Christmas is just right around the corner. Hopefully you’ve already done all your holiday shopping, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have some remaining gifts to get.
It’s been an active month leading up to the holiday season. The Pirates have already added two starting pitchers in Marco Gonzales and Martín Pérez. They’ve also been busy adding to the lineup. Andrew McCutchen is back on a one-year deal. Rowdy Tellez will man first base this coming season and the Bucs added Edward Olivares to their outfield mix.
While plenty has already been accomplished, there are still some things Ben Cherington has to check off his list.
Even with two additions already in the field, the Pirates could use further rotation help behind Mitch Keller, Gonzales and Pérez.
As things currently stand, the final two spots in the rotation will go to some combination of Luis Ortiz, Roansy Contreras, Quinn Priester and Bailey Falter. 2023 top pick Paul Skenes could potentially be in the mix, too. JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows are both expected back midseason in their recoveries from Tommy John surgery.
While there are three solidified spots in the starting rotation, there are to many question marks for the final two spots, so another outside addition makes sense.
Preferably, the Pirates will seek a starting pitcher with more upside. Gonzales and Pérez have experienced good results at times, but both pitchers profile as safer, back-end rotation pieces.
There are still plenty of free agents left on the market who the Pirates have been linked to, names such as Lucas Giolito, Mike Clevinger and Yariel Rodriguez among others.
If the Pirates go the trade route, they could explore going big for a guy like Dylan Cease, who is seemingly available from the Chicago White Sox.
True Center Fielder
The Pirates have a fairly crowded mix of outfielders, but they are lacking a natural center fielder.
Jack Suwinski manned center field for most of last season for the Pirates, though he did not grade as a strong defender there. Bryan Reynolds, Joshua Palacios, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Olivares all are better suited for corner spots.
The Pirates should look to bring in a capable defender in center field to either take the full time job, platoon with Suwinski or be a defensive replacement for late in games.
In free agency, Kevin Kiermaier would make the most sense due to his defensive prowess. Harrison Bader, Michael A. Taylor and Aaron Hicks could be more realistic targets, however.
On the trade market, players like Victor Robles, Mickey Moniak and Jake Meyers are worth monitoring.
In each of the last two seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates have locked up two key pieces of their core in Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds. Maybe this offseason will bring one or two more.
The most logical candidate to be extended is Mitch Keller, who was an All-Star for this first time in his career in 2023. The right-hander is under contract through the 2025 season, but the Pirates would seemingly want to keep him around for longer than that. The two sides have discussed an extension in the past.
Another candidate for a long-term deal is David Bednar, who will still be around for three more seasons. Obviously, the Pittsburgh-native has an affinity for pitching in his hometown. A long-term deal could make sense between the Pirates and their relief ace.