The Pittsburgh Pirates won 98 games this season, the second-best record in Major League Baseball, but it wasn't enough to catch the St. Louis Cardinals (100 wins) in the NL Central. And for the second year in a row, they were eliminated in the NL wild-card game by one of MLB's hottest pitchers; last year it was Madison Bumgarner, and this year it was Cy Young Award favorite Jake Arrieta. That's disappointing for a team that was good enough to win a World Series.
The Pirates have one of the best front offices in baseball, led by president Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington, and they'll head back to the boardroom to figure out how to win the division next year so they don't have to depend on a single wild-card win. The good news is that this organization has a strong nucleus in place, as well as a strong farm system, so there's a strong chance they'll at least get back to the postseason next year.
Objective No. 1: Say goodbye to most of their free agents
As you can see above, the Pirates have a long list of free agents, and at least a handful of them -- Happ, Soria, Blanton, Bastardo -- likely will seek better deals than they could get from the Pirates. In addition, Ramirez and Burnett have announced they are retiring from baseball.