MLB Offseason Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB Offseason Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

by November 26, 2021 1 comment

To the surprise of very few, the Pirates were not a good baseball team in 2021. They lost 101 games. The sad thing is that many expected even more losses from Pittsburgh. General Manager Ben Cherington will continue his rebuild of the team this offseason, and he has some tough decisions to make. One is whether or not he will spend any money at all. Owner Bob Nutting is not very fond of cutting a paycheck or two. The Pirates have already made a signing, albeit a minor one, picking up veteran starter Jose Quintana. At best, he looks to be a potential trade deadline flip option.

Just how deep into the blow-up is Cherington willing to go? All the way? Or does he see his core starting to form? These are the big questions surrounding the team as another offseason filled with departures seems to be on its way.

 Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Offseason Previews.

Offseason Strategy

Just like most 100-game losers, there are many holes on this team. Some probably won’t be fixed in the next 3-5 years. It is just the pain that comes with a downward spiral. The main piece that Pittsburgh has to sell is of course center fielder Bryan Reynolds, after an incredible season. But he is also a part of the team’s future, coming in when the rebuild first started, the January 2018 trade of Andrew McCutchen.

The best thing that the team can do is find talent and give them a very big sample size to work with. A very good example of this is David Bednar, who dominated after coming over last offseason. Every team is looking to find undervalued players; not many can give them a lot of wiggle room to work with.

Keys to the Offseason

Get a Backup Catcher

This one is a bit off the rails, but the Pirates should look for one veteran catcher in the coming months. After a very good season, Jacob Stallings could be on the way out. Even if he stays, he needs someone behind him. Michael Perez had a 38 OPS+ in 70 games. No MLB player, especially not a 29-year-old journeyman, should have a spot with those numbers.

Develop Players… Without Getting Ripped Off

Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows are the key examples of the Pirates making a really bad decision. It may have happened again this year, as Clay Holmes became one of the Yankees’ best relievers down the stretch while Hoy Park had a 75 wRC+. There are players on this roster that teams will be calling about, especially ones that the general public does not know. Ben Gamel, Stallings, Bednar. Please, Pirates, do not be stupid again.

Give the Kids a Shot

The Pirates’ farm system is building to something. We saw Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras debut late in the season. These players should be the main contributors to the 2022 Pirates. Contreras should be prioritized over someone like Quintana or Steven Brault. Do not let Kevin Newman play over Cruz consistently. There is nothing to lose. At least be a fun team.

Offseason Targets

Robinson Chirinos, 37, Catcher

Chirinos is the ideal option for a backup catcher to split with Stallings who can also carry a big chunk of the starting load. He has hit throughout his career, including in 2021. He had a 107 OPS+ in 45 games for the Cubs. His veteran presence could help this young team for cheap. At Chirinos’ age, he will not get more than a one-year contract.

Keone Kela, 28, Relief Pitcher

A Pirate from 2018 to 2020, injuries have derailed a career that has started strong. Still, at just 28 years of age, Kela has a chance to rebound, allowing the Pirates to then sell him off. Kela pitched in just 12 games for the Padres in 2021. While his 5.06 ERA was not good, he did strike out 13 batters in 10.2 innings and has a career 11 K/9 rate. Tommy John surgery will have him out until about midway through the year, so the Pirates could give him two years to help rehabilitate his career.

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