Below, we examine what an ideal roster would look like if the Pittsburgh Pirates plan on contending for the playoffs.
I am reluctant to change much about the offense because they really have been hitting well.
Moran is almost hitting .300, the rookies are raking, and Josh Bell has been looking like an MVP candidate for most of the year, albeit a slight drop off is occurring and will probably continue to occur.
We do, however, have a gluttony of starting outfielders and a glaring problem as a whole — we do not hit enough home runs.
Let’s try and fix that.
1B Josh Bell — Obviously.
2B Adam Frazier — I have often thought of what the Pittsburgh Pirates could get for Frazier. A versatile, controllable player who can get as hot as anybody. For now, the Bucs keep him.
SS Kevin Newman — He’ll be the future second baseman for a while.
3B Colin Moran — Has very quietly made himself into somebody more than just a placeholder for top prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes.
C Elias Diaz — His declining power is certainly worrisome, but when he’s going good, he’s the best the Pirates got at catcher.
CF Starling Marte — bUT hE dOESn’T HuStLE.
RF Bryan Reynolds — Young Stud.
LF Jorge Soler [TRADE] — The Pirates need more power. Soler and his 25 home runs certainly would do the trick. Signed to a cheap deal through next year, he would be an ideal addition to the middle of the Pirates lineup. The asking price shouldn’t be too much for a player who is ranked 257th in Total WAR. Dangling a combination of young outfielders Jason Martin or Jared Oliva and young pitcher Steven Jennings should do the trick.
OF Gregory Polanco — Considering how Reynolds and Marte have solidified their starting positions, there’s only one remaining and I’m inclined to give it to Soler, due to the injuries Polanco has dealt with. Trading him would be foolish, as we wouldn’t get nearly as much as would be needed. Having him be a spot starter and not play full-time would let him ease back in and get fully healthy for next season.
C Jacob Stallings — Has really done everything the Pirates could ask for from a backup catcher.
1B Jose Osuna — Since being recalled, has also done everything the Pirates could ask for. Pinch hit home runs, hitting in clutch situations, and for a bigger guy, he’s not a bad defender either.
SS Jung Ho Kang — A solid power bat off the bench is always needed.
U Hernan Perez [TRADE] — Was DFA’d recently by the Brewers, but could be a valuable player. The only catch would be the Brewers refusing to send him to a rival team competing for the same goal. But his role would be minimal so a deal could be had.
SP Jameson Taillon — When healthy, the best starter we have. If we contend, he’ll need to be back and pitching well.
SP Chris Archer — Considering what we gave up for him, he’s not leaving the rotation. A good Archer also changes the future of this team. But don’t hold your breath on that.
SP Trevor Williams — Many were clamoring for Williams to be talked about more as a dark horse Cy Young candidate before the season started. Certainly has not been consistent, and the high fastball usage still puzzles me, but can be very effective when going well.
SP Joe Musgrove — Has probably been the best Pirates starter for the duration of the year, which isn’t saying much. A future all-star game appearance for Big Joe would not be all that shocking.
SP Drew Pomeranz [TRADE] — A lefty starter would be a nice addition to the rotation. Pomeranz has had a horrible 2019, but comes cheap and is a free agent at the end of the year. Could be a similar scenario to when the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired J.A. Happ. The other starters available all would come with an enormous price tag, which would be foolish for the Pirates to bite on.
RP Steven Brault — Has surprisingly been one of our most effective starters. He’ll lose his starting spot, however, but can hopefully still be a good long man, lefty specialist.
RP Franky Liriano — Was lights-out to start the year, has notably tailed off of late. Still can be a devastating opponent for hitters if his command is on. That’s a big if, however.
RP Chris Stratton — I am big on Chris Stratton. The former top prospect has pitched well of late for the Pirates, and his curveball certainly plays regardless of his role. Gives the bullpen some length.
RP Richard Rodriguez –He’s regained his form. No-brainer.
RP Keone Kela — The best addition to the Pirates bullpen would be a healthy Keone Kela. He has great movement and velocity and can be a filthy add to the back end of the rotation.
RP Kyle Crick — Needs to stop walking people. His otherworldly spin rate lends itself to some balls carrying out of the ballpark a little more frequently, but can still be a solid backend option.
CL Felipe Vazquez — Duh.
Players Not Listed/Traded:
OF Corey Dickerson — Has looked odd defensively of late, and hasn’t produced much power, which the Pirates desperately need. Coupled with the log jam the Pirates have in the outfield, trading Corey seems like a likely option, regardless of the win-loss record. The Cleveland Indians seem like a trade partner. The Pirates could target two young pitchers, Ethan Hankins and Luis Oviedo, which would be a nice package in return.
OF Melky Cabrera — This may be more counterproductive in terms of team chemistry. Melky has quickly become a favorite of his teammates, but again, with the outfield logjam, moving him makes more sense than moving Big Greg. He will be a depth piece regardless of where he goes, so expect a minimal return.
C Francisco Cervelli — There was a rumor last winter that the Pirates could trade Cervelli for Ross Stripling. Hindsight’s always 20/20 eh. Cervelli’s Pirate career should be over. A free agent at the end of the year, he was barely hitting before his injured list stint, and now there is simply no room for him. Will always be loved in the ‘Burgh, but the ship has certainly sailed.
SP Jordan Lyles — I really don’t get how featuring Jordan Lyles as a prominent part of the team’s offseason was ever an approved idea by Pirates brass. He has never been good in the big leagues. If we’re contending, he can’t touch the ball. Period. Wouldn’t get much from a trade, but if you can get anything for him, do it.
RP Dario Agrazal — Has looked really good so far. Still, am not as sold on him as others. His movement and velocity is not great, nor is his command, and I think as the book opens on him he could be hit hard. But he’s not ready yet for a pennant chase.
RP Michael Feliz — Was between him or Stratton. He’s a good pitcher, with good stuff, and hopefully will be a part of the future. For now, he continues on in Triple-A.
A lineup of Newman-Frazier-Marte-Bell-Reynolds-Soler-Moran-Diaz would be a contending lineup. The Pirates may still be challenged defensively, but offensively this lineup would not have many holes.
The pitching staff is in a bind. Players are either under-performing or injured, so when looking to make alterations, the only logical option is for players to play better and get healthy.
To see what this roster may look like if the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to sell for the future, click the link above!