Three Off-Season Goals for the Pittsburgh Pirates
By Noah Wright
Sell High On Pitchers
The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to need depth because it’s time they sell high on some of their core pieces from 2020. One player that ended 2020 on a high note was Joe Musgrove. After a rough start to the year that included an injury that kept him out nearly all of August, Musgrove returned to put up very solid numbers in September.
Through his final 25 innings of the year, the right hander had a 2.16 ERA, 1.39 FIP and 1.95 xFIP. He walked just five of the 98 batters he faced, and struck out 38 of them, resulting in an outstanding 7.6 K/BB ratio. This, combined with his solid work in the last two seasons, and control through the 2022 season, Musgrove could prove to be a valuable asset in the trade market.
Recently, relief pitchers, even ones that aren’t elite, are going for a lot on the trade market, and the Pittsburgh Pirates might want to capitalize right now with Richard Rodriguez. Rich Rod had a nice bounce back campaign, pitching to the tune of a 2.70 ERA, 2.83 FIP and an outstanding 0.86 WHIP through 23.1 innings of work. After his HR/9 was approaching 2 per game in 2019, that has since lowered to a solid 1.16 per 9 rate. He also saw his strikeout rate raise to a career high 36.6% rate and walk rate drop to a career low 5.4% rate. His ERA estimators pinned him as excellent as well with a 2.83 xFIP and 2.40 SIERA.
The one issue Rodriguez faced was batted ball numbers. Opponents had a 91.8 MPH exit velocity and 51% hard hit rate, both in the bottom 3% of MLB pitchers in 2020. Still, his xERA which takes into account batted ball numbers was at a solid 3.28 and his xBA was strong .218 mark. He is controlled through the next three seasons.
Now I don’t want them to trade both Musgrove and Rodriguez just to trade them. There is no major rush if Ben Cherington doesn’t get offered what he wants. This goes for Frazier as well since he has two years of control left. But both Rodriguez and Musgrove are coming off strong seasons. Unless they can work out an extension with Musgrove, he probably isn’t going to be around the next time the Pirates are in contention, so I think the best course of action is to capitalize while their trade values are high.