By Jason Shetler
It was reported just recently from Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Pirates are now interested in free agent pitcher Mat Latos.
Last year at this time, Latos was traded to the Miami Marlins from the Cincinnati Reds in a deal involving pitcher Anthony Desclafani. After making 16 starts for the Fish, Latos was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers around the deadline as part of a three-team, 13 player deal. He pitched only six games with the Dodgers before getting released and signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in late September where he made just two appearances for them. Combined with the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels, he posted a 4.95 ERA. Despite all that, here is why the Pirates should at least explore the possibility of signing Mat Latos.
While the ERA he posted in 2015 looks unimpressive, he actually should have been better, if you go by his 3.72 Fielding Independent Pitching. He also posted a 1.5 WAR, which is obviously above replacement level. It wasn’t long ago that he was a solid pitcher for the Reds. Here are the numbers during his three seasons in Cincinnati.
2012-2014: 3.31 ERA, 118 ERA+, 3.51 FIP, 1.18 WHIP in 81 starts
Latos is only a couple seasons removed from being an All-Star caliber pitcher when he had a 4.8 WAR in 2013. Although the Pirates added Jon Niese in a trade from the New York Mets on Wednesday, they could still try to bolster their rotation. Some will point to the fact that Latos has been a distraction throughout his big league career. A.J. Burnett to an extent was the same way, but despite that, he pitched great during his time in Pittsburgh. If Latos pitches well, then the head case label becomes irrelevant. Based on his recent track record, in addition to the positive advanced metrics, Latos appears to be more of a bounce back candidate as opposed to a complete reclamation.