We’re weeks removed from PiratesFest, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have yet to make a signature move.
A day full of interviews, autographs, and fan interactions, the first fan fest since 2020 commenced at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Jan. 6. PiratesFest drew mixed reviews with some people, especially season ticket holders, enjoying autograph sessions and meet-and-greets, while others were surprised to see a Heath Hembree signed baseball in their mystery bag.
GM Ben Cherington discussed how he didn’t feel the offseason was halfway done despite the calendar flipping to 2024. Two weeks later, what else has been accomplished?
International pitcher Yariel Rodriguez signed with Toronto on a four-year deal. The trade market has gone quiet. What comes next?
Frustration from the fan base is obvious and exerted during an honest and candid Q-and-A session. We’re less than a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Bradenton and the Bucs have questions in the starting rotation, right field and who will be the starting second baseman.
Owner Bob Nutting told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the Pirates’ international signing day Cherington has the flexibility to add and improve the roster.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” Nutting told Jason Mackey of the PG.
Nutting expects the Pirates to be in contention for a playoff spot and be competitive the entire season. That would be the equivalent of the Cincinnati Reds last year. Is that good enough? A team that folded down the stretch and was buried by the Pirates thanks to a 9-0 comeback? Making the playoffs should be the expectation. Starting pitchers on the trade market like potentially Miami’s Edward Cabrera or Seattle’s Logan Gilbert would be a significant commitment of resources, maybe too strong of prospect capital. The Pirates don’t want to dance with the devil like the Chris Archer trade in 2018.
Extension talks with Mitch Keller and possibly David Bednar could hit the rumor mill in mid-February. Oniel Cruz should be considered too, especially if he completes a 30-30 season and the price skyrockets. The Pirates typically ramp up extension discussions in Spring Training.
The Pirates feel like that meme being poked with a stick to do something. They have a fundamental core that can grow together and ideally make the playoffs, but they need another No. 2 starter and not rely on just Mitch Keller plus Paul Skenes in June to carry them.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Pirates’ offseason has been mid (average). Actions speak louder than words. Some of it probably has to do with a lack of realistic and ideal deals. There also needs to be a sense of aggressive and going for the playoffs by committing financial resources.
There is still time to make a few significant, impactful acquisitions, but the clock is ticking.