Pittsburgh Pirates: Could their Starting Pitchers be Available?


The Pittsburgh Pirates are listening on a couple of key position players so far this offseason.  Could they also start to seriously listen on some of their starters as well?

One expectation for the Pittsburgh Pirates this offseason is to shake up the roster.  It seems likely that the team will deal a few of their veterans to other teams.  The most talked about players so far this offseason have been Adam Frazier and Starling Marte.  It is to the point that the expectation is that Starling Marte will be wearing a new uniform next season and Adam Frazier very well could be too.

Still, those two alone are not going to fix the mess that Neal Huntington, Clint Hurdle, and the previous regime left.  The farm system continues to look depleted, and moving those two players are not going to bring in the amount of prospect talent that will completely flip the script.  So how else could the Pittsburgh Pirates get back on the right track?

Well, one way would be to dangle more of their controllable assets in trades.  Specifically, the team should be looking at what they could get in return for a few of their young, controllable starters.  While they do not have any of the “front line” type arms that were available this offseason, they may be able to find teams that missed out on the big-fish free-agent starters.  Buster Olney of ESPN actually thinks the pitching trade market is about to heat up, tweeting:

So what exactly does this mean for the Pittsburgh Pirates?  First off, they have multiple starting pitchers who could be made available.  The ones that come to mind are Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, and Trevor Williams.  These three are veterans on the staff and do not move the needle enough for the current team.

Out of the three, Williams is the most likely to not be dealt.  He is coming off of a tough season that saw him post an ERA north of 5.00.  Still, his 2018 season was very promising. throwing to a 3.11 ERA.  He is projected to earn about $3 million this season, which for the Bucs is more than affordable.  They may be better off keeping him and trying to build his value back up this season.  Ben Cherington will likely listen and if the right offer comes across the table that values Williams as the mid-rotation arm that he is, then he’ll probably make the deal.

Chris Archer is in a similar situation as Williams in terms of performance.  Like Williams, Archer is also coming off a poor season with an ERA over 5.00.  To sell him now would be selling low.  However, Archer is scheduled to make $9 million this season and has an option for 2021 at $11 million.  If Cherington can get a package of prospects back for Archer, now may be the time to cut ties with the icon of the previous regime.

The franchise will not get anything close to what was given up for Archer, but it may be time to just move on and get something for him.  An acquiring team can look at it as a low-risk move.  He does not make that much money compared to the market and he is not guaranteed anything after the 2020 season.  With teams like the White Sox and Twins looking for starting pitching, and working on somewhat limited budgets, Archer could be a nice bounce-back buy for them.  If the Pirates keep him and he continues to regress then they will get nothing for him whatsoever.

Joe Musgrove is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.  He embodies a lot of traits that the city of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Pirates fans like to see from their athletes.  He is hardworking, has a tough attitude, stands up for his teammates, and is active in the community.  Still, the Bucs should be listening on him.

Musgrove is just 27 years of age and has control through 2022.  To go along with his contract, he has been very solid over his two years as a Pirate.  Although his ERA has been just over 4.00 in his two seasons, his FIP has been in the mid-3s.  This suggests that Musgrove has been hurt by poor defense behind him and that he should be pitching much better than his traditional stats suggest.  He throws hard, has good breaking stuff, and has the build of a workhorse.

The Pittsburgh Pirates know this, as do other teams, which is what could make him very attractive to other teams.  Teams like the Twins and White Sox make sense, but so could the Angels and the Padres, being he is from the West Coast.  With three years of control and strong numbers over the last two years, he could net a big return.

Next. Team Signs an Infielder. dark

The only way the team should trade Musgrove or Williams is if the return is impressive.  Obviously, this is easy to say about anyone, but with multiple years of control left neither should be “must move” players.  Williams will likely stay while the team has to get him to bounce back, while Musgrove might generate the most interest.  Archer is a wild card in all of this.  With a market flushed for starting pitching, it will be interesting to see if rumors pick up.