The Pittsburgh Pirates have an opening for their 2020 closer. Here is a free agent that they could target with experience getting saves.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a vacancy at the back of their bullpen, sort of. If the season started today, the team would likely use Keone Kela as their closer. Kela has experience closing from his time with the Texas Rangers and, when healthy, he has power stuff. Still, he has yet to prove that he can stay on the field consistently, so there is no sure thing that Kela will be in the closer spot.
Furthermore, the biggest factor is that Keone Kela might not be a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for much longer. Kela is entering the final year of team control and Ben Cherington may look to get what he can for the power arm. Teams are always in need of bullpen help, especially back-end type arms, so Kela could have a market.
Whether they keep Kela or not, the team needs to focus on finding another back of the bullpen pitcher. The free-agent market is relatively thin, so the Pittsburgh Pirates might need to find a bounce-back candidate. One that stands out is former Cleveland Indian closer Cody Allen. Allen was a part of the Indians bullpen back in 2017, where along with Andrew Miller, made one of the better one-two punches in the game.
Allen had three straight 30+ save seasons along with a 27 save season in 2018 with the Indians. However, Allen was a bit up and down with injury issues. He signed a one year contract with the Angels last year season and really struggled on the West Coast. Allen pitched to an era over 6.00 with the Angels and only threw 23 innings before being released.
He signed a minor-league deal with the Twins but was released mid-summer. He did not sign back after as he worked to focus on getting ready for this offseason and the 2020 season. Allen is likely looking for a one year, bounce back deal. The Pittsburgh Pirates should consider trying to bring him in on that type of low-risk, potentially high reward contract.
The Pittsburgh Pirates could have a potential opening for a closer or a setup guy depending on what happens with Keone Kela. If Allen performs, then he bolsters a young bullpen and could help this team compete. If the team falls out of the race and he is pitching well, then the Pirates could sell him at the deadline to a playoff team. Chances are it would be a minimal salary investment, so if things do not work out, it wouldn’t cost the team much to move on from him.