The Pittsburgh Pirates brief status as playoff contenders may have ended earlier than expected, and fans are probably right to enter 2018's rebuilding campaign with low expectations. A top pitcher in Gerrit Cole was traded this offseason as was the team's star player and former MVP Andrew McCutchen. Despite that, Pittsburgh's road back to the postseason could be shorter compared to that of other teams.
It's not at all surprising Pirates GM Neal Huntington went down the rebuilding road. McCutchen was entering a contract year and unlikely to sign a new deal and Cole, after a down 2017, was likely on the way out for the sake of restocking the farm system while his value was still high.
The good news for the Pirates is that given the return from those trades, not to mention the state of the roster now, getting back to the playoffs could come sooner than expected.