Hi, It's Me, Shadow Pirates GM

Ahoy, Pirates Faithful!

Every year, Max Rieper at the Royals Review runs an offseason simulation, where 30 armchair GMs throw unserious money at top-tier free agents and trade half of our rosters.

Max does a tremendous job with it all, and you can find his offseason recap for the entire simulation here.

This year--and most years--I GM the Pirates. So for those of you who care about such things, I thought I would give you a quick rundown of how I spent November 5th and 6th.

Overarching Strategy

Every year I GM the Pirates, fellow GMs ask if I want to sell off my major league talent. This year, my answer was a resounding "No". With much farm talent having graduated recently, the time is now for the Pirates to start adding talent. If Oneil Cruz and Henry Davis hit, then a window opens. If not, the Pirates are in trouble anyway.

I won't be coy: my objective was to add talent. Preferably pitching talent, or hitting talent. Both are good.

Ultimately, I was looking ahead to 2025 and envisioning a lineup something like this:

  1. Termarr Johnson
  2. Oneil Cruz
  3. Ke'Bryan Hayes
  4. Henry Davis
  5. Jack Suwinski
  6. Bryan Reynolds
  7. Endy Rodriguez
  8. ?
  9. ?
If a few things go right, that will be a potent lineup to pair with starting pitchers Mitch Keller and Paul Skenes. Arizona just showed us that if you have a lineup that gets hot, and a couple starting pitchers, you can make a run.

So I resolved to make a run at Aaron Nola.

Here's how that went.

  • Decline Jarlin Garcia's Option, Non-tender Miguel Andujar
This was my attempt to clear a few million dollars to make an honest run at Aaron Nola.

  • Sign Andrew McCutchen to 1 Year, $4M
But I spent it immediately on Andrew McCutchen. I'll keep bringing him back as long as he wants to be here. Hopefully he's here long enough to get back to the playoffs.

  • Sign Brandon Woodruff to 3 Years, $40M
I didn't get Aaron Nola. I was in the bidding until the very end, but ultimately Nola signed with the Red Sox because of their demonstrated ability to field and pay for a winning ballclub. I couldn't pull the trigger on 7 years, $210M without more evidence from the Pirates young offense.

Instead, I pivoted to Brandon Woodruff, whom the Brewers non-tendered for some reason. The play being, Woodruff gets paid to get healthy, then has two years committed to Pittsburgh. If 2025 is the first year of the window, Woodruff will be full-strength by then.

  • Sign Tyler Mahle to 3 years, $30M
Copy/paste for Mahle. I'm doubling down on the 2025 timeline.

  • Sign James Paxton to 2 years, $20M
  • Sign Michael Lorenzen to 1 year, $7M, with a $10M club option
  • Sign Alex Wood to 1 year, $2M
Here's the bugaboo with signing Brandon Woodruff and Tyler Mahle: the Pirates need innings for 2024. James Paxton will be overlooked this offseason, but he is a big lefty who was in the 71st percentile for fastball velocity, 79th percentile in extension (which increases perceived velocity), 62nd percentile in Whiff%, and 64th percentile in xERA. When he's healthy, he's rock-solid. I'm thrilled here.

Michael Lorenzen doesn't have the Baseball Savant page that Paxton does. But he throws hard, he's incredibly athletic, and he gets hitters to chase (67th percentile in chase rate). The last two years have been his first as a starting pitcher since his rookie season in 2015--with his kitchen sink arsenal, he could figure something out.

Alex Wood, I signed to go to the bullpen. This is a Madden-style move, but I think it works.

  • Sign Michael Conforto to 1 year, $6.5M
  • Trade Johan Oviedo to the Twins for Alex Kirilloff
  • Trade Jared Triolo to the Athletics for Max Muncy
Conforto was technically my last move in the sim. Honestly, at this price, how could I not do this? The bet is that Michael Conforto, with another year removed from injury, regains some of his explosiveness back and does so hitting 5th for the Pirates. I'm thrilled.

I am a sucker for Alex Kirilloff. Whether he can stay healthy, or hit left-handers, is yet to be seen. But I love his bat. So I traded for him.

Lastly, the Athletics GM approached me about Jared Triolo, so I went as high on the prospect board as he would let me go. If Oneil Cruz moves to right field eventually, Max Muncy could be a ready-made shortstop replacement.

  • Sign Jake Bauers, Luke Weaver, Dinelson Lamet, and Justin Dunn to Minor League Deals
My strategy for the bullpen was to take failed starters and throw them into relief. I'm most excited about Luke Weaver here.

And Jake Bauers is redundant to Alex Kirilloff, but I liked his Statcast metrics in a part-time role.

2024 Optimistic Opening Day Roster
C: Endy Rodriguez
1B: Henry Davis (in the 1B slot as a placeholder--he should be playing catcher often)
2B: Liover Peguero
3B: Ke'Bryan Hayes
SS: Oneil Cruz
LF: Bryan Reynolds
CF: Jack Suwinski
RF: Michael Conforto
DH: Andrew McCutchen

C: Jason Delay
1B: Alex Kirilloff
1B/OF: Connor Joe
IF: Ji-Hwan Bae
OF: Joshua Palacios

SP: Mitch Keller
SP: James Paxton
SP: Michael Lorenzen
SP: Bailey Falter
SP: Roansy Contreras

(Brandon Woodruff and Tyler Mahle on IL)

CL: David Bednar
RP: Alex Wood
RP: Luis Ortiz
RP: Luke Weaver
RP: Colin Holderman
RP: Carmen Mlodzinski
RP: Ryan Borucki

I don't know; I'm pretty happy. I probably over-spent to get Alex Kirilloff. And the payroll is a little high. But in the words of Andy Bernard, "that's Dallas."

Ultimately it matters not what I can do for the Pirates. But what the Pirates talent development can do for me.

See y'all next year.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editors or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.