Pittsburgh Pirates: Moves The Team Could Make Within Their Budget to Improve

These moves would be massive upgrades to the Pirates roster, and should be well within their budget.

Aug 21, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen
Aug 21, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Acquire Edward Cabrera

2024 Salary: $770,000

The Pirates need another starter, and Ryu alone isn't going to be enough. They should look on the trade market for another arm, and who better than the Miami Marlins, who are both looking for middle infield help and may be willing to part with one of their young pitchers? Among their pitchers who could be moved, I would love to see the Pirates go after Edward Cabrera, given he would be cheaper than either Trevor Rogers or Jesus Luzardo and has a high ceiling.

Cabrera was a solid arm for the Marlins' rotation, pitching 99.2 innings, and working to a 4.24 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 1.44 WHIP. Cabrera had a strong 27.2% strikeout rate, but he also walked over 15% of the batters he faced, clocking in with a 15.2% walk rate. Cabrera may have walked a handful of batters, but the positives certainly outweighed the negatives of his 2023 campaign.

Along with getting a ton of strikeouts, Cabrera held opponents to just an 87.6 MPH exit velocity, 6.9% barrel rate, and 35% hard-hit rate. The worst among them was his barrel rate, which was still well above average, and sat in the 68th percentile of all pitchers. Cabrera mixed his soft-contact approach with a lot of ground balls and had a 54.3% ground ball rate.

Cabrera is not arbitration-eligible yet. He is still in the pre-arb phase of his contract. Spotrac currently has Cabrera's salary at $770,000. Under $1 million is what you'd typically expect from a player in the pre-arb phase of their contract. If the Pirates were to go through with a trade, like what I suggested here, where the Pirates would be giving up a young player already on the payroll, the net salary would be about the same. But for argument's sake, let's say that doesn't happen, and the Pirates don't send a young player on the active payroll. With Ryu and McCutchen, this would bring the total spent up to $10,770,000, or thereabout.