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Pirates Still Looking to Add to Rotation, Position Player Group

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Ben Cherington

It may have been a slow start to the winter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but things have started to heat up as the temperature gets colder.

The Pirates have been active in the month of December. The blitz started at the Winter Meetings at the beginning of the month when they acquired left-handed starter Marco Gonzales from the Atlanta Braves.

Gonzales’ addition helped to address the team’s biggest area of need in the starting rotation, but he’s not the only pitcher the Pirates are adding. They’ve in agreement with fellow southpaw Martín Pérez on a one-year, $8 million deal.

On the position player side of things, the Pirates signed first baseman Rowdy Tellez to a one-year deal and acquired outfielder Edward Olivares in a trade with the Kansas City Royals.

Most recently, the Pirates re-signed designated hitter and fan favorite Andrew McCutchen for the 2024 season.

“We feel really good that we’ve been able to make a lot of progress around deepening the roster in areas where we’ve aimed to deeper the roster coming into the offseason,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “The additions of two left-handed starting pitchers — I should say one; it leaked out there — but we hope it’s two. We’ve made some progress there (Martín Pérez).

“In addition, outfield/first base was an area that we wanted to strengthen. We’ve made some additions in those spots. Of course including Cutch in that. We feel like it’s a deeper roster. And in particular added at areas where we wanted to add. And also certainly not satisfied.”

Cherington has been working at a rapid pace over the last couple of weeks leading up to the holiday season, and things might not be slowing down anytime soon.

The Pirates are still looking to upgrade their roster during the offseason in some areas that still need addressed.

“We would still like to add to the rotation,” Cherington said. “I know I mentioned an optimistic possibility about one more that we’re pretty far along on (Pérez). But even beyond that, we would like to add to the rotation. We would still like to add to our position player group also. We feel good that we can go into the season with the group we have, but we don’t want to be satisfied with that, either. We want to keep hunting for upside, both in the rotation and in the position player group.”

A third rotation addition will indeed likely be needed after Johan Oviedo underwent Tommy John surgery, a procedure that will keep him out for the entire 2024 season. Looking at the Pirates’ current rotation options, there are still two spots up for grabs behind Mitch Keller, Pérez and Gonzales.

On the position player side of things, there are a couple of key areas where the Pirates could look to add. One is in the outfield. Although the Pirates added Olivares, their current mix of outfielders is lacking defense.

Jack Suwinski spent the majority of his time in center field last season, but the Pirates are lacking a true center fielder. Suwinski is better suited for a corner spot, as is Bryan Reynolds. Olivares was graded as a poor corner outfielder during his time with the Royals, but the Pirates like his bat.

Another area in which the Pirates could make an addition, though it’s likely not as pressing, is at second base. There are a handful of young players who will compete for the starting second base gig in camp, but the Pirates could opt for an established veteran to join the mix.

“We feel like there’s a lot of time left in the offseason, a lot of possibilities still out there, whether that’s free agency or trade,” said Cherington. “There are things we can do right now, things we could say yes to that we have not said yes to because we don’t yet like the deal. We’re gonna keep hunting opportunities — primarily both in the rotation and in the position player group just to continue to hopefully push our upside higher for 2024.”

Christmas may only be a few days away, but the Pirates still have plenty of holiday shopping left to do.

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