Ke'Bryan Hayes and Cole Tucker headlined a list of seven players the Pirates optioned to triple-A Friday.
The other five players that were a part of the Pirates' second batch of spring training cuts were pitchers Edgar Santana, Geoff Hartlieb, Yacksel Rios and Sam Howard, and outfielder Jason Martin.
During a conference call Thursday, Pirates manager Derek Shelton said that while he and general manager Ben Cherington had been talking about roster decisions, it was on the "back-burner."
“We still are talking about different things because we have to be prepared, but I don’t think we have anything that’s imminent or anything we’ve gotten to the point that we’ve finalized,” Shelton said.
While no reason was given for the roster moves, Major League Baseball and the Players Association are currently negotiating how to handle player service time for the upcoming abbreviated season. According toRonald Blum of the Associated Press, the union is taking the position that players should get credit for a full year, even if no games are played. If that were to happen with Hayes and Tucker still on the major-league roster, the Pirates would potentially lose out on a year of team control for both.
Hayes, 23, is regarded as the Pirates' top position player prospect. He and hitting coach Rick Eckstein were working on tweaking his swing in the days leading up to the shutdown on Mar. 12.
Tucker had also been working on his swing this spring, emphasizing finishing his swing upwards, adding more launch. He hit three home runs in 27 at-bats this spring.
"If it’s a double or a lineout or a homer, those are little nuggets you take home and feel good about yourself,” Tucker told me on Mar. 4.
Santana was coming off Tommy John surgery and looked terrific in his appearances this spring, not allowing a base runner in his five appearances.
Hartlieb cracked the majors in 2019, but pitched much better in triple-A. With the Pirates, he had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.00 in 2019, compared to a 2.50 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with Indianapolis.
Rios was claimed off waivers in August last year. He allowed seven runs and three homers in five innings pitched this spring.
Howard was also a waiver claim, with the Pirates selecting him in October. He struck out seven and walked seven in his six appearances and allowed five runs.
At the moment, the Pirates have 28 active major-leaguers on their 40-man roster, including the injured Steven Brault and Clay Holmes. The major-league season was originally scheduled to start Mar. 26, but has been postponed to until at least mid-May.