The Pirates Should Not Sign a Starting Pitcher, Unless…

1-2-21 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Before I get started here, I’m probably talking about something that’s already been decided. Ben Cherington said he wants to bring in another starting pitcher, and it’s rare to get such a direct stating of intentions from a GM. It’s probably happening.

Here’s my thing, if whomever they’re bringing in isn’t the nailed on best, or second best starting option on the team, don’t bother.

In other words if you aren’t going to bring in someone who is clearly better than the options this club already has, all that would really be accomplished is preventing us from getting eyes on someone else.

I can’t do this without looking at the current setup.

My projected starting rotation is Jose Quintana, Bryse Wilson, Zach Thompson, JT Brubaker, and I’ll go with Mitch Keller. These aren’t in any particular order, and I’m completely fine if you want someone from the next group to swap in.

Because they really do have more options, Wil Crowe, Jerad Eickhoff, Max Kranick, Roansy Contreras, Miguel Yajure, Dillon Peters, Cody Bolton, Omar Cruz (if he survives the rule 5 draft), and even Osvaldo Bido.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they have a rotation so dominant that upgrading is impossible, but let’s not see this club try to give Matt Harvey or Jake Arrieta recapture what they used to be.

There are guys who could be real upgrades and measuring sticks out there like Tyler Anderson, Kwang-hyun Kim, or Danny Duffy, but I’d rather see someone like this brought in for a few seasons to provide stability and leadership.

Maybe what I’m trying to say here is better put like this, there are enough guys already here that I think this club needs to see and really evaluate that I don’t want to see another back of the rotation retread brought in who won’t really help make the club better but serves to stunt the process.

If this club comes out of 2022 and they still have questions like do we think Mitch Keller is a starting pitcher, this year has been wasted. If they want to legitimately augment this rotation and provide an anchor with experience to help guide the youth along, hey that’s a different story.

This isn’t about money, I mean to tell you I don’t care if they want to pay 10 million a year to someone who really shouldn’t come close to that salary, it’s not my money, I just want to make sure we’re answering questions about this wave, now. Next season these numbers really start to get insane as members will jump up from AA and want their shot like Quinn Priester, Michael Burrows, Carmen Mlodzinski, Kyle Nicolas, maybe even Luis Oviedo or Tanaj Thomas.

All of the guys I mentioned save Quintana and Eickhoff are under team control beyond this year, and while it’s great to have a ton of options, it’s less great to have all those options and not answer questions as to whether they should or could help this club get better.

At some point you have to start letting the young guys earn their stripes, I’d prefer that come in a season where the team still isn’t dreaming of contention. I want the rookie worked out of some guys now, not next year. I’d like to end 2022 with 3 guys I legitimately want to see in the rotation come 2023 and a handful more I think deserve more time. That’s going to be hard to accomplish if they bring in someone on a one year deal who they deal in July. Spots are valuable, and I’d like to see them treat them as such.

I guess for me, if you’re going to bring someone else in, let’s make it a guy we see being part of the solution. Bring in a guy for 2 or 3 years who no matter where he falls in the rotation is a lock to be part of it. I could get behind that, buy some consistency.

What I can’t get behind is buying a roadblock right as rush hour starts. They have worked hard to get to the point where this franchise has more MLB or close to MLB ready arms for the rotation and the next step is to start using them, and deciding if they’re ultimately bullpen arms, or hopefully understanding that they have some guys who really have a future leading this team from the middle of the diamond.

Health will obviously fail for some players and that creates opportunity. Performance will of course prompt shuffling of these arms up and down, so it’s not like that entire list is going to die on the vine, but barring a catastrophic plague of season enders, as I look at this list right now, they have so many I already don’t see them working through them all.

Look at a guy like Luis Oviedo, he’ll likely start in AA this season after spending all season on the MLB club as a rule five pickup. He’s on the 40 man and probably doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of being back in the bigs this year. His status on the 40 man is simply to not waste the spot he ate in 2021, and in 2023 he’ll be expected to have it all pay off by at least being a viable call up. That’s one guy, but it’s also the story with a bunch of these guys. They have to start understanding what they have.

I mean maybe they think they do, and what they believe is out of that long list only 4-5 of them really belong in the conversation. If so, man they better go get two, and they still better be in the grouping I talked about. Enough Chase DeJong’s. Enough of that sort of pick up in general, the system has been hammered into shape and it’s time to start letting it show ripened fruit.

What do you think? Should the Pirates sign another pitcher just to add another guy, or should there be a level to which a new signing has to reach?

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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