I’m set to fly back to Bradenton, Fla., tomorrow and hunker down for the final few days of spring training. Another round of cuts could happen Wednesday morning, as the Pirates inch closer to their 25-man active roster. In the meantime, I’ve heard from a couple of sources that the Pirates are letting teams know Jose Tabata, Vin Mazzaro and Travis Snider are available.
Of the three, the only name that surprised me a bit was Snider. He’s having a pretty good spring, has slimmed down and still has upside. But, it’s not that the Pirates are writing him off so much as he likely has more trade value now than he will later in the season.
Tabata is not having a good spring. He also hasn’t done much to live up to the six-year, $15.5 million contract he signed on 21 August 2011. Tabata will make $3 million this year, $4 million in 2015 and $4.5 million in 2016. The deal also has three team options, which include a $250,000 buyout. If all the options are exercised, the contract’s total value would be $37.25 million.
If either Tabata or Snider is dealt, do not assume top prospect Gregory Polanco (who last week was reassigned to minor league camp) will be on the Opening Day roster. Jaff Decker, Chris Dickerson and/or Travis Ishikawa could be the fourth outfielder. Andrew Lambo also could fill that role if his conversion to first base hits a snag or if Gaby Sanchez merits full-time duty. Polanco has a total of nine at-bats at the Triple-A level. It also makes sense to delay his arrival in Pittsburgh until after the Super 2 safety date sometime in mid-June. Trading either Snider or Tabata certainly would be done with an eye toward Polanco’s eventual arrival, but it wouldn’t necessarily hasten it.
Mazzaro, 27, had a breakout season last year and was rewarded through the arbitration process with a $950,000 salary for 2014. He is out of minor league options. If Stolmy Pimentel, Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris (all of whom are younger, cheaper and also out of options) make the club, Mazzaro would be the odd man out. Selling high on Mazzaro would seem to make sense — perhaps a way to snag a backup catcher and give Tony Sanchez a chance to keep polishing his game at Indy instead of wasting away on the bench behind Russell Martin.
– Rob Biertempfel