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Could Pirates Try and Tap Into Dodgers’ Starting Pitching Surplus?

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Emmet Sheehan, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates, two active teams this offseason but on very different ends of the spectrum.

The Pirates have made a bevy of modest deals, including free agent signings Andrew McCutchen, Aroldis Chapman, Martín Pérez, Marco Gonzales, Rowdy Tellez and a trade which netted Edward Olivares.

As they’ve often done in the past, Dodgers’ ownership opened up the wallet to land a number of prized acquisitions. Shohei Ohtani was signed to a record-setting $700 million contract. Teoscar Hernández was signed to a hefty one-year deal.

On the pitching side of things, the Dodgers signed Japanese right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamto to a mega deal and landed James Paxton on a one-year contract for 2025. Tyler Glasnow was acquired by the Rays and quickly received an extension.

On top of it all, it’s still entirely possible that the Dodgers bring back Clayton Kershaw for another season.

Because of all the rotation help the Dodgers have brought in this winter, they have plenty of starting pitching depth. Teams will say there’s no such thing as too much depth, but the Dodgers could certainly have a young arm available.

The Pirates, meanwhile, have a need for an additional starting pitcher this winter and could look to the Dodgers to fill the void.

The main options who could be available for the Pirates are all pre-arbitration, so they main acquisition cost would be players in a trade, not finances.

One option for the Pirates to consider, if he is available, is right-hander Emmet Sheehan. The 24-year-old made his major league debut last season, and went 4-1 with a 4.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts in 60.1 innings pitched across 13 appearances/11 starts.

Sheehan, the Dodgers’ sixth-round draft pick in 2021, doesn’t have a lengthy track record in the minor leagues, but it’s an impressive one. The right-hander has logged 146.2 minor league innings and is 14-4 with a 2.95 ERA and 242 strikeouts while allowing 5.0 hits per nine innings.

Sheehan would need to continue to get stretched out as a starting pitcher. With the Dodgers, he averaged 4.8 innings per start.

Most of the other options the Pittsburgh Pirates could explore pursuing still have their prospect status intact. A couple of the pitchers who fit that category have made their big league debuts — right-handers Gavin Stone and Kyle Hurt.

Stone, the Dodgers’ No. 4 prospect, made eight appearances/four starts for the Dodgers last season. He certainly felt the growing pains and finished with a 9.00 ERA, but still has upside.

Hurt made one appearance with the Dodgers and struck out three in two-scoreless innings. Between Double-A and Triple-A last season, the No. 11 Dodgers’ prospect went 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA and a whopping 152 strikeouts in 92 innings.

The two pitchers on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster who haven’t appeared in the big leagues are both top 10 prospects — right-hander Nick Frasso (No. 3) and fellow righty Landon Knack (No. 9). Frasso is considered the 80th-best prospect in the entire league.

Both players are knocking at the door of the big leagues and have reached Triple-A. Frasso has a 2.96 ERA with 191 strikeouts in 152 innings across 44 appearances. Knack has a 3.40 minor league ERA and averages 10.3 strikeouts per nine across 55 appearances as a professional.

One final option for the Pirates to consider is right-hander Michael Grove, who has pitched parts of the last two seasons in Los Angeles. He may best be suited for a swing-man role, though.

The Dodgers aren’t afraid to deal from their MLB-ready depth to replenish their farm system. Earlier this winter, they dealt second baseman Michael Bush and reliver Yency Almonte to the Chicago Cubs for a pair of minor leaguers.

In his quest for further rotation reinforcements, it’s worth it for Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington to at least inquire.

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