By Jason Shetler
On Wednesday, teams had to decide on which players to keep around, and which to make free agents by giving them a non-tender. There were some intriguing pitchers who were non-tendered by their respective clubs. Here are those pitchers that the Pirates could at least consider.
Al Alburquerque: For the past five seasons, Al Alburquerque had been a fixture in the Detroit Tigers bullpen. Alburquerque is coming off a down year in 2015, in which he posted a 4.21 ERA along with a 1.55 WHIP in 67 appearances. His Fielding Independent Pitching was better however at 3.75. Alburquerque’s struggles were the walks, as he put up a 4.8 BB/9. If the Pirates were to bring him in to help improve his control, then he should be able to bounce back in 2016.
Cesar Ramos: One of the more underrated left-handed relievers in baseball over the last few years has been Cesar Ramos. The 31-year-old is actually coming off a good season, posting a 2.75 ERA in 65 appearances for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Ramos displayed good control with a 2.6 BB/9 while his groundball rate was decent at 47%. The Pirates will be in search of a lefty reliever this offseason, so perhaps they could look at Ramos as a potential option.
Henderson Alvarez: Many considered the non-tendering of Henderson Alvarez by the Miami Marlins to be the most surprising. Alvarez made just four starts this past season, as he now recovers from shoulder surgery, but is only a year removed from having the sixth best ERA in the National League at 2.65. Several teams will express interest in Alvarez, and I could see the Pirates certainly being one of them.
Mike Minor: Heading into 2011, Mike Minor was considered a Top 50 prospect in all of baseball with the Atlanta Braves. The soon to be 28-year-old southpaw had a down season in 2014 where he posted a 4.77 ERA. He had surgery for a torn labrum in May, as he missed the entire 2015 season, and has reportedly began a throwing program. Minor has had success in the past, as he put up a 3.21 ERA along with a 1.09 WHIP and had a 3.5 WAR in 2013 for the Braves. If Minor is able to come back healthy from the surgery, he could be a good project for the Pirates to take on.
Neftali Feliz: Not long ago, Neftali Feliz was emerging as one of the better relievers in the American League with the Texas Rangers. Nothing went right at all for the Dominican born right-hander in 2015, as he posted an ERA of 6.38 in 48 games combined for the Rangers and Tigers. Advanced metrics however suggest that he was extremely unlucky with a 4.05 Fielding Independent Pitching and a .349 BABIP. Another positive sign for Feliz is that his average fastball velocity of 94.6 was better than in 2014 at 93.6. Based on those figures, the Pirates could look to get Feliz for a very reasonable amount.
Steve Cishek: In 2013 and 2014, Steve Cishek was dominant as the Miami Marlins closer. This past season presented some struggles for the three-quarter throwing reliever, particularly with his command. To his credit, Cishek still had a pretty good year, posting a 3.58 ERA in 59 appearances combined with the Marlins and Cardinals. Prior to this year’s trade deadline, the Pirates had been rumored to have interest in Cishek before he was acquired by St. Louis. I would expect the Pirates to show interest in him again this offseason.