It’s time for the latest edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag here at Rum Bunter
As always, thank you to everyone who submitted questions to this week’s mailbag. Now, let’s dive in!
The biggest hole in the organization is catcher. With that being said, who do you think will be the starting catcher next year.
— John Malone (@mazfan09) December 1, 2019
Who is the starting catcher next year, is he even on the roster?
— Rob Gilmore (@ihappygilmoe) November 30, 2019
There is no doubt that the Pirates have a major hole at catcher. Yes, Jacob Stallings emerged to have a strong campaign in 2019, but his ceiling appears to be that of a backup catcher. As for Elias Diaz, after posting a negative WAR in 2019 he has now been a negative WAR player in three of his four MLB seasons. That’s not good, folks.
Most likely, the Pirates’ starting catcher in 2020 is not currently on the roster. Austin Romine and Jason Castro are two catchers still available on the free agent market that are worth monitoring. Old friend Russell Martin could be a target, too.
General manager Ben Cherington could always look to the trade market as well. Regardless of how he does it, Cherington needs to address catcher this offseason. Neither Stallings nor Diaz are an every day catcher. And, honestly, Diaz may not even be a viable option as a backup.
Do you think they should trade Bell? Seems like his value is high and his defense is poor. Could get a lot from an AL team for a full rebuild.
— J (@J_Bell38) November 30, 2019
What team is the best match prospect and position wise for Starling Marte trade?
— Ajbpgh79 (@ajbpgh79) November 30, 2019
Besides possibly moving Marte, Kela, etc, do you think Cherington will try to move some of the Pirates’ minor leaguers as well and bring in different prospects he might have been watching in his previous positions?
— Murray Passarieu (@Spazaru) November 30, 2019
These are all similar so we’ll tackle them together.
Bell is still controlled by the Pirates for three more seasons. So, there is no urgency to trade him. That said, the Pirates should most certainly listen to offers for him.
Power is the most valued commodity in baseball and Bell has plenty of that. He is coming off the best season of his career, is trending upward, is not yet expensive, and comes with three years of team control. For all of these reasons Bell should be able to net the Pirates a large return in any potential trade, especially any potential trade with an American League club where Bell’s defensive shortcomings can be hidden as the designated hitter.
Looking at the rest of the roster I expect Starling Marte and Keone Kela to both be traded. Adam Frazier, Chris Archer, Kyle Crick, Richard Rodriguez, and Trevor Williams are all names that are likely to be discussed in potential trades as well.
When looking for teams that would be a good fit in Marte trade talks the Mets, Padres, White Sox, and A’s all come to mind. There has already been smoke surrounding Marte and the Mets this offseason.
As for the minor league question, that is a good one. Cherington will undoubtedly target minor league players he has crossed paths with in the past or scouted in the past that he thinks highly of. Acquiring these players could require prospects or MLB players. We will simply have to wait and see.
What’s a realistic best case scenario for the team next year in your opinion?
— Matt_8 (@Matthewsinclai8) November 30, 2019
This will hinge on how Cheington tackles the offseason. If he and his staff look to rebuild and move their veteran pieces, then the team is in store for another losing season and that would be ok because, right now, restocking the minor leagues and adding as much young talent is possible is what is needed.
However, if, instead, Cherington decides to hold onto players such as Marte and Kela, and addressing the catching situation and the starting rotation then this team could end up around 80-82 wins. But I would not count on that being the route the Pirates take this offseason.
Does AJ Burnett want to be our pitching coach?
— Jeff Slattery (@SlatteryJeffrey) November 30, 2019
No, the odds of that happening are just about zero. A.J. Burnett is enjoying retirement and spending time with his family. There is zero indication that A.J. has any interest whatsoever in entering coaching. However, you can read about three potential pitching coaches here.
That will do it for this week. As always, if you ever have a question for the mailbag look for our Tweet each week asking for questions. Also, do not ever be afraid to ask a question on Twitter or Facebook.