Pitchers and catchers across MLB report for their designated camps in less than 30 days and the Pittsburgh Pirates still have plenty of work to get done.
When the offseason started, General Manager Ben Cherington indicated the team would be busy adding players and possibly even extending some of the team’s young stars. As we enter the middle of January, the Bucs have yet to take flight on their offseason “To-Do” list.
As of Jan. 15, the Pirates added two players from free agency (LHP Martin Perez and 1B/DH Rowdy Tellez), re-signed OF/DH Andrew McCutchen and acquired LHP Marco Gonzales from the Atlanta Braves and OF Edward Olivares from the Kansas City Royals.
While it’s a decent start, the Pirates need to keep building over the next few weeks. Here are three things they MUST do before reporting to Bradenton in February:
Sign one NOTABLE starting pitcher
The Pirates’ starting rotation is starting to fill out following the additions of Gonzales and Perez, but they still need another quality arm to give them five solid options.
Reports say the Pirates are in strong pursuit of Cuban RHP Yariel Rodriguez, who could be anywhere from a 3-5 starter if signed, but terms or dollar amounts have yet to be revealed. They add the team made a lucrative offer to Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga prior to his signing with the Chicago Cubs.
It’s good they’re fishing in the deep sea of pitchers, but the Pirates’ main problem is that they are metaphorically reeling in sunfish rather than the big trophy.
There are still plenty of players in the free agent pool, notably Jordan Montgomery, Michael Lorenzen and, fate willing, Blake Snell, so it’s not like the options are limited.
Just get something done, Ben, please.
Make a trade!
Several teams are listening to offers for some big name players, especially the Miami Marlins and Minnesota Twins, and they could be a big help for the Pirates.
For Miami, the big name they are listening to offers on is utility man and NL batting champ Luis Arraez. Sure, it will take a pretty penny to acquire him but see what the Marlins are asking for. Especially since the Pirates have plenty of prospects to trade.
Additionally, reports say the Marlins are listening to offers on several young pitchers, like Edward Cabrera, Jesus Luzardo and Trevor Rogers.
Meanwhile, there’s buzz that Minnesota outfielder Max Kepler and utility man Jorge Polanco are drawing interest. Both would serve a purpose on the Pirates and are more affordable than Arraez or other top trade chips across MLB.
For clarification, I’m not saying take the first offer you get if you’re the Pirates, but dip your toe in the water. Look for ways to bring in some better names while offloading the hoard of prospects. The only names that are “untouchable” are Paul Skenes and (maybe) Termarr Johnson.
Bring in a REAL first baseman
First base is going to be... interesting in 2024, to say the least.
One year ago, the Pirates were ready to roll with Carlos Santana and Ji Man Choi at first. A respectable duo.
Now, they only have one solid option (Rowdy Tellez) along with a few possibilities. Those being Connor Joe, Jared Triolo and Jake Lamb, who was signed to a Minor League deal a few days ago.
Simply put, that is unacceptable heading into a season where Cherington expects the team to be competitive.
A reunion with Santana wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially since he gave the Pirates some exciting moments in 2023.
Another possible option would be Donovan Solano, who had a .994 fielding percentage in less than 559 innings at first with the Twins last year along with a 1.2 WAR.
Other notable free agents include Rhys Hoskins, who will probably cost too much; C.J. Cron; and Trey Mancini. All would be a nice right-handed platoon mate for Tellez.
This list of offseason tasks for the Pirates spans more than three, but these are the most crucial items they need to cross off before heading “dahn sahth” next month.