Found November 01, 2011 on Pirates Prospects:
Mlb_jun_13_fb39

In 2010 the Pittsburgh Pirates had the 52nd pick in the draft, picking second overall in the second round.  Heading in to the draft, not much was expected from the pick.  They ended up drafting and signing Stetson Allie, who entered the draft as a top 10-15 prospect.

In 2011 the Pirates had the 61st overall pick in the draft, picking first in the second round.  Once again, not much was expected prior to the draft.  However, on draft day they saw Josh Bell, one of the top high school hitters, and a top 15 prospect, fall to them.

Heading in to the 2011-2012 off-season, the Pirates find themselves with a few holes, and one of those holes is behind the plate.  One of the top options available is Ramon Hernandez.  Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors did their annual predictions of the top 50 free agents and where those free agents would sign.  One of the predictions had Hernandez signing with the Pirates. Sports Illustrated made the same prediction in their top 50 article.

Not many teams need catching this off-season, and there aren’t many solid overall catchers on the market, so it’s not hard to draw the line from the Pirates to Hernandez.  The one disclaimer that comes up is that Hernandez profiles as a Type A free agent, which means that any team signing him would have to give up a compensation pick.  The Pirates pick eighth in the 2012 draft, so their first round pick is protected.  However, they’d have to give up their second round pick if they were to sign Hernndez.

There are 31 picks in the first round this year.  There could be as many as 48 compensation picks before the second round, although that’s very unlikely.  In order for this to happen, all 48 players would have to be offered arbitration, all 48 would have to decline, and all 48 would have to sign elsewhere.  It’s more likely that there are around 30 compensation picks when it’s all said and done.  The Pirates pick eighth in the second round, so we’re likely talking about a pick in the 60-70 range.

That might not seem like much now, but keep in mind what we said prior to day two of the draft the previous two years.  Would you have suggested signing Hernandez if it meant you were passing up on getting Josh Bell?  I doubt many would have made that move, as the long term benefits outweigh the short term benefits.

The 2012 draft could be different.  The Pirates have four players eligible for compensation.  The Pirates are sure to end up with at least one compensation pick, and might even end up with multiple picks.  The extra picks would come earlier than their second round pick, likely in the 45-55 range.  That would allow them a better shot at getting a Josh Bell or a Stetson Allie, even if they sign Hernandez.

There’s still the issue of actually giving up a pick.  Is that something the Pirates can afford to do, even when they’re potentially getting extra picks?

If we look at it as one move – giving up a pick to sign Hernandez – it might not make sense.  If we look at it in the big picture, it might be more worthwhile to make the move.

Hernandez is a Type A free agent and it’s not exactly close.  MLBTR has unofficial rankings in which Hernandez was fifth of the seven Type A catchers in the NL.  The rankings are based on the previous two seasons.  If the Pirates signed Hernandez to a two year deal, he’d basically have to match his 2010-2011 production in 2012 and 2013 to maintain his ranking.  If they signed him to a one year deal, he’d have to match his 2010 production in 2012, since the 2012 season would replace his 2010 numbers in the updated rankings.

The Pirates might have to give up a compensation pick for Hernandez in the short term, but in the long term they’re potentially looking at two first round compensation picks if he maintains his current level of play.  If he sees a drop off, he’d probably still be a Type B free agent.  Chris Snyder rates as a Type B free agent this year, even though his 2010 and 2011 numbers aren’t much to write home about.  That would only net one compensation pick, thus replacing the pick they gave up for Hernandez.

If you look at it as a long term trade, it’s basically the Pirates giving up a pick in the 60-70 range in 2012, in exchange for one to two years of Hernandez and one to two draft picks, depending on how long they sign him, and how he rates going forward.  Of course, there are risks involved.

The first risk is that Hernandez struggles so much that he doesn’t get compensation.  I can’t really see that happening, unless he just completely misses an entire year to injury.  There’s also the risk of retirement.  How do we know Hernandez would re-enter the market at the age of 38 after a two year deal?  And would there be a team that was willing to give up their first or second round pick for a 38 year old catcher?  The price that the Pirates pay should also be considered.  If Hernandez receives $5 M in his final year, then arbitration would pay him a raise over that number.  That raise would be more than Hernandez would see on the open market.

Best case scenario the Pirates would get future picks for Hernandez, making up for the lost pick in 2012.  However, that’s not guaranteed.  So let’s focus on what is guaranteed.  The obvious thing would be that the Pirates would get Hernandez, who is the best option available to them right now.  He would be an upgrade, offensively and defensively, over the current internal options.

There’s also his impact throughout the system to consider.  Think of how Tony Sanchez and the other young catchers in the system could benefit from Hernandez’s experience.  The Pirates could have a lot of young pitchers arriving in the next year or two, with the two big possibilities being Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.  How valuable would it be to have a talented veteran catcher like Hernandez working with that staff.

None of these reasons are reasons alone to sign Hernandez, but they’re added benefit.  The real reason to sign Hernandez is because he’s the best available option, and one of the few two-way catchers that the Pirates could acquire for the 2012 season.  But is that worth a second round pick?  I think when you look at the overall package, the answer is yes.  In one hand, you have a second round pick with no guarantees.  Yes, the Pirates saw Josh Bell fall to them in 2011, but they didn’t see a similar situation in 2009, and it’s not guaranteed in 2012.  Then there’s also the uncertainty with prospects versus the better bet with a guy like Hernandez.  Add in the experience he brings to the young Pirates, and the possibility of getting one or two picks in the future, and it sounds like a good trade off, especially when there’s a good chance that the Pirates have extra picks to work with in the 2012 draft.

Just because two outlets predicted that the Pirates would sign Hernandez doesn’t mean they will make the move.  However, if the only holdup is the loss of a second round draft pick, then the Pirates should make the move.  That second round pick is worth Hernandez and everything he brings to the table, plus the possibility of future picks down the line.


THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Winter Leagues 11/1 — Marte Exits Early?

After the Caribbean leagues took their usual Sunday off, they’re back in action, with a few Pirates’ players and friends: DOMINICAN LEAGUE Leones del Escogido  3,  Gigantes del Cibao  2 Starling Marte started this game in center field for Los Leones.  Los Gigantes scored two runs, both coming in on RBI singles up the middle, which Marte handled.  Marte made the third out...

Pirates decline options on Maholm, Doumit, Snyder

The Pittsburgh Pirates have declined options on pitcher Paul Maholm, catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder and shortstop Ronny Cedeno. The move allows each player to become a free agent. Maholm was due $9.75 million in salary next season. The 29-year-old lefthander is 53-73 in seven seasons with the Pirates. He went 6-14 with a 3.66 ERA in 2011 and ended the season on the disabled...

Why the Beginning of the Pirates' Off-Season Bugs Me

In lab, whenever someone is having an indordinate amount of trouble with an experiment, it's only a matter of time before someone says, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Usually it's said with an air of futility, because everyone goes through spells in their graduate career where they feel like...

This Date in Pirates History: November 2

We covered Gary Redus yesterday, today just happens to be the birthday of the man he platooned with in Pittsburgh for a time. Born on this date in 1966 was Orlando Merced, first baseman/outfielder for the Pirates from 1990-96. Merced was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1985 and he struggled his first two seasons before missing most of the 1987 season, getting into...

This Date in Pirates History: November 3

On this date in 1856 one of the winningest pitchers to ever put on a Pittsburgh uniform was born. Jim McCormick only played one season in Pittsburgh, for the 1887 Alleghenys but only three pitchers who have won more career games than him have also put on a Pirates uniform, Pud Galvin, Bert Blyleven and Burleigh Grimes. In fact, McCormick’s 265 career wins still ranks him 39th all...

Winter Leagues 11/2 —

Looking at some Pirates’ players and friends in Winter League play.   DOMINICAN LEAGUE Aguilas Cibaenas  8,  Leones del Escogido  1 Los Aguilas put up 5 runs in the 3rd inning and 3 more in the 4th.  A 3-run homer aided Los Aguilas in the 3rd, and a triple brought in two of the runs in the 4th.  Los Leones’ only run came on a solo homer in the bottom of the 3rd.  3B Andy...

Pirates decline Ronny Cedeno's option

With the decisions on their options due today, the Pirates did the expected and declined Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, and Chris Snyder's options, but they also came out of left field and declined Ronny Cedeno's option, as well. As previously discussed, Cedeno's not a super-star, but he played solid defense at shortstop last year and that makes him a valuable player, especially...

Making the Pirates better: Shortstop

You know what? I'm tired of being negative about this off-season. I still don't think that things are going to play out terribly well for the Pirates this winter, but I also don't think I've done a good job of making it clear that I don't think the Pirates are breaking up the 1927 Yankees again. Ronny Cedeno and Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm and Garrett Jones (should...

2012 Shortstop Options

After declining Ronny Cedeno‘s $3M option for 2012, the Pirates will enter the offseason searching for a new shortstop. Here’s a quick look at some available options and my thoughts: Internal options: Chase d’Arnaud – There’s still plenty of hope for Chase to become an every day major league player, but NOT this season. Despite delivering a “spark” and “energy”...

Pirates decline options on four players

The Pirates announced on Monday that they have declined to exercise 2012 club options on shortstop Ronny Cedeno, left-hander Paul Maholm and catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder. As a result, all four players become free agents.

Pirates decline options on Maholm, 3 others

The Pittsburgh Pirates have declined club options on pitcher Paul Maholm, infielder Ronny Cedeno and catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder.

Pirates decline option on catcher Snyder

The Pittsburgh Pirates will decline catcher Chris Snyder's $6.75 million club option for 2012, according to an industry source.

Pirates bid farewell to four of their veterans

The Pirates decline options for shortstop Ronny Cedeno, pitcher Paul Maholm and catchers Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder.

NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Pirates, Astros

Here's the latest on the Cubs and here's a look ahead to the Cardinals' offseason. Now for some notes from the rest of the division... Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan says he expects to remain with the team in 2012, though the commitment depends on their next manager, his responsibilities and his family situation, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.