Since we are nearing the end of the offseason, I’m going to grade the Pirates most notable offseason moves.
A.J. Burnett – Burnett was acquired by the Pirates last week from the New York Yankees in a rare nationally talked about trade involving the Bucs getting a big name pitcher. The Pirates were able to trade away two marginal type prospects in pitcher Diego Moreno and outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Burnett is owed $33M on his remaining deal, but the Pirates will only be on the hook for $13M of it. There’s also the possibility of him pitching well in Pittsburgh with the smaller market as compared to New York. His K/9 is still good for a 35-year-old. Grade: B+
Casey McGehee – The Pirates wanted to add some thump to their lineup and they were able to get that when they traded Jose Veras to Milwaukee for Casey McGehee. My feeling is whenever you trade a reliever for a bat that has power, it’s a nice deal to make especially if that player pans out. McGehee will platoon at first base this season with Garrett Jones, so he should be able to benefit from that, hopefully more than Matt Diaz anyway. Grade: B
Clint Barmes – Barmes signed a two year deal with the Pirates to be their shortstop. Barmes to me seems like a slight upgrade over Ronny Cedeno. Although his offensive numbers are average, he does have a better career OPS than Cedeno. Last year, he posted his best FLD% and advanced metrics suggest that he was a very strong defender at short. You have to wonder though why Barmes was given a two year deal when you’ve got Chase d’Arnaud looking to prove himself again and Jordy Mercer. Grade: C+
Erik Bedard – Bedard signed with Pirates on a one year deal back in December for $4M. Bedard has posted very good K/9 ratios for his career, and at one point was one of the better left-handed starters in the AL when he pitched for Baltimore. Unfortunately, he’s been quite injury prone for the most part, although he was able to stay relatively healthy last season. It’s definitely a classic “risk/reward” type signing. Grade: B-
Nate McLouth – McLouth returns to the Pirates, and this time it will be as a fourth outfielder. I actually like this signing. He still has good pop in the bat, good speed, is an above average defender who can play all three outfield spots if need be. A lot of people think that they should of just kept Xavier Paul, but the reality is McLouth gets on base more, is a better defender, and is more above replacement level than Paul if you go by WAR. Plus, not playing everyday is going to benefit McLouth, which will prevent him from having to face left-handers too often. Grade: B
Rod Barajas – Barajas signed a one year deal with the Bucs that also included an option for 2013. Barajas does have some pretty good power for a catcher, but at age 36, he is clearly on a decline. Unlike Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder, Barajas does a poor job of getting on base with a career OBP below .300. Defensively, he’s not as good as Snyder, but he is better than Doumit. Barajas is your classic “rent-a-player” sign with the Pirates not having any better internal options to go with. Grade: C-
The Pirates offseason focused on guys who they think will be upgrades compared to who their replacing, such as Clint Barmes over Ronny Cedeno, Casey McGehee/Garrett Jones over Matt Diaz/Jones, Erik Bedard over Paul Maholm, Nate McLouth over Xavier Paul, and Barajas over Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder. Then you had the element of surprise when they acquired A.J. Burnett to try to bolster their rotation. Pirates offseason grade: B-