MLBTR released their 2014 top 50 free agents, complete with predictions on where each player will go. The rankings are the key thing here, showing how MLBTR stacks all of the players up against each other. The predictions are just fun, and don’t have a good track record for the Pirates. For example, last year the predictions had the Pirates signing Jeremy Guthrie, with Jason Grilli going to Milwaukee, Francisco Liriano going to Boston, and Russell Martin going to the Yankees. They did have the Pirates as a team in the market for a catcher.
This year the predictions seem like they could be accurate. The two players projected to go to the Pirates are A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd. Burnett was ranked as the ninth best free agent, and it’s not hard to see how he could return to the Pirates, since he has said he would play for them or retire. Byrd was ranked as the 24th best free agent, and MLBTR says a two-year, $15 M deal seems possible. That’s exactly what I thought Byrd’s market could be, working off the Ryan Ludwick deal two years ago.
Even more interesting than those two predictions are the amount of mentions the Pirates received. MLBTR had them as possibilities for the following players (with rankings):
12. Carlos Beltran
14. Stephen Drew
17. Nelson Cruz
21. Jhonny Peralta
30. Josh Johnson
31. Tim Hudson
If they went for a shortstop, I’d prefer Peralta over Drew, since Drew has some inconsistencies that have been heavily due to injuries. Beltran and Cruz would obviously be if they didn’t get Marlon Byrd. I could only see them going after Johnson or Hudson if Burnett retired. However, if Burnett came back, and they signed one of those two pitchers, that would open the doors for a trade from the rotation, and you might already know who I’ve suggested dealing and replacing with Josh Johnson.
It’s only a list of teams that could be interested, but I can’t remember the last time the Pirates were talked about this much in free agency. I guess that’s what happens when you make the playoffs, and have very few needs going into the following season.