The Pirates tonight filled their 40-man roster by adding first baseman Matt Hague, outfielder Starling Marte, infielder Jordy Mercer and pitchers Rudy Owens, Duke Welker and Justin Wilson. Earlier in the day, they claimed pitcher Jeremy Hefner and catcher Brian Jeroloman off waivers.
Xavier Paul and Eric Fryer were designated for assignment. Matt Pagnozzi was outrighted to Triple-A Indy. “Tough decisions,” GM Neal Huntington said. The Pirates would like to retain all three, but Paul and Pagnozzi can become minor league free agents and most likely will sign elsewhere. Fryer might be claimed by another club.
»»» The Pirates now are pretty well set at catcher, so Huntington now can shift his attention to finding another starting pitcher, a first baseman and — the most pressing need — a shortstop. “We feel like we’ve given ourselves some options,” Huntington said. “We can take a small, deep breath and look at our other priorities.” Recently signed Rod Barajas will be the starting catcher and be spelled by either Jason Jaramillo or Michael McKenry. Tony Sanchez likely will reach Indy sometime this year, continuing his climb toward the majors. There is decent organizational depth in the minors at the position.
»»» Just because the 40-man roster is full doesn’t mean the Pirates will pass up a chance to take a player in the Rule 5 draft. The draft is Dec. 8, giving Huntington ample time to look over who’s available and plot a strategy. The Pirates have roster flexibility — an arbitration-eligible player such as Garrett Jones, Ross Ohlendorf or Jose Veras could be non-tendered to open a roster spot — if they want to make a pick.