The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a situation where they can take on low risk contracts without it hurting them and these three could be free agents on their radar.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the midst of a complete rebuild. Even if they are in teardown mode, they could still use a decent amount of depth and can take risks on low cost deals. Currently, the free agent market has a handful of bounceback candidates and the type of low risk/high reward deals that can pay off in the long run.
Last month, I identified four potential low risk/high reward type players that could have been on the Pittsburgh Pirates radar. Today, we will take a look at a handful of more potential targets that the front office could go after. With that being said, let’s get into our first player of the day.
Relief Pitcher Brandon Workman
During the 2019 season right-handed reliever Brandon Workman was one of baseball’s most effective bullpen arms. Workman pitched to the tune of a 1.88 ERA, 2.46 FIP and 1.03 WHIP in 71.2 innings. Impressively, he allowed just a single home run while striking out 104 batters for a 36.4% strikeout rate. Free passes were a bit of an issue for Workman with a 15.7% walk rate. Eventually, he took over as the closer for the Boston Red Sox when the likes of Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier struggled in that role.
Regardless, he still had a 3.33 xFIP, 3.78 SIERA, 2.86 DRA and 2.1 fWAR. Overall, he ranked 5th in reliever fWAR, 6th in ERA and led all relievers in HR/9. The next closest was Kirby Yates at .3. Workman ranked among the top 5% of barrel percentage (.7%), xBA (.178), xSLG (.240), xWOBA (.260) and xERA (2.81).
While some regression was expected, during the 2020 season Workman pitched in just 19.2 innings between the Red Sox and eventually the Philadelphia Phillies who he was traded to before the deadline. Workman pitched most of his innings in Philly where he allowed 10 earned runs on four home runs in 13 innings. Walks continued to be an issue for Workman as he allowed free passes at a 12.9% rate, but what made it worse was his strikeout rate plummeted to just 22.8%.
While Workman is coming off a down season, he is just a season removed from an extremely effective season and was a solid right-hander out of the pen before that. He’s not a hard thrower either and still averaged around 92.5 MPH with his four seammer which is right around where he has sat for the last handful of seasons.
He also throws a curveball with above average spin and a cutter. High leverage relievers, even rental ones, can bring back a decent return at the deadline. If Workman can prove he can still be effective in late innings, he’d be a nice piece for the Pittsburgh Pirates to have around the trade deadline.