The Pittsburgh Pirates have, simply put, not had a very good season. Between stupid decisions from important players and plain bad luck, 2017 has been a bear. The Pirates were 63-70, nine games back in the division, when they finally raised the white flag. They did so by putting up reliever Juan Nicasio on irrevocable waivers.
Nicasio has been the number two option in the bullpen all season and has been pretty decent. He put up a 2.85 ERA, only gave up four homers and had 3.33 strikeouts per walk. He is an important segway linking the late innings to the closer. The rest of the bullpen has been much more wishy washy behind him.
Giving up Nicasio means the Pirates are giving up on the season. Teams don’t give up their second best reliever when they think they can make the playoffs. Then again, most teams don’t give up a reliever of this caliber for nothing. There is a lot to unfold regarding the Pirates 2017 season and Armchair will take a look at that later this month.
For now, let’s focus on the absurdity of this move. Nicasio had all of $600,000 left on his contract. Pittsburgh may be small market, but removing him to save money is like throwing chairs off a boat to keep it from sinking. Additionally, the Pirates may have a weak bullpen next year and Nicasio would’ve certainly helped. Closer Felipe Rivero is the only player coming back next year that any fan could feel extremely confident in.
Nicasio will be a free agent this offseason, and the Pirates could re-sign him. However, past trends show that it is much harder to re-sign a player once he’s traded away. The front office gave away a decent reliever for nothing, likely cutting any opportunity to resign him next season, to achieve….something?
There are a couple possible reasons that the Pirates made this move. The most likely of which is that the Pirates wanted to give their young pitchers more innings in September. That would track except the Pirates haven’t called up any pitching prospects and, most glaringly of all, Joaquin Benoit is still on the team. If there was a reliever that the team would want to cut or put on waivers it’d be Benoit, an aging reliever with little value.
It is possible that the Pirates prospects are being kept down for the AAA playoffs for now. The only other reason is either the Front Office, or owner Bob Nutting, are making this move for purely monetary reasons. That would be a strange reason, but the Pirates were desperate enough to dump Francisco Liriano’s salary last year, and therefore, isn’t out of the equation.
No matter the reason, any chance at the 2017 playoffs is just like Juan Nicasio—gone.