Pittsburgh Pirates: Huntington on Starting Pitching Off-Season

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Pittsburgh Pirates News: Today Neal Huntington was a guest on the Pittsburgh Pirates flag ship station 93.7 The Fan.  Huntington made some comments on his plans for this off-season.

I do not have the exact quotes as I was in the car listening, however I will do my best to paraphrase what he communicated.  The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to not have a lot of question marks heading into the off-season.  However, there is one specific area that plagued the Pittsburgh Pirates this past year.  The starting pitching needs an upgrade.  Yes, it is great to have a lot of young talent here for next season.  With that being said, the team could use some veteran upgrades to help bridge the rotation.

Huntington said (and remember I am paraphrasing):

"He would love to upgrade the starting rotation this off-season. He will look to free agency and the trade market to do so. However, the market is tough this year."

He is right.  The market is tough.  Not because they will have trouble finding starting pitching and luring them away from other teams, but because there is not a lot of talent available.  In September I did an article outlining the starting pitching free agent market.  The market is made up of a lot of veterans who have either struggled in recent years, are injury plagued, or simply have good stuff but for some reason cannot produce strong results.

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The group is led by none other than Pittsburgh Pirate Ivan Nova.  Nova put himself far and away as the top pitcher on the market. Right behind him are a slew of names that fit the description above.  Andrew Cashner, Doug Fister, Rich Hill, and Brett Anderson.  After them there is a group of pitchers who have options attached to them.  One of those is former Pittsburgh Pirate Edison Volquez, along with Clay Bucholtz, and Jamie Garcia.  There are others, but they are very likely to have their options picked up, such as Gio Gonzalez by the Nationals.

The player everyone would like to see in a Pittsburgh Pirate uniform next season is Ivan Nova.  Nova proved that he can be an effective pitcher for the Pirates.  Many our still upset about losing Happ last year, who was proven here, and was lost to a moderate contract to the Blue Jays.  Happ pitcherd really well this year, and many are afraid the same thing could happen with Nova. There has been reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been talking to Nova about staying in Pittsburgh.

General Manager confirmed these reports today during his time on The Fan:

"Yes we have engaged in talks with Nova, but his agent is pushing him to test the free agent market as most agents will do."

So typical.  It is amazing how much influence an agent can actually have on a player.  It is also his agent who probably floated out the asking price of five years at 70 million dollars.  If that is the case do not plan on the Pittsburgh Pirates to make a deal with him.  However, with Nova’s comments saying he would like to stay here it could happen.  As we have said before, just because his camp wants 70 million over five years does not mean he will get it.

Going into the off-season it seems likely that Huntington will target some starting pitching.  He also noted on the fan that he did not put a good enough starting staff out there to start the season.  He has taken responsibility for that.  With that he knows it cost the Pittsburgh Pirates their chance at the playoffs. He knows he cannot afford to put a below average group out there again or it could put him on the hot seat.  Whether it is free agency or the trade market, I expect Huntington to add at least one quality starter and another depth starter. Put two more proven arms with Cole, Taillon and Kuhl, and the starting staff will look at lot better for 2017 already.

Also, comment below with thoughts.