Pittsburgh Pirates: Is the Slow Offseason Hurting Bucs?

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Editorial: Is the slow off-season hurting the Pittsburgh Pirates attempt to kick off their offseason plans? Many players remain on the open market, thus bogging down the trade market as well.

To date, this has been one of the slowest moving off seasons in the modern era.  Of the top 10 rated free agents, only one has signed thus far.  That free agent was Wade Davis, who signed last week with the Colorado Rockies, and he was considered the best closer on the market.  His signing keeps up the only part of the market that is actually moving, the relief market.

Meanwhile, the rest of the market is remaining stagnate.  The top-tier free agents are still on the board.  The hitting market consists of Mike Moustakas, J.D. Martinez, and Eric Hosmer.  On the pitching side, the top starting pitchers are still available in Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish.  Of the free agent pitchers Tyler Chatwood is the only notable starter to have signed.  On the offensive side, Zack Cozart, Carlos Santana, and Yonder Alonso have signed with clubs this offseason.

Is this slow offseason effecting the Pittsburgh Pirates plans?  So far we have heard that the Bucs do not have a clear idea of the direction they want to go in this offseason.  However, everything points toward them doing a somewhat rebuild this off-season.  Almost all the rumors suggest the Bucs are looking to trade away established players who also have rising contract costs.

Tradable Assets being Held Up

The most popular rumor of the offseason has been the possibility of Gerrit Cole being traded.  The Pittsburgh Pirates are selling on the fact that Cole is a young pitcher with two years of control.  They also have a high asking price because Cole will roughly make $20 million over the next two seasons.  Meanwhile, top free agents like Darvish and Arreita will likely command at least $20 million per year over the next 5-6 years.  The issue is that the Bucs are trying to sell on the fact that Cole is a less risky investment than locking up a pitcher past their 30s.  Because of this, the Bucs have set a high price.  Teams in the market for a high end starting pitcher have to decide if they want to pay the price for Cole or take a risk on a large contract to an available pitcher.

The same can be said for Andrew McCutchen.  It is more of the same, Cutch is entering his last year of club control at a relatively fair price.  The free agent outfield market still is jammed up by Martinez, Lorenzo Cain, and Jay Bruce.  Teams looking for an impact outfield need to figure out if they want to give up a solid package of prospects for one year of Cutch, or give out a long-term contract that may hurt them in a few years.

Next: Pirates Direction This Offseason

Final Thoughts

The Pittsburgh Pirates want to rebuild.  However, with analytics being used more and more in baseball, and teams valuing controllable talent over pricey veterans, this is a tough market.  At the same time, the Pittsburgh Pirates should not sell to just sell, they should demand proper value in return.  Whether that is now or in a few weeks after the market shakes out more, we will see more with the Pirates offseason plans.