Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNL CentralPittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates Say They Aren’t Rebuilding. Do They Need To?

After trading Starling Marte for two 19 year olds, many fans and analysts alike believed that the team was about to start a long tear down in order to reboot the organization for the future. Ben Cherington seems to have other ideas. In an interview with SiriusXM MLB Network Radio Cherington was asked if it was a full scale tear down in Pittsburgh. His answer was a pretty unquestionable no. He said “There’s a group of young players here, either already on the team, or close to being on the team, that we truly believe will be part of our next winning team.” So is Cherington just giving the party line or does the front office believe that the Pirates are closer to competing than many people around baseball? 

As discussed in a previous article about what the Pirates should do this offseason, it seemed clear that they were not going to be competitive in 2020. However, they may not be as far away as many believe. Let’s take a look at the potential roster in 2021 to get a sense of what the team’s outcomes may look like. 

CStallingsSPKeller
1BBellSPTaillon 
2BNewmanSPMusgrove
3BHayes (FV:60)SPArcher
SSTucker (FV:50)SPWilliams
LFReynolds RPBurdi
CFOliva (FV: 40+)RPFeliz
RFPolancoRPCrick
BEFrazierPBrubaker (FV:40)
BECraig (FV: 40)PKuhl
BEMoranPRodriguez 
BEOsunaPBolton (FV:40)

Future Values From Fangraphs

Additions: Hayes, Oliva, Brubaker, Bolton  

Losses: Mahle, Riddle, Heredia

With the addition of Hayes and Oliva to the starting lineup the teams defense will be much improved over the defense we saw in 2019 and the projected defense in 2020. With the projected return of Taillon, another year of experience for Keller, and a full year under the new pitching philosophy the rotation could receive a significant boost.  In addition to the defensive boost that Hayes and Oliva provide, they also have more offensive upside that the current Colin Moran and Jason Martin, who roster resource currently have projected to play 3B and CF. If the prospects pan out, Archer returns to his old form, Taillon returns as an effective starter, and Newman and Tucker both reach their offensive ceilings this roster could compete for a wild card, however that is a lot of ifs. Let’s take a look at 2022 to see if things are a little bit more promising 

CStallingsSPKeller
1BBellSPTaillon 
2BTuckerSPMusgrove
3BHayesSPWilliams
SSCruz (FV: 55)SPBrubaker
LFReynolds RPBurdi
CFSwaggerty (FV:50)RPFeliz
RFPolancoRPCrick
BEOlivaPBolton 
BENewmanPKuhl
BEMoranPRodriguez 
BEMitchell (FV:45)PAshcraft (FV:40)

Additions: Cruz, Swaggerty, Mitchell, Ashcraft 

Losses: Archer 

While the prospects are mostly all projection at this point, the projected first full season of Oneil Cruz and addition of Swaggerty and Cal Mitchell, former first and second round picks respectively, could provide a huge boost to the lineup. While Archer will be a significant loss from the rotation, the added depth from incoming prospects could easily make up the difference and then some. 

While the Pirates lack star power the core players that are currently on the roster all have 3 years or more of control remaining. Meaning that if the front office believes that the players on the roster combined with the prospects in the high minors have the ability to win a division title  then a tear down may not be the best solution. After looking at the potential 2022 roster using MLB Pipeline’s conservative ETAs for prospects combined with Fangraphs future values and before factoring in any free agent additions the potential 2020 roster looks to have the depth and potential to compete in the NL Central. 

Featured image from teams Twitter page 02/03/2020