The Pittsburgh Pirates have already have had a fairly interesting and active offseason. However, the team still has plenty of questions.
When the offseason started, the biggest questions for the Pittsburgh Pirates were what would the team do in right field and would the team try to improve shortstop? The team will not have Gregory Polanco for the first 6-8 weeks of the season and previous starting shortstop Jordy Mercer is now a free agent. Well, so far the team has made two acquisitions and both have been brought in to answer those questions.
The two moves the Pittsburgh Pirates have been a trade and a free agent signing. The trade was between the Bucs and the Cleveland Indians. The black and gold sent out outfielder Jordan Luplow and infielder Max Moroff and brought in two prospects and shortstop Erik Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a former top 10 prospect for the Indians, is a potential shortstop choice for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Meanwhile, the team also signed former Cleveland Indian Lonnie Chisenhall to a free agent deal. The former third baseman now turned right fielder will likely be the team’s replacement for Gregory Polanco while he rehabs from shoulder surgery.
So the Pittsburgh Pirates have made moves to fill both their biggest holes this offseason. However, are they done making moves? It will be interesting to see what the team does. From one’s perspective, the team has been buying with a big trade deadline and the moves made this offseason thus far. Still, will the Pittsburgh Pirates look to continue and be active with the Winter Meetings not even here yet?
Some Moves Still to be Made?
The biggest rumor so far this offseason is if the Pittsburgh Pirates will trade catcher Francisco Cervelli. It had long been questioned since backup catcher Elias Diaz actually outperformed Cervelli over the season. With only one year remaining and a team-leading salary of $11.5 million on his contract, the team could look to trade him. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has reported that there is a market for the Pirates backstop. Trading him will allow Elias Diaz to become the everyday starter, which he has trended toward anyhow.
As of now, Ivan Nova slated to be the Pittsburgh Pirates number five starter entering the season. In front of him are Jameson Taillon, Chris Archer, Trevor Williams, and Joe Musgrove. Like Cervelli, Nova is in the final year of his contract and is slated to make a base salary of $8.5 million and $9.1 million total. Meanwhile, the rest of the rotation combined is projected to make around $9.5 million with Taillon, Williams, and Musgrove still on league minimum salaries and Chris Archer making $7.6 million.
Why this is relevant is because of the way the Pittsburgh Pirates operate. With Cervelli and Startling Marte as the only to players making more money than Nova, the team should look to move the final year of his contract. It would be unlike the Bucs to pay their number five starter the most money out of anyone in their rotation, especially considering that he does not have any real upside left to outperform his spot. While he is a reliable number five arm, the team could deal him and use that $9 million elsewhere.
The Pittsburgh Pirates could then look to bring in a cheaper reclamation starter like Drew Pomeranz or Mike Fiers who could fill in at number five just as effectively. The team could also allow their young starters like Nick Kingham, Clay Holmes, or Tyler Eppler to compete for the last spot in the rotation with top prospect Mitch Keller not far behind. In the end, would the team be worse off with one of the other options than Ivan Nova?
Those are probably the two biggest remaining moves that could happen this offseason. While the team could still look to improve at shortstop, it does not seem highly likely with Erik Gonzalez and Kevin Newman. Also, the team will most likely bring in another starter to add depth regardless of what happens with Ivan Nova. Still, with the Winter Meetings less than two weeks away, the biggest storyline going forward will be what ends up happening with Francisco Cervelli.