Relief Pitcher Aroldis Chapman
The third player is veteran left-hander Aroldis Chapman. After struggling in New York the last few seasons, Chapman rebounded to a 3.09 ERA, 2.52 FIP, and 1.25 WHIP. While Chapman walked 14.5% of the batters he faced, he also had a strikeout rate a shade over 40% at 41.4%, as well as a home run rate of just 0.62-per-nine innings. Chapman had a ground ball rate of 47.7% while ranking in the 91st percentile of exit velocity at 86.5 MPH.
Chapman averaged 99+ MPH on his fastball for the first time since 2017, and regained a whopping 1.6 MPH from last season. Chapman also had a sub-3.00 xFIP and SIERA. But it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. The lefty was also pretty decent throughout the Postseason for the Texas Rangers.
All three would fill holes the Pirates need to fix. Candelario would be a good way to solve the lack of a regular first baseman, and signing Kiermaier would push Jack Suwinski to an outfield corner. With the Pirates losing Angel Perdomo to Tommy John surgery, they could definitely use another quality left-handed reliever behind Borucki after his breakout campaign.
However, there are a few thoughts I want to share on this. One is that this would basically mean the Pirates would be getting all their starting pitching from the trade market. You can call me biased or overly optimistic, but I don’t see the Pirates going the entire off-season not signing one of the better free agent starting pitchers. The second is I do not know if Chapman is the best fit. He got a bit wild down the line, and allowed 11 earned runs on a dozen walks, and three home runs in the final 13 innings of his regular season.
Still, I don’t think these are unrealistic free agent targets for the Pirates to pursue. Of course, they need to go after some starting pitching, but I definitely would not complain if the Pirates signed Candelario, Kiermaier, and Chapman. They’re all decent players who would improve the Pirates’ current roster.