As the MLB offseason gets underway, the Pittsburgh Pirates should set their sights on making upgrades at starting pitcher and centerfield. After having another losing season in 2023, although improved, the Pirates have clear roster holes to address at two of the most important positions on the field. Investing in a proven veteran starter and an impact centerfielder could pay major dividends MLB.com posted their predictions for where some of the top free agents will sign. The Bucs were on the list as a potential spot for two prominent names.
Starting pitching was once again the Pirates' achilles heel last season. The rotation lacked an established frontline starter and relied too heavily on inexperienced young arms. Signing veteran left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez in free agency would give the Pirates a battle-tested arm to lead the staff. Rodriguez, who posted a 3.30 ERA over 26 starts for Detroit last season, has a track record of success pitching in the competitive AL East. He would bring much-needed stability to the rotation and serve as an excellent mentor for Pittsburgh's pitching prospects.
Centerfield is another area in need of an upgrade after the Pirates traded away two of their starters last season. Jung Ho Lee, a 25-year-old outfielder from Korea renowned for his elite contact skills, could be an ideal candidate to transform the position. Lee has the upside to develop into an All-Star caliber player as he enters his prime. He would also dramatically improve the Pirates' outfield defense and the top of the lineup.
The time is now for the Pittsburgh Pirates to shake up their usual conservative approach and invest in players like Rodriguez and Lee. The Pirates have not been major players in free agency in recent seasons, but they now have the payroll flexibility to be aggressive. Furthermore, an improved 2023 season shows they are closer to contending than they have been in years. With a homegrown young core ready to contend, targeted upgrades could position the Pirates as breakout contenders in 2024.
Signing Eduardo Rodriguez and Jung Ho Lee this winter would send a bold message that the Pittsburgh Pirates are ready to compete for a National League Central title.
Rodriguez would give the rotation the ace it desperately needs. Lee would energize the lineup and solidify centerfield. Both would provide valuable veteran leadership to a rising team. The Pirates have a prime opportunity to transform into contenders with a few strategic investments. This offseason calls for an uncharacteristically aggressive approach from the Pirates front office.