Pittsburgh Pirates: Four Remaining Free Agents To Consider

The Pirates should consider going after these four free agents.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers
Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers / Rob Leiter/GettyImages
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Mike Clevinger

Veteran right-hander Mike Clevinger signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox last winter. Clevinger used the season to rebound after a mediocre 2022 campaign with the San Diego Padres. The right-hander put up his best numbers since coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2022 and stayed relatively healthy as well.

Clevinger tossed 131.1 innings, pitching to the tune of a 3.77 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP. The right-hander’s 20.3% strikeout rate was pretty low for what it once was. In 2017-2019, he was consistently striking out well over a quarter of the batters he faced. But on the plus side, his 7.3% walk rate is the lowest he’s ever posted in a year, where he made 20+ starts. His 1.10 HR/9 is about average for his career and slightly better than the league average in 2023.

But Clevinger did not have great underlying numbers. He had a 5.15 xFIP, 4.81 SIERA, and 124 DRA- of 124 (compared to an ERA- of 87). Granted, Clevinger is a flyball pitcher who did not get very many strikeouts. So, let’s get some more positives about his potential future outlook in 2024.

Clevinger may have had a flyball rate of 50.3%, but he was decent at limiting hard contact. He was in the 70th+ percentile in exit velocity (88.1 MPH) and hard-hit rate (35.9%) while ranking in the 67th percentile of barrel rate at 7.2%. He averaged 94.6 MPH on his four-seam fastball, which is right around where he was sitting pre-Tommy John surgery.

Clevinger was also good after the all-star break with both a sub-4.00 ERA and FIP, clocking in at 3.67 and 3.75, respectively. His 4.07 K:BB ratio was the 25th highest ratio among pitchers with 60+ innings pitched. His BB% took a massive drop from 9.5% to just 5.1%. His 6% barrel rate also ranked 19th best in baseball, and he carried a sub-88 MPH exit velo (87.5).

Clevinger may not have great underlying numbers, but he does great at locating the ball and inducing weak contact. He looked back to his normal self (minus the strikeouts) in the second half of the 2023 campaign. I could see him getting a one-year deal with an option for a second season.