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On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Pirates designated four players for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster. Who else could get DFA’d this offseason?
The MLB offseason is now in full swing. With that, teams had to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft by this past Wednesday. This led to the Pittsburgh Pirates adding five players – Blake Cederlind, Cody Ponce, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, and Will Craig – to their 40-man roster.
Prior to adding these five players to the roster the team’s 40-man roster was at 39. Due to this, the team needed to designate four players for assignment to make room on the roster. Dario Agrazal, Luis Escobar, Montana DuRapau, and Williams Jerez were the four players who were DFA’d by the team.
With the Pirates’ 40-man roster now full that raises the question of which players could be next to be DFA’d? In order to add anyone in free agency or via the Rule 5 Draft, the Pirates will need to designate someone for assignment. Also, if they add a player via a trade that does not send a player currently on the 40-man roster to the other team in return, they will also need to make a roster move.
So, who are other candidates to be designated for assignment by the Pirates this offseason?
Most of the obvious DFA candidates, as is often the case, are pitchers. Relievers Chris Stratton, Dovydas Neverauskas, Sam Howard, and Yacksel Rios are all candidates to be DFA’d this offseason.
Stratton is out of minor league options and will have to clear waivers if he fails to make the team out of Spring Training. Neverauskas has never been able to find consistent success at the MLB level, and Howard and Rios were both DFA’d by other organizations in the last calendar year for a reason.
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Two under the radar candidates to be designated for assignment are infielder Kevin Kramer and catcher Elias Diaz.
Kramer has long been a highly touted prospect in the Pirates’ system, but he owns a .152/.222/.165 slash line and a 41.1% strikeout rate in 90 MLB plate appearances across the past two seasons. While 90 PAs is just about the smallest of sample sizes, Kramer was also a poor hitter at Triple-A last season. Additionally, it is tough to find a spot for him in the Pirates’ middle infield equation with Kevin Newman having locked up a spot and the team remaining high on Cole Tucker. Adam Frazier is a factor there, too.
As for Diaz, like Stratton, he is out of minor league options. So is fellow catcher Jacob Stallings. The Pirates need to add a catcher this offseason and will likely pair Diaz or Stallings with that catcher. Stallings looks like the far superior option to Diaz at this point, making Diaz a legitimate DFA candidate.