Pittsburgh Pirates: Arbitration Eligible Pitchers, Who Stays?
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Yesterday we looked at the arbitration eligible position players for the Pittsburgh Pirates, how they performed in 2021 and whether or not they should be brought back based off their projected salary.
Today we will look at the pitchers, which is a shorter list than position players. Four pitchers are arbitration eligible, and while there are some position players that are obvious, the picture on the mound is a little less clear.
Chasen Shreve - 3-3 3.20 ERA 4.73 FIP 1.26 WHIP 7.19 K/9 4.26 BB/9 - $2.3 million - Keep
This was actually harder than it seemed at first. Shreve was one of the go to arms in the Pirates bullpen this season, and while there was a lot to like (ERA, WHIP, .209 opponent's average), there were also times where he looked like he didn't belong on a major league roster.
That's life as a major league reliever, which produces some of the craziest waves in professional sports. There may be a little bit more for Shreve to give, as his K/9 rate was fairly low for his career average, but he also clearly benefitted from a strong defense behind him (nothing wrong with that) and $2.3 million might be too much for a reliever where you're hoping he's good more than he's bad.
He gets the nod at the very least because Austin Davis brought back Michael Chavis at the deadline in 2021, and Shreve would become one of the Pirates' biggest trade pieces in the upcoming season.
Chris Stratton - 7-1 8 SV 3.63 ERA 3.76 FIP 1.30 WHIP 9.76 K/9 3.74 BB/9 - $2.2 million - Keep
The 31-year-old righty was one of the most used receivers in all of baseball last year, finishing two outs shy of 80 innings pitched. Stratton was brilliant for the Pirates in 2021 and is one of the few no doubters when it comes to bringing people back that are arbitration eligible.
Stratton should enter 2022 as the team's go to set up guy, but with eight saves last year he does have closer experience if they decide not to just hand the job over to David Bednar.
Chad Kuhl - 5-7 4.82 ERA 5.31 FIP 1.43 WHIP 8.40 K/9 4.71 BB/9 - $3.0 million - Pass
Kuhl is an awesome story, coming back from an injury after nearly two years out of the majors, and he seems like an even better person. That being said, whether it be as a starter or a reliever at this number I'm passing.
If he wants to come back as a non roster player to try and work his way back into the bullpen that's fine. His sinker/slider combination could be an ideal signing for a lot of teams out there, maybe even one that feels comfortable enough to give him some sort of guaranteed deal.
But he wasn't particularly great as a starter or reliever, and I'd much rather use that $3 million to look somewhere outside of the organization for help when it comes to the rotation.
Steven Brault - 0-3 5.86 ERA 4.62 FIP 1.63 WHIP 6.18 K/9 3.90 K/9 - $2.2 million - Pass
What it really came down to for the last two players listed was the fact that they were projected to make either the same, or more, than their projected go to set up guy. With only 27 2/3 innings last year I'm almost okay with calling 2021 a wash for Brault, but I'm not sure I want to count on him for a rotation spot right now, and the multi-million deals would start to pile up in the bullpen if make him a reliever.
He'd be another guy that I'd want to bring back as a non roster guy with knowledge some other team would really like to buy high on his 2020 season that saw him post a 3.92 FIP.