The Pittsburgh Pirates have made their first trade of the offseason, and this acquisition could help them fill the hole for Johan Oviedo
Ben Cherington has made his first trade of the Pirates' offseason, and it comes in the form of an attempt to fill the hole left by Johan Oviedo's injury. On Tuesday night, the Pirates acquired left-handed starter Marco Gonzales and cash considerations from the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later, as reported by Jeff Passan. This move comes just a few days after Gonzales was sent to the Braves in a five-player trade with the Seattle Mariners.
Marco Gonzales, a 31-year-old left-handed starter, has spent the most of his career with the Seattle Mariners after making his debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. During his time with the Mariners, Gonzales has shown that he can be a solid piece for any rotation in need of some depth. In 2019, Gonzales posted a 3.99 ERA with a career high 34 games started for the Mariners. Unfortunately, Gonzales joining the Pirates, assuming this is his last landing spot of the offseason, does come with a bit of a price; and we're not just talking the player to be named later.
While the Pirates are filling a spot for the injured Oviedo, Gonzales isn't exactly coming off the best season a pitcher has had. In 2023, Gonzales posted a rough 5.22 ERA in exactly 50 innings over 10 starter for the Mariners before having his season cut short. Marco's season was ended due to a forearm strain; which led to season ending surgery for Gonzales, and he hasn't pitched since May 28th, against the Pirates. In this last start of 2023, Gonzales went for 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out four and walking three.
With Gonzales trying to comeback from what was essentially a lost season, there is still some upside and positives to see with this trade for the Pirates. Marco has shown what he can provide from his best years with the Mariners during his time there. Gonzales did put together a 3.94 ERA between 765 2/3 innings of work, alongside a 104 ERA+, and 4.35 FIP through the years 2018 and 2022. While Gonzales never truly found success with velocity and a lot of strikeouts; he still made it work with his great control and enforcing weak contact to hitters.
While the 2023 numbers aren't that encouraging, there is hope to be seen with the trade that the Pirates can definitively capitalize on come the 2024 season. If Gonzales can return to his form before the 2023 season and stay healthy; that alone adds a great boost to the roughed up Pirates pitching depth. As JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows possibly won't be seen until later in the year after their surgeries as well.
As for the money situation, 2024 is the last year of a four-year, $30 million extension that the Mariners and Gonzales agreed to before the 2020 season. Since Gonzales received a $250,000 bonus, and Seattle sent $4.5 million in the trade to Atlanta, this left $7.75 million owed to Gonzales. The Braves have also taken a part of that contract to send the left-hander to the Pirates for the player to be named later from Pittsburgh.
This could be the move that gets things rolling for the Pirates in the coming future, as they also had their eyes set on former Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty. Flaherty could be yet another piece that the Pirates bring in with their hopes that he too can return to his 2019 form, in which he finished fourth in Cy Young voting.