Grading NL Central front offices at midway point of 2024 MLB season

Tampa Bay Rays v Pittsburgh Pirates
Tampa Bay Rays v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Pirates: Ben Cherington, executive vice president and general manager. Grade: C

The Pirates have gotten headlines and good mileage out of a pair of system products. Rookie pitchers Paul Skenes (+1.5) and Jared Jones (+0.8) are a combined 9-6 in 23 starts with a collective 3.14 ERA. Skenes (4-0, 2.14) is a plausible Rookie of the Year candidate if he keeps it up.

Combine them with veteran Mitch Keller (+1.5), who Cherington re-upped through 2028 prior to the season, and you have three-fifths of a potentially dominant rotation.

Cherington’s problem has been elsewhere. He has tried to supplement the Pirate roster with the addition of veterans of the stripe of Aroldis Chapman, Yasmani Grandal, Andrew McCutchen and Rowdy Tellez.

But Keller notwithstanding, the cumulative impact of Cherington’s 11 free agent signings/re-ups stands at -1.9 games. Beyond that he brought in five players via trade, none of whom has played a consequential role. Their cumulative impact amounts to -0.5 games.

Since the end of the 2023 postseason, Cherington has made 25 roster moves impacting the major league roster, only seven of which have brought positive results. But one of those seven is Skenes’ promotion, and thus far that move alone covers a lot of small missteps. Skenes is both the reason why the Pirates remain on the fringes of Wild Card contention and also the reason why Cherington’s stats to date look borderline tolerable.

Score: -0.8. Grade: C.