According to Travis Sawchik, the Pittsburgh Pirates have an interest in free agent right-handed pitcher Mat Latos. There have been rumors of the Pirates showing interest in many pitchers who fit the same mold as Latos. He has had success in the past, but he’s coming off a down year, so the Pirates would be a perfect team to sign with for one year in an attempt to turn things around and build back up his value.
Latos just turned 28 yesterday and has a 3.51 ERA/3.44 FIP in seven seasons in the majors, spent mostly with the Reds. He played for three different teams in 2015, starting with the Marlins after an off-season trade, before going to the Dodgers and then Angels. He had a 4.95 ERA in 21 starts and three relief appearances, picking up 100 strikeouts in 116.1 innings. From 2010-13, he average over 200 innings per season with the Reds. Latos has a career 1.18 WHIP and has averaged 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings during his career. More on this shortly.
UPDATE 11:44 AM: Analysis from Tim Williams…
I’ll just give a quick breakdown of Latos here to say that he fits the mold as a reclamation project. He had a down year in 2015 with a 4.95 ERA, but his 3.69 xFIP indicated he should have been better. At his best, you’ve got a guy with top of the rotation results. He’s not an extreme ground ball pitcher, but gets an average amount.
Instead of going into great detail here, I’m going to focus on the idea of adding pitching after the addition of Jon Niese. I was never under the impression that the Pirates were done adding to their rotation after that one move. In fact, I mentioned a few times yesterday how the addition of another pitcher would set up a deal of someone like Charlie Morton for someone like Mitch Moreland. And I’m only throwing out that example because that’s the one we’ve heard any kind of rumor about. We don’t even have a concrete rumor there, just that the Rangers need back of the rotation pitching and the Pirates like Moreland.
As I wrote earlier this week, the Pirates always have a plan that we’re not privy to. We occasionally get glimpses of the plan via rumors, but even that isn’t clear. In this case, we’ve heard constantly that the Pirates have been looking at starters, from Scott Kazmir, to Justin Masterson, and every reclamation project in between. I don’t think the Pirates would go through all of that just to solve their rotation problems by adding Niese. That’s nothing against Niese, but the Pirates have been scouting a lot of people, have a strong track record of fixing reclamation projects, and seem to have the interest of every project on the market. To take that, and then make Niese your only pitching addition doesn’t add up, especially when you consider that they continue to add guys.
I think the roster shuffling is only just starting. It wouldn’t surprise me if they signed another starter, then used the new excess to land another need. There’s also the possibility that they have moves in mind that we aren’t even considering right now. At this time last year, no one would have guessed that they would sign Jung-ho Kang later in the off-season.
If Niese is the only pitching addition, then the Pirates are potentially set up for a quiet off-season where they add another first baseman, trade Mark Melancon, add some bench and bullpen help, and go to the season. But based on the continued rumors about pitching, it seems like it will be much more complex than that, which is ultimately why I’m waiting to see how their entire plan plays out, to get the full context of the moves, rather than evaluating them in a vacuum.