2 Guys Talkin’ Trades, Winter Meetings

11-16-22 – By Justin Verno & Corey Shrader – @JV_PITT and @CoreyShrader on Twitter

Justin Verno- As the GM meetings ended, we hadn’t really heard a lot on the Pirates outside of a Jon Morosi Tweet on Bryan Reynolds. Before we delve into one David Bednar, let’s address the Morosi Tweet, Corey. 

Not that I take what a GM says as law in these situations; no GM tells us the plan. But this does mirror what we wrote last week: The Bucs would like to extend and keep Reynolds. If they do move him, it won’t be on a discount.

Corey Shrader- I think we read the tea leaves on this one fairly well. No GM worth his or her salt is going to flat out show their cards and this echoes our thoughts on the situation. If you want Reynolds, it’s going to need to fulfill the team’s directional objective. I still stand by our assessment that Reynolds will be a Pirate for 2023.

JV- Alright, enough about Bryan Reynolds. That was last week. This week doesn’t get much easier as we examine if moving David Bednar could make sense and what it could look like. As we get into this, here’s another reminder that we are not suggesting the Pirates should trade Bednar. Corey and I will leave that opinion up to you, but like Reynolds, his name is bound to come up in December. Like it or not, we might as well talk about it. 

CS- Bednar is a difficult read for me. He is highly desirable to teams in need of bullpen help. Flat out dominant since coming to Pittsburgh. There is also a unique circumstance of him being a Pittsburgh native tossed in. I suppose we must do our best and forge ahead exploring what a deal of Bednar may look like, or at the very least, what we would hope it might look like.

JV- Like all of these proposals, it starts with the surplus value.  At last year’s deadline, Joe and I mentioned that the Bucs will not and should move Bednar at the ZIPS projections value. As you can see from that link, selling Bednar at a 1 WAR per season projection makes no sense, especially considering his production the last 2 seasons. (1.5 and 1.2 WAR respectively). Using Joe’s estimate last season, minus the 22 season and his SV is solid.

Da Chart

1.523 WAR Joe’s est
1.324 WAR
1.225 WAR
126 WAR
5Total War
x9Cost of win
45Total Value
$22Salary
$23Surplus Value

JV- $23 million is the number we come up with. Corey, let me kick you a question and see what you think. Is moving Bednar at $23M worth it?

CS- I think this value is about right. But, I will say that trading RH RPs is a little variable, so we may need to be open to considering a neighborhood value in return with some wiggle room while using 23M as our upper “limit.” In saying this though, I think that there is always a caveat of a team really wanting him. Conversely, the Pirates might really covet a piece (or pieces) coming the other way. Bednar, and RPs in general, are sort of fascinating trade pieces. I am interested in seeing what we can come up with here. 

JV- There’s no shortage of teams to look at for Bednar. An article in the MLB.com states Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies as well as “other teams” could all be interested in Bednar. 

“Other teams that could try to bring in a new closer include the Twins, Rangers, Orioles, D-backs, Cubs, Marlins and Tigers.”

I imagine there are more teams that could be sniffing around here as well, despite the bad stretch towards the end. 

For my proposal, I’m going with the Rangers. If the rumor that Jacob deGrom would like to sign with Texans is true, then I can see a scenario where the Rangers push the rebuild forward aggressively. Adding deGrom to Jon Gray, Jake Odorizzi and Dane Dunning would give the Rangers a solid mix on the mound. Add in they have 3  prospects that could make their debut, (Jack Leiter, Owne White and Cole Winn) and the Rangers are in a good place to deal one of their pitching prospects for a closer like David Bednar. 

The Deal

Rangers get

David Bednar-CLO- MLB ($23M)

Travis Swaggery-CF–ETA–2023- FV 45 ($6M)

Diego Castillo–UTIL–MLB–(hard to gauge)

Pirates get

Jack Leiter–SP–ETA:2023–FV 55($34M)

It’s April 2021, the MLB draft is approaching, and it’s coming fast. To me there was exactly one name on the list for the 1st overall pick. And it was Jack Leiter. Don’t get me wrong, when the draft was done and the kids signed the 21 draft  looks like it could be an organizational changing class, an historic class. Obviously this is hyperbolic nonsense but still, the 21 draft for the Bucs could be legit. And somehow I still can’t get off Jack Leiter’s fastball/slider combo. 

Here’s what Eric Longenhagen had to say about his FB/SL/CB combo.

 “Leiter is a modern power pitcher with feel for pitch execution that comes and goes. When he’s on, he blows his fastball (95-98 mph early in 2022, more 93-97 as he entered the meat of the campaign at Frisco) past hitters in the zone because of the velo and carry on the pitch, some of which is aided by Leiter’s medium size and big stride down the mound. With that he pairs two breaking balls. The shape of his curveball and slider still tend to run together a little bit, but Leiter has increased the velocity separation between the two since college by throwing his slider harder (it averaged 82 mph at Vanderbilt but is sitting 85 so far in 2022). Even though his curveball was the more consistent of his two breaking balls in college and Leiter is using them at a roughly equal rate so far in pro ball, his slider has become his secondary put-away pitch of choice.”

Leiter doesn’t have the ideal build for your prototypical power pitcher, but his FB has legit “raise” and induses a good deal of swing and miss. His slider/CB is nothing to laugh about either. 

Rangers fans that come across this article will be hurling every insult they can think of at me, and that’s fair. And they’re probably right. But Swaggs looks ready for the MLB and Castillo gives them a power bat utility player that’s sorely lacking there, he can also fill in at multiple spots in a pinch.  Jack had a rough start to his professional debut in AA, don’t let that scare you the kid has the good stuff and if the Rangers want more back Cherington should be willing to do it. It’s time to be more surgical with any trades he considers. I can dream here Corey, that’s the fun thing with these articles.

CS – My outlook here is similar to how I view a deal involving Reynolds; should Bednar get traded I think the return has to be mostly MLB ready/near plug & play. Justin mentioned above that there are so many potential suitors for a back-end arm that this exercise could contain about 20 different formulations. 

For this particular exercise I am going to go to a familiar team we discussed within the last column. The Dodgers.

The Deal

Dodgers get:

David Bednar – MLB, CL ($23M)

Pirates get:

Ryan Pepiot – MLB, P ($6M)

Michael Grove – MLB, P ($4M)

Emmet Sheehan – AA, P ($3M)

First thing’s first, yes, these values aren’t adding up are they? Well, no, but I think there are some factors baked in here beyond just the $ figure that have me Nicholson nodding to this return. Chief among them being that both Pepiot & Grove are major league ready, plug & play pieces. Across 36.1 & 29.1 MLB innings respectively this pair effectively held their own in their first tastes of the bigs. Both Pepiot & Grove have flashed very impressive K stuff (11.23 & 10.26 K/9 at AAA) throughout their minor league resumes and both have had accompanying control woes (3.55 & 3.17 BB/9 at AAA). However, they are exactly the type of players I’d like to see come into the fold for Pittsburgh. Essentially “ready”, high-K pitchers, coming out of one of the premier developmental organizations in the sport. Yes, please.

The third piece here who, full disclosure, might be my favorite long term prospect of the deal is RHP Emmet Sheehan. Fresh off of a dominant showing in the AFL, he looks like yet another of the seemingly endless parade of high end arms out of the Dodgers system. Sheehan completely rolled through A+ in 2022 (14.28 K/9, 3.96 BB/9, 2.83 ERA, 2.18 FIP, 1.08 WHIP) before a small taste of AA where he was not as effective (10.38 K/9, 6.23 BB/9, 4.15 ERA, 6.53 FIP, 1.15 WHIP), but it was just 4.1 IP. I believe that when the revised prospect ranking lists come out this spring, Sheehan is one that will rise quite a lot. 

So, while this one does not equal out via SV $, it gives Pittsburgh what it craves. Pitching depth & upside that is ready to be deployed and a prospect with a very, very high ceiling. One byproduct of this move would be a shift of Johan Oviedo back to the bullpen. Slotting Oviedo into a back end role seems like a natural fit with his filthy slider and velocity. Perhaps that seems silly given his relative success as a starter in September & October, but I think it is a very good fit for him.

Final thoughts

CS- Not to beat a dead horse here, but finding a trade partner for Bednar is simultaneously easy & difficult. There are a lot of teams that could absolutely use a player like him pitching in the 9th or even 8th inning for them. Guessing at how much other teams would value an RP is a tough racket. My proposed trade package might be far too light – or too steep in quantity/depth for LA to move? This exercise, for me, shows just how tricky finding deals can be even for a player any team would want to have on their 26 man.

JV- That’s a fantastic point about moving Oviedo back to the bullpen. With any deal that GMBC gets done, roster construction has to be one of the main driving forces and that goes beyond the pieces he’s acquiring. How do the chess pieces fit on the board? How does acquiring a starting pitcher that can open the year in the rotation affect the guys currently on the roster. Adding a starter that allows them to move an Oviedo to the pen could strengthen 2 positions. 

We have deals here that highlight the problem with moving David Bednar. The first bit off more than the Rangers will want to chew. The second raids an MLB roster of 2 viable arms. Neither is an easy feat. If I were a betting man I’d take Bednar to remain in Pittsburgh but I might not take the over.

Join us next week as Corey and I tackle this from the opposite point of view, as we take a look at the Bucs adding a vets. What do ya think Corey, start in the OF?

CS – The OF seems like a fantastic spot to start. There is a definite need there and adding to it makes a lot of sense. Looking forward to scoping out some options with you!

4 thoughts on “2 Guys Talkin’ Trades, Winter Meetings

  1. You overvalue David Bednar.  Getting Leiter with Bednar as the key centerpiece of the trade would be nothing short of a miracle.   I would be tickled pink even if the Pirates included Mears, Wilson, Yajure, Park, and Vilade as well.  I could also add some additional garbage pieces if it would make the difference.  

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    1. Bruce,
      Admitted as much in the article, but the SV works in the deal by adding other pieces. and as mentioned I would send more back to get Leiter. But if GMCB is to move Bednar he needs a difference maker, Leiter should be that. If the Rangers are prepared to listen he should go for it.

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      1. “If” …that is a huge if. If Bednar can be moved for any top 50 prospect in baseball, the Pirates would come out smelling like roses. Pirates have first-hand knowledge that most top closers have a very short shelf life of pitching at exceptional levels.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Bruce,
    Sorry I missed this. There is a hefty sample size we can use for closers with control being traded and the return being a top 100. Joe Boyd and I gave examples in previous articles. Of course every trading period (Winter Meetings and Trade Deadline) have their own heartbeats, so to say. But the main reason I think GMCB would net a top 100. If he moves Bednar, and as you said that’s a big if, is he simply has no reason to move him right now unless a team convinces him to do it. I can’t sit here and say I’m a BC guy but one thing he’s not done is move Reynolds or Bednar just to do it. I have to give him that.

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