Pirates Prospects Daily: Where Else Should the Pirates Add This Offseason?

Yesterday, I wrote about how the Pittsburgh Pirates have improved their depth at the Major League level this offseason.

Last year’s team saw a lot of depth options trying out as starters. This year, they’ve added legit starters, albeit none of them have more than average starter upside. The stability those starters provide moves the depth players down into their proper roles.

The Pirates aren’t counting on Zach Thompson to be a starting pitcher, and they’re not desperate for first base prospect Malcom Nunez to arrive. A year ago, they were counting on Thompson as one of the five MLB starters, and Mason Martin was the hope at first base.

There are still positions where the Pirates could use an addition. This would allow them to improve their depth in the same way, at other spots.

The outfield seems like the biggest place where this current team could use an upgrade. Right now, their starters would be Bryan Reynolds, Jack Suwinski, and Connor Joe. That’s not a horrible starting group, but it would look better with a third starter putting Suwinski and Joe into a platoon.

Ben Cherington has talked about wanting to add another position player, and looking at this team, the outfield makes the most logical sense.

Another position where it would make sense to add a player would be middle infield. The Pirates will go with Oneil Cruz as their starter at shortstop. My guess is that Rodolfo Castro will be the second baseman to start the season, and he will have competition.

That’s a young duo, although they’ve got upside. The Pirates would benefit from having a veteran middle infielder backing them up, and helping to provide a presence for both young players as they adjust to the majors.

In the outfield, I think the Pirates need a starter above all. For the middle infield, they just need veteran presence, and someone who can at least handle the defense on a day off.

The final place where I think this team would benefit from an addition would be the bullpen. Their middle relief group looks solid, but the Pirates don’t have a late inning guy to pair with David Bednar.

Bringing in such a set-up man would allow for Wil Crowe to move into a lower leverage role in the middle innings. It would also improve the depth by further shifting guys like Duane Underwood Jr. and Robert Stephenson into early middle relief roles.

The biggest impact is that the Pirates look like they’ll be protecting more leads in 2023. They were already starting to overuse Bednar on a 62-win team. They need someone to split the load of high leverage innings.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

**In my column this week, I looked at how the Pirates have improved their depth at the MLB level.

**The Pirates officially signed Jarlin Garcia, and designated Bryse Wilson for assignment.

**Duane Underwood Jr. and Gustavo Armas made their debuts in winter ball. John Dreker has the latest updates.

**Missed yesterday? I looked at how Rich Hill fills out the Pirates rotation.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

It wasn’t long ago that Zach Thompson was one of the five best starting options on the Pirates. Now? He’s maybe tenth on the depth chart. I looked at how the Pirates have improved their depth at the MLB level.

Williams: The Pirates Have Improved Their Depth at the Major League Level

Our latest Roundtable will go up later on Thursday.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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JoeNastasi

I don’t understand how Bae gets overlooked everywhere. His skill set is extremely unique. It doesn’t matter if it’s IF or OF, he’s the 1 player who I have the most confidence in to transition without much of a struggle. Bringing in to many mediocre veterans puts a chokehold on the process of finding which prospects to move foward with. If a vet isn’t going to be here for 3 years minimum then he’s not worth signing, take the wasted money & put it towards signing Keller, Reynolds, Contreras, Cruz, Rodriguez…..

EightMenOut

The concern with Bae is how hard he hits the ball, it may not be hard enough.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

He’s 40th percentile on max EV so it’s a possible concern and his launch angle is only 4.4% similar to Ke’Bryan “Grounders” Hayes. Still, Statcast similarity tool comps him to Matt Duffy which wouldn’t be the worst.

battlingbucs

If they are going with Hedges a backup catcher who has at least the basic knowledge of what a bat looks like would be a good idea. Be nice to be able to pinch hit if needed late in games. Maybe someone like Jorge Alfaro.

steve_zielinski

A Crews press conference:
https://youtu.be/z67LmzDxjhU

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

What’s his gf look like?

NMR

the mullet/mustache/gold combo is giving me late-80s flashbacks.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Already doing some decent charity work looks like: https://fhfofgno.org/baseball-donation

steve_zielinski

Notice the gold chain with a crucifix.

Zack

If every OF on the 40-man (not named Reynolds) flops, that will prove the Pirates cannot develop/transition to the ML roster. There are soooooooo many of them (and more that aren’t on the 40-man) that 1-2 of them have to put up a 2.5 – 3 win season in 2023, right?

steve_zielinski

If every OF on the 40-man (not named Reynolds) flops, that will prove the Pirates cannot develop/transition to the ML roster. 

It will not prove what you claim it would prove. Realistically considered, the Pirates lack quality OF prospects. Their failure, which is likely, implies only that they failed, not that the organization cannot develop prospects. The Pirates tanked to ensure they will have the opportunity to draft top prospects, namely, individuals who can pitch and hit well.

There are soooooooo many of them (and more that aren’t on the 40-man) that 1-2 of them have to put up a 2.5 – 3 win season in 2023, right?

The McClatchyfield era taught me that having a lot of prospects does not mean some of them will make it in the majors.

Zack

I think the tough thing for me is that you could make the argument the Pirates didn’t develop Reynolds or Suwinski, which means the most recent productive OF the Pirates developed was who Marte?

NMR

I’ve always been thirsty for more on Bryan Reynolds development; there’s no question he’s far exceeded what was expected of him when he came over from the Giants, but I’ve also never read a “smoking gun” type of change the Pirates were responsible for implementing as means of getting that better performance out of him.

Just glad we got it!

Zack

That 2012-15 magic they did with starting pitchers just has me thirsty for them to find a new magic bullet. 100% in agreement with you though.

NMR

Amen brother.

steve_zielinski

I suspect that the decisive variable in prospect development is talent followed by instruction. A sow’s ear will not produce a silk purse.

NMR

Nah man I don’t know, none of those dudes are even grade-50 prospects which typically is assumed to be about a 2 WAR starter.

There were only 29 2.5 fWAR or better outfielders in baseball last year!

For sure would be great to see the new dev team get more than expected, but I don’t know that it’s fair to fault them when these dudes just aren’t that talented.

Zack

That’s also wild there were only 29 in all of baseball last year! Wonder how many qualifying OFers there were.

NMR

Only 47 by their standards; I adjusted minimum PA down to 300 in order to catch a few who put up more than 2.5 WAR without hitting qualifying thresholds (only 24 qualified at that production or higher).

Zack

Well damnit I want the Pirates to have three outfielders with 2.5+ fWAR, NMR!

Zack

I guess all I’m looking for is a full season of Suwinski 2022 level production from him and one other player? That would give them two 2.5 fWAR outfielders, right?

Zack

Surprisingly, Suwinski was tied for 50th with Seth Brown in OF fWAR. Reynolds was 20th. This is with the “Qualified” filter off.

MB21

I guess I am encouraged that management has addressed some of the gaping holes on the MLB roster. That’s been more enjoyable in the offseason than flat out ignoring them. What I would rather they do is attempt to solve some of the gaping holes.

Garcia is a good sign but not enough to fix the bullpen. Hill is okay but is no ace nor an innings eater. Choi/Santana doesn’t solve the dh/1b hole but does at least address it. Joe, Hedges, and Velasquez don’t really accomplish anything other than addressing the problems or at least acknowledging how bad the MLB roster really has been.

Can this year cause the organization to graduate from addressing the roster needs to solving them? That remains to be seen. At least it’s more fun to write about the signings than about crickets!

Anthony

I largely agree here, but I think most are focusing too much on each individual move and miss the collective impact. This team will almost always live or die based on synergy; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In totality, these moves will likely result in marked improvement. Even addressing some of their holes can have cascading effects throughout the lineup, rotation, and bullpen.

NMR

Love this.

redwards60

I am still waiting for them to make their first significant addition, but I won’t lose sleep waiting for it. We added a 40 year old DH/1B who hit around .200 last year. We added a catcher who hit.160 last year. We added a 42 year old starting pitcher, effectively blocking Burrows, Bolton, Ortiz from the rotation. We traded for a previously failed Pirates first round pick, blocking prospects in the process. We signed a starting pitcher who may actually be worse than the immortal Bryse Wilson. All of these moves were foolish decisions by the cheapo Pirates on how to invest in the roster. This organization is a very bad joke…..they have no plan no strategy on how build a winning baseball organization. They just repeat the same low-budget, low upside, moronic decisions each and every off season. Their plan is to continue being incompetent and losing. Wake me up when they have a new owner and a competent GM – not one that failed miserably twice before….

steve_zielinski

The Pirates need to field a team before its time to graduate some of their prospects. Obviously, two points are true about this. The old timers are not long for ML roster (there is a trade deadline) and the contracts are for one year only (none will be a Pirate in 2024). The 2023 season will see worthy prospects arrive in the MLs. That’s the plan.

Anthony

Steve, why even engage on garbage comments like this? You’re wasting your time trying to change a fool’s mind.

1979andCounting

Ahhh it’s “the Authority” who is now telling us which posts are garbage posts! Redwards is actually posting what a large percentage of Pirate fans are believing about the F.O. These acquisitions haven’t yet played one inning for the Pirates in ’23. The jury is still out. This is an opinion board dude…..all opinions are welcome even if you think they’re foolish.

Anthony

Unfortunately, that’s the problem! Opinions are like buttholes, everybody has one. Maybe we should just call this the butthole board 🤷🏻‍♂️

steve_zielinski

Thanks! I write to clarify my thoughts. Posters can trigger a response from me because they write something which piqued my interest. I never try to change anyone’s mind, which you rightly identify as a waste of time. But, I should be careful about this since flame wars are a true waste of time.

melkel

It just seems to me a waste of their limited resources. For the money they spent so far, they could have locked up two starting left handers the past couple seasons with extensions. I just don’t see a near future or extended plan other than a hope and a prayer.

postal911

Adding a legit outfielder would be great. Suwinski is a platoon guy, Conner Joe has not hit well away from coors, but I think will be ok as a platoon guy also. Another solid bullpen arm would be great also.

NMR

Agreed that the bullpen seems like the most glaring need at this point, but I suppose it’s only an assumption that they won’t try filling it with internal starter>reliever conversions.

Adding Oviedo and Bolton plus a healthy Holderman probably changes the bullpen depth and quality quite a bit.

ArkyWags

This is something I think can truly be built from within. When do teams realize that this electric arm can’t seem to develop that third pitch? Or that they can’t seem to keep any effectiveness beyond 2-3 innings? Or lack the command to start?
This is a general question and not an indictment of the current regime (there are plenty of other examples of that). It feels like guys like Oviedo could be weapons out of the pen.

1979andCounting

Feels like we are over-flowing with good BP arms. There are 8 spots: Bednar, Stephenson, Holderman, Hernandez (rule5), Garcia, Ramirez, Selby, and one more? Crowe or Dejong or Zach Thompson. This pen does not have to resemble 22 pen. And it should be a helluva lot better.

skliesen

Like this idea. A lot.

Wilbur Miller

For now, I like Oviedo as a starter. I’m guessing the plan is to have him start at Indy for several months.

Of course, somebody’s going to get hurt or just suck. Nothing stays totally stable for several months into the season.

skliesen

Wouldn’t it be nice if they went north with the best 26-man roster possible and tried to actually win right from the start? Isn’t this what NMR is suggesting?

NMR

Mostly, though, because I’m of the opinion that Oviedo and Bolton are already pretty old in prospect years and stand very little chance of being more than back end starters IF they improve significantly while showing very real likelihood of exceling in a pen role.

Huntington had this habit of riding marginal starters til they were out of options and stuck figuring out how to be a quality reliever on the fly, which failed in almost all cases.

Luis Ortiz is probably one of the best 13 arms in their system and would probably make the bullpen better, but also stands a fair chance of turning into a very very real starter and only has thee seasons under his belt. I can easily see AAA being the better development environment AND enough potential benefit to be worthwhile.

skliesen

Agreed. Agreed. And agreed.

#JustTryToWin

Wilbur Miller

Unthinkable!!

PirateRican21

I’m ok with the outfield the way it is and I doubt they will add there, I see a lot of platoons at least to start the season with the hope that someone will step up and permanently claim a spot. Middle infield, a right handed slick fielding SS to back up Cruz would be nice, Iglesias? There’s Elvis Andrus , but he might be too pricey. I have hope to see Andrew Chafin in our pen, but I doubt they’ll spend the money and the years needed to sign him. I think they are done, the holes they have would be patched with the “depth” they currently have.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

I’d _really_ like to add Adam Duvall to make Bryan Reynolds’ defense look much much better than last season and put aside “not a CF” convo for when Bryan’s inevitably traded. Statcast thinks Bryan was one of the leagues most unlucky OFs and I think that’s because he was lined up next to a motley crew of “outfielders” that varied way too much out there.

NMR

Statcast very much does not think that. A FanGraphs writer made up his own metric using statcast data to make that claim.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Tell me you don’t understand statistical correlation without telling me you don’t understand statistical correlation, NMR.

NMR

you’re using words you don’t understand, and it shows.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

Ah, the I know you are but what am I defense. Still the great sophist, I see.

NMR

The three main advanced defensive metrics have recorded a combined five negative defensive outputs and one positive across Reynolds’ two full seasons in CF.

You’ve chosen to apply a factor – adjacent defender quality – the creators of Statcast themselves would indisputably tell you does not factor in the metric they created in order to validate a made-up statistic intended to imply “luck” as a means of validating the single outlier reading as more likely of his true talent.

Cope upon cope upon cope.

Bryan Reynolds probably isn’t the worst centerfielder in baseball, but he’s also very clearly no better than fringey relative to his peers. Every ounce of scouting and statistical evidence supports this exceptionally banal take.

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

NMR everyone who writes about baseball (and gets paid for it unlike you) concedes defensive metrics vary even more year to year than offensive ones. In fact, Reynolds was *6th* in MLB in OAA in 2021. He magically swung to 218th in a year where the Pirates had 18 different players take OF innings with many of them IFers in the OF for the first time. Even you can get the gist here.

GlypheNotes

It’s hard to know what they should do next without knowing how interested other teams are in the players they will try to pass through waivers. Hopefully the team has a good sense of that from the past year or so of trade talk. Also don’t know what the org thinks of Canaan Smith-Njigba or Swaggerty, but it’s probably not so highly that they wouldn’t welcome a 2 or 3 WAR center fielder to push Reynolds into a better defensive position.

And I still think there are trades out there to be made. Just teams swapping equal players from their respective depth. Maybe a team wants a lefty bat and corner outfielder, along with a middle infielder. Whoever that is, the team is pretty well situated to take their best available return, regardless of position. That’s a benefit of having so much position flexibility and quantity. They can shop for value rather than need.

bianco599

We should have just signed Verlander and asked to re-instate “pitcher’s mound poison”.
That’s the third post in the last few minutes I have used quotes in. Trying to get promoted to MLB status.

EightMenOut

It is encouraging that the Pirates have gone from picking up players from the waiver wire, to supplying the waiver wire with players. Our 40 man may not have the ceiling right now that gets one really excited, but at least the floor is above basement level. We have gone from “I guess this player may turn out better than what we currently have on the 40-man”, to instead, “I don’t want to let go of player X for this waiver wire claim”. Progress.

Wilbur Miller

And when the Pirates waive guys, other teams actually want them. Used to be, getting waived by Pgh was the last stop before Korea. If the guys replacing the waived guys are actually better, it’s progress of a sort.

Zack

Agreed. As frustrating as the roster management has been, there are positive signs.

GlypheNotes

yes! we don’t hear this perspective enough.

Danatural08

While i would like them to add someone like Cutch, i just don’t want Bae to be the one that gets stuck behind vets & not getting consistent playing time. Just doesn’t feel like Bae has much time to establish himself b4 the next wave.

bianco599

I’d take Correa with a bum leg for a year. Give him the old “show them that your healthy” speech.

jaygray007

Andrew McCutchen, Sixto Sanchez, and Andrelton Simmons, YOU are pittsburgh pirates

bianco599

Sixto seems to have been hurt forever. I always looked at him in fantasy baseball. When I see his name I think of Antonio Alfonseca. I am pretty sure AA had six fingers on his hands. That would make for a nasty “knucklesball”.

jaygray007

Yeah I mean I’m not saying they should depend on him or give up a ton for him.

Just seems like MIA is desperate for OF and the pirates have some interesting-enough spare ones. Like idk, Cal M.

bianco599

I’d take him for Cal. Or whatever. Especially if he also has 6 fingers.

robertkasperski

There would be issues if he has 6 fingers. Inigo Montoya would most certainly show up and start yelling “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father, prepare to die!!” He would jump the rail, chase him off the mound. It just wouldn’t work 🙂

bianco599

Yeah. That would make for a poor trade. I guess we could say we will take a “player with 5 fingers to be named later”. But Inigo may be easy to spot among the 39 fans at PNC Park most nights.

b mcferren

Antonio Alfonseca

RaisetheJollyRancherGirl

I think they should try and sign Adam Duvall. 34 and a wrist injury last year but—if he’s healthy—there are few guys who hit the ball harder. Even in a down year he put up a 129 wRC+ against LHPs (though his career number is a more modest 101 wRC+ against lefties). Great platoon option for Jack Suwinski. Excellent defender.

Last edited 1 month ago by RaisetheJollyRancherGirl
1979andCounting

I would have paid Newman his $2.8M, but now we have a glaring hole at backup SS. God forbid Cruz sprains an ankle…….then what? I guess we’ll have to hold our breath while Castro tries and play SS when Cruz has an off day, which there should be many vs LH’s. Maybe by Feb. Iglesias or DiDi would accept a back-up role…….but it’ll cost more than Newman’s $2.8M.

NMR

With you on Kev, but Castro is no worse a SS than Cruz.

1979andCounting

Goal for ’23: Cruz dWAR -2.0; total WAR 3.5
Castro dWAR -2.5; total WAR 2.5.

b mcferren

nicky sticks been playing shortstop in Arizona

Wilbur Miller

They need some depth at GM and manager. Some competition would be healthy.

Zack

This made me legitimately laugh out loud.

Scam likely

More computer paper for the print outs, and Shelty will be fine. Going deep end here edney in rightfield, catcher and some dh right out of the gate. Nicky sticks backup infielder but starts 4 times a week.

leefieux

Well, the argument can be made that, outside of adding some bodies, have we really added?

So m response would be: Wherever you can get some quality, add it. Like taking ‘Best Player Available’ in a draft.

I personally think that our ‘additions’ so far MIGHT be good enough to push us to 70 wins. I mean, have we added 8-10 wins with these players? I don’t think so. And if Reynolds is dealt, all bets are off for # of wins.

BC still hasn’t impressed me much and he is going into his 4th year, esp on the trading side. See Tim’s excellent article on his trade history,

b mcferren

Bryan Reynolds and his .800 ops is easily replaceable by a numbe rof outfielders still on the market

the wisest move right now would be to capitalize on his hype while we still can

Last edited 1 month ago by b mcferren
jeffw3000

I do not know about that, considering his .806 OPS was 12th best among outfielder in all of baseball. None of the outfielders above him are available any longer, and the player below him, Brandon Nimmo just signed as well.

Mblee24

Especially when last year appeared to be a down year for him with that rough start.

leefieux

I think ‘easily’ is overstated. Getting ANYONE good to sign with us is NEVER easy, lol,

b mcferren

Corey Dickerson, Cutch, A. J. Pollock and Trey Mancini all have as good of a chance to outplay Reynolds in 2023

jeffw3000

Brian Reynolds had the 6th best OPS in the NL in 2022, and tied for 4th best in 2021. Cutch, Dickerson, or Pollock might outplay him, if they can get in a Time Machine, and go back in time 6 or 7 years, but that is the only way. I doubt even that would help Mancini.

skliesen

Crack is whack.

b mcferren

his trade demand has as much weight as Tucupita´s trade demand

b mcferren

at my count, eight more changes will happen to the major league roster before spring training

leefieux

Good changes or bad changes? 😂😂😂

b mcferren

I feel that if we can acquire more than enough of these plan B veterans, we have a shot at the wild card

jeffw3000

They still need to sign a veteran, backup infielder, that can play all of the infield positions, and cannot hit. They also need to sign a veteran, backup outfielder, that can play center, is good defensively, and cannot hit.

buccobrach2

Tim, are you referring to Andrew McCutchen and Jose Iglesias?

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