Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Current State of the NL Central

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Pittsburgh Pirates
CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 26: Jared Oliva #76 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with his teammates after the Pirates defeated the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 26, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Pirates defeated the Indians 8-0. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

What This Means For The Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are arguably set up better for the future than all of their division rivals. As I mentioned earlier, FanGraphs gives the Pirates six top 100 prospects including Ke’Bryan Hayes, Oneil Cruz, Nick Gonzales, Travis Swaggerty, Tahnaj Thomas and Liover Peguero. They’ll add another unanimous top 100 prospect in this year’s draft as they have the number one overall selection. Out of all teams in the National League Central, FanGraphs has the Pirates with the most prospects with a future value grade of at least 45, with 12. The next closest is the Reds with 8.

Most of their prospects ETA are between the years 2022 and 2024. They could be back in competition as early as 2022 if some form of the expanded playoffs are here to stay. However as we’ve gone over today, the Reds, Cubs and Brewers could be in a rebuilding period during this time just like the Pirates are now.

In a few years, the Pirates could be a team to watch, not only because of the amount of exciting young talent coming up through the farm system, but because they could be a serious division contender if most of their prospects pan out. Plus, most of their rivals might be in a similar spot the Bucs are in now.

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Unlike their rivals, they don’t have any long term contracts that they are waiting to expire because it is currently bogging the team down. We have seen before the Pirates are willing to spend more when they think they are contenders. They had a payroll above $100 million from 2015 to 2017 and even still had a payroll above $90 million in 2018.