Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: MLBTR Predictions for Off-Season

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

Every year MLB Trade Rumors put out their top 50 free agent list.  With the list they also put out their predictions of where they think each player will go.  The Pittsburgh Pirates fans hope to see a few of these guys on the Bucs next season. Who does MLBTR have rumored to the Bucs:

As mentioned above MLBTR always does a fantastic job of putting out projections for the off-season free agency frenzy.  One thing with it is that it is rare to see the Pittsburgh Pirates show up  multiple times on the list.  Typically they are only listed once or twice, and with that it is accurate.  It is rare for the Pittsburgh Pirates to go in on very many top free agents.  They typically target a couple, but they only end up with one or two.  This is mainly because they build through their own farm system and try to be financially savvy throughout the off-season.

Last year MLBTR predicted the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign one top 50 free agent and it was Mat Latos.  Instead the Pittsburgh Pirates ended up signing John Jaso and David Freese, both whom were on the bottom half of the top 50 list.  Jaso received two years just like MLBTR predicted.  However, he got less money at eight million with the Bucs than predicted at 12.  Freese on the other hand was predicted to get three years at 30 million, that obviously did not happen.  With that we can give MLBTR a pass as I do not think many expected Freese to remain unsigned until March.  Also remember, MLBTR is not just making this stuff up, they are looking at trends from recent years and looking at the players numbers when formulating their predictions.

This year again the site only has the Pittsburgh Pirates claiming one of the top 50 free agents.  MLBTR has the Pittsburgh Pirates signing the #28th ranked free agent Andrew Cashner.  Many know who Cashner is as many have wanted the Bucs to deal for him over the last few years.  Cashner has the build of a work horse standing at 6’6” and 230 pounds.  He hits 95 on the radar gun consistently, but for some reason struggles to get the results you would expect.

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This past season Cashner was traded to the Miami Marlins. In Miami he posted a 5.98 earned run average with a 4.68 FIP, and a 1.74 WHIP. This was after posting 4.76 ERA with the Padres to start the year.  All around there is nothing there to really like other than his makeup.  Many think that he could be the next big time reclamation project for Coach Searage and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here is MLBTR’s rational for the Cashner to the Pittsburgh Pirates prediction:

"“28.  Andrew Cashner – Pirates.  One year, $8MM.  Cashner, 30, hasn’t delivered on the hype since being traded for Anthony Rizzo in 2012.  Even with a decline, Cashner is the hardest-throwing free agent starter (93.5 miles per hour on his fastball), but he’s never consistently missed bats.  Plus, his groundball rate has steadily declined since his career-best 2013 season.  Cashner had flashes of success in his Padres career, but was awful after a July 2016 trade to the Marlins.  Plus, he’s only made 30 starts in a season once.  Cashner remains somewhat interesting, but is definitely a project.  The Rangers, Braves, Phillies, or Pirates could make sense, and the Orioles had interest at the trade deadline”"

Next: Pirates Need to Target Free Agent Reliever....

One thing that could interest the Pittsburgh Pirates is that Cashner has produced ground-balls in his career.  The big right-handed pitcher has never posted a ground-ball percentage under 46% in his career.  With that being said it has come down about 1.5% every season over the last four years.   Andrew Cashner has had a lot of injury issues however.  He has only made over 30 in a season one time in his career.  This is a red flag.  Combine his inability to stay on the mound, his declining ground-ball rate, and a very poor season it may not be the best signing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  However, this is just a prediction by MLBTR and is interesting to see what their thoughts are regarding the happenings over the next month.