian Myrow
Second base
1. Akinori Iwamura
2. Delwyn Young
3. Ramon Vazquez
4. Bobby Crosby
5. Andy LaRoche
Third base
1. Andy LaRoche
2. Ramon Vazquez
3. Bobby Crosby
4. Neil Walker
5. Pedro Alvarez
Shortstop
1. Ronny Cedeno
2. Bobby Crosby
3. Ramon Vazquez
4. Argenis Diaz
Barring the late addition of Hank Blalock or another first baseman, it appears as though a starting job is Clement’s to lose. If he struggles in spring training, then the Pirates could go to Jones at first base and Ryan Church in right field.
LaRoche is listed on the second base depth chart since there’s been some talk of moving him there once Alvarez is ready. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s possible the Pirates will make the switch come August.
Left field
1. Lastings Milledge
2. Ryan Church
3. Delwyn Young
4. Brandon Moss
5. John Raynor
6. Brandon Jones
7. Jonathan Van Every
Center field
1. Andrew McCutchen
2. Jonathan Van Every
3. John Raynor
4. Lastings Milledge
5. Ryan Church
Right field
1. Garrett Jones
2. Ryan Church
3. Brandon Moss
4. Delwyn Young
5. Brandon Jones
6. Jonathan Van Every
With Church, Vazquez, Crosby and Jaramillo penciled into bench spots, there are just two openings on the Pirates, one of which will go to Clement unless he throws it away this spring. The other should go to an outfielder from the group of Young, Moss, Raynor, Jones and Van Every. Van Every’s chances would be helped a bunch if the Pirates don’t look at either Milledge or Church as a legitimate backup center fielder. Still, Young is probably the favorite.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.