Tag: Stolmy Pimentel

Darin Ruf

It’s not just about Kris Bryant: let’s fix the option rules, too.


That Kris Bryant will begin the season in the minors for financial purposes is a subject that should rile up fans. The way teams are encouraged to send down prospects so that they can control them for 6.9 years, rather than 6.0, is a problem, one that lacks any sort of obvious fix. Others have tried ways around it. But it’d take a major revamping, as well as a players union willing to make concessions on behalf of players often not currently part of the union.

So, don’t hold your breath.

My purpose today, though, is to address a different sort of roster problem, one that affects more players. And whereas the Kris Bryant-type situations tends to affect players likely to make tens of millions of dollars in their careers, mine affects the fringe players, the ones who probably won’t ever get the big payday.

I speak of option rules, and the need to change the system.

This right now is the time of year that teams are settling their final few roster spots. Frequently, those spots come down less to performance and more to who can be easily sent to Triple-A and who can’t. When it comes to relievers and the bench, teams would rather preserve their organizational depth and keep players without options remaining

(For those unaware, out-of-options players have to go on waivers, and thus can be claimed by any team, before they can be sent to the minors. Players typically have three option years, which kick in once they are added to the 40-man roster (players with fewer than five seasons of professional experience can be awarded a fourth option year). Players can be sent down many separate times in a season, but it still only accounts for the one option year.)

My problem with the option rules is that age plays no part in the process. A 16-year-old kid signed out of the Dominican Republic can be added to the 40-man roster at 20-21 and run out of options at age 23-24. The Mets’ Wilmer Flores is this year’s best example; he’s just 23, but the Mets won’t be able to send him down if he gets off to a lousy start as their shortstop. The Tigers’ Hernan Perez turns 24 on this very day. Detroit would almost surely prefer to send him down to play regularly in the minors, but they know there’s a good chance he’d be claimed on waivers.

On the other hand, a 22-year-old player drafted out of college doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster until he’s 25 or 26. He might not run out of options before age 29. The Phillies’ Darin Ruf is 28. He’s spent time in the majors the last three years, hitting .251/.339/.466. If he were placed on waivers, he’d surely be grabbed by some team looking for a right-handed hitter with power. The Phillies, though, can and probably will continue to jerk him around between Triple-A and the majors, perhaps because they’ll want to carry 24-year-old Cesar Hernandez, who is out of options.

The Pirates’ Jared Hughes is 29, and he had a 1.96 ERA in 64 1/3 innings last year. However, he has an option year left, whereas fellow bullpen options Radhames Liz, Stolmy Pimentel and Arquimedes Caminero don’t. There’s no way the Pirates would choose any of those guys over Hughes given a level playing field, but since it isn’t, there’s the chance Hughes could be optioned out.

It can be even worse for late bloomers. The Blue Jays sent down 31-year-old Steve Delabar on Thursday. Since he’s a former indy leaguer, he still has the option year. Judging from his anger, he’d much rather be on waivers and get claimed by another team. The Reds are counting on 31-year-old Jumbo Diaz as a big part of their pen this year, but if he struggles for a couple of weeks, he can be sent down.

I’d like to see option rules altered to account for age of players. I don’t think a team should be able to send down a 28-year-old another team could use, and I don’t think a team should be forced to keep a 24-year-old who isn’t ready for the majors. There should be a compromise available somewhere, right? The owners would go for it, since they’d just as soon play the best players. It might be a bit tougher sell for the union, since the younger players being held back have more long-term earnings potential than the older fringe players. Still, I would hope the union would rather see players judged on merit than on how many options they have remaining.

My compromise wouldn’t be too drastic. I’d leave the 40-man roster and Rule 5 draft rules intact and simply propose that no player by allowed to run out of options before his age-25 season and that players would automatically go on the out-of-options list at age 28. Whether a player has options at age 25, 26 and 27 would still be governed by he’s used up his three options years or not.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath for this kind of alteration, either. Change comes very slowly, unless it’s a change that translates quickly and obviously into dollars gained. This doesn’t really do that. It just makes things a bit more fair for the non-Kris Bryants in the game.

Joel Hanrahan to showcase for teams next week

Joel Hanrahan

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that reliever Joel Hanrahan will showcase for interested teams next week. He lists the Yankees, Mets, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Red Sox, Athletics, and Rays as interested teams, but not the Tigers or Phillies.

Hanrahan, 32, had Tommy John surgery last May, just a month and change into his first season with the Red Sox. He posted a 9.82 ERA in 7 1/3 innings. After coming over to the Pirates from the Nationals at the end of June 2009, he turned a corner and developed into a lights-out reliever. In 2010, Hanrahan posted a career high in strikeouts (100) and a career-low in walks (26) in 69 2/3 innings. In 2011, the Pirates named him their closer and he posted a 1.83 ERA with 40 saves. The success continued in 2012, when he finished with 36 saves and a 2.72 ERA.

The Red Sox sent Ivan De Jesus, Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, and Jerry Sands to the Pirates in December 2012 to acquire Hanrahan along with Brock Holt.

2014 Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

clint hurdle getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Big Question: Is regression inevitable?

The Pirates’ long-term trajectory looks good. 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen is locked in through 2018. Starling Marte, who stole 41 bases last season, was signed this spring to a six-year, $31 million extension that includes options for 2020 and 2021. Gerrit Cole has ace-like potential and is under club control through at least 2019. Gregory Polanco, a young Dominican outfielder who’s built like an NFL tight end, projects to make his major league debut at some point this summer. And right-hander Jameson Taillon, the second overall pick in 2010, is rated among the top pitching prospects in the sport.

Pittsburgh baseball fans got a thrilling glimpse of the club’s treasure trove of talent last season when — along with key contributions from some veterans — the Pirates made the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

But a relatively dormant offseason will make it difficult for the Bucs to prevent a step back in 2014.

The Pirates didn’t make a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to A.J. Burnett, who averaged a 3.41 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 197 innings per season in his two summers with Pittsburgh. He wound up agreeing with the cross-state Phillies on a one-year, $15 million free agent contract with a player option for 2015. The Bucs will attempt to replace Burnett — at least initially — with a broken-down Edinson Volquez, who has allowed 19 hits and 17 runs in 14 innings this spring. Francisco Liriano should again be lethal, but the rest of Pittsburgh’s rotation is rather suspect. Wandy Rodriguez was limited to 62 2/3 innings in 2013 due to forearm and elbow discomfort and Charlie Morton owns a 4.70 ERA in 589 1/3 career major league frames.

The Pirates should finish above .500 for a second straight season and the future looks incredibly bright, but the front office would have had to improve the 25-man roster this winter to make a push back to the playoffs an expectation for 2014. The Pirates’ run differential last year (+57) paled in comparison to the division-rival Cardinals (+187) and Reds (+109). The National League Central is no longer a push-over division.

What else is going on?

  • Another glaring hole that could have been addressed by the Pirates front office is first base. Gaby Sanchez, the owner of an underwhelming .754 career OPS, is the current projected starter at the National League’s most-premium offensive position. Travis Ishikawa isn’t a very enticing second option.
  • When the Pirates signed catcher Russell Martin to a two-year, $17 million free agent deal in November 2012 it was received as a low-impact move. But the Bucs needed some stability at what is arguably the most important position in baseball and Martin delivered in 2013, slugging 15 home runs and providing excellent defense behind the plate. Martin threw out 40 percent of would-be base-stealers and finished with a catcher’s ERA of 3.16, which ranked second in the major leagues. Yadier Molina’s catcher’s ERA in 2013 was 3.17. Martin will be looking to further boost his market value in 2014 — another contract year.
  • The Pirates are optimistic that third baseman Pedro Alvarez can build off his breakout 2013 campaign, during which he tallied 36 home runs and 100 RBI on the way to his first career National League All-Star nod and first-ever Silver Slugger Award. Alvarez owns a weak .306 on-base percentage in 1,665 plate appearances at the major league level and he’s not a very good defender at the hot corner, but the former second overall pick sure can mash. He is expected to bat cleanup this summer behind McCutchen.
  • Pittsburgh’s bullpen appears to be a real strength. Veteran closer Jason Grilli turned 37 years old this winter, but he boasts a 2.74 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings since the beginning of the 2011 season. He will be set up this year by Mark Melancon, who registered an other-worldly 1.39 ERA in 71 innings last year, and Tony Watson and Justin Wilson — two dominant, hard-throwing left-handers. Stolmy Pimentel, a 24-year-old right-hander, is an up-and-coming middle reliever.

Prediction: The Pirates win 84 games but fail to make it back to October. Third place, NL Central.

Red Sox showing interest in bringing back Joel Hanrahan

Joel Hanrahan Getty

Despite posting a 9.82 ERA in 7 1/3 innings and having to undergo surgery on his right elbow last season, the Red Sox are considering bringing reliever Joel Hanrahan back, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. The Sox traded for Hanrahan and Brock Holt in December 2012, sending Ivan DeJesus, Mark Melancon, Stolmy Pimentel, and Jerry Sands to the Pirates in return.

Hanrahan, 32, went on the disabled list after an appearance on May 6 against the Twins. He allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning. On May 16th, Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery, had his flexor tendon repaired, and had bone chips removed.

Hanrahan earned $7.04 million last season, but may have to settle for a minor league deal going into 2014.

The Red Sox were also one of the teams watching Ryan Madson audition, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.