By Jason Shetler
The Pirates will be looking to address a few needs this offseason with the possibilities being catcher, if they don’t re-sign Russell Martin, a right-handed first baseman, if Gaby Sanchez is non-tendered, the bench and the rotation. Here are some free agents who would be good fits for those needs.
Brandon McCarthy: McCarthy entered 2014 in his second season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was dealt to the New York Yankees the first week of July. In 32 starts combined for both clubs, McCarthy posted a 4.05 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP, a 7.9 K/9, a 54% groundball rate and a 3.0 WAR. He also showed excellent control, as he put up a 1.5 BB/9. The Pirates could lose both Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano to free agency, so McCarthy would make for a good #2 starter behind Gerrit Cole. Because McCarthy was traded during the year, he won’t be attached to draft pick compensation.
Brett Anderson: The Colorado Rockies acquired Anderson from the Oakland Athletics last offseason. He’s had a history of injuries, and this season was no different. Anderson made just eight starts for the Rockies, as he was DL’d twice with a broken index finger and a bulging disk in his back. The 26-year-old lefty did pitch well in his limited action, posting a 2.91 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, a 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a groundball rate of 61%. The Rockies have a club option for Anderson worth $12 million, which will certainly be declined. The Pirates would likely offer him a one-year deal since he’s been hampered with injuries. If Anderson can somehow stay healthy, he’s an above average starter to have near the back end of a rotation.
Emilio Bonifacio: Bonifacio began this past season with the Chicago Cubs. He was then acquired by the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. Combined with the Cubs and Braves, the 29-year-old switch-hitter posted a .650 OPS in 110 games. He did however have a 2.1 WAR, due in large part to his above average defense at second base, third base and all three outfield spots. The Pirates could use some speed off the bench, and Bonifacio would provide that, as he stole 26 bases this past season.
Geovany Soto: Soto didn’t make his 2014 season debut until mid-July, as he was recovering from knee surgery. The Puerto Rican born backstop was dealt by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A’s in late August. Soto posted a .665 OPS in 24 games for both teams and threw out 43% of basestealers. For his career, he has a .334 on base with an 11% walk rate and a 27% caught stealing, which is league average. The Pirates top goal this offseason will be to re-sign Russell Martin. In order to do so, they would have to contend with several other clubs, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers. The chances don’t seem to be promising, which means they’ll have to address catcher. Elias Diaz won’t join the Pirates until midseason, so bringing in Soto would make him a serviceable rental for the time being.
Mark Reynolds: Reynolds signed on with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason to be in a first base platoon with Lyle Overbay. He also played some third base while Aramis Ramirez was on the DL. Reynolds posted a .681 OPS and hit 22 home runs in 130 games played. Defensively, he played well at first base with a 10.8 UZR/150, and he was just as good at third base, posting a 32.5 UZR/150. The Pirates appear 50/50 on bringing back Gaby Sanchez as a right-handed platoon bat at first. If they decide to give Sanchez a non-tender, Reynolds would be an upgrade with his walk rate and slugging percentage, as well as his defense. For his career, Reynolds has posted an .809 OPS vs left-handed pitching. Signing Reynolds would also give the Pirates an insurance policy for Josh Harrison, if he were to struggle.