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Pirates moves signal changing of the guard

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Stallings, Kuhl, Moran, Brault gone, young players handed keys.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets - Game One
Hayes and Reynolds will be depended on the most in 2022
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the offseason after another tough year struggling to find successful pieces to build on.

Finishing as the fourth-worst team in baseball, the Bucs will once again pick in the top five of the MLB draft after selecting Henry Davis No. 1 overall in July.

Baseball now finds themselves in a league-wide lockout for the ninth ever work stoppage in the game’s history, halting any moves from being made before a near agreement is reached.

Pittsburgh made a flurry of roster moves before the lights were turned off on the league, including trading Jacob Stallings to Miami for three players, signing left-handed starting pitcher Jose Quintana and catcher Roberto Perez, and cutting ties with other veteran players. Yoshi Tsutsugo was also re-signed to a one-year $4 million contract.

Chad Kuhl, Colin Moran, and Steven Brault were all designated for assignment, failing to receive enough interest in the trade market for the Pirates to get something in return, and the decision to move all four of Stallings, Kuhl, Moran, and Brault comes as a surprise considering the spot the organization is currently in.

There is no catching depth in the organization other than Davis and Endy Rodriguez, who are both still in A-ball. The return for Stallings is also viewed as average, especially for a Gold Glove winner with three years of control left despite turning 32 in a few weeks.

The same goes for the starting rotation, where Brault and potentially Kuhl, if not in the bullpen, could have ate significant innings for this young team if healthy.

Similarly with Moran, the team dropped players who were viewed fondly by fans due to their longevity with the organization compared to other players.

What this signals is the official passing of the guard. Not from the 2013-2015 Pirates, but the 2016-2020 squads who only registered one winning season in 2018 (82-79). If there was any previous doubt, Bryan Reynolds and KeBryan Hayes have been handed the keys to the new car and wished good luck to bring it home and not crash it.

The moves signified the end of an era of mostly poor performances to turning the page with upcoming prospects and trade acquisitions. The transactions angered and frustrated some, but those players realistically were not going to be a part of the next Pirates contender in the first place. Cherington and Derek Shelton are signaling their commitment to “playing the kids” and letting the prospects prove themselves starting in 2022.

Pittsburgh can’t make any more moves during the current lockout, but complementary players on one-year contracts may be all that the team is yet to add. This means it’s all on the young players Cherington has acquired and is developing now, and if they fail in the next few years, the franchise will continue to spiral for answers.