Prior to Friday afternoon’s deadline to do so the Pittsburgh Pirates avoided arbitration with all nine of their arbitration eligible players
Friday afternoon was the deadline for MLB clubs to avoid arbitration with their players who are arbitration eligible. Prior to the 3 PM EST deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates were able to agree to terms with all nine of their arbitration eligible players.
Three of these players are relief pitchers, three starting pitchers and three position players. The three relievers they avoided arbitration with are Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton and Richard Rodriguez. Crick settled with the Pittsburgh Pirates for $800,000, Stratton for $1.1 million and Rodriguez $1.7 million.
Rodriguez and Stratton are both coming off career best seasons in 2020. By the end of the season, Rodriguez was the team’s closer and Stratton was successfully pitching in high leverage situations. Stratton is a pitcher whose career trajectory has been trending upward since he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in May 2019.
Both Rodriguez and Stratton appear to be among the best trade chips the Pirates have, settling for such a low number in arbitration will only add to their trade value.
As for Crick, his career appears to be trending in the opposite direciton. After having a breakout season with the Pirates in 2018 after coming to Pittsburgh in the Andrew McCutchen trade, Crick has struggled mightily the past two seasons.
Since the start of the 2019 season Crick owns a 4.61 ERA, 5.63 FIP, 15.3% walk rate, and a 26.7% strikeout rate in 54.2 innings pitched. In these 54.2 innings pitched Crick allowed 10 home runs. Crick also experienced a 4 MPH drop in both his fastball and slider velocity last season.
The team also avoided arbitration with catcher Jacob Stallings, corner infielder Colin Moran and second baseman Adam Frazier. Stallings settled for $1.3 million, Moran $2.8 million and Frazier $4.3 million.
Stallings is coming off a breakout season in which he brust onto the scene as one of the best catchers in the National League. At $1.3 million, Stallings, whose 1.1 fWAR last season would project out to a 4.3 fWAR over a full season, could be one of the biggest bargains in the league next season.
Moran is also coming off a career year. If his power surge continues in 2021, then his contract could also prove to be a bargain. As for Frazier, the back-to-back Golf Glove Award finalist appears to be a safe bet to be traded this offseason.
The team also avoided arbtiration with starting pitchers Chad Kuhl, Joe Musgrove and Steven Brault. The team settled with Musgrove at $4.45 million and Brault will make $2.05 million in 2021. Musgrove, like Frazier, also appears to be a safe be to be traded this offseason. The fact he will make just $4.45 million will only add to his trade value.
These moves were part of a busy Friday for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Early in the morning the team made a big splash in international free agency by signing highly touted outfielder Shalin Polanco. Later in the day, they signed veteran infielder/utility man Wilmer Difo to a minor league contract that can earn Difo up to $1 million in 2021 if he cracks the team’s MLB roster.