Pittsburgh Pirates Roster
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Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton said that right-hander Mitch Keller will start on Opening Day on March 28 against the Marlins in Miami. This doesn't come as a surprise at all, especially after the club announced a five-year, $77 million extension with Keller earlier on Thursday. The 27-year-old was a first-time All-Star in 2023 and finished 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA (3.80 FIP) and 1.24 WHIP with 55 walks and a career-high 210 strikeouts in 194 1/3 innings over 32 starts in his fifth year in the majors. Keller was solid in the first half before sporting an ERA over 5.00 in the second half. It was nice to see Keller raise his strikeout rate last year, and his 3.70 xFIP shows that he was perhaps a little bit unlucky in the ERA department. He still has some upside, but he's best drafted as a depth arm for your fantasy rotation in the later rounds.
Right-hander Mitch Keller and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a five-year, $77 million contract extension on Thursday, according to sources. After a breakout season in which he struck out a career-high 210 batters, the 27-year-old Keller will anchor Pittsburgh's starting rotation for the team that drafted him in the second round in 2014 out of high school. The new deal will buy out what would have been Keller's first two years of free agency. In addition to his career-best 210 punchouts last year, Keller went 13-9 with a 4.21 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with 55 walks in 194 1/3 innings over a career-high 32 starts to garner his first All-Star nod. He was solid in the first half but fell apart after the All-Star break with a 5.59 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 13 starts down the stretch. Still, he upped his strikeout rate and isn't a bad No. 4 rotation option for fantasy managers with upside late in drafts.
The Pittsburgh Pirates claimed outfielder Canaan Smith-Njigba off waivers from the Seattle Mariners on Monday and placed right-hander JT Brubaker (elbow) on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster for Smith-Njigba. The Mariners had claimed Smith-Njigba off waivers from the Pirates, so he'll be returning to Pittsburgh for the start of the 2024 season. The 24-year-old is most likely to begin the year at Triple-A Indianapolis if he sticks with the team. In just 18 big-league games for the Bucs the last two years, he has gone 5-for-37 (.135) with no homers, five RBI and one steal. Brubaker, 30, is unlikely to pitch until the second half of the season in 2024 after having Tommy John surgery last year.
Free-agent right-hander Chase Anderson agreed with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday on a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to major-league spring training, according to a source. Anderson will be in camp with the Bucs this year looking to win a roster spot for the start of the 2024 regular season. The 36-year-old veteran hasn't been very reliable in 10 major-league seasons and went a combined 1-6 with a 5.42 ERA (5.72 FIP), a 1.42 WHIP, his first career save, 33 walks and 64 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings over 19 appearances (17 starts) for the Tampa Bay Rays and Colorado Rockies a season ago. Even if he makes Pittsburgh's Opening Day roster, Anderson isn't really going to be much of a fantasy weapon. He's posted a career ERA of 4.35 with a 1.29 WHIP and a well below-average 19.9 percent strikeout rate in 1,049 MLB innings.
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Wednesday that they signed free-agent left-hander Josh Fleming to a split one-year deal. The 27-year-old southpaw will make $850,000 if he's in the big leagues in 2024. The Pirates are planning to use him in a long-relief role, which won't give him much fantasy appeal for the rebuilding Bucs. Fleming went 2-0 in 2023 with a 4.70 ERA (5.66 FIP) and 1.45 WHIP with 19 walks and 25 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings over 12 appearances (three starts), and he has a career 4.88 ERA and 1.42 WHIP with one save and 144 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings over 55 outings (22 starts) in four years with the Tampa Bay Rays. Elbow issues cost Fleming more than two months in 2023, and at best, he'll be a low-upside streamer in NL-only leagues if he makes any spot starts in Pittsburgh.