Monday, December 2 is the deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract. Coming into the offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates had 10 players eligible for arbitration. At this point, they have eight — Felix Pie elected free agency after being outrighted off the 40-man roster, and Garrett Jones was designated for assignment.
The remaining arbitration-eligible players for the Pirates include Charlie Morton, Neil Walker, Michael McKenry, Pedro Alvarez, Gaby Sanchez, Vin Mazzaro, Travis Snider and Mark Melancon. Alvarez, Melancon, Snider, Mazzaro and McKenry are eligible for the first time.
There are four obvious candidates to not be non-tendered: Alvarez, Morton, Walker and Melancon. Alvarez is one of the best young power hitters in MLB, is still improving and is relatively cheap. Morton had a great season in 2013, and with the possibility of A.J. Burnett not returning, the Pirates can’t afford to let Morton leave.
Walker is a hometown player that is above average at second base; if they were to let him walk, they would have a tough time replacing him. Melancon is still very cheap and he was an All-Star in 2013 — if he isn’t non-tendered, there is still a possibility that the Pirates could choose to trade him at some point this offseason.
The candidates to be non-tendered are Sanchez, McKenry, Mazzaro and Snider. I see one of these players being non-tendered, with the rest being kept on board. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has already said he wants to keep Sanchez, so he will most likely be back. McKenry could be kept around as catching depth, and Mazzaro is a useful bullpen piece that could either help the Pirates on the field or in a potential trade.
One player that seems to be an obvious non-tender candidate is Snider. He has no place on this roster right now. With the way the roster is constructed, he would probably be the fifth or sixth outfielder. He has no options remaining, so the Pirates would have to cut ties with him at some point anyway.