The agreement in principal between MLB and MLBPA yesterday on a safety package for restarting brought plenty of news, poison pills and interesting changes to the game, today we’re going to focus on the trade deadline and what it could mean for our Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’ll start at the beginning; I’ve felt a bit queasy approaching deadline deal discussion before yesterday as we didn’t even know they would have one prior. Now that we do, we can start to make some observations and projections.
By this deadline the Pirates would be roughly 30-34 games into their 60-game schedule. The list of faces available has changed a bit, obviously Chris Archer is off the table due to his injury. The way I see it, the top candidates are Dyson, Kela, Frazier, and Holland.
Now after playing a little over half their games, jokes aside, reality is almost every team in the league could very well feel within striking distance at this point. I say jokes aside mainly to satisfy the folks who jumped on last night to be the first to predict the Bucs would go 0-60. Let’s say the Pirates win 15-15, a pedestrian .500, they would very much so find themselves in the thick of things.
Part of me says, don’t be fooled Mr. Cherington, stick with the plan and move who you like. Another part of me wonders what it will do to the rental value of players like Dyson, Kela and Holland. As I just mentioned, there won’t be enough time for many teams to pull away or fall too awfully behind so the opportunity should be there, but how much will teams pay for 25-30 games of service? Certainly not as much as in previous years.
Essentially, if you expected Kela to fetch a nice prospect at the deadline, I wonder how this changes that. Again, there could very well be more competition for a pitcher like him, but I can’t imagine that translates to increased compensation. I mean, we’re talking about maybe 20 games of work, if they use him like a work horse.
Another angle to all this that we’ll watch play out in the coming days is the players who will opt out due to vulnerabilities at home. On the surface these situations make total sense, having a pregnant wife at home or someone with a compromised immune system, but I think there is enough room there that it could be hard to disprove any player’s individual concern.
This could create holes on clubs nobody saw coming which would obviously open doors of need across the league. On the other hand, if I’m a player who feels they might be a candidate for being moved, I might want to just sit this out. Again, I’m not saying everyone that chooses to sit out is taking advantage or being shady, just pointing out the threshold for who feels safe is going to be tough to prove. Forcing some kind of proof is a grievance waiting to happen.
Another way to look at this is to ignore the deadline all together and head into the season planning to move your intended targets as soon as the roster freeze is lifted. For instance, one question I have is do these guys have to quarantine for a period of time before moving? This was part of why I wondered if they would have a trade deadline at all this season. I mean if pitchers can’t lick their fingers it would seem to me that player movement might have some issues.
The DH in the NL will immediately start every club in the league with a hole they didn’t have before. That could mean a market opens for bench bats or players previously thought of as defensive liabilities could find a landing spot. Colin Moran is instantly more attractive for instance, in fact he’s probably more attractive right here too.
The Archer injury looms large too, think of him what you will, but he was going to head into this season expected to be a big contributor. Do the Bucs look to take advantage of that low payroll to grab an unsigned free agent or make a move to fill the void? To me, an August 31 deadline moves any starting pitching move to the front of the line as the deadline isn’t going to be early enough to impact the outcome, you’d be trading for a maximum of 4 starts.
God it feels good to have actual baseball questions and topics again.