Two Guys Talkin’ Trades – Resetting the Scene

7-26-21 – By Justin Verno & Joe Boyd

Justin Verno – Well, here it is Joe: the trade deadline is in four short days. In 96 hours I’ll be hitting “refresh,” “refresh,” and one more time “refresh.”  Nothing like the MLB deadline! The Frazier deal just popped up out of nowhere and we’ll have to get to that evaluation later.

Joe Boyd – I’m with you, Justin!  Let’s hope that Pittsburgh makes some deals that we can evaluate to determine just how good this farm will be in the near future.  It is already brimming with prospects that can excite the fanbase, so let’s see if that cup runneth over this week.  A ‘broadcasting’ note: Justin and/or I will be providing some daily updates this week if some deals hit the wire prior to the deadline, and then we will look at July in its totality on our final Talkin’ Trades next week.  Obviously we’ll start with the Adam Frazier deal later today.

I wanted to quickly touch upon a trade that the Pirates actually made on Monday, July 19th.  The Pirates traded for Dillon Peters in exchange for cash considerations.  I don’t really have much for you on Peters, and at this point, maybe you have heard a scouting report?  But from a prospect perspective, he ranked as the Marlins #17 prospect in 2018 with stuff that graded out as average.  He’s a LHP with some decent spin rates and fits in with Capt Redbeard and Ben Gamel, but he’s not the story for me.  To make room on the 40-man roster, the Pirates designated Kyle Crick for assignment.  If you’ll remember, Crick was the first player we analyzed that had a negative surplus value.  Crick had future closer written all over him after the 2018 season, but his performance has taken quite a dip.  The Pirates brass saw what was there, and deemed him expendable.

Anyway, this penultimate “official” edition will look at the rumors that have sprung up since our last release where applicable, but let’s do a quick primer of the potential buyers, their needs, and if Pittsburgh could be a good fit as a trading partner.  To be as systematic as possible and also leverage Fangraphs as much as possible, we utilized their “playoff odds” to determine potential buyers.  If a team has >= 25% chance of making the postseason, they made our list of potential buyers. Let’s start with the AL clubs:

Boston Red Sox (89.6% Chance of making the playoffs) – Team Needs:  SP, OF, 1B, UTIL

Boston currently holds a 1.5 game lead over Tampa and have seen quite a bounce back season in 2021.  Based on Baseball Reference’s Team WAR (utilized throughout), the Red Sox have a strong, balanced team but could certainly  utilize a boost in starting pitching and absolutely at first base.  They also could benefit from a utility-type player that could buoy their outfield or provide insurance if Jarren Duran struggles out the gate.

Although there are no concrete rumors with Pittsburgh’s available trade chips, the connection with Cherington should not be ignored.  Obvious options to boost the club would be Tyler Anderson.  A dark horse could potentially be Colin Moran.  This could help Boston’s abysmal production from 1B and alleviate the new bottleneck in Pittsburgh with the arrival of the Big Nogowski.

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Stratton, Rodriguez, Moran

Tampa Rays (66.5%) — Team Needs:  SP, RP, DH

The biggest weakness for the Rays is starting pitching, so my first inclination was to say that Tyler Anderson is a strong fit here, but upon further inspection they have four starting southpaws.  Perhaps there would be some diminishing returns if they were to add Anderson.  Instead, I would consider someone like Chris Stratton to be a piece that interests Tampa.  As a team that embraced the Opener, Stratton could easily fill that role, he can also be a fireman of sorts, and if necessary he can close.  His spin rates are a magnet for analytically inclined teams and he just feels like a nice, valuable piece that can be had on a budget. 

The Rays have a young squad with green prospects filling major roles on the team.  So perhaps some depth and someone that could fill in as a DH would be beneficial here.  I would say that the Pirates have very little that would spark interest here.  I could say Gregory Polanco, but I won’t!

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Stratton, Rodriguez

Toronto Blue Jays (41.8%) — Team Needs: RP, C, OF*

Toronto sits 3.5 GB of the wild card and 7.0 GB in the division as we stand today.  That does not really sound like a buyer to me.  However, they recently got George Springer back, they have an extremely potent offense that includes the ASG MVP and an MVP front runner in Vlad Jr., and they have already done some buying, so they are a buyer.  I put Outfield as a need, but the addition of Springer all but eradicates that deficit.  

I could be controversial here and suggest that Stallings might fit here, but the Blue Jays are one of few teams that have depth at the catcher position in multiple prospects.  Rather than trade a king’s ransom for a 31-year old backstop, they could just call up Gabby Moreno.  But one piece that does make sense, Richard Rodriguez, has already been linked to the club.  We’ve built potential trade packages for this one, but you’re an avid reader so you already know that!

Potential Pirate Fits: Stratton, Rodriguez

Wait a second, didn’t I say we kept this to teams with >= 25% chance to make the playoffs?  Yup, but why create an arbitrary cutoff rule if you’re not going to break it!?  Cleveland only sits 4.5 games out of a wild card spot, so potentially they could make a move and hope things break just their way.  

Well, maybe with all of those needs, this is more of a pipedream and they are more likely to be sellers.  Nonetheless, we have seen crazier things!  Certainly, they could add a small piece that would not cost much in terms of prospect capital such as Tyler Anderson, but that does not shift the landscape nearly enough.  If Cleveland  makes a move, I anticipate a splash.  So you’re looking at upgrades like Jacob Stallings or maybe even Bryan Reynolds!  In all likelihood, I’m just peddling some articles we did on players that are unlikely to move.  But Cleveland would need to make a big play to generate any change in the AL hierarchy this year and adding a controllable asset (or even star) would alter the landscape for multiple years.  File this one under very unlikely. 

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Stallings, Reynolds

Houston Astros (95.6%) – Team Needs: RP, C

Houston looks to be sitting rather pretty and positioned really well for a postseason run.  Despite everyone rooting against them, Houston has once again put together a strong, well-balanced club.  The only weakness would be their bullpen.

We have mentioned a few opportunities for Houston to align with Pittsburgh on a bullpen trade. Richard Rodriguez would certainly be another enticing arm for Dusty Baker’s crew. 

An interesting report came out this week from the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that Houston has checked in on Bryan Reynolds.  We have talked about how unlikely a deal for Reynolds would be and how so few teams even have the prospect capital to swing a deal.  Houston certainly does not and so I will say that this was just a call to see if they could get a sale price.  Spoiler: They cannot.

Potential Pirate Fits: Stratton, Holmes, Kuhl, Rodriguez, Reynolds

Oakland Athletics (50.2%) — Team Needs: RP, 2B, SS, RF

Oakland currently holds a 3.0 game advantage over Seattle for the final wild card spot.  Led by a strong rotation, Oakland could certainly look to bolster their bullpen and probably could use a player that could handle middle infield and outfield in a sort of utility role. 

Potential Pirate Fits: Stratton, Rodriguez

Seattle Mariners (4.1%) — Team Needs: Everything

Look, I broke my rule again.  Seattle is absolutely punching above their weight this season.  They are in the Wild Card hunt and have been bandied about (unofficially) as a  potential suitor for Frazier and even Bryan Reynolds.  I will not link to those just because they are not exactly credible or even well thought out trade packages.  Theoretically, Seattle could push to make a late surge but if you look at Baseball Reference (highlight SEA at the top) you’ll notice that they have a lot of holes.  I don’t want to rule them out as a potential trade partner and look foolish on Friday, so keep this in the back of your mind.  But the likelihood that Seattle makes a significant move as a buyer should be considered low. 

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Stratton, Rodriguez, Holmes, Reynolds

And now, the NL list of potential buyers:

New York Mets (67.2%) — Team Needs: SP, RP, 3B

The Mets are the leaders of the NL East, but looking at their positional WAR, they have plenty of areas to improve upon.  The most dire, based on my glance, however appears to be 3B and bullpen arms.  Last week, Justin mentioned a connection between NY and Tyler Anderson.  To add some fuel to that fire, MLBTR had a report that the Mets will be seeking starting pitching.

Potential Pirate Fits:  Anderson, Rodriguez, Stratton

Philadelphia Phillies (22.9%) — Team Needs: RP, SS, 3B, LF

I’ll be honest, I have paid very little attention to Philadelphia’s plan at the deadline.  At 3.0 GB in the East, they certainly could make a push and be buyers.  They have had zero connection with the Pirates but the bullpen arms look to be the best fit for a trade to happen here.

Potential Pirate Fits:  Anderson, Rodriguez, Stratton

Atlanta Braves (11.7%) — Team Needs: RP, C, SS, OF

Atlanta has had a disappointing season and recently they have been devastated by the season ending injury to Ronald Acuña.  The club has already done some buying by acquiring Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt, so we can call them buyers.

Jim Bowden linked them to RichRod and since we have had so few rumors, I’m going to count this as one!

Potential Pirate Fits: Rodriguez

Washington Nationals (4.5%) — Team Needs: SP, RP, 2B, 3B, CF

I put Washington on here for the same reason I put Atlanta.  Bowden mentioned that Anderson could fit here.  I’ve also seen a report that the Nationals are still determining whether to be  buyers or sellers.  If you can’t decide?  You should be sellers. 

I add Reynolds as a potential fit for a trade in jest.  Bowden had a piece earlier this month about a deal where the Pirates would move Reynolds to DC for Victor Robles and 2 non-prospects.  I don’t think it will happen, but Bowden gets paid to do this stuff.. We only make trades systematically/objectively.  

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Rodriguez, Reynolds

Milwaukee Brewers (90.6%) — Team Needs: 1B, 2B, OF

The Brewers have a comfortable lead in the Central and they also have some star power.  They have a few areas that they could address, and I would assume adding to the bullpen wouldn’t hurt as well.

The biggest match, to me, is Moran.  You could obviously say RichRod, but personally I would like to keep those guys out of the division.  It’s sentimental.

Potential Pirate Fits: Stratton, Rodriguez, Moran

San Diego Padres (92.0%) — Team Needs:  SP, RP,  C, 1B, RF

The Fryers have built a solid team that is in a tough division.   It’s likely that they are assured a wild card spot.  That’s a tough spot to be in when you have one of the best teams in baseball.  The opportunities at the deadline that I would target knowing that I am likely headed to a one game playoff are long arms (hello, Chris Stratton), shut down relievers (hey, Rich Rod), and guys that can produce/get on base and/or provide some juice.  I would absolutely see San Diego targeting a Joey Gallo to fill that last role, but Pittsburgh can certainly be a player here and they obviously already have a working relationship.

(*Editor’s note) This could still be in play, but it would seem they’d have just packaged someone in with Frazier if they were interested.

Potential Pirate Fits: Stratton, Rodriguez

San Francisco Giants (91.7%) — Team Needs: RP, 2B, LF

San Francisco should be rounding the turn in their rebuild, but instead they look like they have just retooled.  The team’s performance is buoyed by some old heads that are playing out of their minds.  The Giants rotation is filled with rentals, perhaps an interesting model to copy? With Gausman and Wood leading the way, the Giants see themselves at the top of the NL West and in a precarious position.  They could stick it out and continue to develop for the future, or they could go for it this year.  Or.. OR.. they could look to target highly valuable pieces to displace some of that production on the IL (Crawford, Belt, Longoria) that actually have control beyond this year. 

They could inquire about a rental like Anderson to keep prospect costs down or they could invest in another longer term asset like Rodriguez to add depth and high leverage talent to the bullpen.

Potential Pirate Fits: Anderson, Rodriguez

JV-The first thing that jumps out to me is the pitcher market. Every team on this list could use a starter or a reliever, and in some cases both. Cherington has a lot of interesting arms here and it should be fun seeing how many he’s willing to let go. How far Cherigington goes here could determine a lot of things for the rebuild like how deep the system gets, how long the rebuild will take, and last but not least, where the Bucs will be drafting in 2022.

Parting Shots

Let’s have some fun here. Hit us up in the comments or on Twitter (linked in the byline), give us your total players and over/under on how many players Cherington moves by the deadline and where Frazier ends up. Winner gets bragging rights for a year! 

Keep your eyes open for those updates and see ya in a week!

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