Shortstop? Another outfielder? A left-handed reliever? What is the biggest need for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason?
There are just 11 days left in the month of October and on Tuesday night the Boston Red Sox will host either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Milwaukee Brewers in Game One of the World Series. Both of these things mean one thing – the Major League Baseball offseason is about to rev up.
After the end of the World Series, MLB free agency begins. Teams will also begin to orchestrate trades as they build for the 2019 season. With all of this looming, the question becomes, what is the biggest need for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason?
The first position that will come to mind for most Pirate fans is shortstop and it’s easy to see why. The leader in the clubhouse to be at shortstop at Great American Ballpark on March 28th is Kevin Newman. Well, in his first taste of MLB action Newman slashed just .209/.247/.231 to go with a -1.1 dWAR last season.
It would be a surprise to see the Pirates not add a shortstop this offseason. The problem is, as Nick discussed last week, the shortstop market is very weak this offseason. Watching what unfolds at shortstop this offseason will be intriguing.
Another position of need is the outfield. An outfield trio of Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco gives the Bucs one of the best outfields in the National League. The issue is Polanco will miss the first six or seven weeks of the season due to shoulder surgery he underwent in September.
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So, what does the team do in right field until Polanco is back? The in house options are underwhelming, as you can read about here. And addressing the position in free agency will not be easy as the team can not offer guaranteed playing time once Polanco returns. However, they need a fourth outfielder, even with Polanco healthy, and could look to add a fourth outfielder who splits time in right field with someone like Pablo Reyes or Jordan Luplow until Polanco returns.
The team could use some left-handed relief help, too. With Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Richard Rodriguez, the Pirates have an excellent bullpen core for 2019, even with Edgar Santana set to miss the season due to Tommy John Surgery. However, Vazquez is the lone lefty of the group and Clint Hurdle insists on using him as his ‘closer’. Could Steven Brault fill this role? Well, yeah, sure, but his 2018 performance left a lot to be desired. He may also be the team’s long reliever in 2019, taking him out of the equation when it comes to playing left on left matchups.
Third base could be a need as well. However, the odds of the Pirates addressing the position this offseason are low. The team remains high on Colin Moran, and he slashed .310/.362/.488 over the final six weeks (92 plate appearances) of the season after adjusting his approach at the plate. That Jung Ho Kang guy could get an extended look as well.
Oh, and don’t forget, you can never, ever have too much starting pitching. While the team’s starting five looks strong entering 2019, they can certainly use some starting pitching depth for 2019.
What do you believe is the Pirates’ biggest need entering the offseason? Shortstop? Another outfielder? Bullpen help? Or something else? Comment below!