3 players Pirates need to drop like a bad habit

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As the Pittsburgh Pirates look to do whatever it is they might do this offseason, they need to part with these 3 players.

After a brush with relevance from 2013-18, with three playoff appearances over that span, here we go again with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A 69-93 campaign in 2019 was followed by baseball’s worst record in 2020 (19-41).

The Pirates are far more likely to trade away notable names than add any, with trade talk around Joe Musgrove, Adam Frazier, Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon. General manager Ben Cherington is trying to reshape the organization from the inside out, and the rebuild will be a challenge with or without dealing the veteran assets he does have.

With a mix of sell-high assets or the ability to avoid contract commitments that may look bad, the Pirates should drop these three players like a bad habit.

3. SP Steven Brault

Over 42.2 innings (11 appearances, 10 starts) last season, Brault had a 3.38 ERA, a 8.0 K/9, a 0.42 HR/9 and a 49.1 percent ground ball rate. But the red flags start with an elevated 4.6 BB/9, and go right through to FIP (3.92), xFIP (4.85), SIERA (5.07) and BABIP against (.243). Adjustments in his pitch arrangement (throwing his changeup more) yielded better results in contact metrics (hard-hit rate, exit velocity).

Over his first 89 major-league appearances (35 starts), Brault posted a 4.88 ERA. So 2020 stands out as his best run, and it’s either a sign of progress or a one-off depending on perspective.

Coming off that nice year, and with three years of team control left, Brault has drawn trade interest. The Pirates have a sell-high opportunity in a market where low-cost pitching will be desired.

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