By Jason Shetler
Since becoming Pirates general manager, Neal Huntington has worked out extensions with up and coming players. The first was Jose Tabata in 2011, which in hindsight seemed like a good decision, but Tabata just didn’t pan out. Next came the Andrew McCutchen extension in Spring Training of 2012. With McCutchen being one of the best players in the game, that deal has been an absolute bargain. Two years ago, the Pirates extended Starling Marte, who has now emerged as arguably the best left fielder in baseball. Josh Harrison received an extension prior to last season. The most recent was Gregory Polanco this week, who the Pirates hope can be a productive right fielder for years to come. The question becomes who will be the next Pirates player to receive an extension? – I’m about to explain why Tyler Glasnow is the most likely candidate.
While Gerrit Cole is already an All-Star pitcher, and someone that the Pirates would obviously like to lock up long term, the big problem is that he’s represented by Scott Boras. Historically, Boras doesn’t deal with extensions very often, and likes for his clients to hit the free agent market for the best contract possible. Then there’s Francisco Cervelli, who is now been a very good offensive catcher, as well as a solid pitch framer behind the plate. A Cervelli extension would appear unlikely since the Pirates have Elias Diaz in waiting at AAA. When the Bucs extended Chris Stewart this past offseason, it appeared to be an indicator that they wanted to keep around a veteran backup catcher to help mentor Diaz. There’s also the possibility of Cervelli testing the open market after the season since good free agent catchers are a premium. In regards to other prospects, Jameson Taillon has already been quite injury prone before even joining the big leagues. Josh Bell certainly has the offensive potential, but his defense is an uncertainty, so it’s unclear how comfortable the Pirates would feel about extending him, if the defense becomes a real issue at first base.
Tyler Glasnow has been able to dominate every level of the minors, as he’s posted a 2.07 ERA along with a 1.06 WHIP and an outstanding 11.8 K/9. Stuff wise, his fastball is consistently upper-90’s and can even touch triple digits at times. The curveball is a real plus pitch, especially when he has good command of it. Glasnow has the complete package to be an unquestioned top of the rotation type starter. With the unlikelihood of the Pirates being able to extend Cole, Glasnow could certainly fill his spot as the ace starter down the road.