Joel Payamps - WPA: +3.01
Joel Payamps has silently been a very solid relief pitcher over the last three seasons, with a 143 ERA+ dating back to 2021. With the Milwaukee Brewers listening to offers on any and all veterans, Payamps may potentially be put on the trading block. The Pirates could certainly use another relief pitcher in the bullpen, and Payamps delivers just that.
Payamps had a career year in 2023, pitching 70.2 innings and working to a 2.55 ERA, 3.48 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. The righty struck out 26.8% of opponents faced with a 5.9% walk rate, leading to an impressive 4.53 K:BB ratio. That was the 19th-highest K:BB ratio among all qualified relievers last year. He also posted an above-average 1.01 HR/9.
Along with striking out batters at an above-average rate, he’s also great at limiting hard contact. Payamps held batters to just an 87.8 MPH exit velocity (75th percentile), 33.5% hard-hit rate (84th percentile), and 4.8% barrel rate (91st percentile). His ground ball rate of 47.6% was also great, coming into the 76th percentile of pitchers.
There were just 11 relievers last season with 50+ IP and a +3 WPA. Payamps was one of them. He contributed more to the Brewers’ chances of winning than the likes of Yennier Cano, Jhoan Duran, Jordan Romano, and Bryan Abreu did for their respective teams.
Payamps comes with three years of control remaining via arbitration. He is only projected to make $1.7 million by MLB Trade Rumors this off-season. Payamps could be a much-needed bullpen anchor in a relatively young group. Along with being a proven veteran, he is also durable and threw just over 70 innings pitched last year.