This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.
By Jim Keller
Being a small-market team with payroll restrictions, the Pirates have been forced to develop a strategy, one that has proven very successful, of developing from within and supplementing with some under-valued free agents.
Eventhough with the Chicago Cubs turning into a super power and the St. Louis Cardinals, who are already one of the best organizations in baseball, about to become flush in cash, this offseason was no different for the Pirates. We considered making some big splashes in the free agent and trade markets, but felt our best course of action, despite the disappointing season, was to stick with our philosophy.
Our top priority was bringing in two veteran starting pitchers, a challenge since there were very few top-tier hurlers and all we’re priced out of our market. But we managed to sign Jason Hammel and Edinson Volquez, who enjoyed a great 2014 season with us. Those two will join Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl for five rotation spots, but don’t be surprised if a now fully-healthy Nick Kingham challenges by midseason. None of the five starters who began last season in the rotation ended in the rotation, but we feel this group is as good as it gets.
We are more than satisfied with Tony Watson pitching the ninth with power arms Neftali Feliz, Felipe Rivero, John Axford and Juan Nicasio serving as the bridge to Watson, who simply has been one of the best and most reliable relievers in the game the past four seasons. We re-signed Feliz this offseason after he returned to the dominant form in 2016 of years past and acquired Axford from the A’s for Antonio Bastardo. Those two can pitch some ninth innings as needed and Rivero is a nasty as it gets from the left side.
We heard all of the rumors that Andrew McCutchen was available, but we did not offer him to anybody and only one teams called inquiring. Andrew slashed .284/.381/.471 with nine homers and 36 RBI the last two months and we fully expect him to return to an MVP form next season. Andrew along with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco gives us what we feel is the best outfield in the game.
We were pleased both offensively and defensively with Josh Bell, who will take over first base full-time and also play a corner outfield spot on occasion. The rest of the infield is back intact with Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang, who we expect to be a 30-homer guy in 2017. David Freese filling in at first and third, provides a great clubhouse presence.
We’ll certainly miss super-subs Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce, but Adam Frazier was tremendous in that role last season and we hope John Jason can play some corner infield and outfield spots. Francisco Cervelli is one of the best all-around catchers in baseball and Chris Stewart and Elias Diaz on the farm are more than capable backups.
|Jung Ho Kang||2.75|
|Others under contract|