Two Guys Talkin’ Trades Winter Meeting: Another Fun Part

Justin Verno – Corey, the Event Horizon is coming up fast. Next Sunday the MLB teams will descend upon San Diego. No hostages will be spared and the Winter Meetings will take place. It is…inevitable!

We’ve shown what the Bucs could get by moving Bryan Reynolds and David Bednar. We’ve suggested what it could look like if the front office got jiggy with it and traded for some help in the OF.

Now up? Let’s put together some trades for some starting pitchers!

CS – I often think of the winter meetings as the opening act of the new season. We begin to see some player movement via trades, free agency, etc. The league has been suspiciously quiet of late. So here is to hoping we amp up some action this weekend. 

Ahead of this we want to take a look at some starting pitching moves that we think we’d like to see the Pirates consider. And I’ll admit, the market is a lot tougher to find workable matches here. Let’s jump in, shall we?

JV – Last week we set the ground rules for these trades. We both gave an example of a rental, a prospect for prospect, and a controlled player.  I vote we keep that format since we really don’t know the level of  “all in” the FO will have for 2023-24. Not yet anyway.

And away we go.

The Rental

JV – Finding a rental wasn’t at all easy. There’s not a lot of true rentals in the starter market. I fished around and considered using two years of control for my “rental” and decided that was cheating. Then I landed on one that made sense.

The Yanks seem to be dialed in to adding a starter via FA (they have interest in Jacob deGrom) or a trade. They also seem to be trying to keep Aaron Judge and adding a SS. While the Yanks are always willing to go over the MLB soft cap, they usually don’t want to exceed it by a whole lot. So moving Frankie Montas and his $7 million dollar price tag should be on the table for the NYY.  

2.423 WAR Streamers est
2.4Total WAR
x9Cost of a win
21.6Total value
7.7Salary
13.9Surplus Value

13.9 SV for Montas will make him an attractive trade piece.

THE DEAL

Yankees get:

David Bednar- RP-SV $23M

So hear me out. I get that giving up control of a closer for one year of Montas seems an odd thought. And normally you’d be spot on, but the Yankees need a closer and the Bucs can take a look at adding other pieces in the deal. They  should also consider Montas to be an extension candidate or even flip him at the deadline. 

Pirates get:

Frankie Montas–SP–SV $7M

Montas never settled in at Yankee stadium and could find himself on the end of a trade like this. He’s a guy that GMBC should consider a safe ad. He immediately makes the rotation better and Cherington should try to get an extension done before the year starts. If they are not able to get that done, Montas becomes a quality flip candidate.

Austin Wells-C/RF–ETA:2023–FV 45($6M)

Currently a catcher but he’s plenty athletic enough to move to RF. Wells is a former 1st rounder and the power bat is what catches the eye. While the Bucs MiLB system has some interesting OF prospects I’m not sure any have the power Wells could offer and the eye to go with it.  Slashing a healthy .261/.360/.429 with an OPS of .839 in AA. Wells also took his shares of walks 11.7% and had a solid K rate, 23.5%. 

Luis Gill-RP-ETA:2022– FV 45($4M)

Once a starter and top prospect, Gil has the look of a late inning reliever, perhaps the closer of the Bucs future? He’s another FB/SL combo guy that the Pirates, and every team, covet. With FV scouting grades of 70 for his FB and a 60 for the slider, this is a guy that Yankee fans would hate to lose.

If the Bucs are to give up Bednar in a deal like this they would have to make a commitment to getting an extension done at any cost, and adding a Frankie Montas to the rotation would be a monster move. 

CS – As mentioned, the rental market for pitchers is a tough one to navigate, but for my proposal we head to Minnesota.

Pirates get:

Kenta Maeda – SP SV$10.37

Twins get:

Ji Hwan Bae – UT/OF SV $11ish (FV = $6.00)

As you will see below things can get tricky with making values fit. Ji Hwan Bae has a strong Steamer projection. That places his SV higher than his prospect FV figure. In these cases I lean toward the projection system given there is more behind it than an FV equaling an $ amount. 

Bae gets quite a bit of buzz among Pirates fans, and there is a good reason for that. He flashed some exciting stuff both in the minors and in his 10 game sample at the MLB level. He is a premium athlete with some gap-to-gap power and top end speed. He would fill a need for the Twins in multiple areas providing corner OF play as well as ability to cover multiple positions on the infield. One wrinkle is that Minnesota is a little lefty-heavy already, but, he would make some sense for them in exchange for a rental.

Maeda is a risky player to acquire. He is turning 35 this season and coming off of Tommy John surgery. While he is not owed a massive amount of money ($3.125 million in 2023), it is a decent investment in a recently injured & aging hurler. 

When healthy Maeda is a very solid arm for any rotation, averaging roughly 2.3 fWAR across his 6 season career in the Majors. But his return to form is far from sure. He could give Pittsburgh a veteran upgrade at pitcher that they sorely need. Maeda usually gets by on his offspeed stuff, so should his velocity not return in whole, he will likely have a shot to meet or exceed his projected fWAR of 1.5.

A fly in the ointment here is that I do not fully understand Minnesota’s direction. They underperformed expectations in 2022, but the talented core is there. Do they trim some payroll? Do they add and count 2022 as bad luck? I admit, I cannot tell what their path will be, and that would certainly impact their willingness to listen on or move Maeda. 

Blocked Prospect:

CS-Let me start by saying this is a “choose your own adventure” proposal. I have three Pirates players that I think could fit the bill here. One upper level minor league/borderline MLB ready player, one upper level minor league hitter, and one lower minor league prospect. I would be fine with letting any of them go in a move like this.

Pirates get:

Hunter Gaddis – SP/RP SV $2

Guardians get:

Canaan Smith-Njigba – OF SV $2

or 

Sergio Campana – OF SV $2

or 

Tucupita Marcano – UT – SV $2.9

My “blocked prospect” proposal is Cleveland Guardians pitcher, Hunter Gaddis. 

Gaddis is a 24 year old, 6’6”, 212lb RHP that is pretty solidly blocked for the Guardians. Gaddis had a very small and very poor MLB debut in 2022 (7.1 IP, 18.41 ERA, 2.45 WHIP). I wouldn’t take much from this, but should at least be mentioned. Looking at his AAA & AA results we see much more encouraging results with the combined numbers of: 4.01 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 11.72 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, & a 23.7% K-BB% across 23 MiLB starts. Gaddis has a very deceptive pitching style and features a unique, screwball-like change up. He is a prime “if he can add velocity” breakout archetype. I would be inclined to think that if Cleveland and their remarkable pitching development system has not been able to do it, it is not happening. But we can’t be sure it is just that simple. 

As for what the Bucs would send back, I would be open to any of the listed options: Marcano, CSN, or Campana. All offer different things and the value of each would be dependent on what Cleveland might want to prioritize. My gut would say Campana as he would give them some true game-breaking speed in the organization, but he is still a pretty risky prospect. CSN has some interesting tools too. The raw power is undeniable, but perhaps he will never reach it. His bat has played OK in the minors & there is some definite upside that could be uncovered yet. Marcano may be of interest because he offers terrific versatility, strong hit tool, approach, & speed. 

I am not fully certain how Cleveland views Gaddis long term, but I think he is the type of prospect that fills three categories you must explore when looking for upside. He is “fringe” but with clear skills, has a positive track record at the upper minors, and does not have any clear path to a roster spot in his current organization. Do I think he will be a breakout player? I really do not know. He has upper minors performance that checks some boxes for me, but the lack of velocity may well cap his production. Do I think he would be worth checking in on for the Bucs? Yes.

JV- There’s a lot of ways the Bucs could go here. Corey has them going with a sneaky good candidate so I think I’ll get a little more aggressive.

The National League Champs have a pretty solid rotation with Austin Nola, Zach Wheeler and Ranger Suarez anchoring the group. Add that Andrew Painter could be on the way and they can spare a starter to upgrade elsewhere.

The Deal

Phillies get:

Nick Gonzales–2B–ETA:2023–FV 50 ($28M)

Nick really came on in the second half last year and the Bucs can deal from an area of depth. 

Travis Swaggerty–OF–ETA:2022– FV 45($6M)

Travis finds a new home and a fresh start. 

Pirates get:

Mick Able–SP–ETA:2024–FV 55($34M)

Mick was in the same draft class as Nick Gonzales so I imagine Cherington and his staff are pretty familiar with him. Fangraphs has a pretty good comp for Able that Pirate fans are bound to love: Gerrit Cole. His FB isn’t there yet, topping out at 97. Here’s what FG has said about the young pitcher-

“He has the prototypical starter’s frame at a broad-shouldered 6-foot-6, and the pacing and look of his delivery evoke Gerrit Cole. Abel has long thrown hard for his age, his velocity steadily climbing into its current 95-97 mph band up from the 90-94 range when he was first known to FanGraphs as a prospect.”

The likelihood the Phillies would move Abel is pretty low. But let’s have fun and roll with this, since after all they could just be eyeballing another WS run here and Nick the Stick Gonzales could be a nice upgrade at 2B.

Controlled Player: 

CS-The Yankees could use OF depth (independent of them re-upping Judge or not) and seemingly a pitching logjam. Similarly, the Pirates have a cloudy OF situation and a pretty disappointing pitching staff. So, I propose making the below swap:

Pirates get:

Clarke Schmidt – SP/RP $5.6

Yankees get:

Cal Mitchell – OF SV $11.9 (40 FV = $2)

I have listed two separate values for Cal Mitchell. One is based off of his 40 FV & the other off of his Steamer projection for 2023. Frankly, I do not know which to use in this scenario. Clearly the projection systems like Mitchell, and I think there is something to be said for that. Given the bullish Steamer projection, I am going to say his FV value is low for our purposes and call it a day here.

As for the return, Clarke Schmidt is a man without a roster spot currently. Schmidt is a former top prospect who has yet to be able to crack either the rotation or secure a full time bullpen role. Posting terrific results at AAA in 2021 & 2022 for a combined 2.79 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 11.66 K/9, 2.66 BB/9, & a 23.9 K-BB% across 71 IP. He has seen roughly the same number of innings in the majors and posted some good returns there too (3.71 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 8.83 K/9, 4.22 BB/9 in 70.1 IP). Despite his play New York simply does not seem willing to see to it that Schmidt has a locked-in role. 

Admittedly, this may be a stretch on my end. When trying to deal with teams that have an unlimited budget & strong farm system there is a lot of uncertainty on “need.” I do think Mitchell is someone that may fit for them though and, similarly, I think Schmidt is a piece that could be had. If I am the Pirates, I’d like to have him.

JV- Corey once again with a sneaky good ad puts me in the “let’s get aggressive” category. That’s okay, I am up to the challenge. 

Miami is a popular trade partner for the Bucs. For starters they have been connected to Bryan Reynolds for what seems like forever. Secondly (and more importantly), they have something the Bucs should be looking for. Some really good arms. 

The Deal

Marlins get:

David Bednar–SP–MLB–SV $23M

I promise, I am not trying to give Bednar away, nor do I think the Bucs could be looking to move him. But this just makes sense for both teams. The Marlins have been connected to Bednar in the past and the Pirates need a good starter and more than that, they need a LH starter. 

Quin Priester–SP–ETA:2024–FV 50($21M)

Another deal where Priester makes sense to deal. MIA can keep the prospect of arms deep while the Bucs add a much needed LH starter.

And to steal a page out of Corey’s book here is my “choose your adventure”.

Pick one of-

Ji-hwan Bae–OF/2B–ETA:2022– FV 45($6M)

Or

Cal Mitchel–OF–MLB SV?

Or

Jack Suwinski-OF–MLB–SV?

You’ll note I didn’t include Suwinski or Mithels SV, Streamers has a surprisingly good WAR for both of these youngsters, I’m not 100% sure I buy them at the moment. But the Marlins need OF help so any of the names listed here make sense. 

Pirates get:

Trevor Rogers–LHP–MLB–SV 36-48M

I listed a range for the SV here for a few reasons. Rogers is coming off a down year (0.8 WAR in 23 starts) so there are question marks here, Streamers has him projected at a 1.7 WAR in 23. That leaves a wide range for the LH.

If the Bucs can get the Marlins to bite on a Rogers trade I think it’s a great gamble, and safer than I’m making it out to be. The SV of Mitchel or Suwinski would be surprisingly good at those Streamer projections but it’s possible Kim Ng may want more, so I’ve included Priester to make things ‘right’. 

Roansy Contreras, Trevor Rogers, Mitch Keller and Luis Ortiz look pretty solid as far as a 1-4 goes, that’s worth giving up David Bednar and Priester. 

CS – I like this one a lot. Rogers is a player that I am very excited to follow in 23. He’s got a chance to be a very good pitcher. Great idea here.

Final Thoughts

JV- A lot to get through there, Corey. I have to admit, after seeing the Bucs off-season plan come into focus a little over the last few days, I lean to the rentals we’ve been putting together in these pieces(if they make a trade at all). Sure they appear to be spending a little bit of money but all of the current deals so far have been duct tape for 2023 type moves. The Bucs still don’t have a long term answer, at 1B or the OF(Bryan Reynolds aside) moving past 2023. Is there something in the works? Or are these the type of moves we are looking at until next off-season?

CS- Well, I hope that we will get some real answers to these questions soon, Justin. Ha. My gut reaction is that we might be looking at these moves yet again at least through the 2023 deadline. 

JV- Well, the Meetings are less than a week away and that leaves us with one more possible article. Let’s get together next Monday for a quick recap and hopefully we can address a few rumors. See you then, Corey?

CS- Let’s do it. Already looking forward to it.

One thought on “Two Guys Talkin’ Trades Winter Meeting: Another Fun Part

  1. Not to say that any given prospect is untouchable, but there’s still a glaring lack of high-end pitching in the Pirates system. I am very reluctant to trade any of the very little they have. I also don’t think a rental trade makes sense at this juncture.

    The Schmidt and blocked prospect proposals I like. Those look to me like win-win deals where each side trades surplus to address a need.

    Like

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