The more things change, the more they stay the same. Another MLB season has concluded, and the Pittsburgh Pirates finished near the basement in all of MLB.
With the season ending, fans now turn their attention to the off-season and, more notably, free agency. As we all know, the Pirates never spend loads of money in free agency, but the Pirates have found cheap viable options in recent memory.
Some players the Pirates got on the cheap were guys like Tyler Anderson, Jose Quintana, Daniel Vogelbach, and even Roberto Perez.
It’s no secret that the Pirates were non-competitive in the 2022 season, and more than likely, the Pirates will face a similar fate in 2023. The question is, can the Pirates show even a little progress towards this “future” we’ve been told about for quite some time?
The Pirates are desperate for pitching depth, both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation, but let’s stick with the rotation for now.
This may seem out of left field, but Mike Clevinger would be a good pickup for the Pirates. Clevenger is coming off a rather pedestrian season with a 4.97 FIP with San Diego.
The 31-year-old righty had some good years recently in 2019 and could fill the role of a veteran presence in the Pirates’ clubhouse.
Now, this depends on if the Pirates bring back Roberto Perez, but you could go two for one and sign both Perez and Clevinger, and I’ll tell you why it makes sense.
The Perez and Clevinger battery has occurred in 49 games (238 innings), and looking at the base numbers; it would seem those two are quite fond of one another.
The only other catcher with more innings with Clevinger is Yan Gomes, with 242 innings together.
When Perez catches Clevinger, his ERA is 2.50, and opponents are hitting just .212/.279/.345 with an OPS of .623.
The biggest drawback with bringing Perez back is the obvious injury issues that have surfaced recently, most notably his left hamstring injury in ’22.
When healthy, Perez offers a strong safety net for a young pitching staff and a viable placeholder until some of the young catching depth reaches the major league level.
Now that we’ve addressed the pitching and backstop issues, let’s discuss the Pirates’ first base issue.
The Pirates had scrapped the bottom of the barrel in ’22 when it came to the first base spot.
There are some glaring issues when you have Yoshi Tsutsugo, Ben Gamel, Bligh Madris, Josh VanMeter, etc., over there.
Someone who could fill the role more effectively could be Jesus Aguilar.
The 32-year-old Aguilar finished the ’22 campaign .235/.281/.379 slash line with 16 homers and 51 RBIs. Those 51 RBIs would’ve placed Aguilar in third place for the Pirates behind Oneil Cruz (54) and Bryan Reynolds (62).
Aguilar also offers a right-handed bat that can evenly hit both left-handed and right-handed pitchers.
Whether or not the Pittsburgh Pirates start to progress remains to be seen, but making some legitimate signings would be a good indicator from the enigmatic front office.