It was a pretty busy offseason for the Pirates that resulted in a lot of roster turnover before the lockout. The team was active on the free agent front, signing left-handed starter Jose Quintana and catcher Roberto Perez to one-year deals. Additionally, the Bucs brought first baseman/designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo back for the 2022 season. The Pirates also brought outfielder Greg Allen into the fold, claiming him off waivers from the Yankees.
Pittsburgh also had quite a few roster departures, trading away Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings to the Miami Marlins for three players. One of those players, righty Zach Thompson, is expected to break the Opening Day with the Pirates. Ben Cherington also decided to designate Steven Brault, Colin Moran and Michael Perez for assignment, and non-tendered Chad Kuhl.
Even with all the roster moves, the Pirates still have work to be done now that the new CBA has been agreed to and the transaction freeze is over. What could they look to address?
Cherington said that the Pirates were still exploring adding more stating pitching to the mix once the lockout was lifted. The Pirates have a good number of starting pitching options — Quintana, Thompson, Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Bryse Wilson, Dillon Peters, Wil Crowe and Miguel Yajure. The problem is that outside of Quintana, the options are relatively young and/or inexperienced.
The Pirates could also look to add a reliever to fortify their bullpen and add some reinforcements to David Bednar and Chris Stratton in the back-end.
Even with the addition of Perez, the Pirates only have one catcher on the 40-man roster and will be on the hunt for another backstop. There remain options on both the free agent and trade markets. It’s possible the Bucs could pursue a left-handed hitting catcher to go along with the righty-swinging Perez.
With the news of the universal designated hitter, the Pirates have an extra opportunity to improve on the last-place finish in both home runs and slugging. Tsutsugo is a candidate to serve as the DH, but either way the team could look to add a complement to Tsutsugo at either spot. The Bucs could add thumper to an outfield spot or elsewhere too.
Bryan Reynolds has been a prime extension candidate for quite some time now, although no extension talks took place between the two sides prior to the lockout. Could the new agreement spark some interest between Reynolds and the Pirates’ front office? Reynolds is currently under contract through 2025.
Other then Reynolds, the Pirates might look to explore extensions with other players of their young core, including Ke’Bryan Hayes and Oneil Cruz.
Speaking of Reynolds, if the Pirates don’t pursue an extension with him, he could bring the club back a legitimate haul of young players, if the Bucs decided to go that route. The Marlins and Mariners were among the few teams interested in him prior to the lockout.
Cherington traded away a large part of his biggest chips already, though Chris Stratton would surely generate some interest. Kevin Newman could be another target by other teams as a good defender up the middle.
On the flip side, it’s entirely possible the Pirates explore trades where they’d be acquiring established Major Leaguers to help them address some of the needs on their roster. This is something that we haven’t really seen from Cherington since he was named Pirates’ GM.