This offseason, Pirates General Manager, Ben Cherington, has been busy unloading some of the Pirates’ best players for a total of 11 prospects. While this came to no surprise, as Cherington said “This probably won’t be the last of them” after the Josh Bell trade in December, it finally showed to the fanbase what direction the organization was heading.
We have every reason to believe that more trades will be coming, and it seems that every time Cherington speaks after a press conference, he hints that more trades will be coming. With less than a week to go until Spring Training, it might benefit the Pirates to make a deal now, when all teams are working on finalizing rosters. Of course every player is susceptible to being traded at any point, even during spring, but there are a few players that come to mind when I think about the Pittsburgh Pirates and trades.
Richard Rodriguez, who is presumably the closer for this season (although nothing is official), could and should be an intriguing trade option for contenders. Set to become 31 before the start of the season, Rodriguez is a cheap and very reliable back of the bullpen option that did close out a few games in 2020. He could be an intriguing add in a package with any of the other players I mention, if it means bringing back more value. With RichRod gone, it would open up a bullpen spot for either Wil Crowe, Miguel Yajure, Chasen Shreve, or others. Personally, this is a wait and see until the deadline type of situation, but I fully expect RichRod to be traded at some point in the near future.
An interesting one I wanted to include was Steven Brault, because he was mentioned in trade talks at a point much earlier in the offseason. In his case, Brault is less likely to be traded, the most important factor being the Musgrove and Taillon trades. Also, he has not been very consistent in the past. However, he is coming off a career year, with a 3.38 ERA, and this would probably be the perfect time to move him at what could be his peak value. I like the guy, but if the offer is on the table, take it and then put another rookie in there. There are options.
The most obvious and most talked about trade candidate for Pittsburgh would be Adam Frazier. The second baseman is in one of the most crowded infields, with Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, and Erik Gonzalez all vying for playing time in the middle infield. Not to mention all of the prospects the Pirates have at those positions, including 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales, and if they keep him there, Oneil Cruz. The Frazier buzz seems to be dying down the closer we get to Spring Training, but the door is not completely shut for the multi-time Gold Glove Award Finalist. If he does not get traded before the start of the season, he will absolutely get traded coming into the Trade Deadline.
Lastly, the longshot of all longshots for me to get traded is Chad Kuhl. Although he was allegedly involved in very surface-level talks with the Blue Jays in a package with Steven Brault, the Pirates still need pitchers to fill a rotation. I would mention his Tommy John surgery history, but Ben Cherington was able to pull four quality prospects for a guy who hasn’t pitched since May of 2019. Whether Kuhl was piggybacking with Brault or getting his own game to start, he was pretty good, and he really does have some nasty stuff. His ERA is partially inflated due to one start where he allowed 9 earned runs, but otherwise Kuhl was good. Not great, but still good. If a team was still considering packaging him with Brault or even Adam Frazier, I would jump at that chance right away.
I think you could probably name a handful of other people that could be traded at any time, maybe even most of the team, but I think I highlighted the main players that could be packing their things sometime soon, and maybe some are more likely than others. It will be very interesting to see moving forward here, so stay tuned.