Did someone open a window?
Maybe it’s not open right now. I mean, what we do now echoes throughout eternity and all of that.
I’m just saying, in the echo, it sounds like a window has been opened. And, if you focus, it sounds like it’s opening around 2023/2024.
The selection of Louisville catcher Henry Davis gives the Pirates back-to-back college bats under Pirates General Manager Ben Cherington. The addition sets up a future where Davis and 2020 first rounder Nick Gonzales could arrive in the majors around the same time, giving the Pirates their catcher and second baseman of the future.
That would be around the same time that Travis Swaggerty would have fully returned, ready to take the center field job. Perhaps Mason Martin is at first base, assuming the Pirates can’t lock down John Nogowski to a long-term extension. If Oneil Cruz isn’t at shortstop, he’s in the outfield with someone like Cal Mitchell, and shortstop would go to someone like Liover Peguero.
You can envision a future roster now, filled with prospects in the system.
That envisioned future roster will inevitably go to shit, as the best laid plans often do.
But, at least there’s a plan that is starting to become apparent.
The bulk of those players could arrive in the majors during the 2023 and 2024 seasons. They would be joined on the pitching side by guys like Quinn Priester, Tahnaj Thomas, Roansy Contreras, Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, or any other pitching prospect in the system who might step forward between now and then.
And all of this will take place while Ke’Bryan Hayes is on the roster.
I could make this an article about extending Hayes, or even extending Bryan Reynolds to try and extend the window.
But I’m less concerned with when the window closes.
I want to focus on when it opens. Right now that 2023/24 timeframe looks pretty solid.
However, a few things will happen between now and then, which could help add talent into the system, moving up the date of the window opening.
First, there are the obvious 20 additional picks the Pirates have in the current draft, including the first pick on day two.
Davis appears to be an under-slot guy, and the Pirates should be able to get a first round talent with the savings with their second round pick. That, plus the other 19 picks, will help boost a system on the rise.
Then, there’s the trade deadline in a few weeks. The returns that Ben Cherington got so far in his deals have been promising. The consistent trend is that the Pirates scouting has been doing a great job identifying guys on the rise in other organizations. That will suit them well if they’re active in dealing at the deadline, or in the offseason.
What I find most interesting is Cherington’s ability to find budget free agents. He did a good job of that with the Red Sox, and has found some sleepers thus far for the Pirates. The Pirates project to have a lot of prospects arriving, with a lot of the impact guys projected for that 2023/24 window.
Hayes is already here. Reynolds is already here. Nogowski is already here. And some of those prospects listed above could arrive in 2022, especially if the Pirates get aggressive with promotions like they did with Castro.
Cherington’s main focus has been building up the system, and he’s done a good job of that through multiple avenues of acquiring talent. Henry Davis adds to that mix. The remaining 20 drafted players will add to that. The trade returns will add to the mix. And the budget free agents could help speed up the window opening.
I still wouldn’t want to say that the window for the Pirates to contend would open before 2023.
I’ll just say that Cherington has an opportunity to speed it up, and has shown the ability needed to do just that.