The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to add a pair of hard-throwing arms out of the bullpen this offseason in Daniel Hudson and Nefi Ogando. Will they be satisfied with their current relief unit?
With the upcoming loss of Neftali Feliz, who has yet to sign with another team, you have to wonder if Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington is comfortable with what he currently has in his bullpen.
The relief unit is still awfully left-handed heavy, with Antonio Bastardo, Tony Watson and Wade LeBlanc in tow. At least one of that group of three is likely to be traded before spring training, leaving another spot for a right-handed arm.
Manship has bounced around in his career, but he pitched pretty well for the Cleveland Indians the past two seasons, to the tune of a 2.05 ERA, but with a 3.93 FIP. He carried a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.16 while fanning 7.3 per nine over that span. The Indians non-tendered Manship to avoid paying him a raise in arbitration, but he shouldn’t come at too high of a dollar figure.
His walk numbers may be a bit high, but Manship showed the ability to get batters out the past couple of seasons, and can keep the ball in the park with only eight home runs in 85 appearances over the last two seasons.
Cahill is a guy the Pittsburgh Pirates have had interest in the past and could be a nice fit in the middle of the bullpen. Once a struggling starter, Cahill has found his niche as a reliever.
Last season for the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, Cahill had a 2.74 ERA in 65.2 inning pitched while averaging a strikeout per inning. In addition, most of Cahill’s outliers were below the league average, which is a good sign. There is an issue with control – Cahill walked 4.8 hitters per nine – but teams may live with that to acquire his strikeout ability.
On the negative side, given the weak starting pitching market, a few teams may want to target Cahill as a starter to add rotation depth.
The 31-year old right made $3.9 million last season, which likely pushes him out of the Pittsburgh Pirates price range, but he’s a guy that could bring back solid value on a $3-4 million deal.
Hernandez spent last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, recording a 3.84 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 72.2 innings over 70 appearances.
He has a fastball that sits around 95 mph and also works in a slider and change. Hernandez has a decent strikeout rate at 9.9 per nine the past season and while he has typically been a fly ball pitcher, having seen 47.3 percent of contact been hit in the air during his career, this past season he dropped that number all the way down to 37.7 percent.
After a bump in the road in 2015, Maness lowered his ERA by almost a full run last season to 3.41. Granted that was only in 29 appearances.
Maness pitched to a 3.19 ERA in 244 career relief appearances for the Cardinals, but had surgery to repair a ligament in his elbow in August 2016. It is important to note that he did NOT undergo Tommy John surgery, but a less invasive one.
He is on schedule to be ready for spring training and shouldn’t come close to the $1.4 million salary he made a season ago, if purely due to risk. He is the type of pitcher the Pirates often take a flyer on and coming off an injury could probably be had on a minor-league deal.
Morrow is a very intriguing option.
After missing nearly a full season, the 32-year-old Morrow, who was once drafted No. 5 overall by the Seattle Mariners in 2006, transitioned from starter to reliever in 2016. And he did so pretty flawlessly, with a 1.69 ERA in 16 appearances.
While always an injury risk, Morrow still throws pretty hard and also mixes in an effective slider, curveball and changeup. He shouldn’t come at much of a salary at all and is the kind of arm worth taking a shot on.
There are plenty of others out there as well that could be effective arms coming out of the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen should Huntington decide he wants to add another arm.
Image Credit – Keith Allison – Flickr Creative Commons