A number of veteran players landed on waivers across Major League Baseball on Tuesday.
Among the notable players include New York Yankees center fielder Harrison Bader and New York Mets starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco.
The Los Angeles Angels put a whopping six players on the waiver wire, and there’s one player amongst the six from Anaheim who could make sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates — starting pitcher Lucas Giolito.
Giolito, 29, is now in his eighth major league season after the Washington Nationals selected him in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft.
After a nice start to his 2023 season with the Chicago White Sox, Giolito was traded to the Angels leading up to the trade deadline.
With the Angeles, the right-hander has struggled, pitching to a 6.89 ERA across six starts.
Overall on the season, Giolito is 7-11 with a 4.45 ERA across a league-leading 27 starts. In 153.2 innings pitched, he has struck out 165 batters.
The expectation is that a contending team will ultimately wind up with Giolito and that’s the likely outcome.
With that being said, why does he make sense for the Pirates? There area a couple reasons.
First and foremost, the Pirates’ starting rotation is in dire need of some help. There are only two full-time starters currently in the rotation in Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo, so, it’s not like Giolito will be replacing a young starter.
On the days one of those two isn’t pitching, the Pirates have had to get creative by using openers, bulk relivers and bullpen games.
Throughout his career, Giolito, for the most part, has been a reliable innings eater, and that’s exactly what the Pirates need in the homestretch.
But what about the cost?!
It’s true, Giolito is expensive for the Pirates’ taste. He’s being paid $10.4 million this year. However, with a little over 80% of the season in the books, Giolito is owed less than $2 million for the rest of the year.
That figure, too, could prove to be too rich for the Pirates given their current situation, but it shouldn’t.
But he’s a free agent at the end of the year?!
It’s true, Giolito is in the final year of his contract. He’ll hit the open market this winter and will be free to sign with any of the 30 teams in the league. That shouldn’t deter the Pirates, either.
At worst-case scenario, the Pirates get a few starts from Giolito at the end of the season to help stabilize their rotation and protect their younger pitchers as their workloads reach new heights.
Now let’s thing about a best-case scenario. It’s pretty far-fetched, but stay with me for a moment.
What if the Pirates are able to “fix” Giolito and return him to the form he showed with the White Sox earlier in the season? With Chicago prior to the trade, Giolito was 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA across his 21 starts.
If he does return to form with the Pirates, they would have a jumpstart on negotiating a new contract before he hits the open market.
Even if in this Utopian-scenario, he does reach free agency, maybe he would have enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh and became comfortable pitching in a smaller-market situation so much that he opts to come back.
Despite an inconsistent season, it will in all likelihood take a fairly significant financial commitment for his services.
But, with 2024 being the fifth year of this lengthy rebuild, the Pirates need to open up the purse strings if they want to take a substantial step forward next season. The young core that has arrived in Pittsburgh will need to be supplemented with veteran players, and good ones at that.
This winter, the Pirates have no bigger need to fill than the starting rotation, so why not get a first-hand look at a guy like Giolito?
In all likelihood, it probably won’t happen for the Pirates. In my opinion, they should at least think about it.
At worst, you’re getting a major reinforcement in a needed area for the season’s homestretch. At best, you’re getting a guy who you could potentially keep around for the future if everything works out.
Both sound like wins to me.