By Jason Shetler
Now that we are approaching the midway point of the season, I thought I would grade each notable move that the Pirates made from this past offseason.
Daniel Hudson signing: After losing Neftali Feliz to free agency in the offseason, the Pirates essentially replaced him with another veteran reliever in Daniel Hudson to a two-year deal worth $11 million. Hudson has been a disappointment so far, posting a 5.23 ERA and a 4.43 Fielding Independent Pitching. The walk rate has been on the high side for him at 3.6. Hudson still has really good fastball velocity at 95.0 mph, while his slider remains a solid pitch. If he can display better control, then the numbers could improve. Grade: D
Ivan Nova signing: During last year’s trade deadline, Ivan Nova was acquired by the Pirates from the New York Yankees as a buy low option for the rotation, and completely turned his 2016 season around. Nova decided to stay in Pittsburgh on a three-year deal for $26 million, which is a very reasonable contract. As a matter of fact, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs regarded it as one of the better signings of the entire offseason. Nova was exceptional right out of the gate. So much so, that he was awarded National League Pitcher of the Month honors for April. To this point, Nova has posted the fifth lowest ERA among NL starting pitchers at 2.83, along with a 152 ERA+ and a 3.52 FIP. The phenomenal control for him continues to be a story, as his 0.7 BB/9 is the second best among MLB starters behind only Josh Tomlin of the Cleveland Indians. You can make a strong case that Nova should be on the NL All-Star team this year. Grade: A
Phil Gosselin trade: Looking to add utility depth for competition in Spring Training, the Pirates obtained Phil Gosselin from the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Frank Duncan in February. Gosselin had a good Spring and made the Opening Day roster. The numbers have been terrible for him, putting up just a .320 OPS and a -15 OPS+, which is virtually impossible to do. Gosselin was also bad on the defensive side, with a -0.2 dWAR and a Defensive Runs Saved of -2 at second base. He is currently playing for AAA Indianapolis. Duncan meanwhile has struggled with the Dbacks AAA affiliate in Reno, posting a 5.35 ERA, along with a 1.42 WHIP. Grade: F
Wade LeBlanc signing: The Pirates acquired Wade LeBlanc from the Seattle Mariners in September of last season to serve as an extra reliever on the expanded roster. Despite a small sample size, LeBlanc pitched very well. During the offseason, the Pirates made a somewhat surprising decision by signing the veteran southpaw to a one-year deal for $800,000 to avoid arbitration. His recent struggles have his ERA up to 4.03, but he does have a 108 ERA+ and a much better FIP of 3.02. His control has remained excellent, with a 1.7 BB/9. Overall, LeBlanc has been good for the most part so far this season, especially for someone who is making less than a million. Grade: B