Williams: The Pirates Need to Get Aggressive in Free Agency

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been in rebuild mode for seven seasons.

It hasn't been called that once.

Neal Huntington was trying to contend until the very end in Pittsburgh. Ben Cherington took over as the General Manager prior to 2020, and insisted on a "build."

You could make an argument that the Pirates didn't have a sustainable approach when they made the playoffs under Huntington. You could also make an argument that they didn't really have a good approach at all to making the playoffs.

What I've seen from this "build" is Cherington building something more sustainable for when the Pirates are contending again. He also has the challenge of actually getting them back to being contenders. That will simply involve bringing in better players.

There are three main avenues a sm...



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You forgot to mention signing impact international players. Lets be serious here, if you add the signing of international players you have outlined the Pirates total failures over the past century! They will not spend. They will continue to lose and hope the next drafted player or international signing or trade acquisition will help them win. They will continue to do the same things over and over and hope for a better/different result. Yes, that is the definition of insanity.


Sorry, this team is not close to contending. Nothing will not open his wallet until until the roster is 2-3 players from contention – if then. This season has taken its toll on me. Tired of watching AAAA players and washed-up vets at Major League prices. Invest in the damn product on the field in Pittsburgh or sell the team.


FYI Tim, the Orioles own appx 80% of their regional sports network.


I’ve thrown a few names before, here are a few more ideas.

I’d sign Kevin Kiermaier to a 2 year deal to help us figure out our outfield. He is a good defensive outfielder who even in the 2nd year of that deal would be a great 4th OF in the event one of our average to above average OF prospects holds and fills an immediate need if they don’t. I don’t see him being a starter on playoff contender so think he would look for playing time. With his injury think he takes the 2 year deal. 2 year$ 15m total.

And I’ll leave with this. Jameson Taillon is exactly the signing we need. He is loved here, we understood getting some good pieces when the trade occurred but he has memories here. He has been solid but is currently what, Yankees 4th or 5th starter. When looking at free agent pitchers, I’d argue the following get more money or higher priority for teams

deGrom, Rondon, Syndergaard, verlander, maybe chris bassit but age is a factor, probably much higher AAV, kershaw with dodgers, nathan eovaldi. I’d put him in the same bucket as sean manea, mike clevinger

I think he looks a lot like what Jon Gray or Steven Matz got last year (with Matz at 4/44M)



This got me on a side note. Look at that 2016 Indy team and I’ll put their 2022 stats

  • Jamo – 11-3 3.95 ERA on 127IP WAR 1.6
  • Trevor Williams- 2-5, 3.02 ERA on 65IP (8 starts) WAR 0.4
  • Chad Kuhl – has fallen off after the AS break, but 6-7 5.16 ERA on 103 IP( had 4.11 ERA in 1st Half vs 13.91 ERA in 2nd half) WAR 0.5
  • Steven Brault – 5 IP on 0.00 ERA and unscored on all the 12.2 IP including minors this year
  • Tyler Glasnow* 2021 stats – 5-2 2.66 ERA on 88 IP


  • Josh Bell 1.8 WAR
  • Adam Frazier 1.4 WAR
  • Austin Meadows (-0.3 WAR with wRC+ 100)
  • Jacob Stallings

Not saying it was the new york yankees, but that really seems like a lot of major leaguers all on the same team at the same time.


i cant even get wound up anymore. They arent gonna spend. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.


Goddamn it they beat Jay down!


Appreciate the perspective, Tim. I agree the Bucs should throw their hat in the free agent ring, but am always nervous about a front office in a hurry to do anything. I hope and expect that BC will take a longer term view on FA acquisitions, and avoid the albatross contracts (at least until there’s a winning core established, which could theoretically offset a bad contract).

Even without a major spending spree, this off-season / next season can still be a big paradigm shift in terms of what they shop for – I.e., plugging holes in the lineup with reasonable FA’s, trading some 40/45 prospects for a legit major leaguer – so it should open up some talent acquisition avenues for BC that will be new.

Regarding SP, like all of you I’d love to get 1-2 mid or better SPs without committing $100M+ to a walking injury risk, but it seems to me that a few Quintana / Tyler Anderson types is a pretty effective way to do business. Many ways to skin a cat and have to come at SP in particular with a multitude of strategies. Wouldn’t be disappointed in the least to see 2-3 of those deals this off-season to complement Roansy, Keller, Brubaker, and the prospects.


Pirates Prospects is the like the carrot leading the jackass. Year after year the Pirates draft players and we dream on when those players will become solid pros and make this a winning franchise, but those players are always a step or two away, but never fear because there is the next draft and new players to dream on.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame Tim and PP because he benefits from this endless path after all we are the jackass’ who chase that carrot.


Speaking of jackasses NBC’s Today Show is featuring the clip of Castro and his cell phone/suspension this morning. Providing a light moment and chuckle for the viewers with their coffee. A once proud franchise now officially a national joke.


Unfortunately, the Pirates have ALWAYS been a national joke.
They even made a movie about it in the 1950’s called “Angels in the Outfield”. Even then the Pirates were so bad that Heaven would have to intercede to make them win.


The Pirates were not a joke from 2013-2015, in fact PNC Park absolutely rocked. If Hurdle hadn’t pulled his regulars from the starting lineup after his team had clinched several series the 2016 team wins 100+ and makes it to the World Series.


We’ve also had periods when we were a model organization and, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, can be again. But this three year stretch is most like the stretch the in ’50s when we earned the spot in Angels in the Outfield, at least in terms of winning percentages. Even the twenty years of losing didn’t have three consecutive years as bad as these three–you need to go back to the ’50s. But maybe a 1960 is just around the corner.


God could make the Pirates win if only he had the money that the Yanks and Dodgers have.


Every team does stupid stuff and gets ridiculed when they do. You just notice it more because it’s the team you follow.


Remember when Coonelly admitted that the organization was slashing payroll to the minimum and banking millions to spent later on long term contracts and free agents? Wasn’t that 5 years ago…….?

So let’s see Bob must have 150M plus interest ready to spend on Reynolds, a catcher, 1st baseman, DH, and pitching. Ah but Coonelly is gone so we have deniability. We will never know how much of the profits have been distributed to the Nutting group instead of banked for future spending on a winning organization. Nutting surrounds himself with yes men who have no issue with getting in front of the media and the fan base and issuing deceptions. It’s a Harvard, Amherst thing…..anything is fair in pursuit of maximizing profits for the control group.


I can remember you writing it also on many occasions


Tim….we will have to disagree on this one. Coonelly said it and it was reported. Nutting obviously didn’t commit to it. This is my point….Nutting’s well paid front men don’t talk straight to the community or the fan base.


The organization since the Nutting family got control of the franchise has engaged in blatent sophistry. The increase in attendance condition is just one example as it ignored the massive increase in revenue sharing proceeds that came to the Pirates.


You do know why/how BN got control of the Pirates right??


Absolutely do. We represented some of the minority owners. My disgust with the business practices started with the Chris Benson non-trade and Aramis Ramirez giveaway which did not have to happen. Senior forced it.


Dennis Eckersley on the Pirates (roster construction, payroll, etc):

“You talk about a no-name lineup. There’s no team like this.”

“This is a hodgepodge of nothingness.”

“It’s ridiculous. It really is. Pathetic.”

I applaud Eckersley for stating the obvious…if more writers, broadcasters, and especially Pirates fans would do the same maybe pressure can be brought on Nutting to sell….the state of this franchise is an embarrassment to me personally and to professional sports in general. Stop supporting this charade and demand change….the fact that the likes of VanMeter, Allen, Wilson, etc are still on the roster and playing is a disgrace…BC is totally incompetent or has his hands completely tied…it is one or the other.

Last edited 1 month ago by redwards60

Yeah like the Pirates are the only team in baseball that fields a bunch of young guys mixed with some journeyman veterans. Right. I mean it’s called a rebuild. Sorry the Red Sox don’t have to go through it that much (and when they do, it doesn’t need to talk as long), but well other teams do.


You are defending the indefensible.

Last edited 1 month ago by piratemike

It’s like the Red Sox guy has never seen a ground up rebuild before. Oh wait, he probably hasn’t.


Article title may be the understatement of the century….it should read, however, “Pirates just need to get involved in free agency”….

you know, actually sign real free agents and not just 1 year reclamation projects that have less than a 10% success rate.

It is an insult to the Orioles and Mike Elias to compare the Pirates and BC to them…they are light years ahead of the Pirates in management competence and player development….the Orioles are way ahead of schedule win/loss record wise, but they will be very good in the next couple of years. They are better managed and they have done a much better job drafting and developing players….not even close.


Oh my goodness, I needed a good laugh this morning…thanks Tim!


I see them doing nothing this off season besides the typical dumpster diving. The excuse will be the same as the past 2 seasons. BC needs to “evaluate” the roster. Unfortunately most of the young guys really haven’t shown much at the mlb level this year. Are they showing their true ability or do they just need more time. That’s why I think they will not make any moves. Clearly a catcher, DH and 1b could be added without blocking anyone along with another starting pitcher and bullpen, but will they?


The Pirates are currently hamstrung by the “strength” of their own system, which is an enormous glut of Grade 40/45 prospects matriculating into the upper levels.

None of these dudes have unfortunately really done anything to separate themselves from one another, which leaves them with a decision of whether or to cut bait and acquire actual big leaguers to fill roles or continue with this arbitrary process of using the big club as a farm team in desperate hope of someone, maybe even a couple players, actually proving themselves to be average or better big leaguers.

I think they can and should make an effort to be Not Shitty in 2023, and they’ll absolutely need to acquire some good free agents to do that.

Actually making it to competitive status, though, is simply too far away right now to be as aggressive as they’d need to be in free agency to get there.

They simply have to get more above average ballplayers than the ones Huntington left them out of the farm system they’ve built. No chance of using free agency for anything other than .500 baseball otherwise. And that’s gonna take more time, at least two more years.

This is the risk of rebuilding and not retooling an already-talented roster. Now we gotta live with it.

Would be cool to see them be opportunistic about 2-3 years contracts for a couple mid-range free agents this winter.


The “Run for 81” and “Strive for 85” plans under Huntington have given way to “Less Shit-tee in ’23.”

God, could the expectations be any lower?


And I’m sorry to be a dick but is there a bigger disappointment in this franchise than Travis Williams?

What in the hell does this guy do all day?

God forbid they follow the Orioles in actually attempting to develop literally the slightest bit of f*cking excitement from the 12 fans they haven’t already actively shed from a once-proud franchise.

DK practically jerked him off when he blessed Pittsburgh with leaving the NHL for a gig as Bob’s lackey, but even a cynical asshole like me wonders what the hell this guy brings to the table.


Tim- i sent you an email. I can’t pull up premium content like this article, says in my account i have no subscription. My recurring payment of 34.99 left my bank account on 2/28/22. This has happened before..not sure what is going on,


The reason they hired Williams in the first place is evidence that if they win under this regime, it will be a happy accident than by design.

The President/GM set up in many other organizations is basically a two-headed monster; both people have backgrounds in baseball. Chicago, St. Louis, several others operate this way. Basically they’ve added an institutional layer to keep big baseball brains. The Buccos, morons that they are, continue to use that President role as chief bean counter.


The teams social media accounts being run by another department ain’t really moving the needle. The point is that they’ve got a higher up in a president role who doesn’t offer anything on the baseball side and other successful organizations do. Don’t you think it’s a good thing that Carter Hawkins has Jed Hoyer to work with? And Brandon Gomes has Andrew Friedman? Also why wait on the Bucs being competitive before BC becomes President? That won’t happen till 2030 anyway at this rate.

Also Kiley announced his new top 50 post draft. Only two Bucs there, Davis and Termarr.


What rated players are willing to sign with the Pirates, when it is noted that the organization only signs DFA players or players that no other organizations signs, praying that they may have a pasable season so they can be traded at mid season. With that type of reputation, forget about convincing good players to sign with the team.


Money talks but Bob doesn’t speak that language.


Russell Martin signed with the Pirates after they had lost for almost twenty straight years.


They will sign if we are a winning team it just needs a few more players to contend, which we’re not right now.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty

They’ll sign if the money is right, period. The Rangers suck and had no problem signing two big free agents last winter.


The difference between the Orioles situation and ours is that they’re winning games and we’re losing them. Is this team really ready to have a lot of payroll added to it? I don’t know that our current crop of youngsters have shown that yet.


Baltimore started their rebuild sooner and is further along, too.


Starting catcher – one year deal (Contreras is the only FA catcher who’s likely to sign for more than one year)

Starting 1B (Belt/Bell-type) – multi-year 8-figure salary

Right-handed corner OF – unfortunately not a lot of good options on the FA market (Duvall bounceback? Roll the dice on Profar?)

2 Starting pitchers – one multi-year mid-rotation, one bounceback

1 8th inning relief pitcher

That’s probably a $40-45M shopping list there. It shores up the weakest positions while still allowing for the abundance of MI, OF and middle relief options to sort themselves out.


$50M isn’t a crazy amount to spend, and I am going to guess based on past payroll highs that Nutting will be willing to spend that much, but whether he thinks the team is ready this year as an open question.


Bob couldn’t wish this team into contention and certainly there is no recent evidence that he’ll spend money to do it either.


D’accord. I think BC’s opinion matters more. Nutting doesn’t even pretend to be a baseball guy. Which is good. I have no reason to fuss with SBRO’s wish list, though some of the players mentioned make me cringe. I’ll reframe the question: What team in baseball could most easily afford Carlos Correa and Jacob DeGrom and . . . ?


I see ZERO evidence that a Nutting-led organization will bring in any impact players. They lucked upon Russell Martin’s career years and A.J. Burnett’s end of career surge combined with career years from McCutchen and a few others. Otherwise it has been zilch for the most part in 30 years! The one real exciting decade was the 1970s before free agency really took off. Let’s be honest. Only new ownership could change the direction of this franchise to be sustainable contenders because at some point it takes spending money on quality players. I just am too cynical to see this happen.


The most realistic big time FA signing i could possibly see is Josh Bell & i couldn’t stand his streakiness when he was here. Also have doubts he would want to come back, as he’s been stuck on some bad teams & probably will want to sign with a winner.

Looking at the pitchers available, I just don’t see them spending the money needed for one of the big pieces, but even if they did, it’s unlikely they would out perform what Q did this year, & having Q’s big year still can’t carry a loser to a winner.

Hope you’re on to something Tim, but I dunno. I think they’ll have to go back to trading some prospects for guys looking for a bounce back year.


We all know that the Pirates won’t be aggressive in free agency and even if they tried I doubt any big time or middle time free agents would want to play here. It will be more of the same. Free agents nobody else wants and waiver wire pickups.


Realistically if they want to compete next year, they’re going to need a lot of additions.

  • At least 2 OF’ers – Full time RF’er and a RH bench bat
  • A legit 2bmen
  • A real 1bmen
  • A catcher or 2
  • 3 rotation arms
  • A ton of BP arms to compliment Bednar & Crowe

Cherington can’t be in year 4 of his build having tryouts on the MLB level


When you do a rebuild like the Pirates, it’s 4 years minimum and has a low chance of success. The Pirates are about where we should expect them to be.

It’s a myth that successful small market teams need to do a complete tear down. It rarely works. But it does ensure 4-6 years of awful baseball.


Your comment and mine go hand in had. I’m just taking baby steps becaue there is NO way we get what you’re asking for. In fact, I doubt we get what EYE am asking for, lol.

Btw, as for second base, I am hoping that one of these 3 (in order of preference) can fill that need: Bae, Marcano and Castro. Most of my hope is in Bae. As for Nicky the K, unless he can quit K’ing (didn’t I read something about how his swing got messed up?), I fear he will be a dud of a pick.

C – Roberto Perez?

1b, 3 rotation GOOD arms and two OFers are highly questionable at this point. Mitchell appears to be AAA and Suwinski’s 43% K rate is alarming.

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux

There hasn’t even been a hint of urgency. How do we know they aren’t planning for another “build” year? Or even two more build years? Sounds crazy, but they haven’t articulated anything yet.


I expect next year to be a “build year.” Roansy Contreras is the only player who has shown well. None of the hitting prospects that came up this year have taken off, so the jury is still out on all of them. Hopefully next year will be the year some of them show they are really MLB caliber players. And until this happens, I doubt the Pirates will spend much in free agency.


They ARE planning for another build year. There’s nothing in the system, and Nutting isn’t going to authorize any spending just to try to get us to .500.


I posit that they are at least 6 players away from even being a .500 club.

2 Solid SPs.

Another shutdown RP

3 good bats to go with Reynolds, Hayes (cough, cough) and Cruz (cough, cough). By legitimate, I mean at least having an OPS+ ABOVE 100!

And that is just to get to .500.

That is going to be a tall order for Benny. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Nutting ain’t gonna let BC go out and buy them like he could in his previous stops.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I think that’s about where I’m at too. I’d kick it off by seeing if Roberto Perez truly wants to come back for an extra year, and then look to upgrade 1B, OF, and 2 SP’s as you mentioned. Also probably don’t stop at Roberto Perez at Catcher.

But just that alone would likely require adding about $50M to payroll for actual quality players, in their price range.


I’d love to have Perez back. Don’t forget DH. And where oh where are we going to find two decent SPs (not backend SPs like JT, Bryce and Zach)?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Yes, yes. The DH. I forgot. But, I also wouldn’t be opposed to the DH being used as means for giving players like Reynolds a day off from the field, or giving young players an ability to transition to the bigs by getting their feet wet at the plate in DH role.

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