After hiring a new President of Baseball Operations in Ben Cherington, the Pirates are in quite the offseason. With a poor roster and not much in the way of young talent, Cherrington inherits a franchise in a bit of purgatory right now- there’s not much he can do. Trading center fielder Starling Marte would be a start, though.
Expected Direction: Trading Away The Few Assets They Have
Pirates Sign C Luke Maile
Contract Details: One Year, MLB Contract
In what perhaps may be their solution to filling their hole behind the plate, the Pirates have signed catcher Luke Maile to a one-year contract. Maile, 28, is coming off of a disastrous season with the Blue Jays, in which he posted a downright awful 14 weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+) and -0.3 WAR. In other words, he was a below-replacement level player who was 86% worse than league-average as a hitter, and that WAR would have been much worse if he played more than 45 games. On the bright side, his .190 batting average balls in play (BABIP) and expected statistics do indicate he was unlucky last season, but nevertheless, he only has a career 48 wrc+, and his 2.1 WAR season from 2018 appears to be a massive outlier. Plus, he’s declined defensively, and appears to be an average defender at best. Maybe Maile can bounce back to previous form with his defense, and can catch fire for another 2 WAR season. However, the chance of that happening is extremely unlikely, and most likely he’ll be a -1 to 0 WAR player splitting time behind the plate with Jacob Stallings.
Pirates Sign OF Guillermo Heredia
Contract Details: One Year, $1 Million
In their first MLB acquisition of the offseason, the Pirates have brought in outfielder Guillermo Heredia on a one-year deal worth exactly $1 million. Although this doesn’t mean for certain that center fielder Starling Marte will be traded, it does provide Pittsburgh with some insurance in case they do so. That said, it’s not as though Heredia is anything more than a fourth outfielder. After all, the 28-year-old has been a below-average hitter throughout his career, and should he fill in for Marte, he’s actually a poor defender in center fielder as well. It’s always nice to have some depth, but this is simply an attempt by new general manager Ben Cherrington to fill out the roster, though outfield depth wasn’t exactly a major issue.
Pirates Trade OF Starling Marte To Dbacks
Full Trade: Pirates Trade OF Starling Marte and Cash ($1.5M) To Dbacks In Exchange For RHP Brennan Malone, SS Liover Peguero, and $250K International Bonus Money
As the offseason progressed, it looked less likely by the day that the Pirates would end up trading veteran outfielder Starling Marte, who was coveted by several teams due to his consistency and very affordable contract. However, general manager Ben Cherrington was able to strike a deal with the Diamondbacks, sending Marte to Arizona in exchange for two high-upside prospects in Brennan Malone and Liover Peguero. Malone, 19, is the headliner of this trade, as he was the 34th overall pick in last year’s draft, and has the feel for pitching you wouldn’t expect for a hard-throwing pitcher at his age. Therefore, he’s a safer prospect that someone with his profile usually would be, though I’d argue his ceiling is closer to that of a #2 or #3 starter than an ace. As for the 18-year-old Peguero, he has a very smooth swing, advanced approach, and strong defense at shortstop, but his lack of power will always hold him back. Nevertheless, he projects as a potential future shortstop, so if both of these prospects pan out, Pittsburgh is adding two future solid contributors for the future, both of whom rank in their current top-ten prospects by their rankings. It’s not as much as I’d anticipate they’d get for two years of Marte, but still, it’s a reasonable return.
Pirates Sign SS JT Riddle
Contract Details: One Year, $850K
Sticking with their theme of depth signings for under $1 million, the Pirates have added shortstop JT Riddle to a one-year contract. He’ll likely fill a utility role for Pittsburgh, as Adam Frazier and Kevin Newman figure to be the team’s middle infielders next season. Once seen as a high-end prospect, the 28-year-old Riddle obviously hasn’t had the start of his career that he wanted to have, as he’s accumulated a 0 WAR in three seasons. It all bottomed out for him this season- he posted a -0.6 WAR and 54 wrc+. Riddle’s best trait is his defense at shortstop, as he posted 11 outs above average (OAA), so he’s not terrible depth; his 43.3% hard contact rate and .226 BABIP also indicate some bad luck, even if his ground ball rate is 50%. Honestly, there isn’t much to take away from this signing, as Pittsburgh adds a cheap player, and figures to be amongst the league’s worst teams regardless.
Pirates Sign OF Jarrod Dyson
Contract Details: One Year, $2 Million
In their first signing worth more than $1 million, the Pirates have potentially added to their new everyday center fielder, inking Jarrod Dyson to a one-year, $2 million deal. Long known for his ability to steal bases, Dyson, 35, remains a fast runner with said base stealing (30 SB 2019) ability. Plus, he’s still a strong defender in all three outfield spots based on every defensive metric, and has posted a walk rate in the double digits in consecutive seasons. However, the former Diamondback isn’t exactly an offensive threat, and that’s underselling his offensive struggles. With a wrc+ of 69 and 48 in 2019 and 2018, respectively, he’s simply a liability at the plate, as he may be the least powerful hitter in the MLB. Essentially, he’s a one-win player without any sort of upside, though him being an everyday player depicts what will be a very long season for Pittsburgh.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Pirates Make