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.