I know, I know, trade ‘em all, they stink. Maybe in the off season you’ll get your wish, personally I believe what the club will actually do will leave many feeling they didn’t go far enough and many believing they gave away everything. The easiest bet in sports is that a losing team will anger most of its fan base, even when they try to improve it.
That’s the off season though, today I want to focus on what’s right in front of us, the trade deadline because between the unique rules which we’ll talk about and the overall tentative way tis entire season has moved forward, well, lets just say some things are less likely than others.
The Pirates should probably have a pretty open mind for starters. Most of this comes down to when Ben Cherington sees contention as a possibility. I can’t answer the question in your head right now, but I’ll suggest if he believes the core of contention is in the ranks currently, follow Quinn Priester. Reason being, he has more pedigree than just about any starting pitcher they have right now. If they get the number one pick and select Rocker, ok shift that thought to his arrival but even then, keep one eye on Priester because as we’ve seen time and again it takes more than one.
Yeah, I know they have Malone, Bolton, Thomas, and they’re all nice prospects, some I’m very excited for but if two of them get past making it and move to making an impact it would be an unexpected coup.
Going with that thought, Priester prior to losing an entire year of development was expected to help the parent club in the 2023-24 range, and that could still hold, much of what he’s missing this season typically amounts to little more than refining and shaping pitches. Most prospects require learning to throw some things they’ve never mastered, but Priester came to the organization with 5 good pitches, in other words, he might not lose much from this stoppage. So, let’s stick with that as his arrival date.
So, who do the Pirates currently have on the MLB roster that should feasibly be part of that story? I’m headed in this direction because honestly the list will be much shorter than going the other way. On the surface I’d say Bryan Reynolds, Mitch Keller and maybe Kuhl. Those are the three I think will be regular, full time contributors. If you believe in Tucker or Newman, ok. Maybe you want to include Hayes, alright but we don’t really know do we?
Point is, when it comes to trades, there shouldn’t be, and I believe aren’t, that many who you’d consider untouchable. I’m not going to get into who the Pirates might want to extend because I don’t know who I’d look at beyond those two and say the Bucs must keep this guy.
If you believe Jameson Taillon comes back next season and resumes being the ‘ace’ so they shouldn’t trade anyone, let’s just say this, the club is more than an ace away, and if Taillon comes back and stays on the mound he’d be at the very least beating the odds. You’d honestly be better off believing Chad Kuhl is that guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for Jamo to have the career he deserves but long odds are long odds.
For this deadline, I don’t see any block busters. Couple reasons for that, first the rules this year preclude a haul of prospects that would time up with that Priester timeline I framed up there. Trades may only be consummated with players on the 60-man or everyone’s favorite PTBNL. Trading a Josh Bell for 3 PTBNL could be done and yes there would be a wink, wink, nudge, nudge agreement in place to get what you wanted, but man you’d feel a lot better seeing current active stats when you pull a trade like that together wouldn’t you? On top of that, Bell looks a whole lot more like Nick Swisher than Dave Parker right now, I might wait for him to look a bit more like his top end.
Adam Frazier has been my go-to target for over a year now. He has insane, almost non-sensical value and the Pirates have plenty of players who can do what he does. There are some real potential nice deals out there for a steady fielding player with upside at the plate.
Perhaps the best type of deal the Pirates could swing would include all players on the 60-man, if so, the Athletics probably have the best package to offer and they’re in position to really try for it this year.
A package of Keone Kela, Richard Rodriguez and Adam Frazier could return Jonah Heim, Robert Puason, maybe even James Kaprielian. In fact, they might be able to swing that without Kela, leaving him available for another move.
Now, if you’re laughing that another club might want Richard Rodriguez, open your eyes. Bullpen arms aren’t exactly flourishing league-wide, and he has a track record, despite the homerun numbers, of getting outs.
If you’re looking for a big trade, that’s as close as 2020 will bring you, in my opinion. I think even if valued incorrectly the Pirates, or any team really, hates giving up on power and that will keep Bell in town at least until the off season.
Another factor at play, the players are painfully aware that the free agent market will be down in 2021. This could actually make the market for rentals a bit better than normal. It could also make some players a bit more open to extension.
The bottom line, most players should be available, but I believe most players will stay put at least through this deadline.
I also wonder how opt outs might play. Say the Bucs trade Keone Kela to someone and he doesn’t want to deal with the move. I don’t say this to cast him in a negative light, only to say he didn’t exactly take kindly to being traded from Texas in the first place, if he had an option to opt out when it happened and start the next season as a free agent, would he have ever come here? If a player opts out after the trade is consummated does it revoke the trade? Should it? Maybe inside the GM ranks they have answers to these questions, if not I bet they’re asking the same questions.