Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining What’s Left To Do This Offseason

Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a busy offseason. They’ve traded a handful of their players, most notably Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon and Joe Musgrove, and have added a ton of depth to the farm system. We’re now going into the home stretch of the offseason, so what is there left for the Bucs to do?

Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still on the lookout for free agents to help their starting pitching and outfield situation. The Bucs opened up room in their rotation after the Musgrove and Taillon trades. Only Mitch Keller and Steven Brault are locks for the rotation, the latter of which may yet be straded.

The last three spots are up for grabs between the likes of JT Brubaker, Cody Ponce and Wil Crowe. Although they’ll likely call up some of their younger arms like Miguel Yajure and Cody Bolton later in the season, getting an innings eater type pitcher like Rick Porcello or a low risk/high reward pitcher like James Paxton should be on their radar.

The outfield alignment currently sees Bryan Reynolds standing out in left field, Gregory Polanco manning right field and either Anthony Alford or Jared Oliva starting out in center field. Reynolds took major steps forward defensively in 2020, but struggled with his bat and will be looking for a bounceback there.

The oft-injured Polanco ripped the cover off the ball when he made contact, being in the top 95th percentile and 93rd percentile in exit velocity and hard hit rate, but only had a 41 wRC+ in 174 plate appearances. Some bad luck did play into his poor performance, so he could be another player looking for a bounceback in 2021. There’s a case to be made for both Oliva and Alford to be the primary center fielder, however with Reynolds ability to man center, they could always go out and grab a slugger like Jay Bruce or Brian Goodwin to play left, pushing Alford to a fourth outfield role.

The Pittsburgh Pirates made a lot of trades this winter and while they said they’re not going to be pushing for trades like they were earlier in the off season, they’re still open to dealing players. One player whose name has been constantly been thrown around is utility man Adam Frazier. Frazier is coming off a down year, but overall has been a league average batter throughout his career while posting above average defensive numbers at second base, where he has been a two-time Gold Glove finalist at, and the three outfield spots.

The second base and utility market just started to get moving in late January with the likes of D.J. LeMahieu, Tommy LaStella, Kolten Wong, Jurickson Profar and Enrique Hernandez all being taken off the board. Although there are still some teams looking for a starting caliber middle infielder/outfielder. The New York Mets were heavily pursuing both LeMahieu and outfielder George Springer, but lost out on both and are still looking for another bat. The Oakland Athletics saw LaStella and long time shortstop Marcus Semien sign elsewhere. The Philadelphia Phillies are also still in the market for a utility player as they’ve recently looked into Marwin Gonzalez and Brad Miller.

Both Richard Rodriguez and Brault are also potential names to be moved. The former is coming off a strong year, having a 2.70 ERA, 2.85 FIP and 0.86 WHIP in 23.1 innings of work. While the Pirates are likely open to trading Rich Rod, he could see his value increase if he can produce just as good of numbers over a longer period of time and show he can handle higher leverage situations. Plus, relievers can bring back decent packages at the deadline.

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Brault is also coming off a career best campaign posting a 3.38 ERA, 3.90 FIP and 1.20 WHIP in 42.2 innings. They may be more inclined to trade Brault over Rodriguez, especially given his worrisome ERA estimators and a handful of teams still on the lookout for some starting pitching help, trading him isn’t an immediate task at hand.

The Pirates are now in the final weeks of the offseason. They did mostly everything important they needed to do, but there’s some tasks that they could finish before Spring Training starts.