During the beginning of this most recent off-season I said that I would be fine with, not that I wanted, the Pirates to look at trading homegrown, face of the franchise and starting first baseman Josh Bell. At the time, the reasons behind this thought were due to the DH possibly not finding its way into the National League for 2021 which would leave the Pirates with two players for one position, that this other player, Colin Moran, was more than capable of not only holding down the position but also having the potential to be more effective in the role overall and because Pittsburgh would likely receive more value in return for Bell’s ceiling at the plate.
So far the validity of this last presumption has yet to be determined since Wil Crowe only has one Major League appearance this season for the Pirates and four overall, while Eddy Yean last pitched for the Nationals in the Gulf Coast League back in 2019. And in all actuality, the only statement that has come to fruition completely is the DH not being utilized in both leagues this year. Sure, Moran currently leads the Pirates in numerous categories, including home runs (4), SLG (.579) and OPS (.946), but no one know what these numbers will look like in June or July.
However now, in a significant change of heart, even considering the small sample size, Moran has become good enough to bring back a haul; with some of the same people who said Moran was terrible, could in no way take Bell’s place and that the Pirates were idiots for getting rid of Bell, leading the charge. All the while others are merely pleasantly surprised with his performance, which almost confuses more than the Moran stinks crowd; seeing as how he got off to similar pace at the beginning of last season, as he hit five homers in the first eight games and ended the year with a 113 wRC+.
So, should Moran be traded, extended or simply be allowed to play out the rest of team contract? Well, first of all, if the Pirates choose door number three, without some extenuating circumstances like a significant injury, it wouldn’t make any sense; leaving a trade or an extension as the most likely courses of action. However, even then I am not more firmly in one camp over the other. Just like I am not all for trading Adam Frazier because who realistically replaces each of theses players on a daily basis for the year or so, when the supposed replacement arrives from the Minors ready to take their place. Obviously, there are more options at the middle infield positions, but even then, none of these guys fans are pining over have played a meaningful baseball game in at least a year; and in some cases almost two or more, depending on injuries.
Also you have to take into account these are only two of the (position) players who have reached arbitration, without a contract extension, that hold similar questions concerning their future with the ball club. Thus far, the plan seems to be trade anyone of value with diminishing team control, but there has to be a point where this slows a little bit, or at the very least comes to a near stop-a slow and consistent drip if you will. Nevertheless, these are in the future; by a couple of months to start, so the focus should be more on the present and how it progresses.
With that in mind I look back to before start the season, or even prior to Spring Training, when I repeatedly said there are three guys to keep a close eye on; with a few more than exist on the fringes. The original trifecta consisted of Hayes, Keller and Reynolds, as crucial parts of the potential future core. On the outside, hopefully moving in, were Kevin Newman and JT Brubaker. This is not to say that no one else really matters or will matter, they simply had more question marks in considering the future plans; kind of like Colin Moran, Adam Frazier and others to a higher or lesser degree.
I understand this discussion is all over the place and contains little to no certainty, which is much like opinions on Pirates players and the weather in Pittsburgh; wait five minutes, or in this case a weeks worth of games, it’ll change.