Pirates Ink Hudson, Nova in Same Week
In a time that has been otherwise quiet, that time being the Pittsburgh Pirates offseason, things have really picked up this week for Neal Huntington's club. Huntington orchestrated the revival of baseball in the Steel City a few years back and he's had a busy week by signing some free agent pitchers.
The Pirates first signed reliever Daniel Hudson to a two-year, $11 million deal earlier this week. Hudson finished the 2016 season 3-2 with a 5.22 ERA in 70 appearances. However, the elevated earned run average is quite deceptive considering the ups and downs Hudson experienced in 2016. His ERA jumped in June (9.00) and July (19.29), but Hudson eventually bounced back strong to finish the season.
Across his final 25 appearances, Hudson recorded a 1.66 ERA between August 5th and October 2nd. The Pirates added Hudson and will now likely use him as their setup man to closer Tony Watson. But the Pirates week did not stop there.
Following Hudson's signing, there have been rumors swirling that the Pirates have worked hard to make a trade for Jose Quintana of the Chicago White Sox. This trade is one that does not necessarily require Pittsburgh to ship star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen to Chicago in the deal. Chicago is not looking to add a guy like McCutchen, but rather load up on prospects. Whether or not Quintana will be a Pirate in 2017 remains to be seen. However, Pittsburgh did make another move to help their starting rotation regardless of what their current status with Quintana is.
The Pirates have worked hard to try to make a trade for Jose Quintana, whose modest contract is perfect for their budget size.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 21, 2016
On Thursday, the Pirates re-signed starter Ivan Nova to a three-year, $26 million deal. Nova was brought over from the New York Yankees last season and finished 2016 with strong outings in Pittsburgh. The Pirates have made a smart investment with Nova considering he came at a price that was far cheaper than what his perceived market value would be this offseason. It's a low risk, high reward type of deal for Pittsburgh.
The Pirates have now gone out and spent the money that they saved by shredding the salary of former starter Francisco Liriano last year in a trade that sent him to the Blue Jays. The Pirates are typically good for quiet offseasons, but this offseason has really started to progress this week.
No one really knows how close the Pirates are to acquiring Quintana, but that move would really bolster their rotation and make them serious contenders for the NL Central division. It is a very competitive division with the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs as well as the St. Louis Cardinals both in the same division as Pittsburgh. A guy like Quintana being added to the rotation they already have in place may propel them over both of those teams.
As of now Pittsburgh's rotation would have Gerrit Cole as the ace with Jameson Taillon or the re-signed Nova as the number two guy. The four and five spots are essentially up in the air at this point in time, but Chad Kuhl will most likely be one of the guys competing for that fourth or fifth spot in the back end of the rotation. Regardless of whether or not Quintana wears a Pirate uniform this upcoming season, many fans have to be happy with the moves being made.
Last season Pittsburgh tried to incorporate Juan Nicasio as a starter and their rotation was a work in progress. The problem is that work in progress never really progressed. Gerrit Cole missed time with some injuries and the rotation under-performed badly. Combine that with a down year from perennial All-Star Andrew McCutchen and it's no wonder the Pirates finished with a losing season. With there being as much time left as there is this offseason, it remains to be seen if Pittsburgh will make anymore moves. If Pittsburgh was able to acquire Quintana, as they have reportedly been very interested in doing, it's tough as a fan to be upset with their offseason.