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:
Pirates GM Ben Cherington on his radio show on 93.7 The Fan:— Danny Demilio (@Demilio22) September 17, 2023
Says team is open and prepared to be active in the trade market and in free agency this offseason. Reiterates a lot of what they feel they're capable of doing will be driven by players already here getting better.
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.
Jordan Montgomery, Nasty Curveballs. pic.twitter.com/gjt6SmouMG— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 23, 2023
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.
Brandon Belt would like us to tell you he's the MVP.— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) August 23, 2023
This tweet may or may not have been written by Brandon Belt. pic.twitter.com/qITj9Y2WI2
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.
Luis Severino's 4Ks thru 2. pic.twitter.com/LQ0J6cU5Tp— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 8, 2023
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.