Now, before we dig in on this please don’t confuse this with the team feeling they’re competitive or asking far too much for assets, no, this is more about reading the tea leaves and making some assumptions based on what the market is telling us.
It’s also got a whole lot to do with who has real value in the marketplace and position competition for suitors to choose from.
Joe is the big chip, well, the big chip they’re willing to part with. This isn’t breaking news to anyone paying attention but before we reach Spring Training, whenever that ends up being, I fully believe this deal will get done.
Why Joe in particular? Well, he’s got the most value and there will be more interested parties which should help Ben get a decent package back. He’s affordable and for a team in contention will slot in as a nice middle of the rotation guy.
For what he can provide, at what he’ll cost, there isn’t a single other player on the market that compares.
That concludes the list of players like that the Pirates currently employ.
I know I can hear your arguments even as I type. What about Frazier? Rodriguez? Stratton?
Well, I just don’t feel the need to get into trying to predict relievers being traded. They could trade none or all of them. Those aren’t moves that are going to move the needle, at best they return a couple prospects, nobody who will crack the Pirates top 30, at least not immediately. Frazier just has far too many competitors out there. Too many who will make similar money and on top of that, far fewer shoppers.
None of this means they can’t move Frazier during the season when injury and more visibility about playoff prospects become apparent, but right now I just don’t see it.
As much as people would like to see the Bucs as quickly as possible get the ugly part of this rebuild accomplished so we can get to the business of truly watching this team take shape, the market and indeed COVID have made that path much harder to accomplish.
See, there is competition out there that under normal circumstances wouldn’t be there. In any given season It’s pretty rare to have more than 5 teams who would universally be considered sellers. This season I could make a case for up to 10. Think about a player like Jacob Stallings, solid catcher who showed the ability to manage a pitching staff, play excellent defense and he’s not an automatic out. He’s older but his control isn’t, all that should add up to a very popular target for teams to ask a clearly selling team about.
He doesn’t have competition from Realmuto or Yadi, those guys are in a different class and they require a bigger financial commitment but they will eliminate two teams from the pool of the needy. The Cubs enter the chat offering the clearly superior Wilson Contreras and at the very least you start to see Jacob is nobody’s first choice. Do the math and you see that of the teams apparently going for it in 2021 there are 3 logical landing spots for starting catchers. If you’re going to trade Jake, ideally he wouldn’t be a backup because he’s not a free agent until 2025 and he’s worth more to the Pirates young pitching staff than what a backup catcher would return to the club.
That’s a long way of saying, and trying to show, willingness isn’t really the problem on the Pirates part, nor is it asking price as much as competition and willingness to spend from other clubs.
The bottom line for the Pirates is this. Most everyone is available, but if they aren’t going to further the objective of bringing top quality prospects back to the club there is little reason to force something and almost nobody makes enough to care either way financially.