Justin Verno – This is the trade piece I’ve been looking forward to writing since we started this, Joe! The time is here, the moment is right, the fruit is ripe, Big Ben has struck ten! It is time for Ben Cherington and his staff to start putting together trades that will add to the Pirates roster and start that push to compete. And while we may not see it at the deadline, we should see some come this off-season. But why wait? I think if we put our heads together, we can come up with some trades that make sense now. You down?
Joe Boyd – Ha! Of course I’m down. There are several different directions you can take this. You could take on a salary to get a better return, trade prospect strength in exchange for prospect weakness, you could do change of scenery guys, or you could look for a player with some control to anchor the roster. Which way are you going to take it, Justin?
JV – I’ve been stewing with this for weeks and due to all the rumors attaching Reynolds to the Mariners, I’ve fallen in love with a young Mariner. So I’m going with a change of scenery type situation here.
How many times can I look at Jared Kelenic ‘s potential and not want to add him? Not sure how many times I’ve read up on him, but I’m there: I would love to see him at PNC Park. Despite his high ceiling he just hasn’t figured it out at the majors just yet. Slashing .173/.256/.338 with an OPS of .594 and striking out at a 30% clip. Not good, I get that. But he’s also 22 years old and I think he’s a change of scene guy. So here goes-
SP Mich Keller -FA 2026
I know what you’re thinking, “Mitch finally looks good and you want to deal him?” And you’re not wrong, Mitch does look like he’s starting to get it. But I’m not sure how much I buy this and how high his ceiling is now. If I can turn him into an everyday player with Kelenic’s upside, I’m doing it!
2B Ji-hwan Bae-ETA:2022– FV 45($6M)
If you’ve read my Prospects Updates on this site you know I’m high on Bae, even confused as to why he’s not a 50 FV, and more confused why the Bucs don’t have him in the majors at this point. Seattle is in the Wildcard picture as of writing this and they need a second baseman. Bae is ready and his control of the zone should have him being a solid MLB player in the first season.
OF Jarred Kelenic-FA 2028
You’ll notice I am not using SV in this trade, currently Kelenic has a much higher WAR projection then Keller. But I have to think ZIPS will make an adjustment to these as Keller has been the more productive major leaguer, and really it isn’t close. But Kelenic stil as a ton of upside and control. Jarred will be 23 in a month, this flier is well worth taking on the former 60 FV prospect.
SP Emmerson Hancock–ETA:2023– FV 45($M)
I’ve mentioned Hancock before in a Bryan Reynolds trade piece. As I mentioned there this is the guy I wanted in the 2020 draft.
Seattle adding Keller to George Kirby, Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen and Matt Brash waiting in the wings gives them a solid mix to finish the year and a good staff moving forward. Go get me Jarred Kelenic Mr. Nutting!
JB – For me, I wanted to add to the pitching staff and I decided to look at a few different options on how to do that. First, I went through the values for some arms that are already under contract:
- Jon Gray ($5.47MSV) – Just signed this year, so I think Texas would pass, but excellent option and really feels like an AJ Burnett type of acquisition.
- German Marquez/Anthony Senzatela (~$45M SV) – I always like the idea of snapping up pitchers from Colorado and bringing them back to sea level (I’ve named 3 already!), but Senzatela just signed his deal and Marquez starts to get a bit too expensive after this season. Let’s keep rolling.
- Merrill Kelly ($15.98M SV) – Kelly would be in the wheelhouse for an acquisition. He wouldn’t take much (a package might look like Bae & Solometo?), but at 33 there is a risk of a serious dropoff here that I don’t think is worth the risk.
But what about his teammate? Zac Gallen ($47.6M SV) – Now this is a guy that I’d really like to get. It’s very difficult to hit that value. He has 3.5 years of control and would fit really nicely into the rotation. So let’s try to do it anyway.
The deal: JT Brubaker (See previous piece) & Nick Gonzales
Zac Gallen & Kristian Robinson
Thanks to @eYARKulation, we did Brubaker’s value last week and coupling that with Gonzales’s value, we get $53M SV, so Arizona throws in Robinson to close the deal. Would they do this deal without ensuring Nick is healthy? No way, but it still deals from a position of strength (middle infield hitters) to get a player that would be out of reach under any other circumstances. Gallen has already put up 1.2 WAR this season and ZiPS has him projected to collect 0.7 more wins and he’s not even arbitration eligible yet! I’d like to add him to a rotation along with Bru, but this was the easiest way for the Pirates to get Gallen, so here we are.
I also touched on doing prospect for prospect deals, so I wanted to try and get one of those out there, as well.
Ji-hwan Bae ($6M SV) to Chicago White Sox for RP Jared Kelley ($3M) & SP Matthew Thompson ($1M)
I tried to get these two pitchers in the Adam Frazier deal and here I am trying to get them again! As with the Gallen deal, we moved a player in a position of strength (infield bats) for some pitchers that may need a change of scenery. The Pirates add two players that ETAs are 2024 and 2025 respectively and add necessary depth for the pitching staff.
JV- For my second add I’m stretching the limits. I’m going for a well known starter for prospects. The fun part here? We’ve spent the last two years of fans yelling at us to stop trading known MLB talent and now we get to have fans yell at us to stop trading away “the future”! We just can’t win, Joe!
The team- Cincinatti Reds
SP Luis Castillo FA-2025 ($35M-estimated)
Here’s the catch, if Cherington wants to make a move on Castillo he needs to overpay, same division and all. But he also needs to do it with extending him at whatever it takes as the plan. I know, “you’re crazy that’ll never happen”. And you’re probably right. But BC and his staff have done a tremendous job with team control and keeping payroll low. This IS why you do this. To sign a big name. Enough excuses Mr. Nutting, get it done.
2B Nick Gonzales OR Liover Peguero ETA 2023 F V50($28M)
The hope here is to move Gonzales. But if the Reds demand the SS(Peguero), do it. This is why you build a healthy deep system.
2B/SS/CF Ji-hwan Bae-ETA: 2022– FV 45($6M)
You’ve probably noticed that Bae is a popular name here. The Bucs can deal him due to it being a position of depth. The Reds can deploy Bae in a lot of ways as he’s played all 3 spots pretty well. I have to think the GM’s look at Bae as a 50 FV, looking at his MiLB numbers I can’t see how they wouldn’t, he’s gotten better every step of the way. He’s developed power. And he doesn’t strike out. Even if he’s viewed as a 50 FV I would still be fine giving this package up, as long as they plan to extend Castillo.
RF Rodolfo Nolasco– ETA: 2024- FV 40+($4M)
Even if Bae is sold as a 50 FV the Bucs will have to come up with a 3rd piece but it won’t have to be as highly regarded. It wouldn’t surprise me if this needs to be a better piece with Bae viewed as a 45 but this does exceed the SV of 35 or million.
JV – Seattle may view Kelenic as an untouchable piece; as a guy who’s adjustments he’s made at AAA have him set and ready to go. While the market for Castillo should be scalding hot, The Mets and Yankees rotations have taken a pretty solid hit lately, so I can see either of them going all in on Castillo. But I think the larger point is that the time is here. BC should be looking at putting together some deals to help boost this team and get them ready to win.
Making a big move or 2 will excite the fan base and set the bar higher going into the off-season. If BC makes a good trade or maybe a big signing at the Winter Meetings I think the pre-season ticket sales see a good bounce. Merchandise sales will spike and isn’t that what Robert Nutting owns the Bucs for? To sell tickets and merchandise?
JB – I’d say, at least for my trades, it’s the devil you know.. Or maybe it’s a bird in the hand? Regardless, moving Bru for Gallen looks good on paper today, but there is obviously inherent risk. I think that this was a fun exercise and one that I very much enjoyed, but I think it was just an exercise. I think Cherington will be very risk averse until he has to move, and that could be as soon as next year! I actually think Jon Gray makes a ton of sense when we do this exercise in July 2023. He’ll still have 2.5 years of control and just feels like a shrewd Bucco singing. So we’ll look at that next year! Justin, what’s next for this trade season?
JV – Well, Joe we’ve hit on all the names we think we will hear in rumors. We’ve touched on the guys we think will be moved. We’ve even played with adding some names to the club as they enter the window of contention. The only thing left to do is re-rack it all. Next week let’s talk about some of the rumors out there and what it could mean for the Bucs!