Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Cherington Gives Insight On The Rebuild
By Noah Wright
In a recent interview , Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington gives some insight on their rebuild and what could be in the franchise’s near future.
Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently interviewed Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington, asking him about the team’s payroll expanding as they get closer to contending in similar fashion to the San Diego Padres. Cherington gave a long response which Mackey condensed:
Cherington is taking notes from other teams, which is something I noted in an article a few weeks ago. However, he makes point of three topics of focus. One was accumulating talent, and build a strong base of talent. So far, he’s done that very well.
This offseason alone, the trades of Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon brought in 11 prospects. However, they weren’t pure quantity over quality moves as many of the prospects he brought back rank within the team’s top organizational rankings. Recently, Miguel Yajure was ranked as the 116th best prospect by FanGraphs, meanwhile Hudson Head has five-tool potential and Eddy Yean ranks as one of the organization’s 10 best prospects according to MLB Pipeline.
Cherington has acquired talent almost any way he can. This also isn’t even mentioning the 2020 draft, the Rule 5 Draft, international signings and last offseason’s trade of Starling Marte. Each of those have added multiple notable prospects.
Even in small trades, like the Jarrod Dyson trade with the White Sox, yielded the organization more International Bonus pool cap space which was then used on Po-Yu Chen. He ranked as the team’s 35th best prospect at the end of the year according to FanGraphs.
The second area of focus Cherington brought up was that players are getting better, specifically saying that, “they’re reaching another level of performance, whether that’s a major league player or minor league player”. The last topic Cherington talked about regarded the payroll and acquiring players. He wants to add back to the team through trades and free agency as they get closer to being able to compete, citing the Padres as an example, even before their shopping spree this off season.
The Padres signed big name free agents such as Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado all while still developing and adding young talent to the system. They also brought in under the radar players like Drew Pomeranz, Jurickson Profar, Garrett Richards and Pierce Johnson who played major roles for the team. Things paid off in 2020 as they made the postseason and have continued to improve their chances of going back to October, adding aces like Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, former Pirates Joe Musgrove and Mark Melancon and Korean star Ha-Seong Kim.
Cherington brings up how important the draft and this off season’s trades have been to building that strong base of talent. However, he’s not done adding young prospects to this team. Cherington wants the Pirates to be one of the strongest teams in terms of talent. He still has plenty of opportunities to add that with trade pieces such as Adam Frazier, Richard Rodriguez and Chris Stratton on the roster and having the number one overall pick in this upcoming draft.
Another important note Cherington brings up is player development. Not only is acquring the talent important, but helping it improve is just as crucial. Developing players throughout the minors has always been a strong suit for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they’ve consistnetly been one of the best teams in terms of their farm system, but the issue was taking that next step when they got to the Major League level. This happened more often than you’d like under the old regime, but the new regime seems to putting heavy emphasis on helping those players go from good to great. This helps get the Pirates back into competition faster, which is something Cherington brings up.
Overall, Ben Cherington’s interview was very insightful on the rebuild. Not only is he determined to get this team back into the playoffs, but he wants to do it sooner rather than later. Ovbisously, it’s going to take some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, his comments about adding to the payroll and improving the team in general through out-of-organization moves give the Pittsburgh Pirates a bright future ahead.