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The Pittsburgh Pirates May Have Already Been Lapped

Things change awfully quickly during the Hot Stove

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With the Washington Nationals signing Patrick Corbin, the 2019 NL East has a great chance to resemble the 2015 NL Central. This is bad news for the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Nationals surprised everyone yesterday and landed the big fish on the free agent pitching market in Patrick Corbin. It was the latest move in the arms race going on in the National League East division.

The Atlanta Braves got the party started with the surprise signing of Josh Donaldson. The Phillies went out and got Jean Segura, and remain a favorite to land either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The Mets took advantage of Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s insecurity, raiding his pantry for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

And the Winter Meetings have not even started yet.

The offseason is far from over, but as things stand right now it is hard not to think that the Pirates will find themselves behind the eight ball — at least from a talent perspective — compared to those teams that will likely be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

I haven’t even mentioned the Cubs and Brewers, who are likely not done addressing their needs. Milwaukee, in particular, is looking to aggressively fill their biggest need in starting pitching.

All of it adds up to a talent gap right smack in between the Pirates and every single other NL playoff hopeful.

Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis. The Pittsburgh Pirates had a combined 29-28 record against those clubs. It took a 12-7 record against the Brewers on the back of a five-game sweep to get there.

Ok, the division always plays tough. That’s fine, even expected. But Pittsburgh also went 8-19 against the NL East clubs mentioned above. Before the flurry of the last few days.

Yes, this is all on paper. Some or all of these big-name acquisitions might not work out. Pittsburgh's in-house talent could take a step forward in key areas. Injuries are always a thing. Most importantly, the games still need to actually be played.

But, as things stand at this very moment, it is difficult not to acknowledge that the Pittsburgh Pirates’ path to the 2019 postseason became much more difficult over the past week alone.