The Pittsburgh Pirates had a fantastic season in 2013, which resulted in a Wild Card berth out of the National League and a playoff appearance. While it didn’t end the way the Bucs would have liked, they’ve set themselves up for the future and will now have to deal with the expectations that come along with being a contending team.
There’s little doubt that the Pirates are a team built to last. Their team on the field is a relatively young one, and they have a solid farm system overall. They’ll be right back in the mix for a division title, and potentially an NL pennant, next season. This winter, though, they’ve already made it clear that the focus will be on the future.
There are some free agents that this front office will have to deal with. They’ll have decisions to make on the likes of A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd. At the same time, though, there are players on this team worthy of extensions, and are much more vital to the future of Pittsburgh than guys like Burnett or Byrd.
Make no mistake, Burnett and/or Byrd could be back next season. However, Pirates brass has already come out and said that extensions for the likes of Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez will be right at the top of the club’s to-do list this offseason, which is officially underway for the Buccos.
In the case of Walker, you could say that he’s replaceable and that there are better options out there. Then you’d realize that second base isn’t exactly the deepest of positions. Walker came on toward the end of the regular season, and is actually a decent source of offense from that spot. He’s definitely worth keeping around.
Alvarez is definitely more of a logical priority for the Pirates. He’s a pure power bat, and we also saw him do some great things with the glove this season as well. He’s a source of home runs and RBIs, but if he can get that batting average up even just a touch, he’s absolutely a piece worth keeping around.
The Pirates made moves throughout the season, but didn’t compromise their team or their farm system in chasing a World Series. This team will be right back in the mix next season, and they’re smart to continue to look to the future in exploring multiple player extensions, rather than focusing on the more replaceable folks, like Marlon Byrd.