The Pittsburgh Pirates sent a clear message on Monday – the rebuild is officially on.
At this time last year, there were high hopes surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates. While they were relatively quiet during the offseason, they had made several acquisitions at the 2018 trade deadline with an eye towards the future, bringing in Chris Archer and Keone Kela. Finally, 2019 was going to be the year the Pirates fought their way back to the postseason.
And then the games began. The Pirates struggled, ending the season with a dreadful 69-93 record. A mass firing was the result, with a new manager, general manager, and team president all in place. Changes were coming.
The first of those changes came on Monday. Starling Marte, who had been a frequent topic in trade rumors, was finally dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks. In exchange, the Pirates received a pair of high upside prospects – Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone.
This trade also sent an undeniable message to the fanbase – the rebuild is officially in full effect. No longer will the Pirates attempt to patch together a contending team by signing marginal free agents and hoping for the best. Instead, it is time to slash and burn; to tear everything down and attempt to rebuild the farm system.
The Pirates are certainly moving towards that goal. As noted by Bob Nightengale, the Pirates currently have a payroll of just over $43 million. Should the likes of Archer, Kela, and Gregory Polanco find themselves on the move, that number will fall even further.
But such is life in baseball these days. The Astros tanked their way to a World Series, even if they got some help from RubberMaid. The Nationals did the same before Houston, but took longer to get their payoff. Teams like the Orioles, Royals, and Tigers are following that path. Now it is the Pirates turn to stare mediocrity, or worse, dead in the eye in the hope that they can land a coveted top pick over the next few years. Then, and only then, will they be able to come out of the rebuild.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have decided upon a course. The waters may be rough for a few years, but the hoped for payoff would be worth it.