Pittsburgh Pirates: Invest in Quality Pitching not Quantity

St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

Every fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates knows what the biggest need is currently for the team. Starting pitching. Whether it's experienced arms to anchor the rotation and log innings or up-and-comers with potential, the team needs several arms. However, it should not just be about plugging gaps but finding pitchers who can help this team get to the next level.

The question on everyone's mind is how are they going to fill this need. Should the team aim for quality or quantity in their pitching acquisitions? The recent deals that the Cardinals handed out to Lance Lynn and Kyl Gibson highlight the challenges of securing proven veterans without breaking the bank. These two were paid a combined 22 million dollars, with both coming off terrible seasons.

Lance Lynn had a challenging 2023 season split between the White Sox and Dodgers. At 36, Lynn struggled, posting a concerning ERA of 5.73 in 32 games as both a starter and reliever. Compare this to his career averages and it's evident that he is on the way down. This season marks a notable dip in Lynn's performance, so it is somewhat suprising to see him land $10 million.

Kyle Gibson, who broke out with the Rangers in 2021, showed some regression with the Phillies in 2022. He ultimately landed on a one-year deal with the Orioles in 2023. In this latest season, the 33-year-old posted a 4.73 ERA in 33 appearances as a starter, accompanied by a 1.318 WHIP and a WAR of 0.9. With career averages of a 4.54 ERA, and 1.377 WHIP. Continuing to show that he is heading in the wrong direction and not the right. Yet, he finds himself landing a 1-year deal worth $12 million.

So yes the price obviously goes up every year for free agents, especially pitchers. Still, this is a nice chunk of change for two pitchers over the age of 35 on the decline. Would the Pittsburgh Pirates be smart to be searching for these types of veterans? Yes affordable, but are they really what this team needs? One could argue that instead of dumping $20+ million into average at best veterans, go give that money to a proven starter. Go for the quality of quantity of that is what the market price is for declining arms.

Relying on the farm system is another part of this puzzle for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their starting rotation.

Can the young prospects rise to the occasion and actually take ownership of rotation spots? Imagine if Luis Ortiz could take a step forward and be counted on in the rotation. The same can be said for Quinn Priester who showed flashes at times in 2023, but overall had a tough debut season. Then, of course, there is Roansy Contreras as well, but that is another story altogether.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a unique spot with having so many potential impact players on pre-arb deals, league minumum essentially. The team has locked up Bryan Reynolds and Ke'Bryan Hayes to what would be considered by most Franchises team friendly deals. Players like Oneil Cruz, Endy Rodriguez, Henry Davis, Liover Peguero, Jared Triolo, and many more are not going to be counting much against the payroll. So why not get aggressive and spend some cash now, go get quality.