The Pittsburgh Pirates should have a strong bullpen in 2017. However, that bullpen needs one more arm. That arm could be Brad Ziegler.
The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have many holes to address this offseason. The team needs two starting pitchers, a backup shortstop, and another bullpen arm. In the grand scheme of things that is not very much.
The Pirates’ bullpen in 2017 already has its core in place. This core is made up of pitchers such as Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, Antonio Bastardo, and A.J. Schugel. Despite having these pitchers, in my opinion, the team still needs one more proven bullpen arm.
One free agent relief pitcher that I believe would be a great fit with the Pirates is Brad Ziegler. The 37-year old Ziegler has pitched in the Major Leagues for nine season. But he proved in 2016 he still has plenty left in the tank.
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Brad Ziegler start the 2016 season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the trade deadline he was traded to the Boston Red Sox. In fact, he was a pitcher I wanted the Pirates to pursue at the traded deadline.
During the 2016 season Ziegler pitched 68 innings and he averaged 7.68 K/9, 3.44 BB/9, and just 0.29 HR/9 in these 68 innings pitched. His WHIP was a solid 1.37, his FIP was 3.10, his xFIP was 3.58, and he posted a 1.3 WAR. Additionally, he allowed hard contact on just 30.1 percent of his pitches thrown.
The thing I like most about Brad Ziegler is his ability to generate ground balls. In 2016 his ground ball rate was 68.3 percent. For his career he owns a 66.3 percent ground ball rate. In my opinion, Ziegler could be what Jared Hughes once was. Ziegler could become the new ‘fire man’ in the Pirates’ bullpen.
During his nine year Major League career Brad Ziegler has logged 596 2/3 innings. In these 596 2/3 innings pitched the side-winding Ziegler owns a 2.44 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 3.58 xFIP, and the aforementioned 66.3 percent ground ball rate. Furthermore, he has never allowed many home runs as he has allowed just 23 home runs (0.35 HR/9) in his career.
At his age I would look for Brad Ziegler to get a two-year contract. He made 5.25 million dollars each of the past two seasons, and I would expect him to make at least this much in 2017. I would love to see the Pirates offer Ziegler something along the lines of a two-year, 12-13 million dollar contract.