If there is one thing evident about the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is that they have a long way to go before being a contender again. Do not expect this to change much this offseason.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates let go of the previous regime, it was very clear that the team was ready to go in a new direction. Nowadays, when teams decide to go in a new direction, especially at the Front Office level, this means there will be a rebuild. While the Front Office has not publicly stated this team is rebuilding, it is clear that is the situation.
If nothing else, the team trading away Starling Marte was the first sign of the team hitting the reset button. However, that was the only real significant move made by Ben Cherington. He also brought in some minor league veterans to help fill holes, but overall this tam was setup to fail this year. As that occurred, the club earned the first overall pick in the 2021 Draft.
For some reason, people want to hear the word “rebuild” spoken by the organization. This is a word that has gained a lot of criticism by fans over the last 20 years. Cherington continues to use terms such as “build” and “improve because he believes that the organization did not need a complete overhaul. For instance, some of the top prospects that are being brought up are pieces to build around going forward.
Do not expect much to change this offseason. The team once again will not come out and say they are rebuilding. With that being said, they will likely operate in more of a rebuilding manor than last year. The team has a couple interesting veteran pieces who are viewed as logical trade candidates for multiple reasons. Some of those reasons are contractual while others are just the pure fact that the return could expedite the overall process to be competitive again.
The two most logical trade candidates this offseason are pitcher Joe Musgrove and second baseman Adam Frazier. Many thought Frazier was going to be dealt last offseason. Instead, he solidified himself as a very good second baseman, although he could have hit a little better. Frazier has two years left of team control and is estimated to make around $5 million this year. Furthermore, he is blocking some of the of the younger talent from getting playing time in the infield.
At one time Musgrove looked like a potential extension candidate. This offseason he very well could be the team’s most valuable trade chip. The right hander clearly showed that he has the potential to take that next step in his career. While many would like that step to be here with the Pittsburgh Pirates, it does not make a lot of sense. Now if you can reach an extension, then sure, by all means keep him around.
However, this Front Office does not seem like that is the direction they want to go in and would rather keep bringing in as much talent as possible. Musgrove very well could net a package of at least two top organizational prospects and maybe more. The starter will also be a free agent after 2022, so trading him now could be the peak of his value based on recent performance and team control.
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished in dead last in 2020. The team has never been aggressive on the free agent front and have a lot of their talented prospects in the lower minors. A few moves here and there are not going to suddenly flip the script of this team’s future outlook. The team will not be in the race in 2021, so why not get something that will help in 2023 and on when the organization may be in a better position to actually compete from a talent standpoint.