Could the Pittsburgh Pirates turn to the free agent market in an attempt to bolster their bullpen this offseason?
This offseason the Pittsburgh Pirates need to re-tool their bullpen. Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, A.J. Schugel, Dovydas Neverauskas, and Edgar Santana give the Bucs a good bullpen core. However, the team needs to add to this group in the offseason.
One free agent that could be a potential target is Luke Gregerson. The 33-year-old right-handed reliever had a down season for the Houston Astros in 2017, but there are many reasons to believe he will bounce back in 2018.
Luke Gregerson is currently in the third and final season of a three-year $18.5 million contract. This past season Gregerson made $6.25 million, and he will undoubtedly look to earn a similar amount in 2018.
Currently, Gregerson is pitching in the postseason for the Houston Astros. This is the third time in his nine-year Major League career he has pitched in the postseason. In two postseason innings this October Gregerson has allowed a hit and struck out three.
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This comes on the heels of a regular season that saw Gregerson pitch 61 innings in 65 appearances. He allowed 62 hits, 13 home runs, and he generated a strong 50.0 percent groundball rate. He averaged 2.95 BB/9, a staggering 10.33 K/9, however, he owned a 4.57 ERA and a 4.62 FIP.
Luke Gregerson’s big issue in the 2017 regular season was the 13 home runs he allowed. This came out to an average of 1.92 HR/9. Part of this can be blamed on the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park in Houston where he allowed 9 of his 13 home runs.
In the regular season Gregerson allowed hard contact 29.5 percent of the time and line drives 18.0 percent of the time. Both of these rates are below league average. These two factors combined with his high strikeout rate, low walk rate, and 3.45 xFIP all point to a pitcher destined for a bounce-back campaign in 2018.
In order to sign Gregerson, the Pirates would most likely have to move Daniel Hudson and his contract. Hudson is owed $5.5 million in 2018, but after his disastrous 4.34 FIP and 4.57 xFIP season in 2017 the Pirates should be looking to move Hudson regardless.
Luke Gregerson could join Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, and A.J. Schugel to give the Pirates one of the better late inning bullpens in the National League. Due to this, Gregerson should be a pitcher that the Pirates target in free agency this offseason.