While the offseason has not been as active as fans would have hoped, there could still be reasons for hope for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2024 and beyond
There is no denying it, for the Pittsburgh Pirates the offseason has been less than ideal. The lack of spending is frustrating and the rest of the NL Central making moves to compete in the 2024 season. This makes it seem as if there is no hope.
However, there are reasons for hope in 2024, along with the future of the organization. A top tier bullpen in the division, the return of Oneil Cruz, and pitching prospects that could arrive this season should give Pirate fans a glimpse of hope.
The addition of relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (1yr $10.5 mil) came as a surprise for much of the fan base. With the addition of Chapman, there must be optimism that this bullpen heading into 2024 is among the best in the NL Central and in the upper half of the National League itself.
An 8th-9th inning combination of Chapman and David Bednar can be one that holds a ton of leads and can benefit this Pirate team by shortening the game. The rest of the bullpen is in very good shape with relievers Colin Holderman, Ryan Borucki, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Dauri Moreta. Being able to hold leads earlier in the games and not force starting pitchers to throw 7 innings of quality baseball every outing. A strong bullpen that can hold a ton of leads can give the Pirates a ton of opportunities to win a bunch of games.
Along with the addition of Chapman, one thing that the Pirates team can look forward to is the return of Cruz. The 6’7’’ unicorn at shortstop will be back in action after his season ending after 9 games with a fractured left fibula. Getting this bat back in the lineup will almost certainly make the team better than last year offensively. His combination of power and speed will spark this lineup and create plenty of scoring opportunities that the club missed out on last year. 2024 FanGraphs projections have Cruz slugging 25 home runs with 21 stolen bases and an on base percentage at .328. Definite production that this Pirate lineup will need, especially if they are looking to be playing meaningful baseball in August and September.
Lastly, the Pirate farm system is deep with pitching talent.
Obviously, number one overall pick Paul Skenes headlines this crop of young talent, but there are tons of talent throughout the organization that Pirates fans should be excited about. Right-handed pitcher Jared Jones who split time between Double-A and Triple-A had a very solid season and has a ton of velocity behind the fastball that can rack up a bunch of strikeouts. Along with Jones and Skenes is lefty Anthony Solomento.
Flying through the ranks, the young southpaw has the pitching motion that is reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner. A solid left-handed pitcher is something the Pirates have been missing for years. Right handers Bubba Chandler and Thomas Harrington also provide incredible depth for the young pitching that the organization is going to attempt to develop. Having a ton of highly touted pitching prospects is an organization’s dream. If Skenes reaches his potential and you hit on two of these guys listed, the Pirates can easily claim the best rotation in the NL Central in the future.