Two Guys Talkin’ Trades – Transition

7-12-21 – By Justin Verno & Joe Boyd

Justin Verno – Okay, so Joe and I have examined a lot of the Pirates we feel could be traded by the trade deadline, from the likely candidates to the much harder to get candidates. And yes, there are a few guys we didn’t cover that could be dealt, as Ben Gamel has been making a nice push there. Or, perhaps a team makes an offer on JT Brubaker (we did not cover JT) that Ben Cherington just can’t refuse. But for the most part, I think we’ve hit the bulk of the guys that could be on the move.

However, it’s time to take the exit on the Trade Turnpike to Rumorsville. Over the next few weeks, we should be hearing a lot of rumors regarding these players. I guess I should say “more rumors,” Joe, as we’ve already heard some rumors here.

Joe Boyd – Yea, we’ve already heard some rumors.  But hopefully, if you’ve followed along, you know that it is unlikely that Andrew Vaughn will be wearing Black and Gold after an Adam Frazier trade.  And you’ll think twice before agreeing to a Reynolds for Robles and two non-prospects deal. Over the last several weeks we have provided a roadmap that is surely not a Rosetta Stone for trades, but at least a framework in which we can discuss, intelligently, fair compensation for the Pirates trade chips. 

Moving forward, we will look at some of the potential rumors, but not all rumors. We will certainly touch on rumors that are provided to us by Jon Heyman or MLB Trade Rumors or other mainstays in the industry (think blue checks on Twitter).  If you see a juicy rumor from HotStoveBurner, it can be discussed on other platforms. Our goal here is to chase down credible intel and provide insight on what we think could be coming back in way of a trade with that club. 

JV – That’s not to say that my neighbor doesn’t have a guy that knows a guy or that someone on Twitter that claims to have a friend that knows someone is lying, but there’s simply no way for anyone to confirm those kinds of things, so we keep to the “industry” guys. Joel Sherman, Jon Morosi, and the more reliable insiders. Let’s recap some of the whispers we’ve all heard…

-Chicago White Sox are interested in Adam Frazier. Multiple sources for this and it was reported by Jon Heyman:

After a couple close calls with Eduardo Escobar, the White Sox are also thought to be taking a close look at Pirates All-Star Adam Frazier. Talks are ongoing. Fit makes great sense but price tag has to be much higher.

-Blue Jays have interest in Richard Rodriguez, per via Jon Heyman.

Mets are another team in on All-Star 2B Adam Frazier

JB – If you’ll allow me to unpack the White Sox/Frazier deal. We have already touched on Heyman adding that Vaughn could be a part of the deal. Now, if he had heard that Ben Cherington ASKED for Vaughn? Well, that makes obvious sense. Why wouldn’t you shoot for the moon?

It also makes sense that Chicago would be in on Frazier. They have been hit pretty hard with injuries. And Madrigal really feels like the Frazier in their offense. So if he is done for the year, adding a high average table-setter would fit nicely on that roster. The kicker that Frazier is around next year too is just gravy. Back to Vaughn, as he is a 60-FV prospect which carries a value of $55M. That just shows how rare a prospect Vaughn happens to be.  If you look back at our first piece, we put Frazier’s value at $17M. I could do a bit of mental gymnastics to get his value up to ~$25M, but regardless, he still falls well short of Vaughn’s value. 

After Madrigal’s injury, we did a quick update to see how these two teams lined up (feels like we have covered a lot of trade deadline speculation already!).  That package looks quite light as Frazier has continued to tear it up and other teams have an eye on him. There is absolutely a chance that Frazier could start a bit of a bidding war for his services.  You could absolutely throw prospects at Pittsburgh to hit the value (Kelley + Bailey + Rodriguez + Adolfo + Ramos + … do you see how ridiculous this sounds?) but I just see Cherington finding a quality over quantity opportunity that would better align for from the Pirates perspective. I consider this fit with Chicago and Frazier to be unlikely at best. 

JV – The White Sox have come up from more than one insider, so I imagine there’s legit interest there. I’ve also had a few people on Twitter tell me that Cherington needs to get a top 100 prospect for Adam Frazier. And I have to admit there are actually more teams with interest than I had originally thought there would be. With that in mind, I do think there is a slight possibility of the Pirates getting that top 100 prospect; it certainly won’t be a 60 FV prospect. At this point Joe I can be talked into thinking Cherington could land a 50 FV prospect from the right team, but I still lean to a 45+ or 45 here. 

We aren’t here to just talk about Frazier. There’s a more solid RichRod rumor here we haven’t really touched on. I get the Blue Jays have been connected to him, but Heyman now has it written in stone for us, Joe.

Before we get started on the packages, we need to address today’s speculation from Heyman. 

While I do feel this is good for Cherington, I still can’t get to Adam Frazier netting a 55 or 60 FV prospect. I have doubts he will bring a 50 FV prospect. But hey, sometimes it’s nice to be wrong. 

None of the above rumors have any real info. No details of how far along they are in talks, if they are in talks, nor specifics about names or anything like that. They simply mention the interest and leave us to our imaginations. What’dya got Joe? Does Cherington get that overpay?

JB – I am going to say, Heyman keeps pushing this narrative, and I certainly hope he’s right. But I could also see a more realistic package that could be a pair of 45+ or 45 prospects with the possibility of being reclassified as 50s.  Of the teams we have mentioned, however, neither the Mets nor the White Sox have a farm that could provide such a return. New York could offer someone like Matt Allen, 50 FV, but I just don’t know if that would make sense for them at the moment? Any other thoughts on Frazier, Justin?

JV – Yeah, we’ve both been preaching the “helium” 45+ or 45 prospects, and not just for Adam Frazier. We both have these types, but for most of the guys we’ve talked about here. This is where scouting and metrics and art come together, and I think this is the path that Cherington and his staff take. It’s what we’ve seen in every trade he’s made since wearing a Pirate’s hat, from Peguero and Malone to Makial Escotto, Miguel Yajurie, Canaan Smith-Njigba and Roansy Contreras. 

With that said, a team I love for an Adam Frazier trade is the San Francisco Giants. Tim Benz has said they are a team he’s heard a lot about for the Buccos All-Star, and it works. The Giants have an underrated system and they are set up perfectly to acquire him with three names that they can use as the main piece for Adam.  We’ve talked so much about Adam Frazier, and sure they could get a little more for him than we originally said, but for now I will stay close to our projections because I think that’s where we land for Adam Frazier.

Patrick Bailey–C–ETA: 2022–45+ FV($8M)

We’ve seen this name here before and it just makes too much sense not to go to it again. In general we will see and hear a lot of the same teams and names over the next few weeks. C is a need and Bailey has the feel of Jason Varitek. His bat has some pop and he’s solid behind the dish. If the bat develops, he has All-Star written all over him. 

Tristan Beck–SP–ETA: 2022–45 FV ($4M)

When Beck came out of high school he topped out at 92 MPH. He’s since seen a bump to 95. The curveball is the best offering here with a 55 FV grade. The pitch that’s improved the most? His change, whis is also a 55 FV grade. Tristan has a 4 pitch mix with a 50 FV fastball. He is projected to be a 4-5 starter.

PJ Hilson–CF–ETA: 2023– 40 FV($2M)

Hilson is really raw and a lot of development will be needed here, but if he develops he has a chance to be a unicorn. A true CF with a 70 grade speed and arm, and good glove to go with it. Where he’s a unicorn is he has a lot of power potential if he can find his hit tool, an FV 35. This would be a good lottery ticket for the Pirates. 

This package is a little bigger than the last one I built and that’s because we’ve heard those rumors and it seems the market has developed for Cherington to get a little more. 

JB – With RichRod, the Blue Jays have a strong farm system and have the ability to move the needle to get a Rodriguez deal done. The best part about trading with Toronto, is that Cherington and Sanders know that system so well. 

We provided a range for RichRod in our original evaluation, and I’ll stick with it for this one. 

Miguel Hiraldo — 3B — ETA: 2022 — 45 FV ($6M)

Hiraldo is the main piece of this deal. As Longenhagen writes, “After his dominant 2018 in the DSL, the Blue Jays pushed the physically mature Hiraldo right past the GCL and sent him to the Appy League at age 18; there he hit .300/.348/.481 with 28 extra-base hits in 56 games. He has a short, high-effort swing, and his hands load high and take a curt, direct path to the ball with plus bat speed that Hiraldo generates with effort and violence.”

With 50 or 55s on his hit/power tools, Hiraldo is a bat first player that can be plugged into a lineup and produce, and he has the talent and potential to fast-track through the minors. 

Riley Adams — C — ETA: 2021 — 40 FV ($2M)

Toronto has a glut of catching prospects with Kirk and fast-rising Moreno knocking on the door, so Adams can be expendable in this scenario. He’s a bigger, slower catching prospect with difficulty getting out of his stance to make a throw down to second, but he’s got decent pop in his bat. Longenhagen tracks him as a bat-first, backup but adding potential pieces and depth in the system cannot be seen as a bad thing. 

Adam Kloffenstein — SP — ETA: 2023 — 40 FV ($1M)

If you’ll allow me to plagiarize myself (as I will shoehorn Kloffenstein into a lot of trades because I like the potential): “This is a scenario where Toronto essentially throws in the towel on Kloffenstein.  He’s a former overslot 3rd round selection in Cherington’s penultimate season with the Blue Jays.  He’s a monster, standing 6’5 and weighing in at 243 pounds with a bulldog mentality.  However, the velos do not match the profile and Longenhagen at FG projects him to be a middle reliever or a groundball inducing #4 starter.  Adding a pitcher like Kloffenstein would be a strong piece for Pittsburgh in that he could provide depth/insurance for the young guns that are progressing through the system or he could add value as a future reliever.”

Parting Shots:

JB – The MLB stars did not align for our first week of chasing rumors. There are some out there, sure, but we both fully anticipate those rumors to pick up after tomorrow’s All-Star game. 

My final parting shot/thought is that Pittsburgh is in a weird spot with their two most valuable trade assets as they are both controllable. I think that there is a sense that the Pirates could get bamboozled in a trade for their highly valuable assets. But Cherington doesn’t have to sell. He has that as his escape card. Certainly there are risks in holding on to these assets such as a decline in performance or obtaining an injury, but he doesn’t HAVE to make these moves. On the other end of the spectrum, there is talk of compensation that is just otherworldly. I find it highly unlikely that Frazier will pull in a Top-50 prospect, Andrew Vaughn, or multiple Top-100 prospects. Would I love that? Of course, that would be some delicious crow. But I just want to temper expectations here. Frazier is a consistent, versatile and valuable player that can bring back some great pieces. But if Ben doesn’t get fair value or more than fair value, he does not have to do it.  Just don’t expect teams to be throwing in their top prospects just to get a seat at the table. Cherington knows what he’s doing, and he will receive a fair deal for these guys. Anyway, that’s just my $0.02. 

JV – Ben Cherington said in an interview on Sunday, “calls came in steadily all week but I expect it to be quiet for the next three days before picking up later in the week.” Now this is paraphrased as the interview was hours before I started to get this down, but yeah, I fully expect the rumors to pick up as the week progresses. Oddly, I thought we would have heard more RichRod rumors. That we haven’t is surprising to me considering there are a few teams that really, really need bullpen help.

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