MLK weekend has been rough for Pittsburgh sports fans. They saw Gerrit Cole shipped out of town, watched the Jaguars hang 45 on the Steelers, and today discovered that Andrew McCutchen, the face of the Pirates for the past nine years, will become the newest member of the San Francisco Giants.
It may not be much consolation at this point, but the Pirates actually did decide to hold onto a player today. Mere moments after the McCutchen trade became official, Ken Rosenthal reported that Pittsburgh had reached an agreement on an extension with closer Felipe Rivero. The deal will keep the young lefty in the Steel City for at least the next four years, and possibly the next six.
Sources: #Pirates signing LH closer Felipe Rivero to four-year contract with two club options. Guarantee believed to be about $22M, with each club option $10M. Deal will cover all four arb years and potentially two FA years. Not clear if an agency was involved in negotiations.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 15, 2018
Felipe Rivero Signs Extension with Pirates
Rivero is just 26 and has spent three seasons in the Majors. He broke into the bigs in 2015 with the Washington Nationals, and was traded to the Pirates in 2016. Rivero had a strong rookie campaign, posting a 0.95 WHIP and a 2.79 ERA in 48.1 innings in his first season. However, an ugly 4.53 ERA across the first half of the next season prompted the Nats to dump him. The change of scenery worked for Rivero, as he accumulated a respectable 3.29 ERA the rest of the way.
Rivero broke out in 2017. Working mostly in ninth innings, Rivero notched 21 saves (and 14 holds), an 0.89 WHIP, a 1.67 ERA, and 88 strikeouts in 75.1 innings. After issuing 33 walks in 2016, he dropped that figure to 20 last season.
Little is certain about the Pirates at the moment. They’re clearly headed in the direction of a massive rebuild. It would hardly be shocking to see them move more of their current roster as the offseason wears on. This deal, however, seems to indicate that they aren’t totally willing to give up on all of their valuable assets.
The Pirates may not win many games next season, but at least they can be confident in closing out the leads they do manage to take into ninth innings. Rivero is just one player, but he’s young and talented, and a player they can build a strong bullpen around.