3-12-22 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter
It’s hard to broach the subject of free agency as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. What they need isn’t really realistic to expect them to get. They are fighting an owner who hasn’t opened the pocket book since 2016 and on top of that, it’s always a challenge to lure a free agent to sign with a team mired in a half decade long rebuild effort. Nobody wants to be the first.
It’ s part of why Russell Martin is held in such reverence here in Pittsburgh. He had other options and the Pirates looked nothing like a burgeoning playoff contender, yet he still made a pact to become the veteran backstop for the Pirates.
I’m not sure we spend enough time talking about how crucial to the success of the last competitive window that signing was. And we’re not talking about a superstar mind you, just a solid, above average major league professional baseball player. In other words, Martin was a lot closer to Tyler Anderson than he was Carlos Correa.
The Pirates are again on the cusp of flooding their Major League squad with young talent and that young talent will need to see proof this club is committed to more than hoping they’ve done enough to sneak into the expanded playoffs. For a player like Bryan Reynolds, I’m sure it matters if this team looks like it has a willingness to build around him, because the alternative is leaving him believe he’s just a cog in a wheel.
In that Spirit, lets try to keep our heads about us and call for real free agents we truly think could help and even if an overpay is in order, could get.
Dellin Betances (RP)
Dellin lost almost all of 2021 to injury. He was on a 6 million dollar contact but only managed to pitch in one game. A career 11.2 WAR pitcher, Betances who is almost 34 could add much needed experience to the Pirates bullpen. Capable of being the main setup man or even the closer in a pinch. If Dellin is healthy, he’s exactly the type of guy the Bucs should be targeting. I think he could be had on a two year deal with AAV of 3.5-4 Million. It’s been 3 years since he was the sure thing out of the pen he was with the Yankees but if his repaired shoulder is healed up it would be wise of the Pirates to jump on this one.
Archie Bradley (RP)
Archie is a successful and versatile reliever who has filled just about every role there is out there. He’s been a 2 or 3 inning guy, setup man and in a pinch, closer. He’s not going to come cheap, Arch isn’t damaged goods. At almost 30 he’s also not over the hill. I think this would take a 3 year 6-7 million dollar AAV and that even might be a bit low to woo him to the Pirates. He’s a less risky but more costly version of Betances and would serve the same role. Neither of these guys will block anyone and after a season or two could even serve as valuable flip candidates.
Jose Martinez (1B, DH)
OK, Jose says he can play outfield too but just being honest, I don’t want him to, and neither do you in case you haven’t seen him do it.
The Pirates need a DH and everything about Martinez screams DH. Because of the fact there are a bunch of new teams that need one, I expect his market to be much bigger than it would be otherwise.
Jose is a career 2.4 WAR player, and as I mentioned if you’ve ever seen him play defense you know that didn’t come from being a well rounded player, that said, he’s easily as good at first as anyone the Pirates have on the roster.
He missed all of 2021 to a torn meniscus in his left knee and was released by the Mets without ever playing a game. Many annalists have him needing to accept a minor league deal with an invite, so if the Pirates were to hit him with a one year 1-2 million dollar MLB contract, they have a real chance of scoring a decent stick for the lineup and bench providing he’s healed up over the Winter.
Eddie Rosario (OF, DH)
Eddie should be more than a familiar face to Derek Shelton, he was his DH, 2B and LF for some of the most explosive offensive units we’ve seen in the AL Central with the Twins. Eddie can be the DH, or he could be a starting corner outfielder, and if that’s not enough he could fill in at second if need be.
More than just being a professional hitter with a track record, even at age 30 he still has the chops to be a leadoff hitter, a skill set not too many internal options have.
Last season he signed a one year deal with Cleveland for 8 million and was dealt to Atlanta for the stretch run where he really picked it up in the hitter friendly confines down there. He can hit for some power, like most Twins players from his era and his average and OBA will always keep him wanted in the lineup.
I think it will take 8-10 million AAV over 2 or 3 seasons, but Rosario answers a lot of questions and holds a spot down while the Pirates allow youngsters to fully develop. He’s also as mentioned a guy Shelton isn’t going to have to learn to trust.
Khris Davis (DH, OF)
Not gonna lie, this is a poke an hope. for a stretch of a few years from 2016 to 2018 Khris hit over 40 homeruns for the A’s every season. His average is generally not great, but the power is undeniable. At 35 years old coming off two consecutive terrible campaigns the Pirates could get him for a song.
He’s listed as a Left Fielder but this would almost exclusively be a DH signing. I’d recommend offering him 1 year at 1 Million on a Minor League offer. Not unlike Todd Frazier last season. Very similar player at this point.
This team is badly in need of power, and if he has a resurgence, man is that a heck of a score. If he doesn’t, you aren’t out enough to worry about. Neither I or the Pirates will be alone in this thinking but with the truncated timeline here, maybe jumping in early gives you an edge.