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Pittsburgh Roots: Seton-LaSalle Alum Derek Law Chose Nats Over Pirates

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Derek Law

Derek Law had a difficult decision to make.

The Seton-LaSalle graduate received no major-league contract offers as a free agent despite having a fine 2023 season. Pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, Law had a 3.60 ERA and two saves in 54 games, including three starts.

The Reds designated him for assignment on Nov. 17 rather than face a potential salary arbitration hearing.

So, Law waited for minor-league contract offers up until the start of spring training then narrowed his choice to two teams. One was the Pittsburgh Pirates. The other was the Washington Nationals.

Signing a contract with the Pirates was tempting for the 33-year-old reliever, born and raised in Pittsburgh. However, Law instead decided to sign with the Nationals.

Law has pitched for the Nationals, who appear on the upswing after four last-place finishes in the National League East since the franchise’s only World Series title in 2019. Though very happy pitching for manager Davey Martinez, Law still seems surprised he did not choose the Pirates.

“I really don’t know how I got here for sure,” Law told Pittsburgh Baseball Now recently with a smile. “It was kind of tough being the hometown team, you want to be there, you grew up rooting for the Pirates, your family is there. It would have made a lot of sense to sign with Pirates.”

But …

“I just felt like there was a better opportunity in Washington and it seemed like they wanted me more here,” Law said. “So, you have to kind of go where you’re wanted, right?”

Law has a 4-2 record and a 3.33 ERA in 38 games. In 48.2 innings, he has allowed 46 hits and 13 walks while striking out 43.

It is the continuation of a solid, if nomadic, eight-year career in the major leagues. Law was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the ninth round of the 2011 amateur draft from Miami Dade College, Kendall Campus. He made his big-league debut five years later with the Giants and has pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.

The Nationals are Law’s sixth team. While it isn’t Pittsburgh, playing in Washington feels like home now. Law has been the Nationals’ primary middle relief in front of set-up men Dylan Floro and Hunter Harvey and closer Kyle Finnegan.

The Nationals have also shown improvement as a team this season with a 38-42 record, leaving them 3.5 games out in the National League wild-card race.

It is also understandable why Law would shy away from the Pirates as the bullpen appeared to be their strength entering spring training. However, right-handed middle reliever Dauri Moreta tore an elbow ligament in March and underwent season-ending surgery.

Law seemingly could have been a capable replacement for Moreta. However, Law isn’t second-guessing his decision.

“The way (Martinez) has been using the bullpen – especially myself – he has been putting up in good situations where we can succeed,” Law said. “This is a good spot for me, a really good situation.”

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