Three Pittsburgh Pirates’ players have a team option for the 2018 season, and the Pirates must decide to pick these options up or decline them. There is at least one option which should be declined this offseason.
There is a trio of Pittsburgh Pirates players who have a team option for the 2018 season. These three players are Andrew McCutchen, Chris Stewart, and Wade LeBlanc. The team will have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to decide to pick up the options on these players or decline them making them free agents.
Andrew McCutchen’s is a no-brainer. The Pirates will pick up his option, and pay him $14.5 million to play center field in 2018. Chris Stewart’s option will almost assuredly be declined, thus leaving Wade LeBlanc.
After a strong September for the Pirates in 2016, LeBlanc earned a two-year contract with the club last offseason. However, the second year of that contract was a team option and this is an option that the Pirates should decline.
Wade LeBlanc pitched 68 innings for the Pirates in 2017. He averaged 2.25 BB/9, 7.15 K/9, and he generated groundballs at a 45.9 percent clip. LeBlanc surrendered 64 hits, 10 home runs, he posted a 4.28 FIP, 4.50 ERA, and a 4.06 xFIP. All of this led to LeBlanc posting a 0.1 fWAR last season.
At no point during the 2017 season was Wade LeBlanc ever anything more than the Pirates’ long man out of the bullpen. Leblanc also spent time on the disabled list due to a leg issue. Furthermore, he was a below average pitcher in 2017.
The biggest reason the Pirates should decline LeBlanc’s option is that they can easily find someone to do what he does while paying them the Major League minimum. While LeBlanc is only owed $1.5 million in 2018 if his option is picked up, the always cost cautious Pirates are always looking for places to save money. Declining LeBlanc’s 2018 option is an easy place to save some money.
Triple-A pitchers Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadler, or Tyler Eppler could all give you equivalent production to that of LeBlanc for the league minimum in 2018. Furthermore, each of these pitchers have better stuff and could have a higher ceiling than LeBlanc.
The Bucs could also look to free agency, trades, or the waiver wire to replace Wade LeBlanc. Regardless of how LeBlanc is replaced, his 2018 option should be declined this offseason.