Trades and rumors of trades is almost as much a part of baseball fandom as hot dogs and Cracker Jack. People love to propose them, dissect them and forecast the results, it’s fun and it makes something that typically could be a painful moment as a fan more palatable.
Here in Pittsburgh, the culture of low payroll and rarely extending players moves trade talk from a harmless pastime to more of a prerequisite for following the team. Unfortunately, being realistic doesn’t carry the same level of importance.
Maybe you think Adam Frazier is the best trade piece on the club, I can certainly see that and he’s near the top of my list. For me Adam is a potential .300 hitter and has proven himself a capable if not outstanding defensive player, but the strength of the organization is undoubtedly middle infield. That’s element number one, why do you want to, or think they will/should trade a guy?
Let me say this, if you’re reason is “he sucks” or any derivative therein, my question to you is always going to be why would anyone want him if he’s so bad? This one comes up most often with a player like Colin Moran.
I understand fully how that comes across to readers, it sounds like I know more than you and you’re stupid. That’s not my intention though, what I’m trying to get at is twofold. First, to see you prove another team would want him, you’ll probably have to take a bit more honest a look at that player’s resume or second, you’ll understand why a player is at best an add on to a larger trade if anything.
Some fans propose trades based on the “get”. Anyone who follows the Pirates with any focus whatever will recognize the need for Starting Pitching and Catching. When these concepts collide that is clearly the most hilarious. Let’s trade Colin Moran, who sucks so bad he should be cut if they can’t trade him mind you, for another team’s top pitching prospect who is set to debut in the next year or two. Temper your expectations there a bit or you best hope those scouts haven’t watched him play the field.
OK you say, get a low-level pitcher then. Like who? Like Malone who the Bucs just traded Marte for? So, you think Marte and Moran might net similar returns?
How about Josh Bell? I often hear of the “King’s ransom” he will return. I’ll even give you he’s a Boras guy and extension is unlikely or at the very least not probable. Let’s define a King’s ransom a bit. Is Josh established to that point? If so, much like the Cole trade, the Pirates will absolutely not win this transaction. With three years of control and one of the two most expensive skills on display in the form of power, Josh would certainly return a nice package. Now if Ben Cherington is being straight with us it’ll take quite a bit to pry that guy off this club prematurely. I’d think you’re looking at the Marte package plus one player closer to making the jump, perhaps another club’s Will Craig. I’ll caution you though, that player is exactly what Colin Moran is.
Wait to move Bell next year and his control changes, so the only thing that could maintain that level of return would be a continuation of his evolution. Is that Moran/Craig player worth forcing it right now? Or do you think another club will sell the Pirates their 23-24 seasons for Bell now? Maybe, but how many even have that kind of capital?
Another thing I hear frequently is that this management team can be trusted to make a big trade like this. Maybe, I’d like to believe that but just because we want to be fair and look at trades from all angles, should Mr. Cherington choose not to move a player, why is that a cause for not trusting him? In other words, we want to believe he has the skill to evaluate talent and get an appropriate return for one of the Pirates best players. Outthink another GM and at least get fair compensation, but, and I’ve actually heard this, should he not trade one of these big chips it’ll be the same old same old. Again, if we trust he can make the right choices, we must assume keeping a player is what he sees as best.
None of this is to say the Pirates should just keep everyone, but instead is designed to make you think just a bit deeper about it. Again, I’d like to believe Cherington would have made a better trade for the services of Gerrit Cole, not assume he wouldn’t have made it. We’ll never know with any certainty what was offered or could have been pushed for in the deal but the Marte trade is a window into what the new GM sees as fair compensation for at least a player of Marte’s ability.
None of these questions or thoughts address the elephant in the room, in a 60-game season who is going to pay the price? Yes, yes, I’ve seen some players opting out and I’m sure there will be some trades, but don’t you think realistically a player like Keone Kela is more likely? He’s a pure rental anyway so the risk for both sides isn’t that severe. I just don’t read that Zimmerman opted out and assume Washington will be all in on Bell. Hey, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but I’ll believe teams are going to binge on plugging COVID caused holes when I see it.
Bottom line, when we discuss trades it’s important to think of all the angles and stop pretending Jim Rutherford is going to whisper in Ben’s ear to help him come up with a 4 team parlay deal that returns two of Detroit’s top pitching prospects for Moran and Gonzalez.
There is a time and place to move players, maybe that is indeed right now, more likely it’s this off season, and maybe, just maybe, the Pirates like some of these players more than the fans.