7-31-21 – By Gary Morgan
The Pirates didn’t make a big splash in the trade market, and there’s a reason for that, they didn’t have a whole bunch of things other teams wanted.
Adam Frazier, Tyler Anderson and Richard Rodriguez brought back decent returns, but it’s kind of hard to compare to being able to shop Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javy Baez.
That’s a benefit of building a winner in the first place, it makes it a ton easier to rebuild when the time comes. Well, you know, beside the winning.
So what should the Pirates do next? And let’s not get bogged down in thinking what they will do, let’s keep it to should. I spend a ton of time writing what I think they’ll do, today I just want to spend some time dealing with what I’d like to see.
This isn’t going to shock anyone, but before Spring Training in 2022, I’d like to see Bryan Reynolds locked up, and not just to buy out his arbitration plus a year or two, no I’d like to see him extended through the end of the decade. It’s high time this club finally bests the extension of Jason Kendall.
Most of you are going to probably tell me Hayes too, but I’ll be honest, one at a time. Get me the Gold standard and give Hayes another season to get his legs under him before we decide how much he’s worth.
There isn’t much left to be honest, but I think we can still see Chris Stratton moved this off season. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Kevin Newman wind up being moved and while I can’t see him returning a bunch, I could see someone wanting to take a shot at him.
Rumor on the street is that Jacob Stallings will be a target for a few clubs this off season, I could see that, but I also think they need to keep him around at least one more year. When your entire pitching staff is young you need experience back there and despite overhauling the catching position organizationally, none of them are close. They don’t need to extend Jake, but they do need to keep him.
Colin Moran is the next, and really only chip they have to move. He’ll be right in the wheelhouse for making moves like this and at some point next season Mason Martin will be breathing down his neck. In fact the new prospect Chavis they just picked up from Boston could compete for his spot this Spring. Go get what you can, if not he’s the new Adam Frazier at the deadline in 2022.
OK, maybe Colin isn’t the only biggish chip. Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault could also be moved this off season. Both will be entering their last year of arbitration and while I think both will receive tendered contracts, I think both could easily draw interest.
If I’m honest, I’d like to see Brault get a modest extension, maybe 2-3 years. I think he could help in the rotation or the pen and his ego wouldn’t be crushed by whatever they want to do with him.
Guys It’s Time to Move on From
This list isn’t hard to come up with. Ka’ai Tom, and this really should have been done already. He got a nice chance to show his skill set and man I just don’t see it.
Erik Gonzalez, even if all the new prospects they brought in that play middle infield aren’t potential All Stars, there is no need to hand a roster spot to a guy like Erik. Give the spot to someone who at least has a viable opportunity to play a role on this club into the future.
Obviously Gregory Polanco should get his 3 million dollar buyout, I’m literally only writing it to save you the keystrokes in the comments.
Phillip Evans has been given a shot to prove his worth, and while I appreciate the effort and ability to play multiple positions, they have young guys I’d rather see do it. Not much different from Erik Gonzalez really is he?
OK, this is a longshot, but man it’d be nice if they’d move on from Michael Perez, he’s not awful, but man he’s just so vanilla. I just don’t see anything that stands out and on a building team, that should kind of be a prerequisite.
Off Season Signings
As much as things change, they stay the same.
This team needs another veteran outfielder, and at least one starting pitcher. Think Tyler Anderson here, not Max Scherzer, well, you’ve been around you know that. As I see next season the rotation should be something like, Yajure, Brubaker, Keller, Kuhl/Bault (if they stay), Crowe, De Jong, Kranick, and Bryse Wilson, with a Contreras and Bolton chaser. Bring in a couple vet arms and see what this group has.
The outfield they’ll have Gamel (I assume and absolutely would offer him his last year of arbitration), Reynolds and arguably Swaggerty should be in the conversation. Some of the middle infield prospects they brought in like Park, or Marcano can also play out there, hey they could even use Nogowski although I’m more than a little frightened by how that might look. Point is, I’d bring in another, make Swaggerty force the issue. They of course have Oliva too, but I can’t help feeling the team has made up their mind on him. Rodolfo Castro too could be an option and his power certainly would play in a corner outfield spot.
Starting to See the Youth Integrate
This is where I’ll end. I think we see a much younger team next year and what can be exciting there is sometimes they just don’t know they aren’t supposed to be good enough. This is where we start to see some of the vision come through.
Look for debut performances and growth from young guys.
My candidates for breakouts next season are, Miguel Yajure, Chavis, Marcano, and yes, Mitch Keller. Next year they’ll be a bit better and by the end, the excitement for some guys who this season are tearing apart AA will be knocking on the door if not busted through.
This season the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming as we had to rely on waiver claims or meaningless trades to fill the roster. Next season real talent will be on the doorstep in AAA.
Players like Oneil Cruz will be in the conversation, Canaan Smith-Njigba will make a push, Cal Mitchell and Mason Martin will be having fans clamor for their call up.
The Job is obviously not done, but man it’s going to start looking a lot closer to showing fruit as next season plays out.
Ok, have fun with this and tell me all the things I messed up or missed!