Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Mike Clevinger


With the Pittsburgh Pirates looking for starting pitching help this offseason, Mike Clevinger could be a pitcher they target with a multi-year contract

As the old saying goes, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher. While the Pittsburgh Pirates have the foundation in place to have an improve starting rotation in 2023, general manager Ben Cherington still needs to add to the rotation this offseason.

In the past, typically, the Pittsburgh Pirates would look to add veterans on one-year deals in free agency. This offseason, however, it would benefit the team to look to add at least one starting pitcher to a multi-year contract. If Cherington goes this route that pitcher could be Mike Clevinger.

After missing all of 2021 due to Tommy John Surgery, Clevinger bounced back to pitch 114.1 innings in 23 outings (22 starts) with the San Diego Padres last season. Clevinger posted a 4.33 ERA, 4.98 FIP, and 7.2% walk rate. However, he struggled with the long ball allowing home runs at a 1.57 HR/9 clip, his strikeout rate also dipped to a career low 18.8%.

Clevinger made his MLB debut in 2016, and has gone on to pitch 656.2 innings in 128 appearances (114 starts). He has posted a 3.39 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 9.0% walk rate, and a 25.8% strikeout rate.

He has also pitched in the postseason with the then Cleveland Indians, as well as the San Diego Padres. In 10 postseason appearances Clevinger owns a 7.47 ERA with 18 walks and 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings pitched. This past postseason he made two starts for the Padres, but was shelled allowing 8 runs on nine hits, three walks, and two home runs in 2.2 innings pitched.

Clevinger will turn 32-years-old next month, so a two or three-year contract would be sensible. Signing Clevinger to that type of contract would help fill a rotation spot with a quality arm for at least two seasons, while also providing insurance against any starting pitching prospects who are closing in on the majors not panning out.

Clevinger, Roansy Contreras, Mitch Keller, and Johan Oviedo would be a strong core to build the Pirate starting rotation around in 2023 and 2024. Assuming prospects such as Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester, and Mike Burrows continue to develop and become strong rotation options, the Pirate starting rotation could quickly become a strength.

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Adding Clevinger on a multi-year deal would help the Pittsburgh Pirates both now and in the future. Clevinger would provide a huge boost for the Pirate starting rotation and could prove to be a veteran leader for a young pitching staff.