Ranking the best rebuilding teams in Major League Baseball

Sep 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel (18) is greeted after hitting a grand slam home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel (18) is greeted after hitting a grand slam home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Bryan Reynolds
Oct 2, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds (10) runs the bases on his way to scoring a run against the Cincinnati Reds during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

#8: Pittsburgh Pirates

Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes pairing along with Bryan Reynolds looks like it could be a solid foundation to build this lineup around. Cruz especially looks like he will be able to hit at an above-average level in the majors at least. Hayes will probably take some more time to get to that level as his best tool is in the field. Travis Swaggerty, Liover Peguero, and Mason Martin all look like they have the potential to help in some capacity at the Major League level, Swaggerty probably more so than the other two given his success at Triple-A and a more disciplined approach at the plate

The Pirates seventh overall pick in the 2020 draft, Nick Gonzales, performed well in 2021 with 18 home runs, a .950 OPS, and a 150 WRC+ in his first stint in the minors at High-A. He most likely won’t be up until earliest the 2023 season, but has shown a superior hitting ability already.

The pitching for this team is really what keeps them down as the lineup does look to have some glimmer of hope heading into the the future. There really isn’t anyone currently on the roster I can see being in a playoff-contending rotation except for maybe newly acquired Zach Thompson from Miami. Bryse Wilson and Wil Crowe are former top prospects for other teams who could set their feet with the Pirates, but their Major League careers so far have not been working out.

There is potential in Roansy Contreras as he had a fantastic season across the minors in 2021. Quinn Priester I am more hesitant on as his FIP and expected numbers do not look promising, but I am hopeful he can get closer to his very high ceiling now that he has had some real time in the minors. Lastly, Miguel Yajure looks like he could be a decent back-end to mid-rotation guy. So there is potential for a solid rotation if the prospects are able to pan out.

With practically no money on the books, the Pirates could look to be spenders in free agency, but we all know that is not really their style. Looking at younger hitters like Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto, or Jorge Soler would really jazz up their lineup. However, I think it is more likely they go for young-bargain options to fill out the lineup and rotation like Dan Vogelbach or Yusei Kikuchi. A reunion with Andrew McCutchen would be interesting if he is not able to find his way on to a contender.

Limited top end and even average rotation options with not a lot of potential lineup depth could hinder this team from being in playoff contention in the near future.