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Speculating on Pirates’ September Call-Ups

Rosy-cheeked grillmaster Travis Snider seems set to return to Pittsburgh next week. Photo via USA Today Sports

Rosy-cheeked grillmaster Travis Snider seems set to return to Pittsburgh next week.
Photo via USA Today Sports

On September 1st, rosters are eligible to be expanded to include any player on the 40-man roster without having to make a corresponding roster move. Bad teams like to take the month of September to evaluate potential future talent. Good teams like to bring up some depth to spell some regulars or bolster an overworked bullpen. Last year, the Pirates brought up eight players in September, although a few of them were just players who were in the minors rehabbing at the time. Let’s sift through the tea leaves to determine who the Pirates may be adding into the clubhouse starting next Tuesday.

Players Already On The 40-Man Roster

The Pirates will definitely be bringing up a third catcher to both give a breather to Cervelli/Stewart and also act as a pinch hitter so that the backup catcher can stay on the bench. Tony Sanchez has major league experience already, his service clock is already moving, and this is probably an open audition for him to be moved to another team in the offseason. Elias Diaz is ready to assume the role of 3rd catcher in 2016, so Sanchez is expendable moving forward. In this afternoon’s article, Michael looks into what Tony Sanchez’s future is with the Pirates based on his September call-up. I can’t see Diaz coming up in September, as I don’t see the need to start his clock just to be the 4th catcher, potentially.

Bobby LaFromboise (“The Raspberry”) is a lefty reliever that was here last September and has had a cup of coffee with Pittsburgh in 2015. He’s on the 40-man, so the Pirates will probably use him to help out. Michael emailed the names of Alen Hanson and Willy Garcia as guys to get their feet wet in September, but it’s hard for me to envision the Pirates starting service clocks on these two players with few playing opportunities ahead for them.

Players Not On The 40-Man Roster

This is the interesting pile of players, because I can see up to three players from here getting the call to Pittsburgh. However, that would mean the Pirates would have to make three corresponding moves to open up space on the 40-man roster. As Steve said in his email to me regarding this article, “…the question goes beyond who and when, but also how do they find a spot on the roster. Last year, the 40 man was littered with hot garbage but now, the group is actually pretty solid.” Steve suggested that a few players, like Deolis Guerrera, Casey Sadler, or John Holdzkom, could get shifted to the 60-day DL (which takes them off the 40-man roster). Travis Ishikawa is the clear candidate to get DFA’ed to make room on the roster.

The Pirates like to bring up a defensive replacement or two, especially if they can double as a pinch-runner, so look for Pedro Florimon to make his return to PNC Park. Travis Snider is a near-lock to come up; why else would the Pirates have signed him to a minor league deal this late in the season? And my sleeper candidate to return to help the bullpen is Radhames Liz. GM Neal Huntington has been raving about him on his radio show and the adjustments he has made in AAA. Under the defensive replacement line of thinking, it’s possible that Gorkys Hernandez returns to the 40-man, but I’m not overly confident of it.

As Steve pointed out to me, some of the Indianapolis players may not arrive until Indy’s playoff run is over. No affiliate wants to see their team stripped before a title run; that would engender too may hard feelings and is the kind of thing that caused affiliates and parent clubs to part ways.

Players Returning From Injury

While these guys are technically September call-ups, I guess they’re more like September returnees. To be eligible for the postseason, players must be rostered by August 31st. However, there is a loophole to exploit if you are either an injured player or taking the place of a player injured after August 31st. If A.J. Burnett is ship-shape at all, he’ll be on the September roster and getting some starts to see how his flexor tendon strain is holding up. Rob Scahill has had some forearm issues of his own these past two months, but he appears to be rounding back into form.

So mark down seven players for potential September call-ups and we’ll go from there.

About Kevin Creagh (178 Articles)
Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.

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