CBS Sports recent top 50 MLB free agents list names the Pittsburgh Pirates as potential landing spots for these four players.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are a team needing some help at multiple positions this year. The main ones are first base and relief pitching, but any help would suffice for the team. While prospects are coming up the pipeline, the Pirates could supplement some of the young talents with a proven veteran or two. CBS Sports’ R.J. Anderson recently released the site’s top 50 free agents and named the Bucs as a landing spot for four names.
The first is the no. 44 free agent on their list, outfielder and first baseman Wil Myers. I recently named Myers as a potential free-agent target for the Pirates, as he is coming off a relatively solid run for the San Diego Padres. Last season, Myers posted solid numbers at the dish, slashing .261/.315/.398 with a .311 wOBA and 104 wRC+. Myers walked just 7.3% of the time and struck out at a 30.1% rate, both of which were career worsts. However, this marked the eighth time Myers has been at least a league-average batter in ten seasons.
Myers has some injury questions and only stepped to the plate 286 times this season. Myers finished out the season on an extremely high note, posting a .830 OPS, .360 wOBA, and 137 wRC+ from August through the end of 2022. Myers plays a quality first base and is about average in the outfield corners. He’d give the Pittsburgh Pirates a consistently solid hitter. Aside from the Pittsburgh Pirates, CBS also names the Reds and Nationals as two other potential suitors.
After Myers, they list David Peralta as the 45th best free agent and another potential Pirate free agent target. Peralta was a nice success story, going from a struggling pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals system to an outfielder in the independent circuit, and then to a starting major league outfielder who has won a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. 2022 wasn’t the outfielder’s best campaign, but it was slightly above average nonetheless.
Through 490 plate appearances, Peralta batted .251/.316/.415 with a .315 wOBA and 104 wRC+. His 8.4% walk rate is the second-best of his career, but his 23.3% strikeout rate was the worst of his career. But Peralta’s 2022 season is a tale of two stories. Before the Diamondbacks traded the outfielder to the Tampa Bay Rays, Peralta was quite good, having a .777 OPS, .331 wOBA, and 111 wRC+. However, after the trade, Peralta managed just a .652 OPS, .288 wOBA, and 91 wRC+.
While 2023 will be Peralta’s age-35 campaign, he’s only ever once put up below-average numbers in a single season (unless you count 2016, in which he played just 48 games). Peralta hits right-handers well and could be a solid platoon option at left field and designated hitter. Peralta has always been a favorite of mine because of his rise from failed pitcher to major league outfielder, though with so many outfield prospects looking for playing time in the majors, Peralta may not be the best fit. Like Myers, the Reds and Nats are the two other potential landing spots for Peralta CBS lists.
The third name listed is Brandon Drury, who is ranked right after Peralta as CBS Sports’ 46th-best free agent. Drury is coming off a surprising season with the Cincinnati Reds and Padres. Through 598 plate appearances, the most in his career, the infielder batted .263/.320/.492 with a .350 wOBA and 123 wRC+. Drury hit for a ton of pop, crushing 28 home runs and posting a .230 isolated slugging percentage.
Drury mostly played third base but saw ample time at first base and second base. He also has nearly 1000 innings of experience in the outfield, though he only played one inning in the grass in 2022. Drury could be a first base option for the Pirates. But seeing as he can play an adequate second base and the non-existent free agent market for keystone defenders, he might find a much larger market if he is willing to play second base over first base. While the Nats are again listed as a potential suitor for Drury’s services, the Athletics are also on the list of potential teams CBS projects him to sign with.
The fourth and final free agent CBS lists as a potential Pittsburgh Pirates free agent target is right-handed pitcher Carlos Estevez. Estevez is coming off one of his best seasons as a member of the Colorado Rockies, working to the tune of a 3.47 ERA, 4.08 FIP, and 1.18 WHIP in 57 frames. Estevez had just a 23% strikeout rate and a 9.8% walk rate but a 1.11 HR/9. While Estevez’s overall numbers may not have been too impressive, he certainly could benefit from a move away from Coors Field.
When Estevez pitched as a guest, he had a 3.47 ERA, 3.64 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP but struck out 29.3% of opponents faced with a walk rate of just 5.2%. His 1.6 HR/9 may tell a different story on the surface, but he also suffered from an unlucky 15.6% HR/FB ratio. xFIP pinned him at 3.02.
He may also perform better given a more preferred catching situation. Former Pirate backstop Elias Diaz caught Estevez for 37 of his innings but was worth a total of -15 framing runs this season. Estevez had a 4.86 ERA and 11.7% walk rate when he pitched to Diaz; however, when he pitched to Brian Serven, who had +6.8 framing runs saved, Estevez had a 1.02 ERA and 6.3% walk rate. No surprises here in the other potential landing spots with the Nats and A’s listed once again.
I would like to see the Pirates nab Estevez and Myers. The Pirates desperately need help at first base and relief pitching, and they’re both realistic free-agent targets. Myers has consistently been a decent hitter and could provide the Bucs with 20 home runs and plus defense at first base. Estevez has consistently been put in the worst possible pitching conditions yet has pitched to an average to above-average level throughout his career.