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Pirates’ Free Agent Possibilities

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New York Mets v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Earlier in the week, the Mets designated relief pitcher Brad Brach for assignment. Should the Pirates take a flier on the 34-year-old righty?

Over the course of the offseason, the Pirates haven’t made a ton of noise about needing a middle reliever type — much of their pitching focus has been fixated on the starting rotation. But veteran relievers can always be a potentially lucrative commodity.

Over the last two seasons, Brach hasn’t lived up to his name. Over 14 appearances in 2020, he maintained a 6.68 FIP and 138 ERA-. In write-ups for a multitude of players, many writers have been willing to overlook a slip-up in performance during the “COVID year.” But dating back to 2019, Brach’s skill seemed to be waning. To wit: a 127 ERA- and 4.68 xFIP in 2019.

But while he was with the Orioles, Brach was a strong force out of the bullpen, claiming a FIP under 4.00 every year (and under 3.00 in 2016), as well as an ERA- under 100 each of those years.

What the Pirates need is “flippable” players. That terminology probably doesn’t need explanation, but I will anyway: The Pirates need cheap players who might be able to turn a decent return by the time the trade deadline rolls around.

Brach might not pan out to be much of a commodity in 2021, but it’ll likely be the case that the Pirates won’t lose much by simply giving him a chance. Being in his mid-30s and after being DFA’d after two seasons in which he struggled, Pittsburgh might even be able to bring Brach in on a minor league deal. If that’s the case, then I say throw a contract the veteran’s way and see what happens. At worst, the organization is out a small amount of money (and some time); at best, a young player might be headed to Pittsburgh in July.

The front office has been spending time shoring up a roster that’s likely to lose around 100 games this season, so it might as well take its chances on a player with some amount of upside.