Should The Pittsburgh Pirates Take A Chance On Danny Salazar?


Could a one time budding ace give the Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff a shot in the arm via free agency?

As the calendar prepares to flip from 2019 to 2020 general manager Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to search for pitching help. One potential free agent target for the Pirates could be veteran Danny Salazar.

At one time Salazar appeared to be a budding ace for the Cleveland Indians. However, injuries would then get in the way and derail his career. Despite this, the Dominican native could be a great buy low candidate for the Pirates.

After making his MLB debut in 2013, Salazar would go on to put together five strong seasons for the Indians. From 2013 through 2017 Salazar owned a 3.82 ERA and a 3.56 FIP in 587.1 innings pitched. These 587.1 innings of work came in 109 games, 104 of which were starts.

During this five year stretch Salazar was one of the top strikeout pitchers in the American League. He owned a 27.8% strikeout rate while walking 8.5% of batters faced during this stretch. Salazar was also worth an average of 3.2 fWAR per 32 starts in these five years.

Prior to the start of the 2017 season shoulder issues started to plague Salazar. Eventually, these issues led to surgery that cost him the entirety of 2018. After starting the 2019 season on the injured list, Salazar finally returned to the Majors on August 1st. He would pitch 4 innings that day, before being placed on the IL the following day with a groin issue that would cost him the remainder of his season.

After the 2019 season ended, Salazar was outrighted by the Indians. As a result, he became a free agent. Now, he is looking for a new team.

If Salazar can get healthy he could be a great buy low candidate for a team. While the ideal scenario would be for Salazar to work as a starting pitcher, a team could easily use him as a reliever as well. With his stuff, if Salazar gets healthy he could be a dominant reliever.

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Cherington and the Pirates should kick the tires on Salazar. If they believe he is healthy and could contribute to the Bucs, then he is a player they should pursue. If they were to add him and he would pitch well, even if the Pirates are not in contention in July Salazar could be a great trade chip for Cherington.