Pittsburgh Pirates: Top Five Starting Pitcher Trade Targets

These are the five starting pitchers the Pittsburgh Pirates should pursue the most.
Aug 25, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease (84) delivers a
Aug 25, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Dylan Cease (84) delivers a / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 7

Number Five
Shane Bieber

Shane Bieber is coming off a relatively disappointing season for his standards. However, that doesn't mean he's coming off a poor season whatsoever. All 30 teams would take his 2023 production any day of the week out of their rotation.

Bieber was coming off four astounding seasons where his worst ERA+ was 131, and his worst FIP in any of the four years was still 3.32. So when Bieber put up a 3.80 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP in 128 innings this past season, many were disappointed by his performance. But don't take that in a bad way. Bieber still had a quality 110 ERA+.

Bieber has also been great at limiting walks, and his 6.4% walk rate was outstanding. But there were a few concerning factors about his season. His 20.1% strikeout rate was by far the worst of his career. While Bieber has never been a soft contact merchant, he was in just the 13th percentile of exit velocity and the 3rd percentile of hard-hit rate. His 7.8% barrel rate was about league average, however, and in the 51st percentile. However, Bieber missed most of the second half of 2023, which definitely contributed to his struggles all season long.

So why is a former Cy Young winner who had the 6th most fWAR among pitchers from 2019-2022 only ranked as the number five top trade target? Aside from a disappointing season, Bieber only has one year of control. It is a relatively cheap year of control as he is estimated to make $12.2 million in arbitration, but it's still only one year.

Of course, I wouldn't be upset if the Pirates were to swing a trade for Shane Bieber. When he's healthy, he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, and one year from a top ten pitcher can be more valuable than two years from only a good pitcher. It would depend on the price, but because of his so-so 2023 and the one year of control remaining, I had to bump him down some.