Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Veteran Free Agents That Could Bolster the First Base, Pitching

The Pirates should consider these three veteran free agents this off-season.
Sep 5, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Donovan Solano (39) rounds the
Sep 5, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Donovan Solano (39) rounds the / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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Matt Moore

Matt Moore has had a winding career that started in 2012. Initially one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and one of the most promising starters in the Majors a decade ago, Moore struggled for years, even having a stint in Japan. But Moore returned to the States in 2021 and became one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball after his breakout 2022 season.

Moore followed up his 2022 campaign with a 2.56 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.16 WHIP in 55.2 innings. After walking over 12% of the batters he faced last year, he cut his BB% down to just 6.9%. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate remained relatively the same, going from 27.3% to 27.5%. But the one area where he faltered was home run rate, as he posted a 1.20 HR/9, compared to just 0.36 the prior year.

Moore's ERA estimators were so-so. They weren't bad, but they don't reflect a mid-2.00 ERA pitcher. Moore pitched to a 3.33 xERA, 3.95 xFIP, 3.38 SIERA, and 91 DRA- (compared to a 59 ERA-). However, these numbers are very close to what he had in 2022, when he had a 1.95 ERA. Moore finished his rebound season with a 3.87 xFIP, 3.69 SIERA, 2.93 xERA, and 97 DRA- (49 ERA-).

Even when Moore was a starting pitcher a decade ago now, ERA estimators did not love him. In 2012-2013, Moore had a 3.57 ERA but a 4.34 xFIP, 4.19 SIERA, and a below-league average DRA- in both years, despite coming up with a 92 ERA-. Moore is a consistent overperformer, which, to me, means that he's more likely to keep doing it than to decline suddenly.

Moore is also a quality pitcher when it comes to inducing soft contact. He was in the 64th percentile of exit velocity at 88.4 MPH, while also being in the 66th percentile of hard-hit rate (36.7%), and in the 50th percentile of barrel rate (7.9%). According to Baseball Savant, the only metrics that Moore wasn't in the 50th percentile or better in was breaking ball run value (38th), fastball velo (49th), ground ball rate (13th), and extension (30th).

The 2024 season will be the southpaw's age-35 season. Moore may look for a two-year deal. The Pirates should be on the lookout for a potential high-leverage reliever, and Moore held his own in the clutch. Among the 157 relievers who threw at least 50 innings this year, Moore had the 26th-best win percentage added (WPA) at +1.78. That was also the 4th best among lefty relievers with 50+ IP last year.

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