Jason Mackey: What have the Pirates accomplished during a (surprisingly) busy offseason?
Published in Baseball
Ben Cherington's first three offseasons as Pirates general manager were marked more by learning or outgoing trades than by any foray into free agency.
For example, the Pirates this winter have spent $30,375,000 on free agents — on the lower end MLB-wide, but nearly $11 million more than Pittsburgh's past three offseasons combined and the most for the club since 2017 ($37,575,000).
Put another way, Cherington before this winter had spent more than $3 million on a free agent just twice during his tenure (Yoshi Tsutsugo and Roberto Perez, both last offseason) but over the past few months has done it five times with Vince Velasquez, Rich Hill, Carlos Santana, Austin Hedges and Andrew McCutchen.
The plan's effectiveness can't be truly learned until the season starts, but it does indicate a shift in strategy for the Pirates, who obviously tore it down and are working toward building the entire thing back up again.
"We entered the offseason with a commitment to improve in 2023 and beyond 2023," Cherington told the Post-Gazette this week. "For this offseason, a big part of it was trying to add depth to our lineup and improve our overall on-base ability, plus strengthen and get more left-handed in our pitching staff.
"We wanted to do it in a way that strengthened our team but kept runway open for young players to earn playing time and develop at the major league level. We explored all sorts of things, but we were able to find several matches in free agency that we believe fit our goals. We've had great support from [Pirates owner] Bob [Nutting] along the way."
With the Pirates likely done spending and set to formally re-introduce McCutchen on Friday at PNC Park, let's take a closer look at the ins and outs of their offseason thus far.
For the Pirates, it has been an improvement over some meager offseason spending the past few years. It also ups their payroll to a projected $72,556,630, per Ethan Hullihen of Pirates Prospects, which puts it close to what the team spent in 2014 ($73,426,249).
However, it's barely a drop in the bucket when examining the full MLB picture.
(c)2023 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.