By Jason Shetler
It was a disappointing 2017 trade deadline for the Pirates. While they didn’t stand pat, the lack of moves that were made was puzzling. Even the moves the Pirates did make weren’t too positive. As expected, the Bucs traded Tony Watson. In return, they received a pair of prospects from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite their potential, both are in Low A this season, and are years away from helping the big club. The other move was acquiring Joaquin Benoit from the Philadelphia Phillies, which was baffling to say the least. The Pirates reportedly wanted to obtain a controllable reliever, but instead, they got a rental in Benoit.
Prior to the deadline, I posted about how the Pirates should trade Juan Nicasio. Like Watson, Nicasio is also a free agent after the season, and the Pirates aren’t guaranteed to make the playoffs. The Pirates made a surprising decision by not trading Nicasio at the deadline. With that being said, is it possible that they could try to extend him before the end of the season?
After being moved from the rotation to the bullpen last season, Nicasio pitched much more effectively, as he posted a 2.93 ERA. His success as a reliever has carried over into this year, posting an ERA of 2.42, along with a 177 ERA+ and a 2.72 Fielding Independent Pitching in 52 appearances.
Nicasio is making a very reasonable $3.6 million for 2017, so extending him wouldn’t be impossible to do. The Pirates reportedly wanted to extend Neftali Feliz a year ago, but obviously no deal was reached. They could try to approach Nicasio the same way. David Freese was signed to a two-year extension last August, which might be similar to what Nicasio receives. If the Pirates aren’t going to move Nicasio for a prospect return, then perhaps they could attempt to re-sign him, in an effort to keep him as the setup man to Felipe Rivero.