Three underrated extension candidates for the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have been fairly proactive in securing their young core for the long haul, but they have some less ovbious players they should still pursue deals with.

Aug 20, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Ryan Borucki (43)
Aug 20, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Ryan Borucki (43) / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
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Many Pittsburgh Pirates fans are likely anticipating another core piece of the team to get an extension within the next year or so. Since 2022, they've signed Ke'Bryan Hayes, Bryan Reynolds, and Mitch Keller to long-term deals. Both Hayes' and Reynolds' deals broke what was at the time the highest paid contract in the franchise's history, the latter being the first $100+ million contract the Pirates ever signed. One of Oneil Cruz Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, David Bednar, or even one of the other top prospects in the system could be next.

But the Pirates have some other players on their roster who they could definitely benefit from extending. These players are not prime extension candidates, but have been productive players for the Bucs and signing them now could very much help this team in the long run.

Ryan Borucki

The Pirates signed Ryan Borucki to a minor league deal in May 2023. Borucki was originally a promising young starter for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018, but injuries derailed his next few seasons, as he pitched only 72.1 innings from 2019 through 2022. The low-cost flier on Borucki ended up being one of the best minor league pick-ups not just by the Pirates but by most teams in baseball last year.

Borucki pitched 40.1 innings with the Pirates, working to a 2.45 ERA, 3.35 FIP, and 0.74 WHIP. The southpaw's 21.7% strikeout rate was slightly below the league average, but that's about the only negative toward Borucki's first season in Pittsburgh. He had just a 2.6% walk rate and held opponents to a .181 batting average. Borucki was great at limiting home runs with an 0.89 HR/9 rate and didn't allow a single long ball in his final 17 frames of the season.

Borucki was great at inducing soft contact with an exit velocity and hard-hit rate of just 85.7 MPH and 28.8%. He was also good at inducing ground balls with a 46.8% GB%, which helped him post a robust 6.3% barrel rate. Borucki eventually worked himself into higher leverage situations by September and is set to play a prominent role in the Pirates' bullpen this year.

2024 is the last year of Borucki's contract, so it would make sense for the Pirates to try and get a deal done mid-season. He's a good left-handed reliever, and that's something you don't find easily. Borucki just turned 30 on Sunday, March 31st. I think a two-year deal with a third-year option would get the job done. Borucki might not be the first extension candidate you think of on the Pirates, but I'd love to see Borucki stick around for a few more years.

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