The Pirates were rather active around the deadline making 3 trades in the last 16 hours or so and giving fans and columnists a whole lot to talk about. The trades have will likely have varying level of impact and I will give my opinion on them. First let’s start with the last two deals of the day the two minor ones.
Pirates Get: Gaby Sanchez, Kyle Kaminska
Pirates Give: Gorkys Hernandez, comp pick
On the surface this doesn’t look like a bad move. Hernandez has little vlaue to the Pirates right now and as an all defense guy has little trade value. Kaminska is a minor league pitcher who has put up some good peripherals but who also has a lack of value. This really comes down to the comp pick for Sanchez. I really like Gaby Sanchez and is a guy I profiled as someone I would like to see the Pirates make a move for to help the team next year. However as we would find out later the Pirates didn’t pick up Sanchez to help out starting next season.
Pirates Get: Chad Qualls
Pirates Give: Casey McGehee
This one I don’t get. McGehee isn’t super valuable but Qualls is a pretty bad reliever. With Juan Cruz coming back from the DL and Bryan Morris appearing ready in AAA trading for a guy like Qualls seems very odd. He doesn’t improve the club. As far as losing McGehee that is not a huge blow but replacing him with Sanchez for this season seems a little odd.
To me these two trades essentially boil down to McGehee and the comp pick for Sanchez. I was fine with Sanchez for the comp pick as he hit for a nice .260/.334/.419 line over the last 3 seasons. He was a great guy to platoon with Jones next season and he would have came at a very cheap price with a chance as regaining his form as a functional starting 1B. However throwing McGehee into this trade makes it less impactful. At best Sanchez is going to be as good as McGehee this season. Not a huge deal but very odd.
Pirates Get: Travis Snider
Pirates Give: Brad Lincoln
This was one I wasn’t sure of as first as I’m now very worried about the bullpen next year as it appears possible that none of Lincoln, Grilli or Hanrahan will be a part of it. However relievers even one as good as Lincoln has been are relatively easy to replace where as power hitting corner outfielders are hard to find. In his time in the majors Snider has posted some decent but not great numbers (.735 career OPS) even with those numbers he would be an upgrade over Presley and Sutton. However at only 24 years old Snider has a lot of room to grow and looks like he may be turning a corner having posted good numbers in AAA this seasons and good numbers in his limited time in the majors. This definitely hurts the bullpen a lot next season and basically makes it a must for the Pirates to resign Grilli and add another good arm before next season but it comes with a huge possible upside.
These aren’t moves you traditionally see contenders make but as a small market the Pirates need to act differently and acquiring a good bounce back candidate for next year in Gaby Sanchez and a high risk high reward guy like Snider for basically one very solid relief pitcher and some spare parts are moves that make sense. Now as far as moving McGehee for a player likely to be DFA’d when Cruz returns I’m not sure of the thought process there.
One Loss, Nothing More
A lot of new Pirate fans get well lets say a little to worried about one loss. I’m thinking this is an effect of them being football fans where 1 loss is really quite significant but in a baseball sense one loss matters very little. I’ve seen this expression said a lot and it rings true every team wins 54 games, every team loses 54 games its the other 54 that matter. All the worrying about last night’s loss is overblown.
Need To Go For It
There is a sense that the Pirates should go for it now because you never know when another chance will come. This is too short term of thinking I don’t want the Pirates to hinder their chances for the next 5 years just to improve their odds for this season. I want the Pirates to compete not only this year but for years to come and the foundation for it is there in the minor leagues. The Pirates need to keep their top prospects this season and look for smaller cheaper options not make the big splash.
I’ve been on the fence about calling up Marte for a while now but that time is over the time is now. Marte should be up here and starting in one of the corner outfield spots. He should not be hitting lead off however as his high strike out rate would make him a liability there. Starling should be better than Presley and whatever RF combination the Pirates choose to trot out there. The time has come, #FreeMarte.
Yesterday when it came time to turn to a pinch hitter in the 9th inning with the tying run coming up to bat the Pirates turned to Drew Sutton. There is no instant offense producer on the bench and there definitely needs to be. The Pirates are in desperate need of a bench bat and down in AAA they have a guy who may just be able to fill that role. Clement has been raking all season and deserves a spot on the bench. Its time to call him up over one of our many shortstops.
The Pirates have been linked to basically every bat available and any talk about what the Pirates may get is just pure speculation. I enjoy reading all the rumors but lets not get carried away. Personally I think what the Pirates need is a leadoff man someone to get on base in front of Walker and McCutchen. A guy like Victorino or Span would be a great add.
We have had all this talk about Upton lately and I’m not too proud to say that I don’t want him. He is too expensive both in terms of prospects and actual salary. However that doesn’t mean I am against a big splash move. I would absolutely love the Pirates to make a big splash move for Chase Headley. As for what would we do with him I would send him to RF, I know he isn’t much of an OF but we have been playing Jones and Sutton out there, he can’t be much worse. Next year we can move him back to 3B and teach Pedro 1B.
As for what I would give up for him I would do everything in my power to avoid moving Cole, Taillon, Heredia, Marte or Hanson. I think that is a fairly reasonable goal but even so in a one for one trade I would have to really consider Marte for Headley. However with reports the Padres are interested in Lincoln I have to assume he could be part of a package and therefore lesser prospects would be required. I would hate to do it but I would probably go as far as centering a package around Grossman and Lincoln. The Padres get a very good OF prospect in Grossman who has tremendously plate discipline and a pitcher in Lincoln who is a back of the bullpen option or a 4th or 5th starter type. I would also be up for including a lesser 3rd piece.
This would give the Pirates a lineup for the remainder of the year like:
And next year’s team would look something like:
I’m a little hesitant about having Marte hit leadoff but he seems like our best option in that lineup. If he struggles Presley can take his place. Just one man’s opinion though.
I have been amongst the very vocal minority who is against the idea of the Pirates acquiring Justin Upton. On the surface his acquisition makes a whole lot of sense as it would give the Pirates a big boost to their lineup, fill a hole in the OF and provide a long term piece. However when you dig a little deeper you will find several problems with a potential deal.
Upton’s trade value right now has to be sky high and I’d imagine it would take an overpay to acquire him from the Diamondbacks. The way I see it there are 3 possible packages in which the Pirates could try and acquire Upton with. I’m going to focus on what I believe would be the center piece of any trade.
Taillon/Marte - I see this as the bare minimum the Diamondbacks would likely accept and to be honest I see this as highly unlikely because they are rumored to believe their outfield is deep, they are looking for major league ready help and they are not to fond of Marte.
Cole/Hanson - I see this as the prospect package it would likely take to acquire Upton if the Diamondbacks decided to accept prospects that is. This would give the a near major league ready front of the rotation starter in Cole and a high end shortstop prospect in Hanson.
Alvarez/Lincoln – This package seems to fit best with what the Diamondbacks are currently looking for. They get immediate help at 3B and either in the rotation or the bullpen depending on how they see Lincoln.
Analysis: I see issues with all 3 of these packages. The Alvarez/Lincoln package would severely hurt the major league team and take away the Pirates best source of pure power and it would also hurt the bullpen by taking away one of the team’s best relievers. In the Cole/Hanson package the Pirates are trading away their best prospect in Cole and hurting next year’s rotation. Cole is probably going to be counted on to boost the rotation midseason. The last package Taillon/Marte seems the easiest for the Pirates to part with and on the surface is something they should consider but as I will try to point out later it is too much for Upton.
The general consensus people have is that Upton’s contract is a team friendly deal. However he is now at the back end of it and while it is still a bargain if he produces at the high level he has shown himself capable it can be an absolute albatross if he doesn’t and there are reasons to believe he won’t. Over the next three and half years he is still owed over 40 million dollars that is large sum for the Pirates to take on.
While the Pirates could and would raise payroll to absorb it it is unrealistic to expect the payroll to go too far north of 80 million dollars. The Pirates have often been compared to teams like the Brewers and Cardinals who consistently have payrolls over 80 million but they are a mid market team. For that to be a possibility for the Pirates they would have to draw more than 3 million fans meaning they would have to sell out nearly every game and we know that isn’t going to happen. No way 30,000 plus fans come to see a Wednesday night game in April against a team like the Rockies when it is 45 degrees outside and the Penguins are in the playoffs.
Furthermore the Pirates would have 28.5 million committed to just the outfield in 2015 meaning they would have approximately 50 million to field the rest of a team. The threesome of Alvarez, Walker and McDonald are likely to take another approximately 18-20 million. That just doesn’t leave much wiggle room for the Pirates. Most of the rest of the team would have to be filled with league min guys or inexpensive veterans.
Upton has some terrifying home and away splits and I have yet found a satisfactory explanation except that Chase Field inflates players numbers. If we assume that is the case (which at this point doesn’t seem like much of an assumption) we can be and should be very wary of what Upton does in other parks. PNC Park is not friendly to right handed power hitters and would likely hinder Upton.Just to get it out there here are his slash lines for home and road.
Home: .302/.385/.539 (.924 OPS) (1369 PA)
Road: .251/.328/.414 (.742 OPS) (1381 PA)
We are not talking about an insignificant sample size here, 1381 PA is a ton of data and those numbers are far from impressive. To put the .742 OPS into perspective since the end of his monster rookie season Garrett Jones has put up a .743 OPS for the Pirates. That is a good valuable player but is it worth more than 40 million dollars over 3 years and 2 months? I don’t think so.
Then again maybe I’m being unfair. As a whole this season major league hitters have an OPS of .743 at home and .709 on the road. Last season was a similar story at .734 and .706 respectively. So it is natural to assume a hitter will adjust and hit better at his home park than at visiting parks. So let’ look at a stat that will utilize both his home and road data while adjusting to become park neutral. For his entire career Justin Upton has an OPS+ of 116. That is a nice number and is comparable to Neil Walker who has a 112 OPS+ for his career. So for a comparison lets look at Walker’s home numbers and see what an offensive player of that caliber does at PNC. Walker’s career slash line at PNC is .287/.345/.422 (.766 OPS).
So none of these numbers are too optimistic but let’s for a second throw that out the window and say he adjusts to PNC and that playing a lot of his road games in more hitter friendly NL central parks instead of NL West parks helps him out. So let’s give him an OPS of say 800 is that enough to justify his contract and the large price required to get him? I say no but others may disagree. Even so this seems like a fairly optimistic projection and probably represents the minimum people would expect.
There is always the possibility that Upton comes in, matures, settles in and post his Arizona numbers here and provides the Pirates with an OPS near .900 and in that case he would definitely be worth it. But what are the odds he reaches one of these levels? I’m not particularly keen on it but there is a greater than zero chance and to be overly optimistic I’ll even call it a coin flip. So essentially the question comes down to are you willing to risk 3 years of this franchise’s development on what basically amounts to a coin flip? I find that to be absurd but if someone out there truly thinks that is a risk worth taking well its their opinion.
What Will The Pirates Have Tp Give Up?
I have broken down my list of possible trade targets down into 4 groups and will briefly discuss what I believe it would take to get the players in each group.
This is the big splash category, the move the Pirates should make if they believe now is the time to strike and if they believe that this team with this addition can be a true World Series contender. These moves would at least improve the team this year and ideally for 1 or 2 years to come. There was only one player I listed who fits this category and in my opinion trading for him now or making any move like this now would be foolish. That player is Justin Upton.
To get Justin Upton or a similar go for it all player (Jon Lester?) the Pirates would have to be willing to part with two of their top prospects. Specifically for Justin Upton I see it being either Taillon/Marte or Cole/Hanson. In addition other good prospects / young major league players would need included. Likely two guys like Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke, Rudy Owens, Willy Garcia, Alex Dickerson, Jared Hughes, etc. The smaller pieces of the trade would be largely dependent on what the other team was looking for (ie high upside, major league ready starters, bullpen help, etc).
Not quite the home run play but a solid acquisition which will definitely improve the club this season and ideally for seasons down the road. An acquisition that represents a triple isn’t necessarily flashy but could under the right circumstances pay just as big as dividends. There are a few players I listed as possible triple acquisitions and they are Chase Headley, Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Yunel Escobar, Jed Lowrie.
To acquire a player in this mold is going to cost an awful lot. I would expect the team trading these players to start off by asking for a package centered around one of Cole, Taillon or Marte. Smaller pieces would also be involved but that would essentially be the starting point. Realistically these players will likely cost a top prospects plus other pieces but that top prospects shouldn’t be among the elite. A trade including centered around a prospect like Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco or Robbie Grossman would probably be enough to acquire these players. One other high-end guys like Indianapolis’ three left handers, Alex Dickerson, Matt Curry, Colton Cain and Nicholas Kingham would probably have to be included as well. In addition I would also expect one or two smaller pieces.
This is a mid range move. A double can include anything from getting a high-end rental (and not overpaying) to getting a player under control for additional years who looks to be nothing more than a solid piece. Basically think acquiring a #3 or #4 starter for the rest of this season and all of next season or about acquiring a guy who will hit 2nd, 6th or 7th for the same amount of time and do so in an unspectacular but useful way. This is also the category that a low-cost high reward project would fall under. In my previous article I mentioned three players who would fall into this category: Jason Vargas, Paul Maholm and Gaby Sanchez.
To acquire of player of this ilk I believe it would take a good but not great prospect. Essentially take the Pirates top 7 guys off the table and then build a package around one of the remaining guys. The package would feature a prospect like Owens, Locke, Wilson, Grossman, Sanchez, McPherson, Kingham, etc. Another secondary piece would likely have to be added as well.
Essentially a single would be your typical low to mid range rental player or maybe a very low impact guy under contract for next season as well. These players would give the team a modest boost while not crippling the farm. Like the above categories the value of this group varies drastically depending on the player but my goal here is to given a general idea. The candidates I mentioned as possibilities are Brandon McCarthy, Francisco Liriano, David DeJesus, Shane Victorino, Carlos Quentin and Kevin Millwood.
Ideally I believe these players go for two C grade prospects like say Jarek Cunningham and Zack Dodson, however in this market I could see some of these guys fetching the price something similar to what I value the doubles at. For example I could see the cost of Carlos Quentin being Robbie Grossman and lets say a guy like Casey Sadler. For some players, notably on my list, Quentin and McCarthy, I would be ok with a slight overpay like that but for others I think the risk isn’t worth the reward.
My goal here was to provide what I believe is a reasonable price to pay for the four different type of acquisitions I listed but considering we are in a seller’s market the prices very well may be slightly higher than what I have listed and going beyond in some cases makes sense and in others it doesn’t. So below is not an absolute of the value I would define to each group but more of a guideline of what I feel the Pirates should offer prior to competition settling in. The packages I list below are just examples of what I think it would cost, the packages would of course need adjusted based on team need and market competition.
Home Run: Jameson Taillon/ Starling Marte/ Rudy Owens/ Willy Garcia
Triple: Gregory Polanco/ Jeff Locke/ Zach Von Rosenberg
Double: Robbie Grossman/ Clay Holmes
Single: Jarek Cunningham/ Zach Dodson
Just for fun here is what I think market inflation could do to this.
Home Run: Gerrit Cole/ Alen Hanson/ Gregory Polanco/ Rudy Owens
Triple: Starling Marte/Justin Wilson/ Matt Curry
Double: Robbie Grossman/ Kyle McPherson/ Victor Black
Single: Jeff Locke/ Mel Rojas
Who Sould the Pirates Look At?
Recently the 1B position has been manned by just Casey McGehee for the Pirates but for the rest of the season this appears likely to continue being a platoon of Jones and McGehee. It isn’t the greatest solution to 1B but it gets the job done and right now that is probably good enough for the Pirates. With Hague and Clement in reserve this doesn’t figure to be a position of need with a couple caveats. If the groin injury McGehee suffered right before the All Star break is something more serious than it appeared a move needs to be considered because Hague doesn’t appear to be the best platoon partner for Jones. Also beyond this year the future of Jones and McGehee with the club is uncertain as their salaries will continue to rise and maybe not next year but almost assuredly the following it will become cumbersome to the team. Adding a 1B option for next year shouldn’t be ignored. This leaves me with two players I think the Pirates should look into: Ty Wigginton and Gaby Sanchez.
Wigginton: The only reason I would consider acquiring Wigginton is if McGehee’s injury turns about to be more serious than it appeared otherwise this is a moot point. Wigginton has an option for next season but the Pirates would probably decline meaning he would be just a rental platoon partner for Jones and he can also still handle 3B a bit so he could back up Alvarez. Again hopefully he doesn’t need considered.
Sanchez: Adding Sanchez would not be a move aimed at helping out this year but if the Marlins are as low on him as it appears (having demoted him twice and having acquired Carlos Lee to take his job) he is a player the Pirates should certainly consider acquiring to help boost the 1B depth for 2013 and beyond. Remember guys there are other seasons besides this one.
Alvarez has been solid this season but since the rumors are out there I need to mention the possibility. The one and only 3B whom it would make any sense for the Pirates to acquire in Chase Headley.
Headley:Headley is under control through the next two seasons and would be a great addition to this Pirates club. His acquisition would create a bit of an immediate log jam at 3B but he does have experience in the OF so he could be sent there for the rest of the season and then moved back to 3rd next year and Alvarez sent across the diamond to 1st Base.
A lot of teams are looking for shortstops and the market for them is rather thin. The Pirates currently have Barmes playing there and while his glove has been good his bat has left a lot to be desired. His numbers in June were good enough for a defensive oriented shortstop who hits in the 8 hole but overall he has been a big disappointment. The Pirates do have other options behind Barmes in Harrison and Mercer and could turn to one of them if his hitting continues to struggle but I will point out Barmes generally hits better in the 2nd half. As far as the trade market goes not much stands out to me but a couple of names I think the Pirates should look into are Yunel Escobar and Jed Lowrie.
Escobar: The belief is the Blue Jays are souring on Escobar and could be willing to move him. He is the midst of a down offensive year but has a decent track record as a good hitter. His contract runs through 2013 but has two 5 million dollar options which means a club could control him through 2015. He wouldn’t come cheap and there is no firm indication the Blue Jays want to move him but the Pirates could at least take a look.
Lowrie: Lowrie would be an excellent pick up but the Astros have really shown no indication they are willing to move him. His offensive numbers this season have been impressive for a SS and he would fit nicely into the Pirates lineup but even if he was available his price tag would be rather high. Another good thing about Lowries is that he is currently making only 1.15 million and is under control for the next 2 years.
Of all the offensive oriented positions outfield seems like it is the most logical and most likely position for the Pirates to seek an upgrade. Currently Andrew McCutchen is the only lock for the 3 positions. Drew Sutton and Garrett Jones are doing a respectable job right now but they belong on the bench and at 1st base respectively. There is also some depth with Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Starling Marte and Gorkys Hernandez but all 4 of these players have question marks and counting on them to fill 2 outfield jobs seems to be a bit much. The question is who makes sense for them well I have a list of 5 names I hope they check in on: Shane Victorino, David DeJesus, Denard Span, Carlos Quentin and Josh Willingham. For the sake of this discussion I will also include the recently rumored Justin Upton.
Victorino: What is appealing about Victorino is he would give the Pirates an option at the top of the lineup and a good defensive option in the outfielder. Victorino should also come the cheapest of the 5 players I listed because he is having a poor season, would be a rental and is still due a sizable amount of money. If the Pirates would acquire Victorino they would be taking a risk he would regain his previous form in the second half but if the price is low enough that might be a risk worth taking.
DeJesus: There seems to be little to indicate that the Cubs will make DeJesus available but his appeal is similar to Vicorino’s. DeJesus would be a good top of the order defensive outfielder. As an added bonus he is under control next year and has an option for the following season. The 4.25 million he is making this year and next is a modest sum. Dues to the extra control he would cost more than Victorino but is not the type of player that should command a top prospect even with having some control.
Span: Span is in the same mold as the two players I have listed above except he is under control for a little longer. Span’s contract runs through 2014 and has an option for 2015. He is scheduled to make 4.75 million in 2013 and 6.5 million in 2014 both numbers are fairly reasonable. The 9 million dollar option for the following season may not be but can be declined. The downside with Span is the Twins would probably seek a substantial return.
Quentin: Quentin is the exact opposite of the other 3 players I have listed before him he would be a middle of the order option and not bring much defensive value. Quentin has been injured this year but in the time he has played has put together a fine season. Quentin is just a rental and the Padres are said to be seeking more than the value of a compensation pick for him so he probably won’t come cheaply. If the Padres come down to a more reasonable price Quentin could be the perfect addition for the Pirates.
Willingham: The name that intrigues me the most of all potential available position players is Willingham. That may sound a little odd with Upton and Headley being available but when factoring in potential price it makes a lot of sense. Willingham is under control through 2014 at a very reasonable 7 million dollar a year and would give the Pirates a nice power bat to play in right field. However all indications are that the Twins are unlikely to move him.
Upton: Upton would obviously be a huge add for the Pirates but there a few things that just don’t sit well with me about him. 1) His home/road splits are a big red flag as Upton has been just an average player on the road for his career. 2) His price tag will be enormous and as we have recently found out likely include major league players. 3) It seems odd the Diamondbacks would want to move him being only 4 games back in their division.
A lot of stories recently surfaced about why the Pirates should go for it all and acquire Hamels or Grineke, well I’m here to tell you I don’t support that kind of move. Those guys would cost the Pirates a ton and be gone after the season ended. The Pirates are not at a point to make that kind of move and as a small market team may never be. What would make sense for the Pirates though is to go after a middle of the rotation arm to help stabilize the rotation behind Burnett and McDonald. A few names that jump out to me are Paul Maholm, Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Liriano.
Maholm: Who says you can’t go home again? Acquiring Maholm would be a big boost for the Pirates pitching staff and I’m sure would be welcomed by Pirate fans. Maholm wouldn’t be a fancy pick up but he would provide something this rotation needs stability behind Burnett, McDonald and Karstens. Also the rotation for next year is going to be without Bedard and Correia so adding Maholm who has a 6.5 million dollar option next year would give the Pirates another option for next season. He won’t come cheaply but wouldn’t be overly expensive either.
Vargas: Vargas is relatively young and still under control for next season. Like all the pitchers I listed Varagas isn’t a top of the rotation guy but would help settle the instability on the back end. Since he is under control for next season this would essentially be a similar pick up to Maholm. The Mariners would of course seek a high return but even so he probably wouldn’t end up costing one of the Pirates top prospects.
Millwood: Millwood is what he is a veteran pitcher who is good for the middle of the rotation. Millwood would just be a rental and would probably come the cheapest of the 5 pitchers I am mentioning here. He is in the midst of another solid but unspectacular season and would probably be counted on for similar results in Pittsburgh.
McCarthy: McCarthy is probably my favorite of this group. Like Millwood he would be another rental but unlike Millwood his price would likely be relatively high. McCarthy has great stuff and would definitely be a big boost to this rotation but on the downside he comes with injury concerns and is actually currently on the DL. His upside though could definitely make him worth the risk.
Liriano: Another rental and another big risk. You really never know what you are going to get with Liriano. He has put together a string of good starts lately but still is walking too many and has been very inconsistent this season. He is probably the pitcher I would want the least out of this group but his rental status and his big risk could make him come some what cheap and that would make him an attractive chance to take.
Left Handed RP
I mentioned I would like for the Pirates to seek LH relief help and it appears several teams are doing the same but right now there just doesn’t appear to be a whole lot out there. I think right now I’d be more incline to go with Watson and maybe Slaten or Wilson than make a move to acquire one of the very weak options available. For anyone who is interested as to what the market looks like check out MLB Trade Rumors.
Part 5 the final installment of this series will detail what I would be comfortable giving up for these players.
What Do The Pirates Have To Offer?
In this installment I am going to take a brief look at what the Pirates have to offer in a trade and what it would take for the Pirates to move certain players.
Not Untouchable but ….
Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillion, Luis Heredia, Josh Bell, Starling Marte, Alen Hanson, Gregory Polanco
Note: The above 7 players along with Mark Appel, if he signs, are 8 Pirate prospects with a good chance of being in top 100 rankings going into next season. These players are the not untouchable but it would take the perfect deal for the Pirates to move them. I imagine these guys would only be moved for the right player who could be controlled for several years and the Pirates felt vastly upgraded not only the current team but the team in future seasons as well. I highly doubt any of them will be traded.
Best Of The Non-Elite
Tony Sanchez, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke, Duke Welker, Bryan Morris, Kyle McPherson, Robbie Grossman, Victor Black, Matt Curry, Jarek Cunningham, Brock Holt, Drew Maggi, Colton Cain, Gift Ngoepe, Alex Dickerson, Mel Rojas, Zack Dodson, Nicholas Kingham, Zach Von Rosenberg, Jose Osuna, Willy Garcia, Jake Burnette, Jason Creasy, Clay Holmes, Colten Brewer, Tyler Glasnow, Jorge Bishop, Dilson Herrera, Candon Myles
Note: This fairly large group is what I consider basically to be the best of the rest. The value of these prospects is wide but in general I can see the Pirates being willing to move anyone on this list for a good rental piece, a lower tier long term piece or even as a secondary piece in a bigger trade. Just a gut feeling of mine but I think the most likely to be moved of the group are Owens, Wilson, Locke, Morris, Grossman, Holt, Rojas, Kingham and Garcia.
Best of The Rest
Tim Alderson, Ramon Cabrera, Brandon Cumpton, Phillip Irwin, Jeff Inman, Evan Chambers, Andrew Lambo, Quincy Latimore, Adalberto Santos, Matt Benedict, Zac Foster, Josh Poytress, Jhonathan Ramos, Casey Sadler, Jason Townsend, Tyler Waldron, Carlos Paulino, Elevys Gonzalez, Dan Grovatt, Zachary Fuesser, Ryan Hafner, Robby Rowland, Elias Diaz, Eric Avilla, TYhonathan Barrios, Jodaneli Carvajal
Note: The above it just a few names of some of the remaining interesting guys in the Pirates system. None of them have much value in a trade but for a low level rental or as a throw in another deal any of the above and so many more could be moved.
Major League Assets
Matt Hague, Jeff Clement, Josh Harrison, Chase d’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer, Yamaico Navarro, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Brad Lincoln, Jared Hughes, Chris Leroux, Evan Meek, Daniel McCutchen, Kevin Correia, Erik Bedard
Note: The above players with the exceptions of Correia and Bedard are young major league players whom I believe the Pirates would be willing to include in a package for the right player. Some of them would be more easily moved than others but I don’t think any would be a deal breaker for a player the Pirates truly coveted. As for Correia and Bedard the Pirates could serve as a bit of a seller and move them to a team looking for back of the rotation help but only in the right deal.
I expect the Pirates this trade deadline to focus on moving some of their middle group of prospects. Guys like Owens, Locke, Wilson and Grossman may not bring back the big name player some fans want to see but moving guys of that ilk would allow the Pirates to keep the core of their farm together while still having valuable pieces available to trade and improve the current team. Of course this will limit the Pirates return likely to a good rental or maybe a lesser player who is under control next year as well. This is the path teams like the Pirates need to stick to if they want to be consistent competitors year in and year out. With that being said if the right deal came along and the Pirates got someone they could control for 3+ years I would think they would be open to moving basically anyone this side of Andrew McCutchen.
The names I listed above are meant to just give a general idea of who the Pirates may move and what on a basic level they would seek in return. For more detailed information wait for my fourth and fifth installments when I focus on potential targets (4th) and what I would be comfortable moving for them (5th).
What Do The Pirates Have to Give Up?
In this installment I will look at the Pirates prospects eligible for the Rule V draft. The Pirates will not be able to protect everyone and while this year’s crop isn’t as strong as some these are players the Pirates should look to trade in order to avoid a roster crunch in the offseason.
Locks To Be Added: Victor Black, Tony Sanchez, Robbie Grossman
Borderline to be Added: Tim Alderson, Stefan Welch, Ramon Cabrera, Jarek Cunningham, Brock Holt, Jeffrey Inman, Phillip Irwin
Interesting But Won’t Be Added: Andrew Lambo, Quincy Latimore, Aaron Poreda, Aaron Pribanic, Hunter Strickland, Nathan Baker, Yhonathan Barrios, Ryan Beckman, Jorge Bishop, Jodaneli Carvajal, Evan Chambers, Zachary Fuesser, Elevys Gonzalez, Samuel Gonzalez, Quinton Miller, Gift Ngoepe, Carlos Paulino, Rinku Singh
First lets get a little background on all the listed players
Victor Black: Black is pitching well in AA and looks like a good back of the bullpen prospect. He is in a similar mold to Duke Welker and will be definitely added to the roster.
Tony Sanchez: Sanchez was not so long ago the 4th overall pick in the draft and while he has lost some luster he still looks like he should be a serviceable major league starting catcher as early as midway through next season.
Robbie Grossman: Grossman is having a down season but he put up strong numbers last season and was considered a borderline top 100 prospect coming in to the year. He shows great plat discipline and will definitely be added.
Tim Alderson: Alderson has posted a good season and is now back on the prospect map. He isn’t what he once was but the potential is still in there some where and now since he has rebounded it is possible a team could take a shot on him.
Stefan Welch: The Pirates picked up Welch as a minor league free agent and at the time it appeared to be a minor move but fast forward and now the Pirates have a 23 year old prospect tearing up AA and playing a good 3B. Times have changed. Edit: As was pointed out by guapo in the comments my brief blurb seems to paint Welch as a prospect. My intention was to say that if he keeps his current level up or something close to it the Pirates will have a decision on their hands. If he falls back to earth he obviously wouldn’t be protected nor selected.
Ramon Cabrera: Coming into the season Cabrera was considered the Pirates second best catching option. He is having a bit of a down season in AA but could still draw interest from someone. I doubt the Pirates will add him with Sanchez having to be added so maybe he can attract some attention.
Jarek Cunningham: I was tempted to put Cunningham in the lock category but I realized I’m not sure how the Pirates view him. Cunningham has good power potential from 2B or 3B but has missed a few years due to injury. I would think he’d be drafted in the Rule V draft so I would think eh could be a trade piece this season.
Brock Holt: With Chase d’Arnaud and JordyMercer already on the 40 man roster the Pirates have their fair share of players like Holt. Holt is having his second solid season in AA but the Pirates are not moving him up. They could choose to add him to the roster but it would probably have to be at the expense of d’Arnaud. Holt would not have a ton of value but as a player who looks to have the floor of a utility infielder and the ceiling of an average 2B/SS in the majors he could attract some attention in trades.
Jeffrey Inman: If Inman were in another system he’d seem like the typical Pirate Rule V selection. Inman has a ton of potential but is injury prone and has missed a lot of time. Inman is now in AA and although he is struggling he has the upside that some team could take a flier on him and try to hide him in the bullpen.
Phillip Irwin: Irwin is a starter in AA and looks like he could be a decent back of the rotation arm some day. The Pirates probably won’t add him to the roster but he is advanced enough where he could probably be kept in someone’s bullpen all next season. His trade value would probably be minimal though.
Zach Dodson: Thank you to Kevin who pointed out in the comments that Dodson is not eligble until 2013. My reference material said 2012 and even though that seemed off to me I went with it.
Interesting Players Who Won’t be Added: I’m not going to bother breaking down this group but basically it breaks down into two groups. One group (Lambo, Latimore, Pribanic, Poreda, Strickland, Baker, Beckman, Chambers, E Gonzalez) are players in the upper levels who could probably hold down a spot on a 25 man roster but who’s numbers would be easily replaceable. Essentially they are all 24th and 25th type guys. The other group (Barrios, Bishop, Carvajal, S Gonzalez, Ngoepe, Singh) are players in the low levels who have a lot of talent but are too raw and too far away to have any chance at sticking on a roster all year. I left out three players, Fuesser, Miller and Paulino because they are slightly different. Paulino is an interesting defensive first catcher who has shown offensive ability but is only in the middle levels. Fuesser is a middle level lefty reliever who has some upside. Miller is a starting pitcher with a ton of talent but who has yet to produce any results. Some of the too young groups may be attractive as secondary lottery tickets in a deal.
The Pirates best most attractive pieces are obviously the 3 players who are a lock to be added, Grossman, Sanchez and Black. Any of those 3 could be attractive to other teams and be a key piece in acquiring a good rental or a secondary piece in acquiring a longer term piece.
The next most attractive group are Welch, Cabrera and Cunningham. Any of those 4 players could be a piece that could land the Pirates a good rental or even be a minor part of another trade.
Alderson, Holt, Inman and Irwin are all guys who could probably net a low cost rental but not much more. Their value are similar to the other 4 but are probably slightly less because of their limited upside.
The final group as far as trade value consists of potential throw ins and lottery tickets.
Over the course of a few posts I will attempt to provide an accurate and brief overview of the Pirates trade deadline situation. First in this post I will go over what the Pirates need and then I will do a series of posts detailing what they have to offer before finishing with a piece on who may be available.
What Do They Need?
I was going to start off with a dive into the statistical world to uncover the Pirates weaknesses but in the end I decided to just take a more practical look at each position and analyze with limited use of numbers.
The Pirates employ the catching tandem of Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry. So far throughout the season this tandem has done an excellent job handling the pitching staff and has even provided good solid offense from the bottom of the order. If there is one knock on them it is their controlling of the running game. Should a replacement be needed the Pirates have Jose Morales and Eric Fryer waiting in the wings. Overall this is a solid position that the Pirates have no reason to look to upgrade.
As of right now the 1st base position is manned by Casey McGehee but Garrett Jones remains a strong option as well once he no longer has to serve in RF. McGehee did suffer a mild groin injury during the game before the All Star break but will hopefully be fine going forward. The combination of McGehee and Jones has provided a good source of offense lately for the Pirates. Backing them up are Matt Hague and Jeff Clement. Overall the Pirates have a nice twosome here in Jones and McGehee but an upgrade could probably be found or a player could be acquired with the idea of helping future squads. This is a position I would keep my ears open to upgrading but not one I would be actively seeking.
After a shaky start Neil Walker appears to be settling in and doing a good job handling either the 2nd or 5th spot in the batting order. He is a good complimentary piece and players like him are needed on successful teams. It would be difficult for the Pirates to find an upgrade on the trade market so this is a position that should remain as is. Backing up Walker, just in case, are a slew of middle infield guys like Sutton, Harrison, Mercer and d’Arnaud.
The great question mark himself, Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez has been much more consistent lately at the plate and look to hopefully be finally arriving and while he may not be quite what was expected he still has tremendous value to this club. The Pirates could seek an upgrade here but really as I’ve said many times this season lives or dies with Pedro so they need to keep sending him out there. Backing him up is Casey McGehee
Arguably the biggest weakness on the team is at SS. Barmes has been dreadful this season but with him under contract next season and since he did show improvement in June it is tough for me to imagine the Pirates seeking an upgrade. However there have been a couple interesting names to hit the rumor mill lately and the Pirates should definitely keep an ear open and maybe even actively look into a few options. The Pirates do fortunately have some options behind him as there are currently 3 other players on the 25 man roster capable of playing SS in Mercer, Harrison and Sutton. This is a position of moderate need to upgrade meaning if one can be found great but if not the Pirates can manage with what they have.
The Pirates currently don’t have a real LF. With Presley on the DL and Tabata in AAA the job has fallen to Sutton and occasional Hernandez. Sutton doesn’t play the field well and Hernandez doesn’t hit well enough to justify being sent out there. Given all this though I would not be in a rush to upgrade here. Presley will soon be back and in the pipeline is Starling Marte. Marte has earned a chance to get a look in LF but considering he is a rookie I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending him out there without a safety net. Fortunately we have one in Alex Presley. There are some potential moving parts here though so if a good player is found this is still a position that can upgrade. I would put this as a low priority position.
Much like LF the Pirates are now without a true RF. Tabata was filling the role most of the season but was rightfully finally demoted to AAA. In his absence the position has been filled by Garrett Jones and Drew Sutton. Jones is a fine replacement but his bat is needed at 1B to go with McGehee. There have been some talk about putting Marte here but considering we play half of our games at PNC Park I want him patrolling the tougher LF and someone else in RF. Unless Tabata reemerges there is really no one to play out here. The priority to upgrade this position in my mind is high.
In my opinion this is currently the weakest part of the team. Going into the All Star break the bench consisted of McKenry, Hague, Harrison, Mercer and Hernandez. Now when Presley gets healthy and Marte is called up this will hopefully get a little stronger but it is still a position I feel needs an upgrade. I am hoping the Jones/McGehee platoon resumes putting one of them on it and that the Pirates find a way to get Sutton back on it. I also would like to see Presley ultimately end up here but with the uncertainty of Marte he remains a question. All this still leaves one more spot that could be upgraded. I’m not necessarily saying this has to be upgraded directly though a trade but the importance of improving the bench in some manner is high.
AJ Burnett and James McDonald have in some ways been more valuable to this team than Andrew McCutchen. They are the anchor of this pitching staff and have been pitching tremendously well. Behind those two though are some serious questions marks. Jeff Karstens looks to be rounding back into form and is a nice middle of the rotation piece but Erik Bedard and Kevin Correia do anything but make me feel confident. The Pirates do have some solid depth options in Lincoln, Owens, Locke and Wilson but most of them are unproven. Getting one more middle of the rotation arm to help solidify this rotation would be a big boost. Now this doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of a trade as Bedard with a 10 day layoff could rebound and become that arm but looking to the outside is still something to consider. The importance to upgrade here is moderate.
Viewed as a strength of the Pirates the bullpen could be by some as the last place the Pirates should look to upgrade but the bullpen is usually a cheap area to upgrade at the deadline and every team could always use more help. At the back end the Pirates could not ask for much more than what Grilli and Hanrahan have provided. In the middle Lincoln appears to be turning into a solid high leverage option and Hughes himself has been outstanding in relief. The other 3 arms though in my opinion remain shaky for one reason or another. Watson has been great at stranding runners but hasn’t been the shut down lefty. Resop and Cruz are what they are solid middle relievers. Personally I would love to see the Pirates acquire a good left handed relief option and replace Cruz or Resop. Importance to upgrade low.
Importance to Upgrade
High: RF, bench
Moderate: SS, Starting Rotation
Low: 1B, LF, Bullpen
None: C, 2B, 3B
You’re Kidding Right: CF