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Ex-MLB GM Pinpoints Pirates’ Early Needs Before 2024 Trade Deadline

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t made the playoffs since the 2015 MLB season. They haven’t finished better than fourth in the National League Central since 2016.

Yet, there’s reason for optimism in the Steel City, most notably because Pittsburgh is building a fascinating rotation that could thrust the Pirates into postseason contention sooner rather than later.

Jim Bowden, a former MLB general manager, this week examined this season’s trade deadline, with an eye toward identifying buyers, sellers and teams currently on the fence. A lot obviously can change between now and July 30, but the baseball landscape should come into focus over the next several weeks.

Bowden believes the Pirates are one of the “teams in between” — capable of either buying or selling — and that a few tweaks could improve Pittsburgh’s overall outlook.

“The Pirates need to focus on improving their outfield and overall lineup in future trades,” Bowden wrote.

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Pittsburgh’s pitching staff has serious upside, thanks to a rotation led by Paul Skenes, Jared Jones and Mitch Keller. Keller is the elder statesman of the group, now in his sixth season with the Bucs, but Skenes and Jones — a pair of highly touted rookies — have the potential to completely change the narrative in Pittsburgh. Skenes, in particular, looks like a future Cy Young candidate.

For the Pirates, it could come down to bolstering the rest of the roster, whether it’s this season or this winter. After all, the NL Central isn’t exactly the strongest division.

“The Pirates have a solid group of position players to build around including shortstop Oneil Cruz, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes and left fielder Bryan Reynolds,” Bowden wrote. “However, they need to lengthen their lineup and be more competitive in general in the offensive side of the game. The Pirates rank 22nd in runs scored and 27th in OPS.”

The Pirates lost 101 games in 2021 and 100 games in 2022 before improving to 76-86 in 2023. They’ve hovered around .500 for a good chunk of the 2024 campaign, but Pittsburgh’s arrow definitely is pointing up.

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Featured image via Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports Images