Pittsburgh Pirates: One Time Star Closer Could Be A Free Agent Target


With the Pittsburgh Pirates in search of bullpen help on the free agent market this offseason, a former record setting closer for the Miami Marlins could be a fit with the Pirates

There is no denying that the Pittsburgh Pirates are in need of bullpen help this offseason. General manager Ben Cherington has even expressed interest in adding bullpen help either via the trade market or free agency. The need for bullpen help will be esepecially true if the Pittsburgh Priates were to trade Richard Rodriguez or Chris Stratton this offseaosn, both of which seem possible.

There is a reliever available on the free agent market who was at one point one of the best closers in baseball. This pitcher is the side armed pitching Steve Cishek. Despite a down season in 2020, Cishek should still be enticing to MLB teams.

Cishek spent the 2020 season with the Chicago White Sox. With the White Sox, Cishek posted a 5.40 ERA, 5.64 FIP, 6.23 DRA, and he allowed home runs at a 1.80 HR/9 clip. All of these were career worsts for Cishek. While these numbers were not pretty for Cishek, his 9.7% walk rate adn 22.6% strikeout rate were both improvements over his 2019 results.

The 2020 struggles of Cishek were certainly an outlier. It was only hte third time in his 11 MLB seasons he posted an ERA over 3.00, including it being the first time he had done so since 2015, and, previously, he had never posted an ERA higher than 3.58. It was also just the second time in his career he posted a FIP over 3.90.

During his MLB career Cishek has been a quality reliever. He’s pitched 576 MLB innings posting a 2.78 ERA and a 3.30 FIP. He’s allowed home runs at just a 0.64 HR/9 rate in his career, to go with a career walk rate of 9.2% and a strikeout rate of 25.2%.

During his MLB career Cishek has pitched for the Miami Marlins, St. Lousi Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, and the White Sox. He has 132 career saves, which includes a franchise record 33 consecutive saves with the Marlins.

Cishek could serve a lot of roles for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021. He could comepte with Rodriguez to be the team’s closer, or capture the job if the team were to sign him and trade Rodriguez.

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Additionally, Cishek could be a good trade chip for the Pirates in July. If Cishek were to sign with the Pirates and pitch the way he has for his entire career outside of 2020, he will be a hotly sought after bullpen arm in July. This could lead to Cherington being able to flip Cishek for some quality prospects to help in his continued rebuild of an already strong Pirate farm system.