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Three crucial free agent signings Pirates need to make this offseason

It’s imperative the Pirates take advantage of the free agent market in the offseason.

Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

Writer’s note: it’s complicated predicting trades, especially in baseball, so we are only taking a look at potential free agent signings.

Should Ben Cherington keep his word and make an attempt at contending next season, there’s no question he will need to bring a few new faces to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the impending offseason.

The Pirates’ GM has said numerous times that the team plans on exploring the trade market and free agency in hopes of bolstering the roster enough to contend for a playoff spot:

The problem is that fans aren’t entirely convinced that the Pirates plan to open the purse strings on quality MLB talent, and they are certainly justified to feel that way. But there are some names set to hit the market that could be affordable, yet productive.

LHP Jordan Montgomery

A multitude of Pirates fans have clamored for the team to sign Jordan Montgomery this offseason and it makes plenty of sense.

The 30-year-old southpaw is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and has posted three consecutive quality seasons with three different teams. This year. he’s spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers and, despite a 9-11 record, he’s commanded a respectable 3.38 ERA and 3.57 FIP.

While he’s not an ace for any rotation, he ranks in the 84th percentile in walk rate (6.1) which is something the Pirates could use help in. Additionally, he’s posted a respectable chase rate of 29.8 percent.

Again, he’s not meant to be an ace, but he’s an established left-handed starter that can eat innings and could help a contender at the back-end of the rotation.

1B Brandon Belt

Before you say anything, I want to preface this by saying I firmly believe the Phillies will re-sign Rhys Hoskins early in the offseason, taking him off the market.

For a 35-year-old, Belt is putting up decent numbers despite a cold start to the season. As of Sept. 26, he’s slashing .251/.369/.470 with 16 home runs and 30 RBI. Teams could be afraid to take a chance on Belt seeing that he struck out 134 times this season, the third-highest mark in his career.

On the flip side, he’s in the 97th and 98th percentile in chase and walk rates, respectively, which could bode well for Andy Haines’ strategy of getting on base and watching pitches.

Another glaring reason why he fits is that he’s afforadble. He’s currently on a one-year, $9.3 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays and, unless he has a sharp resurgence, his price tag will go down over the next few months.

What would be nice is if Carlos Santana joins him in a platoon and both help lead the young Bucs both on and off the field.

RHP Luis Severino

The New York Yankees are in a bit of an identity crisis after they were eliminated from the postseason a few days ago, and they could be in the market to move on from some players on the current roster. Especially one that didn’t live up to expectations.

Luis Severino signed a four-year, $40 million extension in 2019, a move that made sense at the time, according to Pinstripe Alley, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype since he put ink to paper.

As of Sept. 26, he’s 4-8 with a 6.65 ERA in 19 games with a 6.15 FIP and an xERA of 5.94. His season was also cut short due to an oblique injury.

The odd thing is that he has high velocity and has a decent chase rate (29.2), walk rate (8.2), and ground ball rate (43.3), which could benefit a team like the Pirates who rely on working around the zone to generate whiffs and ground ball outs.

All things considered, Severino could benefit from a change of scenery in Pittsburgh. A weaker division that could boost his confidence, a hometown crowd that gets behind the team when they do well, and a chance to really be a headliner in a rebuilding rotation.

And, for some reason, he seems like a better Ivan Nova.