This is one in a series of examining potential trade targets for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2023-24 offseason.
The price for starting pitching this offseason on the free agent market looks like it is going to be steep. Lance Lynn, coming of a season in which he posted a 5.73 ERA in 2023, received an $11 million guarantee from the St. Louis Cardinals.
This could motivate the Pittsburgh Pirates to explore the trade market in their search for multiple starting pitching additions this winter.
One name who could be under consideration for the Pirates is right-hander Nick Pivetta, who just wrapped up a fine season with the Boston Red Sox.
Pivetta spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies until he was traded to Boston during the 2020 season. With the Phillies, Pivetta never found much success.
The now 30-year-old has revitalized his career since the trade and proved to be a durable and reliable workhorse during his tenure in Boston. Durability is exactly what the Pirates’ rotation needs with all of the question marks that come after Mitch Keller.
Pivetta made 30 starts with Boston in 2021 and led baseball with 33 starts during the 2022 season. Combined, he logged 334.2 innings between the two seasons. This past year, Pivetta totaled 38 appearances/16 starts. Early-season struggles forced Boston to move him to the bullpen. After getting re-inserted into the rotation towards the end of the year, Pivetta finished strong.
Over his final five starts, a total of 30.1 innings pitched, Pivetta posted a stellar 2.37 ERA with 38 strikeouts and only five walks. He limited his opposition to a .187 batting average against and a .543 OPS.
Over parts of four seasons in Boston, Pivetta has gone 31-29 with a 4.34 ERA/4.22 FIP. He’s totaled a very impressive 546 strikeouts in 487.1 innings pitched. Since the start of the 2021 season, he’s recorded the eighth-most innings pitched in the American League and is sixth in punch outs.
Home runs have plagued the right-hander some (1.4 HR/9 with Boston), but a move out of the American League East could remedy that to a degree.
While Pivetta might not be a top-of-the-rotation arm, he would give a thin Pirates’ rotation a boost as a fairly effective innings-eater. Boston will be on the hunt for top-end starting pitching this winter, which could make him expendable.
Pivetta is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. MLB Trade Rumors projects the right-hander to make $6.9 million in 2023. The salary is relatively expensive considering the Pirates’ budget, but it is not egregious by any means if they were to pursue him.