The Pittsburgh Pirates disappointed at this year’s trade deadline. They did nothing to upgrade their team while other teams upgraded around them. But the Pirates can find their own upgrades from their own farm system.
The Pirates have two big areas they need to upgrade: the bullpen and the bench. They also have a possible need in their starting rotation. Looking at these holes, there are players in their farm system that can be used as upgrades over their current roster. The bullpen will be the easiest thing to upgrade.
When looking at the Pirates bullpen, there are two sore spots, Jeanmar Gomez and Ernesto Frieri. The Pirates were searching to possibly replace these players and they still can by looking at their Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians. The Indians have a closer named Andy Oliver who was an All-Star this season. He is a left-handed reliever that has been striking out a ton of batters, just like the Pirates were looking for on the trade market. Oliver also has major-league experience pitching for the Detroit Tigers.
The Pirates also have Vin Mazzaro playing with the Indians. He has been impressive in relief with the team and has even contributed to the Pirates in the past and this current season. Other bullpen options the Pirates could look at calling up include Wirfin Obispo, a former waiver wire claim, former big-league pitcher Rafael Perez and prospect AJ Morris. And even if the Pirates do not call up someone to take a spot in the bullpen, one of the current pitchers in the starting rotation could be bumped to the bullpen when Gerrit Cole returns from the disabled list.
A better bench option could come from the returns of Starling Marte and Clint Barmes from the disabled list, bumping current starters to the bench, but that still leaves the Pirates without a reliable right-handed bat off of the bench. One possible solution could be young outfielder Mel Rojas Jr. He has been with the Indians most of the year and in that time, he has provided great offensive output from the right side of the plate against left-handed pitchers. Former starting outfielder Jose Tabata could also find his way back on to the big-league roster if the Pirates feel he has matured.
The starting rotation is something that most likely does not need an upgrade unless several pitchers continue to falter. But if that happens, one possible solution could be calling up prized prospect Nick Kingham who has dominated Triple-A since he received a promotion a few weeks ago. Other options would include players who have made spot starts for the Pirates before, such as Brandon Cumpton.
All of these players could be due for a call up with the Pirates. All of them could provide a big impact for the big league club down the stretch of a playoff race. So though the Pirates did not upgrade their roster through a trade, they can still upgrade the roster by just looking down on the farm system.