The Pittsburgh Pirates are seemingly entering rebuild mode; the signing of Luke Maile is a potential sign from general manager Ben Cherington that the team is not looking to be competitive in the 2020 regular season. While Maile’s defensive statistics are strong and pair nicely with defense-first Bucco Jacob Stallings, both players’ offensive talents leave much to be desired. But as the Pirates look to replenish the catching position and revamp talent in their farm system overall, I would not expect them to sign any flashy major-league talent for the upcoming season.
That being said, there is a likelihood that a trade of center-fielder Starling Marte or second baseman Adam Frazier could bring major-league ready and controllable talent to the roster that would allow the team to be competitive beyond 2020. Below are some interesting names that the Pirates could look to add in free agency or by way of trade (some have been rumored, others in my opinion are just good fits).
Many seem to be up in arms when it was rumored that Nimmo could be the centerpiece of a Marte trade to the New York Mets, but the corner outfielder has been labeled as a future “X-factor” for the Mets outfield in 2020 and beyond. Disregarding Nimmo’s injury-laden 2019 campaign, he has the potential to consistently put up 3.0 WAR or more in offense per season. As an arbitration-eligible player who does not hit free agency until 2022, he’s a good longer-term fit for a rebuilding Pirates’ squad.
Non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this fall, Shaw would be a great free-agent candidate to replace third baseman Colin Moran as the every day hot corner player until prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes is ready to take over in the majors. Shaw is a good bet to bounce back from an underwhelming 2019 offensive campaign; his 3.0+ WAR seasons in 2017 and 2018 warrant the Pirates’ consideration. He can also fill in at first base for Josh Bell during rest days, making him a versatile addition with offensive-upside.
Posting a healthy 1.6 WAR in 2019, Teheran would fit into the Pirates’ plans beyond the 2020 season. Having not thrown more than 200 innings than 2015, Teheran’s option for 2020 with the Atlanta Braves was declined. A change of scenery could bode well for the 29 year-old as he enters the prime of his career and he should be available at a reasonable price if his $12 million option with the Braves is any indication.