Ben Cherington's first offseason as Pirates general manager is nearly in the books, but what direction is the team heading in exactly?
The Pirates have not had many subtractions or additions yet this winter, with spring training a little more than two weeks away. While the Starling Marte trade rumors have been reignited this week, to this point, the most notable departures are Dario Agrazal and Elias Diaz. On the flip side, their only additions have been catcher Luke Maile and outfielder Guillermo Heredia, both of whom signed major league deals, and a handful of veterans on minor-league contracts with invitations to spring training.
While the Pirates had an epic second-half collapse and finished in last place in the National League Central in 2019, they are just two years removed from a winning season in 2018 and were in contention at the All-Star break in 2019. With a new coaching staff and hopefully culture in place, an optimist could argue they could return to their 2018 form. They also have only one impended free agent, reliever Keone Kela, so they do not need to be rushed into trading their major-leaguers.
It raises the question, what direction does he want to go with this team in 2020? Rebuilding? Trying to stay pat and hope that everything gels?
"Just getting better," Cherington responded to that very question. "Every kind of resource you can imagine- whether it's time, energy or dollars- will go into getting better. That is not always a straight line, as we know.
"Every day of 2020, we are going to spend on trying to get better. That can include player related opportunities. It can include acquiring players, it may include trading players at some point, but it also includes a lot of other activity, like working with the coaching group and looking into our scouting process- amateur, professional, international, etc.- throughout baseball operations. I wouldn't say that our focus is anything but simply getting better, and working to build a winning team."