The perpetually rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates have an interesting core.
Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and shortstop Oneil Cruz are very promising, Jacob Stallings is a solid starting catcher, and Mitch Keller and David Bednar are good pitchers trying to cement their place as major leaguers.
But they need a lot of help.
They probably won’t contend in 2022, but these players will help them improve.
3. Jake Marisnick
Jake Marisnick needs a job, and the Pirates need an outfielder who doesn’t mind not playing every day who boasts a quality glove in center field, preferably.
Marisnick fills those criteria.
The 30-year-old center fielder saw the San Diego Padres decline a $4 million mutual option for 2022, making him a free agent.
He has starting experience and some power potential, as evidenced by three consecutive seasons hitting 10 home runs or more from 2017 to 2019 in limited at-bats.
Excellent defense at center field and some power potential makes for a regular or a very good fourth outfielder when he’s right.
There is also the chance that Marisnick gets more playing time in Pittsburgh than everywhere else.
He could play most of his games against lefties at center, pushing star Bryan Reynolds to the corners, where he is at his best.
2. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo
The 29-year-old Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hasn’t been all that impressive since coming over from Japan a couple of seasons ago.
He hit .217 with eight homers and a poor .690 OPS on the season.
However, he was acquired by the Pirates during the campaign and started producing with them.
In 43 games with Pittsburgh, Tsutsugo slashed .268/.347/.535 with eight home runs, and that kind of production is more in line with expectations when he came to the States.
Tsutsugo can play both first base and the outfield corners, which is also a positive from a roster flexibility standpoint.
More importantly, he brings some thump to a lineup that lacks it.
Pittsburgh has many young players looking to establish themselves in the Show, but Tsutsugo’s power potential is needed on the Pirates.
Hayes had a down season in 2021, and the other powerful prospect, Cruz, only has a handful of plate appearances in the majors.
Reynolds is a stud, but after him, Pittsburgh needs some power.
Tsutsugo can provide it, and there is mutual interest in a reunion.
There’s mutual interest between the Pirates and Yoshi Tsutsugo to return to Pittsburgh. The sides are discussing a one-year deal, per @AlexJStumpf.
— Pittsburgh Baseball Now (@pghbaseballnow) November 16, 2021
1. Michael Wacha
The Pirates need pitching: all they can get.
Pirates are definitely looking to add starting pitching this offseason and are exploring opportunities through both free agency and trade, per Ben Cherington’s comments to https://t.co/h1pgIJW9pI
— Pirates Talk (@PITPiratesChat) November 11, 2021
However, they could sign a few unheralded arms looking to hit the jackpot.
For this exercise, we really like Michael Wacha and his strikeout potential.
Wacha played with the Tampa Bay Rays this year and finished with a 5.05 ERA in 124.2 frames.
At first sight, those numbers aren’t too inspiring, but consider he played against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Toronto Blue Jays for much of the season.
The transition from the American League East to the National League Central should be smooth.
Additionally, Wacha struck out almost a hitter per inning (121 in 124.2 frames) and had a respectable 1.31 WHIP.
He could eat innings and put up some good numbers in Pittsburgh.