By Jason Shetler
This offseason, the Pirates have made a couple additions to their rotation with Jon Niese and Ryan Vogelsong. Niese is essentially taking the place of J.A. Happ while Vogelsong has been brought in to be a veteran stopgap until Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon arrive to Pittsburgh. The big name free agents have recently been coming off the board, but the one name that is still out there is Yovani Gallardo. Pirates fans are all too familiar with Gallardo during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers, as his career ERA against the Bucs is 2.55. After eight seasons in Milwaukee, he was dealt to the Texas Rangers last season. If the Pirates are still looking to add another starter, should they consider signing Gallardo?
2015 was another good season for Gallardo, posting a 3.42 ERA along with a 124 ERA+, which is impressive considering that he pitched his home games at the very hitter friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. His Fielding Independent Pitching was almost a half run higher at 4.00, and can be contributed to a low K/9 of 5.9. Despite the declining strikeout ratio, Gallardo remains an effective starting pitcher, and is also been extremely durable, as he’s made 30 starts or more each of the last seven seasons. His groundball rate since 2011 is at 49%, which is something that would appeal to the Pirates.
What’s kept Gallardo on the free agent market is both his asking price and being attached to draft pick compensation. The Pirates pick this year will be in the 20’s, which they could afford to give up since any late first round draft selection is pretty much a crapshoot. The question is how much should the Pirates offer Gallardo? – The going rate this offseason for mid-rotation level starters has been about $12 million, which is about right for him. Because Gallardo will be entering his age 30 season, the deal should be no longer than three years. Should another team present a bigger and/or longer deal to him, then the Pirates should just walk away at that point.