The Pirates were the worst team in the league last season and they look to find themselves at the very bottom once again. The team has decided to go ahead and throw away any chance of winning in 2021 as they traded away three of their best players. For fans of the Buccos all I have to say is better luck next season.
Key Additions: None
Key Subtractions: Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, Josh Bell
Pittsburgh has decided to embrace the tank in a major way. The division they play in is a relatively tough one. Realistically, the best the Pirates could do this upcoming year would be fourth in the NL Central, still 10+ games back of the playoffs. The Pirates struggled mightily in 2020 and thought that it would be best for them to tear it all down and put their efforts into winning somewhere around 2024. I can’t say I blame them. Tigers and Orioles fans can add Pirates fans to their group chat over what prospects they have that’ll be good in five years or so.
Let’s talk about some of those prospects and young players. Ke’Bryan Hayes is one guy everyone will be paying attention to in 2021. He made it to the Majors last year and did not disappoint as he had an OPS+ of 202 through 85 at bats. Hayes will be the team’s everyday third baseman and he may already be the best Pirates player despite playing in less than 25 games. The guy has a chance to be special and will be one of the only bright spots Pittsburgh has in 2021. All eyes will be on Mitch Keller when it comes to the pitching staff. He somehow had an ERA under 3.00 while walking 7.5 batter per nine. Keller is the team’s best young pitcher and needs to solidify himself as such; 2021 will be a very important for how he will be viewed by the Pirates going forward. Same goes for Cole Tucker. Cole was supposed to be the next big thing when he debuted in 2019, but he’s been abysmal offensively. His career OPS+ of 56 is a far cry from what Pittsburgh is hoping for. These three will need to be the cornerstone of the Pirates’ next run and things aren’t starting out so well.
Pittsburgh traded arguably their three best players this offseason. The return the team gets for those guys will play a major role in how quickly they get back to relevancy. For Bell, the Pirates received Will Crowe. Crowe is a solid pitcher who profiles to be a 3 or 4 starter. He’s dealt with his fair share of injuries and it makes me worrisome that they gave away Josh for nothing. Will has pitched well when healthy, but his health is too often the problem. For Taillon, the Pirates got a decent haul. Miguel Yajure should contribute in 2021 while everyone else is at least a year away. Yajure has a solid pitch mix and has a knack for keeping guys off balance at the plate. I like the outfielder, Canaan Smith, Pittsburgh got as well. He might not be a whole lot more than a fourth outfielder, but he gets on base a good amount and has tapped into more power recently. The Musgrove deal is one where we’ll have to wait and see. Almost all the returning players are years away. People like Hudson Head and think he has a chance to be an impact guy; that’s still way into the future, though.
As far as the Major League team is concerned, there is some talent. It’s just too few and far between that it won’t make for a lot of team success. The Pirates have embraced the tank and fans need to as well. Get used to being the punching bag of the NL Central for a while, Pittsburgh.