Editorial: The Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 season is under way! What are the three big stories that will develop throughout this season?
The Pittsburgh Pirates enter 2017 with a different attitude compared to the way they entered 2016. The Pittsburgh Pirates entered 2016 coming off a 98 win season. Expectations were high, but some knew that the Pirates were due to regress. After a very mediocre off-season, the Pirates entered the year with a poor rotation. By mid-summer, the Bucs were floating around .500 and it did not seem likely that they would make a playoff push.
At the trade deadline, they made some unpopular roster moves. They first traded away all-star closer Mark Melancon. Many people viewed this as a white flag by the Pittsburgh Pirates, as they were conceding the 2016 year. They then dumped a large salary in Francisco Liriano‘s contract. They did this by parting with two prospects. This infuriated a large part of the fanbase. Why give up prospects to dump a salary, but not to get an actual asset? However, they then parted with two top 30 prospects to get a veteran starting pitcher in Ivan Nova. It was a mixed bag of moves at the deadline.
What the Pittsburgh Pirates did do at the deadline last year was set themselves up to be better for the 2017 season. By clearing Liriano’s contract, the Bucs were able to make multiple moves. First, they extended David Freese, which now looks even better with Kang’s current visa issue. Then, they were able to retain Ivan Nova at $8 million per year. Lastly, they gave Daniel Hudson a nice chunk of change at $5.5 million per year for two years. General Manager Neal Huntington specifically mentioned that dealing Liriano allowed them to push a little harder on those moves. They also acquired lefty reliever Felipe Rivero in the Melancon deal. Melancon has moved on from the Nationals to a huge pay day with the Giants. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates now have one of the top young relievers in the game.
Last year, the top stories to follow were how would the Pittsburgh Pirates play after a 98 win season. Many expected them not to, and they did not. The second story was when would Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and others get the call to the bigs. The last story was would the Pittsburgh Pirates sell at the deadline if they were out of it. What will the three main stories be for the 2017 season?