The Pittsburgh Pirates had a very active offseason compared to previous years. So how did they do with their moves?
The last few off-seasons have been tough on fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team went full rebuild after the 2019 season. This was expected afterall the team brought in a completely new regime under the leadership of Ben Cherington.
Cherington has spent the better part of his tenure subtracting from the Big League roster rather than adding. Even with all the trades, the new Front Office was not really spending to replace those veterans. It has been tough to watch but things seem to be heading in the right direction.
The Pittsburgh Pirates had one of their most active off-seasons in a while. The Bucs did not dismantle their team, they did not sign washed-up players or make waiver claims in hopes of the player eating innings. They actually added legitimate free-agent talent and spent some money.
So naturally, every offseason teams earn grades for their off-seasons. It is an easy way for fans to understand if they should be happy or not with the team's moves. We all went to school and we all understand how the grading scale works.
So what grade does the free agent moves the Pittsburgh Pirates made deserve? Each grade is given based on the following criteria: need, potential impact, the contract, and whether or not the player was needed versus using internal options.
A: Andrew McCutchen 1 year, $5 million; Outfielder/DH
A-: Carlos Santana 1 year, $6.75 million, First Base/DH ; Austin Hedges 1 year, $5 million; Catcher
B: Jarlin Garcia 1 year, $2.5 million, Relief Pitcher
B- Vince Velasquez, 1 year, $3.15, Relief Pitcher/Starter
Breaking down the grades was pretty easy for the top half. The addition of Andrew McCutchen is fantastic on every level. More importantly, he also adds a much needed right-handed bat for the outfield. A lot of the same can be said for Santana. The Bucs needed to improve their first base and DH spot and did so by adding the switch-hitter. Could they have found a better long-term piece at a position that lacks prospect depth? Sure, but still a good signing for this team for this year.
The two arms were harder to grade. Garcia was pitching for the San Francisco Giants and had a fair amount of success during his time there. Still, his splits suggest that he should only really face left-handed hitters. Last year he held lefties to a batting average under .200. He did not have as much success against righties who batted .270 off of him. Velasquez is an okay signing. They bring in a veteran who can eat some innings until Super-2 has passed and/or prospects are promoted. Velasquez should be used out of the bullpen but could start if need be. He is a decent depth piece, nothing more.
Hedges made sense on a lot of levels. First off, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed to add a catcher, as prospect Endy Rodriguez was the only catcher on the 40-man roster. Adding Hedges was a really strong move for this team. While Hedges does not bring much with the bat, he is one of the best defensive catchers in Baseball. Having a veteran with a defensive background like Hedges will make a huge difference to the pitching staff, but also to Rodriguez and Henry Davis as they are promoted.