PITTSBURGH -- To clear room on their 40-man roster, the Pirates outrighted right-handed pitchers Denny Bautista and Craig Hansen to Triple-A on Tuesday. Chris Bootcheck was also removed from team's 40-man roster but informed the Pirates he will declare free agency since his length of Minor League service time allows him to do so.
With those moves, the Pirates now have 38 players on their 40-man roster. Hansen had been on the 60-day disabled list and therefore wasn't counting against the roster even before being outrighted.
With the moves, general manager Neal Huntington has begun the process of clearing space in advance of the Major League Rule 5 Draft in December. Any open space on the roster would allow the Bucs to make a selection in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft, which Huntington has done in each of his seasons as the team's GM.
The Pirates do, in fact, have some roster shuffling left to do. Right-handers Jose Ascanio and Evan Meek, both of whom ended the season on the 60-day DL, will need to be added in the next few weeks. Those two additions alone would fill the roster back to its maximum.
Right-hander Tyler Yates is also currently on the 60-day DL. However, the Pirates almost certainly won't tender Yates a contract since the right-hander will not be healthy enough to pitch until midway through the 2010 season, at the earliest. Yates underwent Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in July.
Tuesday's moves came as little surprise, as none of the three relievers contributed much at the Major League level this past season.
After coming to Pittsburgh as part of the July '08 trade that sent Jason Bay to Boston, Hansen did not pitch after April 19 because of a nerve issue that caused spasms in his neck. Hansen, who is out of options, has still not returned to throwing, and there is no timetable for him to do so. In 21 career appearances with the Pirates, Hansen has gone 1-4 with a 6.95 ERA.
After re-signing with Pittsburgh as a Minor League free agent before the season, Bautista spent most of the year in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he went 2-3 with a 4.88 ERA in 36 games. The righty then joined the big league team in mid-August, where he finished the season with a 5.27 ERA in 14 appearances.
Bootcheck served as Indianapolis' closer for much of the year, accumulating 20 saves and posting a 3.38 ERA in 40 appearances. After being named to the Triple-A All-Star team, Bootcheck was a late season callup to Pittsburgh, where he allowed 18 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings of relief.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.