The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the historical franchises in Major League Baseball, and certainly one of the most romantic.
Players like Honus Wagner, Ralph Kiner, Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, Barry Bonds, and most recently Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen have proudly played for the Pirates in the past.
Yet Pittsburgh’s last postseason appearance came in 2015, when they lost the Wild Card game against the Chicago Cubs.
Right now, the playoffs seem like a longshot, a dream that fans probably won’t be able to see come true for at least a couple of years.
The Current State Of The Franchise
Pittsburgh is already 17-24 and far from the top spot in the National League Central division, 6.5 games behind the leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Most experts have them projected to finish last in the division and challenge for the worst record in MLB when the season ends.
But the Pirates do have some pieces for the future that could represent a foundation of something good.
Hayes hit .376/.442/.682 in 24 games last year, but is currently nursing a wrist injury.
He is relatively close to making a return, though.
Ke'Bryan Hayes: Nearing rehab assignment https://t.co/ib0F13oktk
— RotoWire⚡ (@RotoWire) May 16, 2021
Oliva is about ready to contribute, while Cruz could need a few more months or perhaps even more.
Jared Oliva – Pittsburgh Pirates (1)* pic.twitter.com/tofrmBykBD
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 11, 2021
The good thing is that there is no rush for Pittsburgh to get them to the bigs.
What About the Pitching?
On the pitching side of things, Mitch Keller continues to tease with his tantalizing upside but limited results (7.16 ERA in 32.2 frames).
If he ever puts it all together, the Pirates will have a very good starter.
Perhaps the Pirates can flip Anderson for extra prospects at the deadline.
Speaking of prospects, pitcher Miguel Yajure, who came from the Yankees in the Taillon trade, is a promising young right arm.
All in all, the organization is still in the player evaluation/development phase, meaning that they have some prospects with potential and they are seeing who has a future in the franchise and who doesn’t.
Right now, Pittsburgh is far from a postseason spot, and won’t be contenders this year or next.
As a realistic target for contention, the Pirates should set 2023-2024, which would line up with the service time clock for Hayes and some of the best prospects on the team.