Monday, March 4, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNL CentralPittsburgh Pirates

What Should the Pirates Do This Offseason?

What should the Pirates do with this off-season? Well, that depends on when you think their contention window starts. If you believe they can compete in 2020 then they shouldn’t make any major moves with their current big league players. If we assume the new front office will follow in the footsteps of previous regimes by making minor changes without any large changes in order to stay in ‘constant contention’ in which, if everything maxes out the team will make the playoff. Let’s take a look at the roster entering the holiday season.  

Potential 2020 Opening Day Roster 

Hitters
CStallings 
1B Bell
2BFrazier
3BMoran
SSNewman
LFReynolds
CFMarte
RFPolanco 
Pitchers 
SPMusgrove
SPWilliams
SPArcher
SPKeller 
SPBrault 
RPKela
RP Crick 
RPFeliz

While a lineup with a 1-5 of Newman, Reynolds, Marte, Bell and Polanco seems interesting a 6-8 of Moran, Frazier, and Stallings leaves a lot to be desired. The pitching would be an even bigger problem for this team, as it was in 2019. If looking at the 2019 FIP of the 5 presumed starters the Avg. 2019 FIP was 4.39. While FIP is not a perfect stat it is more representative of a pitcher’s talent than ERA. If we compare the Pirates’ rotation FIP to their division rival Cardinals (3.97), and Cubs (3.99)1, It paints a bleak picture of the Pirates being able to muster enough pitching in 2020 to catch the top of the division.  

As mentioned above the Pirates do have some interesting young players. A complete tear down does not seem advisable at this point. The front office should start looking at a potential contention window opening during the 2021 or 2022 seasons. With that in mind there are a few moves the team should make between now and the July 31st trading deadline. 


1. Trade Starling Marte and Adam Frazier

Marte has just 2 years of club control remaining on his contract which means he is unlikely to be a part of the next contending Pirates team. In an off-season without a true star in center field and a number of contenders looking for help at the position this is the perfect time to be shopping for a center fielder coming off of a season in which he posted 119 wrc+ and was a 3 fWAR player. 

Frazier is not a free agent until after the 2022 season so they do not have to trade him, but they should. The reason to trade Frazier is simply that the team has a lot of young middle infielders on the roster and on the farm. Kevin Newman posted a 110 wRC+ and was a 2.4 fWAR player, earning himself a starting spot on the team going forward. The other middle infield options include fan favorite and defensive wizard, SS Cole Tucker, 2B/3B Kevin Kramer, who was above average offensively at every stop through the minors until he stalled out in 2019, and Utility man Eric Gonzalez. Frazier is coming off of an average offensive season (99wRC+) in which he improved his defense to become an above average defender at 2nd base, making him a Gold Glove finalist at the position, and leading him to produce a 2.2 fWAR despite his league average bat. 

Marte and Frazier should both be traded, but what should the Pirates be looking for? The two biggest needs within the organization are young controllable pitching, and the catcher of the future. 


2. Trade Keone Kela

Believe it or not the reliever market is weak this year. So the market for Kela could be substantial which could precipitate a return larger than you may expect for a good, not great reliever on an expiring deal. 


3. Taijuan Walker 

As indicated above, the Pirates pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired, so a boost is needed in a big way. Signing talented players coming off of down or injured seasons and allowing them to build value is a tactic used by rebuilding teams all the time.Walker is a 27 year old former highly touted prospect who posted a 3.46 ERA with a 3.93 FIP in 2017 with the Diamondbacks. He could be a valuable trade chip at the July trade deadline, or an extension candidate. 


4. Evaluate Remaining Rosterees

With a entirely new front office, and an entirely new pitching staff in tow, 2020 will be a crucial season for evaluating the current roster and figuring out who will be a part of the next contending team. Answering a few questions will be crucial. Can Polanco make it back from his injury to reach his potential? Can Cole Tucker handle Shortstop every day? Is Ke’Bryan Hayes the 3rd baseman of the future? 

All of these questions are likely to be answered by the end of the 2020 season 

2020 will be a big year for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team simply doesn’t have enough talent to compete, but the moves made in 2020 will set the tone for the entirety of the new regimes time in Pittsburgh as well as the new decade. Trading players such as Marte, Frazier, and Kela should bring in a talent infusion that can help a middling farm system become one that can help feed a winning team into the future.

References

All Stats From Fangraphs.com
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