By: Noah Wright
The Pirates have a handful of young players currently on the roster. Many of which they haven’t really explored contract extensions with. The Pirates don’t really give out too many extensions. The last notable one they gave out was to a player was Gregory Polanco in 2016. Since then, they haven’t even been in talks with some of their players in long term contracts. However, they probably should explore some sort of deal with the following players.
- Jameson Taillon (RHP):
Taillon just came off a great 2018 season. He finished with 191 innings pitched, a 3.20 ERA, 3.46 FIP, and 1.178 WHIP. Plus, he kept opponents to an OPS below .700 (.681). Taillon gave up only 20 home runs and 46 walks in 2018. Taillon was very impressive from late May to the end of the season. He put up 22 straight starts of giving up less than 3 earned runs in each of his outings. Taillon will reach arbitration during the 2020 off season, and will be a free agent after 2022. Right now is the time to extend Taillon. Taillon will only be 27 for most of the ‘19 season. A reasonable extension is something like Luis Severino’s contract. The Yankees gave Sevy for $40 million over 4 years. Something right around $10-$12 million AAV across 4 or 5 years is fair for a young starter who has plenty of potential.
- Josh Bell (1B):
Josh Bell is coming off a fairly disappointing season after a rookie year where he blasted 26 home runs, .800 OPS, .211 ISO, and 112 wRC+. Though Bell saw a dip in his power numbers, as he hit just 12 bombs, and a .150 ISO. However, Bell did improve in multiple categories. Bell did see an improvement in walk rate (10.6% to 13.2%), a lowered strikeout rate (18.9% to 17.8%), and he barrelled up the ball more (32.6% hard hit rate to 33.8% hard hit rate). If he could take the plate discipline from 2018, and his power from 2017, he could be a very good baseball player. Bell will be 26 for all but part of August and September during 2019. Bell will be a FA when Taillon is. The Bucs might want to explore an extension soon with Bell before he becomes expensive. I think reasonably, a 5 or 6 year extension for $12 million AAV is reasonable for Bell. Bell still has plenty of potential left, and it’s not hard to see him not putting together a season where he bats .270/.350/.460 with 20-25 home runs, and good defense in coming seasons.
- Corey Dickerson (OF):
Dickerson isn’t a typical extension candidate. He isn’t super young. Next year he’ll be 30. He also isn’t a home grown product. He was acquired by the Bucs through a trade with the Rays early last March. However in the Bucs current situation, he would be a good candidate on a short term extension. Last year, Dickerson hit .300/.330/.474 in 533 PA’s. He also finished with 115 wRC+. He had also received the NL gold glove for left field. Dickerson had 16 DRS, 8.6 UZR, and 1.1 dWAR in LF. Dickerson on a 1 or 2 year extension would be a good investment. He’s a free agent after 2019, and the Pirates have 2018 first round pick, Travis Swaggerty, still working his way up through the minors. He’s expected to make a full impact by 2021, so locking down Dickerson for 2020 could be a good bridge for the Pirates to use for Swaggerty.
- Adam Frazier (2B/OF):
Adam Frazier has been a consistent producer at the plate throughout his career. Last year, he produced a decent .277/.342/.456 line with 10 home runs in 352 PA’s. Frazier also showed a lot of improvement during the 2018 season. He increased his hard hit rate to an career high 34.8%. Frazier's versatility is also an asset. During 2019, he’ll be the Bucs’ primary 2B, but he has ample experience as an outfielder, and could play shortstop and 3B if need be. Overall, he has 4 career DRS at second base. A similar extension the Pirates could offer the 27 year old Frazier is like Josh Harrison’s original extension. Back early during the 2015 season, the Pirates gave Harrison a guaranteed 4 year, $27.3 million contract. Given similar age, and performance throughout his MLB career so far, that would represent an accurate reflection of what a Frazier extension could look like.