Sometimes it gets boring talking about the trade deadline in a normal year, its quite possible this season is worse because we have no idea what teams around the league are really thinking. I don’t know how I’d feel about a bunch of player movement in this environment and the rules are flat out restrictive for certain kinds of deals.
I need to simplify the whole situation to make sense of it, time for a trip back to younger days when yard sales were still a big thing. Some of you less, um, experienced folks might need an explainer. Think Ebay or Facebook Marketplace but with real human contact.
One year in particular I wanted a new BMX, and while my parents didn’t leave too many things out there unprovided, this was a brand name I personally wanted and in order to get it I had to get the money. This meant selling some things I really liked. I appreciated this lesson looking back, I knew more about economics by the time I was 12 than most of my friends on graduation day.
I’m going to use the experience of that epic sale to categorize the Pirates roster into trade buckets. I’m not sure where my sister making Snoopy Sno Cones for the shoppers for 50 cents per fits in but it’s also probably my best memory from the whole thing so it couldn’t go unmentioned.
Let’s dig in.
The Untouchables – I didn’t have many if I’m honest. Collectable postage stamps from the Penguins 90-91 Championship, a few priceless baseball cards, that’s about it. Now the Pirates also don’t have many of them, but you’d have to think Bryan Reynolds and Mitch Keller are close right? If there is another, I might suggest Jacob Stallings if only because there isn’t anything close in the system and most of what looks available in the market isn’t going to be ready to step in next season. Like it or don’t young pitchers need that consistency back there.
The Flips – My friends and I built our own bikes, they had wheels and got you around but let’s face it, my goal was to buy a BMX so obviously these weren’t great machines. Most of them came from spare parts I either bought at another yard sale or we got from a junk yard. This category is easy to fill for the Pirates, Derek Holland, Jarrod Dyson, Heredia, Riddle, and maybe even John Ryan Murphy. These are all players brought in on one-year deals or not part of the future in any way. Much like I had no use for those rebuilt bikes and wanted badly to flip them into the cash I needed to get better.
High Priced & Not Likely to Sell – I had a few items that were priced high not based on real value, but what they meant to me like my collection of original die cast Transformers, or Wolverine Volume 1. Selling these was possible unlike the untouchables but not easily pried out of my grip. Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Trevor Williams fit the bill for the Bucs. The Pirates might trade one of these players but I’m pretty sure they have the price set higher than the league at large would want to spend.
Toys I Didn’t Plan to Keep – For me these were Micro Machines and GI Joe. I had long since grown out of them and planned to move on from them anyway, but they were still nice, and I didn’t exactly feel right just giving them away either. Keone Kela, short list. He’s the most obvious trade chip on the roster, at least prior to this offseason. If they don’t move him, he walks for nothing and he can really help another club.
Screaming Deals – I wasn’t dying to move my Back to the Future skateboard, I still used it on occasion but I was also trying to buy a better mode of transportation, so it seemed frivolous to hold on just to keep it. I knew it was worth some real money and if nobody was willing to pay what I felt was a fair price, so be it, I’ll just keep it and have fun. This is one of the deeper areas for the Pirates and nobody headlines it quite like Adam Frazier. I’d also add Stratton, Brault, Richard Rodriguez, Erik Gonzalez, Colin Moran, and potentially Jose Osuna. These are all players who likely aren’t part of the long-term success of the club, but the team has no forced urgency to move them, in fact they could very well like to keep a couple.
Look, I know this is a silly nostalgic look at the trade deadline, but seriousness is not really on the table right now. If the Pirates move Kela for International Pool money and do nothing else I don’t think we can assume they want to build on who’s here. It will simply mean the climate wasn’t conducive to the kind of moves they want to make.
What we have to hope for above all is that Cherington doesn’t run his yard sale like Huntington did. See Neal gave away a broken riding mower for a nice weed whacker named Chris Archer, only to watch his neighbor pop a 12-dollar belt on it and drive it around in front of him, along with the $250 trimming bagger he tossed in.
That’s the kind of failure that can’t crop up again, an organization like the Pirates simply can’t afford it. I sold that skateboard for 20 bucks, a pretty penny back in the day, and the next year I was out with my grass cutting money looking for another. When your team has obvious holes in the system its important to make sure you aren’t creating new issues to fix another. Maybe my sister was on the right track, see she was selling a renewable commodity. On a baseball club that takes years to develop, a real pipeline that backfills your MLB roster every time you sell. That’s the goal, to get the system ready to keep the valleys from dropping so very deep when the cycle turns over.
Will Cherington be successful? This year the forecast looks ominous, but the beautiful thing is for most of the players they’d like to listen to offers on, there will be another weekend coming soon.