Pittsburgh Pirates: Grading Ben Cherington's Off-Season Moves Thus Far

Let's analyze Ben Cherington's moves this off-season.

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Boston Red Sox v Oakland Athletics / Brad Mangin/GettyImages
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Acquiring Marco Gonzales

Starting pitching was (and still somewhat is) an issue the Pirates needed to resolve. The first big move they made to solidify the starting rotation was adding Marco Gonzales. Gonzales has had a winding road this off-season. He was originally salary dumped by the Seattle Mariners as they also sent Jarred Kelenic to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves, who have made a series of moves like this thus far in the off-season, then sent Gonzales and salary relief to the Pirates for a player to be named later.

Gonzales was limited to just 50 innings last year due to a nerve issue. He had a 5.22 ERA, 4.28 FIP, and 1.46 WHIP. However, as some have pointed out, these are inflated numbers. In his third to last start to the season, Gonzales allowed eight earned runs while pitching just 1.2 innings. This one outing accounts for less than 4% of his total IP but over a quarter of the ER allowed. Outside of this one game, Gonzales had just a 3.91 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 3.86 FIP.

Those are pretty comparable numbers to what Gonzales had posted across the five previous seasons. From 2018 through 2022, the lefty owned a 3.94 ERA, 4.35 FIP, and 1.24 WHIP. He had just a 17.7% strikeout rate and 1.26 HR/9 but a strong 5.9% walk rate. Overall, these are some very solid numbers.

But Gonzales was a workhorse in this stretch. He had made 131 starts and pitched 765.2 innings. He was among the top 15 pitches in both stats. Gonzales was just one of eight pitchers who had thrown at least 750 innings and had an ERA under 4.00. He brings both durability and decent pitching to the Pirates.

This is exactly the kind of pitcher the Pirates needed. He is a fairly safe bet to make 30 starts and give them an average or better ERA. On top of that, the Pirates got a discount on Gonzales’ salary and only gave up a PTBNL. Gonzales is controlled through 2025 via a team option, giving them a second year of control.

Grade: A-