The Pittsburgh Pirates have done well in the past few years looking at bargain players, especially on the pitching side of the game. They look to be going the same route again this year, once again looking for bargain starting pitchers. Baseball Prospectus released a list of 12 players who are likely to be bargains this year. The list is numbered, but I don’t think it’s a rankings list, since each writer had one player.
The first player on the list was A.J. Burnett, although the write-up mentions that he’s not exactly like the other players on the list. Burnett is deciding between retiring and returning to the Pirates. If he returns, it will likely come at a below market rate. Pirates fans are worried Burnett will sign somewhere else, but it seems R.J. Anderson of BP shares my opinion that Burnett will only return to the Pirates if he returns.
If Burnett doesn’t sign, then the Pirates could find a replacement in Josh Johnson or Bartolo Colon. Johnson is number four on the list, and Harry Pavlidis of BP says that he looks like a bargain due to the lack of draft pick compensation, his five pitch mix, and the fact that his 6.20 ERA could lower his price. Ben Carsley looked at Colon, noting that he doesn’t look like a sexy option, but notes that he will come fairly cheaply and with less financial risk than some of the more desirable free agents.
The Pirates also have a need at first base, and Corey Hart could be an interesting option. He missed the 2013 season after surgery on both of his knees, which raises questions of how much he can bounce back, and how much the surgeries will limit him. Hart’s agents released a video of his workouts today. He looks healthy in the video, although the video is 30 seconds long and doesn’t say how he will hold up over a full season plus playoffs. If Hart returned to his pre-2013 numbers, he’d be a huge bargain at first base. Tim Collins of BP says that a .270/.325/.490 line with 20+ homers is well within his reach.
Finally, the Pirates would be fine if they went with Jordy Mercer as their starting shortstop, but Jhonny Peralta wouldn’t be a bad upgrade. BP had him as number 11 on the list, with Nick J. Faleris saying that Peralta could come on a 1-3 year deal at $5-8 M per year. He also says that Peralta could be a good six hole hitter in a first division lineup, could play shortstop in the short-term, and eventually move to third base to maintain value. Peralta would be an interesting option for that latter point, as he could replace Pedro Alvarez if Alvarez goes down with an injury.