Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Cherington’s 40-man Roster Overhaul

Mandatory Credit: Mark Alberti-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark Alberti-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates have seen significant roster changes in recent years.  But, how much has really changed?

Blow it up, tear it down, start over, rebuild, whatever you may call it when the Pittsburgh Pirates fired Neal Huntington something had to change on the roster.  After having a lot of success early in his Pirates tenure, Huntington tried to “retool” rather than “rebuild.  He wanted to keep the team competitive enough to be in it, but also let a lot of other areas in the Organization suffered by doing so.

During Neal Huntington’s final couple of seasons, he put the Bucs in a tough position to compete.  He was acquiring veteran players who cost a little more money than usual.  He also made a couple of brash trades including the Chris Archer deal.  Yet, he still preached that it was important to Draft and Develop players through the minor league system.

Huntington would often note that team’s small-market status as a reason why they could never go after those next-level free agents or make a trade for a more expensive, proven player.  Instead, he ended up putting the Pittsburgh Pirates in a position that small-market teams cannot be in, the middle.

By trying to “compete” every year something is going to be sacrificed.  Signing veteran free agents to more legitimate contracts took money out of the “futures” wallets.  Also, the team stayed competitive enough to continue to draft in the 10-20 range.  This would cause them to miss out on some of the most elite, future franchise potential players.

So when Ben Cherington was hired it made sense that he was going to do a total teardown of the roster.  Pittsburgh Pirates fans saw that relatively quickly when the team traded away All-Star center fielder Starling Marte before the 2020 season.  The teardown continued through 2021 with several veteran players being dealt away including Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, and eventually Adam Frazier among others.

Many thought the Pittsburgh Pirates were done selling players after this year’s Trade Deadline. Well, that was a wrong assumption.  The team already traded away a veteran in Jacob Stallings earlier this week.  Although one can argue that at 32 years of age, Stallings value would never be higher.  On top of that, without contending until 2023, 2024 the Stallings would likely be moving to a more part-time role at that point in his career.

Stallings also represents another player of the former regime being dealt away.  With the roster purge over the last 2.5 years, more and more of Neal Huntington’s players are being pushed off of the roster.  This is only natural, but also it has been very calculated. Cherington has waited at specific times to make these moves and has also gotten many types of returns as well.

dark. Next. Potential Long Relief Options

Even this offseason, Cherington waited out as long as he could before having to non-tender players like Colin Moran, Steven Brault, and Chad Kuhl (all from the NH Era).  If Colin Moran and Steven Brault would have been on the field more in 2021 then he probably would have found trade partners for them too.  Instead, Cherington made the tough decision of moving on from the three veterans.  With that, the team’s 40 man roster now only includes 14 players who were acquired by the Neal Huntington regime.