Oh, it’s time, it’s time, it’s….mailbag, time!
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions and participated in this week’s mailbag. Now, let’s dive in!
This is undoubtedly something the Pirates will discuss this offseason. Cervelli is coming off the best season of his career, but is also 33, he has developed concussion issues, and Elias Diaz has emerged as a legitimate MLB catcher.
That said, I still expect Cervelli to be a Pirate on Opening Day. Jacob Stallings, who the Pirates are high on, is out of options. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Cervelli, Diaz, and Stallings all making the club out of spring training.
A big reason for this is Cervelli’s ability to play first base. By carrying three catchers, the team is not only freed up to use Diaz more often as a pinch hitter, but they can also play Cervelli at first base on days Josh Bell is not in the lineup.
Also, Stallings has not shown enough yet to be one of just two catchers on a MLB roster on Opening Day.
There has not been any news on Gregory Polanco since he had his surgery in September. He will not be ready for Opening Day, and the Pirates hope to have him back by June. Hopefully, he will be back sooner, though.
First off, I 100% believe Sonny Gray would work in Pittsburgh. PNC Park is a good pitcher’s park and moving from the American League to the National League always benefits pitchers. Factor in the American League East being loaded with hitter’s parks and strong offensive teams, and the move should be even more beneficial.
Gray was also a different pitcher away from Yankee Stadium last year. At Yankee Stadium Gray posted a 6.98 ERA, 5.98 FIP, 12.2% walk rate, 15.7% strikeout rate, and 1.67 HR/9 in 2018. On the road, he posted a 3.17 ERA, 2.65 FIP, 7.4% walk rate, 26.4% strikeout rate, and 0.38 HR/9.
So, away from the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium Gray remained the front of the rotation starter he always was in Oakland with the Athletics.
As for the part of the Pirate potentially acquiring him, that’s a scenario that is tough to envision.
New York GM Brian Cashman has said the Yankees will try to move Gray this offseason, and he screams ‘Pirate reclamation project.’ But, the Pirate rotation is set heading into 2019 with Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, Joe Musgrove, and Ivan Nova. Mitch Keller is also looming at Triple-A and should reach the Majors at some point in 2019.
There are only two scenarios in which I could see the Pirates adding Gray or any starting pitcher that is not a pure depth option. One, if the team moves Nova and his contract, or, two, if the injury that shut Musgrove down in September will cost him any regular season time in 2019. Neither of these seem likely, though. Plus, Nova is also viewed as the veteran leader of the staff and is well respected in the Pirate clubhouse, and, right or wrong, that is a factor as well.
Considering Adam Frazier can not handle shortstop defensively, no.
Frazier has never played shortstop at the MLB level. Outside of 15 innings as a shortstop at Triple-A in 2016, he has not played short since 2015. If the Pirates believed Frazier could play shortstop, he would have at some point in the past two years.
Nope! It’s never too early to bash the front office and bust out a good old fashioned #GoNuttingsWallet hashtag.
I kid, I kid.
That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for our Pirate mailbag, look for our Tweet asking for questions each week throughout the offseason.