Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason Extension Candidate: Jameson Taillon
By Marty Leap
Could the Pittsburgh Pirates look to extend their ace this offseason?
When the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Jameson Taillon with the number two overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, they viewed him as a future ace that could anchor their rotation. Well, in 2018, Taillon began to turn into that pitcher.
After an up-and-down first two months of the season, Taillon added a slider to his repertoire in late May. After that, he was one of the best starting pitchers in the National League and finished the season by allowing three earned runs or less in his last 22 starts.
In these final 22 starts Taillon owned a 2.71 ERA, 3.20 FIP, a 5.3% walk rate, 23.1% strikeout rate, and he averaged 6.4 innings per start. He also allowed just 129 hits and 13 home runs in his 139 2/3 innings pitched during this stretch.
Even before adding his slider, Taillon, despite inconsistencies, made his fair share of strong starts. This led to him owning a 3.20 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 5.9% walk rate, 22.8% strikeout rate, and a 3.7 fWAR in 32 starts last season. All of these numbers ranked in the top-15 in the NL, and he was one of just four NL starting pitchers that pitched multiple complete games. All of this led to Taillon becoming the Pirates’ rotation anchor and making him an extension candidate.
There is also some precedent here for the Pirates. Starling Marte made his MLB debut in July of 2012 and signed a long-term contract in March of 2014. Gregory Polanco debuted in June of 2014 and received a long-term deal in April of 2016. Josh Harrison made his MLB debut in May of 2011 and signed a long-term deal in April of 2015. Felipe Vazquez made his MLB debut in April of 2015, was traded to the Pirates in July of 2016, and signed an extension with the Pirates in January of 2018.
Sense the trend?
Extending Taillon this offseason would follow the Pirate model of looking to sign players to contract extension early in their MLB tenure.
Starting pitchers the caliber of Taillon are not easy to find. Luckily for the Pirates they have one. Now the ball is in their court to keep him in Pittsburgh for the long-term.
If the Pirates wish to sign Taillon to a long-term deal, and they do, the sooner they do it the better. The longer they wait the higher Taillon’s price tag will climb. For this reason, Taillon could be an extension candidate this offseason.