Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason: Jon Heyman’s Projections

Sep 29, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Today, over at Fanrag Sports, Jon Heyman posted his top 56 free agents with contract guesses in his best guesses.  There are some players that fit the Pirates bill.

Heyman has former Pirate Ivan Nova as his fourteenth best free agent in this years class.  The Pirates have expressed interest in retaining the right-handed starters services. Nova’s agent, Greg Genske, told MLB Network radio that Nova already has offers in the three-year and $36 million range.  Heyman projected a four-year deal worth $48 million.  A similar deal to what JA Happ got last season with the Toronto Blue Jays, just one year longer, as both annual average values are $12 million.  Nova is projected by Steamer to produce a 4.11 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and a 2.3 fWAR in 168 innings.  He will be in his age 30 season in 2017.

We reported yesterday that the Pirates are considering Edinson Volquez as an option for next season.  Volquez, the 2014 Wild Card game starter, is coming off of a miserable season in which he posted a 5.37 ERA and a 4.57 FIP in 189.1 innings.  His current Steamer projection for 2017 is 167 innings with a 4.36 ERA and a 4.30 FIP.  A move back to the National League should help Eddie V, and a potential move back to the National League Central could help as well.  Heyman has Volquez as his 20th best free agent, and signing a deal of two years and $20 million, the same deal he got from Kansas City after 2014.

Brad Ziegler has had an incredible career as a reliever.  The 37-year-old side armer has posted a 2.44 ERA and a 3.38 FIP in 596.2 innings.  More impressive though, is his career 66.3 percent ground ball rate.  He does not strike many hitters out, but he also does not give up home runs, as he keeps the ball on the ground.  This should intrigue the Pirates, and we have him as a free agent target.  Heyman gives him a projected two-year deal worth $18 million, and has him ranked as the 22nd best free agent.  Depth charts projections are 65 innings with a 3.65 ERA and 3.81 FIP.

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Heyman ranks another current Pirates free agent Neftali Feliz as his 36th best free agent, as he projects a two-year deal worth $12 million.  Feliz last season posted a 3.52 ERA and a 4.53 FIP.  He was prone to the long ball, 1.68 home runs per nine, but his home run to fly ball rate of 19.2 percent was a career high.  With a 28 percent strikeout rate, there could be potential interest in the Pirates.  Depth Charts projects the oft-injured 28-year-old a 3.66 ERA and 3.80 FIP in 65 innings.

Sean Rodriguez comes in ranking 41st with a two-year and $10 mil deal.  We know the Pirates are interested in retaining his services.  He is coming off of a career year, and won’t produce the same results.  Maybe the leg kick will allow him to keep the power, but the high BAbip and strikeout rate are concerning.  Hurdle’s favorite safety blanket at $5 million seems rather reasonable, and if that is all it takes, Rodriguez likely will be back in the black and gold next season.

Derek Holland has been connected to the Pirates already.  There was an update yesterday connecting him even further to the Pirates.  Heyman’s 50th best free agent has his flaws.  Holland has not stayed healthy in his career, he doesn’t strike hitters out, and he doesn’t get ground balls. Steamer projects the 30-year-old lefty with a 4.33 ERA and a 4.45 FIP, worse than both Drew Hutchison and Jeff Locke.  Heyman projects him to a one year deal worth $7 million.  The Pirates should stay clear, especially considering he’s between Jake Peavy and Jon Niese in Heyman’s top 56.

Fernando Rodney had a great start in San Diego in 2016, posting a 0.31 ERA and 2.31 FIP in 28.2 innings.  But after the Marlins acquired him in a trade, the soon to be 40-year-old posted a 5.89 ERA and 4.97 FIP in 36.2 innings.  Most of his problems in Miami was the home run to fly ball rate of 23.8 percent, and the 14.4 percent walk rate.  He was wild and gave up the long ball, two terrible things for any pitcher, especially a late inning relief pitcher. Heyman’s 56th best free agent comes in with a projection of one year and $5 million.  Is that the right price?

Next: What Is Tony Watson's Trade Value?

Heyman has been writing about baseball for an incredibly long time.  His projections on contracts gives us a good baseline of what players will receive this offseason.

*Numbers from fangraphs