Who are the best free agent signings in Pittsburgh Pirates’ history?
The Pittsburgh Pirates are not exactly known as a team that makes big splashes in free agency. It just simply isn’t their style. They have traditionally either drafted and developed their players or acquired them via trades.
Free agency also is relatively new compared to the age of the franchise as the Pirates were already 88 years old by the time Peter Seitz ended the Reserve Clause in 1975. Because of this and the Pirates’ status as a small market team, they simply do not go above and beyond in free agency very often. That being said, the Pirates do sign free agents and sometimes they’re better than most think.
Recently the Pirates have been known for finding value in free agency by signing lesser known players and maximizing their output. It’s a good system and you could probably do a top five list of just the Pirates’ best value deals, but the Pirates are more than the 2013 to present day and even during their 20-season losing streak, they signed quality players. So without further ado, I present my top five best free agent deals in Pirates’ history, starting with number five.
5. Edinson Volquez: 2014
We start our list with a relatively recent player in Edinson Volquez. When Volquez was signed before the 2014 off-season, many people were not happy. He was compared to Jonathan Sanchez, who signed in 2013, who completely washed out before the second month of the season.
Volquez didn’t help himself by having a fairly terrible spring, going 0-3 with a 9.64 ERA. Many fans assumed he was going to be a waste of $5 million. Once spring turned to summer, Volquez proved pretty much everyone wrong. He was absolutely incredible in his lone Pirates’ season, going 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA, a 4.15 FIP and was worth 2.5 wins above replacement.
He pitched so well that he found himself starting the 2014 National League Wildcard Game. While he didn’t have his best effort in the Pirates’ loss to the San Francisco Giants, it was still pretty unreal that in just six months, Volquez went from hated off-season signing to playoff starter. It was quite the season that Volquez parlayed into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Kansas City Royals.