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Demilio: JT Brubaker Could Be Potential Trade Candidate (+)

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Pittsburgh Pirates, JT Brubaker

2023 has only just begun but it has already been an active offseason for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates have made a handful of trades and signed multiple free agents to try and improve the team heading into next season.

Two of those free agent additions have come in the starting rotation as the team signed Vince Velasquez to a one-year deal and agreed to a one-year pact with veteran left-handed pitcher Rich Hill.

With the pair of additions, the already in-house candidates and a few prospects knocking on the door to the big leagues, the Pirates have a pretty dip mix of potential starting pitchers who are expected to contribute in 2023.

One of those arms is JT Brubaker, who has been a key component of the Pirates’ starting rotation each of the past two seasons.

While it’s entirely possible that the 29-year-old will be wearing black and gold this coming season, he also serves as a potential under-the-radar trade chip the Pirates could consider moving.

Most of the trade buzz this offseason around the Pirates has been centered around outfielder Bryan Reynolds, who requested to be traded earlier in the offseason.

While the Pirates have certainly been fielding calls on the 2021 All-Star, Brubaker is another player the Pirates could be hearing about from other teams in the league.

Brubaker is an interesting trade candidate for a variety of reasons.

For starters, most of the top starting pitchers on the free agent market have already found new homes. While there still are some quality names available to sign such as Michael Wacha, Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke, Brubaker serves as a younger option who comes with plenty of club control.

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Brubaker is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and won’t hit free agency until after the 2025 season.

Looking at the numbers, Brubaker finished 2022 with a 3-12 record and a 4.69 ERA in a career-high 28 starts.

While those statistics aren’t impressive by any means, they don’t paint the entire picture either.

For starters, Brubaker had a much better 3.92 FIP on the season, indicating that there was some bad luck involved which inflated his ERA.

The three-year major league veteran’s career FIP is 4.43, a step up from his 4.99 career ERA.

The right-hander also averaged more than a strikeout per inning, finishing the year with 147 punch outs in 144 innings. Burbaker, who was plagued by the long ball in 2021, only surrendered 17 home runs in 2022.

While Brubaker may not be  top of the rotation arm, he makes sense for a number of clubs who are still looking to fill out their rotation. Teams who could still be looking for starting pitching help include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays and others.

From the Pirates end of things, Brubaker won’t fetch a premier return in a trade but between the contractual control and the upside he offers, he could get a couple intriguing pieces in any deal.

Whether a trade ever comes to fruition this offseason remains to be seen, but the Pirates could consider moving Brubaker if the right deal comes along.

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