Before all the excitement of free agency and trades really begins, the Pittsburgh Pirates have several pieces of business to take care of in the early part of the offseason.
Players become free agents after the World Series concludes, which is also when the trade market opens back up. Five days following the decisive game between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks, free agents are allowed to sign with any team in the league.
The Major League Baseball offseason isn’t like other sports. There aren’t many impact moves right when the offseason begins, and transactions take place all the way up to and through spring training.
Before then, though, general manager Ben Cherington still has a lot on his plate.
Cherington’s first decision of the winter looks like a straightforward one. Shortly after the World Series is done, the Pirates will need to decide whether to pick up the $3.25 million club option on left-handed reliever Jarlín García.
García was signed as a free agent last winter and came with a solid track record in his six-year career between the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants. In 285 career games, the southpaw had gone 17-15 with a 3.61 ERA.
However, García missed the entire 2023 regular season with an injury to his pitching arm, leaving the Pirates with the easy call to decline the club option. The option does not come with any buyout for García.
Not long after deciding on García’s option, the Pirates will have to clear 40-man roster space for their four players who ended the season on the 60-day injured list. Those players are shortstop Oneil Cruz, right-hander JT Brubaker, infielder Tucupita Marcano and reliever Angel Perdomo.
One event to look forward to is the annual GM Meetings, which take place from Nov. 7-9 in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is typically where a lot of groundwork gets laid for future free agent signings and trades between clubs.
On Nov. 14, teams must protect their prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. Among the prospects the Pirates will consider are infielder Tsung-Che Cheng and outfielder Jase Bowen, among others.
Finally, Nov. 17 is another date to keep in mind. That’s the day the Pirates have to decide whether or not to tender contracts to their players. Most often, the players who get non-tendered are those who are arbitration-eligible. In the Pirates’ six-man arbitration class, the potential non-tender candidates are Miguel Andujar and Connor Joe.
Once the dust settles on the early portion of the offseason, expect the free agent and trade markets to pick up in pace. Between the end of the World Series and then, gear up for some different kinds of decisions for Cherington and the Pirates’ front office.