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Pittsburgh Pirates offseason Q&A: Part one

Thanks for all the submissions!

Miami Marlins v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Hey there! In an effort to shake things up a little, I decided to do a little Pittsburgh Pirates Q&A. Boy, did you guys show up for it. Let’s get right into it!

Rest assured, if your question wasn’t answered here, I’m going to be doing a part two in a few days because of the sheer number of questions I received.

“Do you think there’s a path to the playoffs next year?” - @Veno202 on Twitter/X

Yes, absolutely. There is a path to the playoffs. They improved by 14 games over last year's win total by virtue of simply not intentionally trying to lose games at the front office level. That doesn’t mean they tried that hard to win them in 2023 though. There wasn’t any real urgency to win anything, the kind of urgency they’re going to need to make the push to the next level of competition.

They need to add externally, something they haven’t done earnestly in a while. If they don’t and we see more filler, they’ll need to be totally carried by vast improvement from the younger players. That’s a big ask, it’s time to add.

“What is the single biggest move or combination of moves the team can make to get above .500 next season?” - Bubby Lewis on Facebook

I could easily cop out here and say adding starting pitching and be totally correct, but just to take this in a different direction, from here on out they need to make moves to ensure they’re putting their players in the best position to succeed that they possibly can.

That goes beyond player acquisitions. Roles in the lineup for most players on the team were never consistent, way too much was asked of Henry Davis, allowing Andrew McCutchen to rush back from injury in July, they had to take Roansy Contreras to an outside facility in Seattle this season because they wanted him to use a piece of equipment the team didn’t own etc.

Lots of stuff on a lot of different fronts to address. Spending time to iron out all of those kinks this offseason will make them a better team.

“Off-season acquisition wish list?” - 11thHourRanger on Discord

Well, obviously I think it would be cool if Aaron Nola, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Rhys Hoskins were all Pirates in 2024. I also think it would be cool if I lived in a $10 million penthouse and retired at 30 with a six-figure pension.

Snark aside, they need to get at least two starting pitchers and a first baseman. So here’s what I’d be very happy with.

They should have their eyes set on landing one of the more sought-after left-handed starters. Jordan Montgomery might be out of their price range, but this is a deep starting pitching market. I would really like to see them make a serious run at Eduardo Rodriguez. If they get a pitcher of that class, then I become much more comfortable with then acquiring a Kyle Gibson or Martin Perez type to eat innings or a reclamation project like Luis Severino.

For first base, I’d like to see them leverage their prospect depth and explore some trade options. The free agent market there is thin. If the Oakland Athletics are willing to discuss Ryan Noda, who had an OBP of .364 in 2023, I’d seriously consider it. He could be in his early 30s by the time the A’s are positioned to do anything. For a team that far away, nobody like Noda should be fully off the table.

“What potential big leaguers will play at Altoona next season?” - Joe71148

I can’t speak in such a short format about who I think will and won’t translate to MLB players, but it should be a very talented Altoona Curve team to start next season. The starting rotation to open the year for the Curve could include Paul Skenes, Anthony Solometo, Bubba Chandler and Braxton Ashcraft. With Thomas Harrington and Po-Yu-Chen hopefully arriving sometime this year. That’s pretty darn good.

All of them in the team’s own top 30 and the first three I mentioned are ranked within the top 100 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. That rotation could rival the talent level of any AA affiliate in the sport.

Tsung-Che Cheng and Abrahan Gutierrez will be there, Dariel Lopez was exciting in 2022 at Greensboro before missing the 2023 season due to injury, Jack Brannigan will hopefully make his was way there at some point this season and of course there’s Termarr Johnson. I’d love to see them get aggressive with Johnson’s progression through the system and start him at AA.

There’s going to be a lot of names to watch coming to Altoona in 2024.

“As much work as there is left to do with him, would you seriously consider tossing an extension at Jack Suwinski?” - Gary Morgan (@garymo2007 on twitter/X)

Boy, this is an interesting one. You could easily argue in favor of either side here. Like seemingly everything else about Suwinski, it’s polarizing.

We saw a lot of different versions of Suwinski in 2023, from the absurdly streaky three true outcome version we saw early on, then the version that got totally exposed in August, to the more well-rounded hitter we saw in September, where 17 of his 51 singles came and he struck out notably less. If you’re drafting up an extension now, what version of him are you basing the dollar amount on? Not even sure where to start on that front.

I don’t think his future is up the middle, CF is more of a short-term thing. He’s been better than advertised out there, but he wasn’t exactly praised for his glove work as a prospect. The mediocre arm could eventually force him to 1B or DH if he loses range as he ages.

There’s a ton of potential to get burned here no matter what you do. However, I think you need the floor to flesh out a little more before you make that kind of investment into a player who is such an unknown offensively in a corner outfield spot.

This was an interesting question because it made me ask myself why I fully support extending Oneil Cruz but have so many trepidations regarding Suwinski. Not only is the ceiling probably higher with Cruz, but I have more faith in his tools to keep him up the middle positionally, enhancing his value.

If he’ll take something cheap and heavily front loaded, like anybody else, I think you have to at least consider. Presently, I lean no on a Jack Suwinski extension.

“Will the Pirates bring back Cutch?” - OrangeHQ

Yes. 1000000 percent yes. There won't be much, if any drama and you can expect this to be made official not long after free agency starts. It’s also the right move.

There are some considerations to be made with his injury, playing time, how he fits on the roster and how (and when) to handle his eventual retirement, but those are all discussions being had with the understanding that he will be on the team in 2024. I wrote about those considerations at length, which you can click here to read.

Alright, that’ll do it for part one, thanks for all the submissions!