First Pitch: Would You Rather Have Polanco/Hanson or Chase Headley?

Jim Bowden had an article at ESPN talking about how the San Diego Padres should trade Chase Headley right now. In the article he listed the Pittsburgh Pirates as one of two teams with a moderate chance of landing Headley, noting that a package of Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson could get the deal done.

Bowden does a lot of these types of articles. He takes a player who isn’t necessarily on the market, then takes a group of teams who don’t necessarily have interest in the player, and creates a trade scenario for each team. The basis for the Headley article isn’t that San Diego is trading him, but that it would make sense to trade him. It’s not about what the Padres think they should do, but what one person thinks they should do. Really this isn’t any different from the type of trade suggestions you see on Twitter, comment sections, or message boards. It’s good for discussions, but don’t read it as an actual trade rumor.

Gregory Polanco saw a boost to his power in 2012, and could have room for additional power in the future.

Gregory Polanco saw a boost to his power in 2012, and could have room for additional power in the future.

What that disclaimer aside, the article did get me thinking about the value of prospects versus the value of short-term help in the majors. I’ve written in the past that I always ask “What would the Rays do?” for any type of move. Trading prospects for two years of an established player who is coming off a career year (Headley is under control through 2014 and had a 7.5 WAR in 2012) is not what the Rays would do. In fact, they’d be on the opposite end of that scenario. Still, it’s hard to just totally dismiss someone like Headley, especially when you’re talking about two prospects in A-ball. As highly touted as Polanco and Hanson are, they haven’t faced the challenges of upper level competition. They also each have unanswered questions (can Hanson stick at short, will Polanco’s swing be an issue in the upper levels).

Normally there are two extreme sides to this argument.

One way to look at it is by pointing out the fact that prospects aren’t guaranteed. You then jump from that fact to assuming that Polanco and Hanson are guaranteed to bust. Since prospects aren’t guaranteed, that only guarantees that they won’t work out, right? Then you assume that all major league players are guaranteed, and that no player has ever experienced a down year, suffered a serious injury, or just proved to be not as good as the career year he just put up. In this approach, adding a proven major leaguer who provides no risk at all is a no brainer when compared to two prospects who are destined to fail.

The other side of the coin is to look at the prospect reports for Hanson and Polanco, and forget that prospects aren’t guaranteed. Keith Law recently said that Hanson could be a star if he sticks at shortstop, and that Polanco could have 25-plus home run potential if everything clicks. You look at those reports, then you look at every other report ranking those two as top 100 prospects and saying pretty much the same thing. Since the rule that prospects aren’t guaranteed has been forgotten, that means both of these players are guaranteed. We’re only 2-3 years away from seeing a star shortstop in the majors and a 25-plus homer outfielder — both under control for six years. Who in their right mind would trade that for two years of an expensive Chase Headley?

As someone who writes prospect reports, I often see comments that I’m hyping up prospects for a variety of reasons, all while ignoring that not every prospect will pan out. The reasons are always entertaining, with my favorite one being that I’m trying to fool the readers with good news, all to keep interest in my site. That ignores a few key facts. One is that more people read negative reports than positive reports. Second, I didn’t start this site to create a market and then provide reports for that market. I started this site because there was already an existing market for prospect news. I read Sox Prospects, thought “I wish someone did this for the Pirates”, and then several months later I decided to try it out (also borrowing a few ideas from Rays Index). And of course, third is the fact that every year in the Prospect Guide, before any of the reports, I add the disclaimer that every single prospect comes with the risk of busting.

So where do I fall in the above argument about prospects vs major league production? I would say both of the above approaches. It’s not an earth-shattering idea, but I look at this in a way that anything could happen. Hanson and Polanco might each realize their potential, at which point a trade for Headley would be horrible. They could both fail, which would make a trade for Headley a great move. Or maybe one of them realizes their potential, and the other one washes out.

There are plenty of other possibilities of course, all of which involve Hanson and/or Polanco reaching the majors but falling somewhere short of their ceilings. To keep things simple, we’ll stick with the three basic scenarios above. The Pirates could clearly win the deal, they could clearly lose the deal, or the deal could wind up fair and down the middle for both teams (going back to the other possibilities, they would just shift the deal left or right from this mid-point). That “down the middle” approach is very subjective though.

In this case, the Padres have a player who is making a lot of money, and who is only under control for two years. They’re probably not winning with him in those two years, which leads to suggestions like Bowden brought up that they’d be better off trading him to a team who has a better chance of winning now. Normally those teams are big spenders who don’t really need prospects. If this was the Dodgers, there would be no question about whether to do the deal. Trade Polanco and Hanson, and if they both realize their potential, just reacquire them when they’re each making $20 M a year, and settle for other star players in the mean time. But the Pirates are different. They don’t have the luxury of focusing on either the short term or the long term. They have to focus on both. They might be able to make one deal like Headley, but the timing and the circumstances have to be right.

For example, if the Pirates were to deal Hanson and Polanco, then they’re seriously jeopardizing their long term offense all for a two year boost in the short term. That’s not really an issue of depth, even though it’s true that they’ve got more depth on the pitching side than they do on the hitting side. It’s more an issue of what they have in the majors. Right now their established major league players are Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Pedro Alvarez. McCutchen is really the only guy you can be comfortable with, as Alvarez is one year removed from a disaster of a season, and Walker has dealt with injury issues. You could probably add Clint Barmes and Russell Martin here if you’re talking short-term, but I’m looking long-term (beyond 2014).

Aside from those three, the Pirates have a lot of questions. Will Garrett Jones be the 2009/2012 version or the 2010/2011 version? Will Gaby Sanchez bounce back to his 2010/2011 hitting? Can Starling Marte realize his potential in the majors? Will one of Travis Snider, Jerry Sands, Jose Tabata, or Alex Presley step up as a regular contributor? Keep in mind that the only reason Marte isn’t in that group is because those other guys have been given the chance to put up bad numbers during their brief times in the majors. We’ve always been higher on Marte than most, but he comes with the same prospect disclaimer as everyone else.

All of those question marks make it harder to deal prospects for a team like the Pirates, who have to rely on prospects for their impact players. It would be different if Marte was established, and one of the other outfielders stepped up. Then someone like Polanco would be easier to deal, because you’re not counting on him for the long-term, and because you’ve also got Josh Bell in A-ball. It’s just like Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Luis Heredia. Sure, you’ve got three guys with the potential for number one upside. But right now you’ve got no number one starters. It would be foolish to deal any of them until you do have a number one starter, all because no individual pitcher from that group is guaranteed.

Again, don’t take Bowden’s article as a rumor that the Pirates are looking at Headley, or even that the Padres are shopping Headley. It’s all meant for discussion and entertainment. If that were a real possibility, and the offer on the table was Headley for Hanson and Polanco, I’d have to decline. Headley would most likely give you a strong bat for the next two years, but what then? If you add Headley, you’re removing one of the outfield spots, which means you don’t give the foursome of outfielders a chance to prove themselves. You’re also trading your top two hitting prospects — your top outfield prospect, and a potential star shortstop.

Why would you make such a deal? Obviously because you’ve got question marks on this team, and Headley can serve as the answer to one of those questions. But what do you have after that? When Headley leaves, you’ve got the same question marks. You didn’t give Snider, Sands, Tabata, or Presley a chance, so you don’t know if they could bounce back (and by then it would be too late). You’re probably looking for another Clint Barmes type free agent at short, sacrificing offense for strong defense. You lost one of the top outfield prospects in the system. So after Headley would leave you’d have the same question marks as now, only with fewer options in the system.

Eventually the Pirates are going to have to build from within and answer their question marks with solutions from the farm system. Once the majority of those question marks are filled in, that’s when it would make sense to deal the occasional prospect. You don’t want to go overboard on that approach, otherwise you end up like the Brewers — selling the farm with no guarantee that the approach produces a winner, then watching everyone leave and being left with a depleted farm system. You don’t necessarily have to do things exactly like the Rays, who never trade prospects for guys like Headley. But you do have to be smart about when you deal prospects, and how many prospects you deal.

On the surface, a Polanco/Hanson for Headley deal would look like an immediate upgrade. But really all you’re doing is delaying the current positional question marks for two years, only with fewer possible internal solutions when that time comes.

Links and Notes

**The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. The 2013 Annual is also available for pre-sales. Go to the products page of the site and order your 2013 books today!

**Pirates Make Jonathan Sanchez Signing Official.

**MLB Top 20 Pirates Prospects.

**Prospect Ranking Links: Jin-De Jhang, Tyler Waldron.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.busch.98 Mark Busch

    If we could replace Hanson with Alvarez, I would do the deal. Headley is more valuable at third base. Let him play there and try to extend him for a few extra seasons.

    • atniup

      Your opinion is no less valid than mine….

      But how can you say that? I wouldn’t trade Alvarez for Headley in a one-for-one trade. Pedro has upside, Headley doesn’t. Pedro has more power. Pedro, when he plays well and with a little more work, will probably be better defensively, at third base at least.

      • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

        Headley doesn’t have upside? He was worth 7.5 WAR last season and would have been a serious MVP candidate on a better team. Pedro was worth 2.9 WAR, and is just as likely to regress to replacement level next season as he is to jump up to a 6 WAR player.

        I get that last year was likely a career year for Headley, but to say he doesn’t have the same upside is pretty absurd pie-in-the-sky thinking on Alvarez.

        I would only trade Pedro and Polanco for Headley if we got assurances from Headley ahead of time that he would be open to signing an extension … just like the D-Backs did with Martin Prado.

        I’m fine with sticking with Pedro at third through 2016. But Headley represents a massive upgrade.

        • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

          Will we get the Headley who avg’d 9 HRS a season or the guy who hit 31 last year?

          Was last year the outlier?

          • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

            Probably somewhere in between. Him moving out of San Diego would only help his power #s.

            His glove has also improved in recent years. If he was roughly a 5 WAR player in 2010 and a 4 WAR player in 2011 (if he hadn’t miss time due to injury). Given all of the data, I’d expect him to be roughly a 6 WAR player next season. That’s a centerpiece for a WS team.

        • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

          your on crack. Headley doesn’t hold a candle to what Alvarez is capable of. How many Hr’s does Headley hit every year? 10?

          • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

            he hit more than pedro last season.

            .
            just sayin

    • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

      that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard a Pirate fan say. You would replace Alvarez ,one of the leagues most powerful hitters who in his first full season hit 30 Hr’s and drove in what 90? that is retarded. He will only get better from here. Headley hit’s for a higher average but he doesn’t have the game changing power Alvarez does. Look up how many HR’s Headley has hit in a season. Hansen is probably the least likely to make a ML player out of him Polanco and Alvarez

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

        his first full season? thats the second stupidiester thing ive heard a pirate fan say.
        .
        Headley hit more HRs than Pedro last season. i know its the second time ive said it but dammit i hate being right!!!

      • NastyNate82

        Headley hit more than Pedro in a tougher environment. He’s also a much better fielder. Homers aren’t everything and even then, you don’t have that in your favor on this argument.

  • blackmax

    A deal like that would cost the Bucs 2 of their 3 potential impact bats and would displace Alvarez. Not a good idea.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      actually, this would displace Garrett Jones. Alvarez could swing over to 1B since Headley is a far superior 3Bman.

      • blackmax

        No, I mean Alvarez. Pedro believes that he’s a third baseman and hasn’t played first in pro ball. Considering how he’ll be trying to repeat the good parts of 2012, I would not give him the additional burden of taking on a new position for this season. If you insist on Headley, put him in right field but don’t mess with Pedro in 2013.

        • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

          i wouldnt call 1B a burdensome position.
          .
          putting Headley in RF doesnt make any sense. hes a stellar 3Bman, Pedro is a future 1Bman.
          .
          im really curious why so few of you cant see what Headley brings to the plate, pun intended.

          • NastyNate82

            Debatable on it being burdensome. He’s learning a new position, and even though its “easier” than 3B, I don’t think that learning a new position is anything to dismiss pretty easily.
            Headley is a very good player, and was so even before his breakout year. As Tim said in his article though, I just don’t think the timing is right for that type of deal.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

        There would be two possibilities:

        -Headley at third and Alvarez at first. This would shift Jones to the outfield.

        -Alvarez and third, Jones/Sanchez at first, and Headley in the outfield.

        Either way, the person(s) being displaced would be the group competing for the other corner outfield spot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

        actually he would not replace Jones, he would fill the RF spot and Jones would play 1B or Headley would play 1B and Jones RF. why would we remove Jones for Headley. Jones stats last year were .273 27 HRs 86 rbi in 475 ab’s.

  • jaybell

    Playing Devil’s Advocate – Headley would be highly likely to garner a 1st round draft pick if he left in 2 years as a FA. So we’d lose 2 impact prospects but potentially get one back. In my opinion that makes this hypothetical trade much more palatable.

    • tempman89

      We would get a comp pick, (which is still not bad) but no pick higher than 31

    • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

      I think that’s still stupid. You’re also assuming that Headley will be the kind of player that will deserve that much money two years from now. A bird in the hand….

      • emjayinTN

        IR: In his previous 4 years he averaged 9 HR’s/year and then had 31 in 2012; averaged 51 RBI/yr and then had 115 in 2012; about an average .750 OPS that jumped to .875 OPS in 2012. Holy Barry Bonds, do we ignore the previous 4 years or the one year that sticks out like a steroidal blip?

        • Y2JGQ2

          Agreed. Flash in the pan. If you don’t believe Garrett Jones will repeat his numbers, you definitly aren’t going to buy Headley’s. Garrett has actually been far more consistent in terms of power and is only a defensive upgrade

          • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

            Flash in the pan? Headley was a 5 WAR player in 2010, and would have been a 4 WAR player in 2011, if he stayed healthy. That’s still a REALLY good player, even if his power surge doesn’t remain.

          • NastyNate82

            False. As Pgh. fan stated before, Headley provided good value on both sides. Its only last year that he approached notable status and thats because of the power stroke. He plays in a really tough ballpark, that shouldn’t be ignored.
            Jones loses a lot of value with his glove, and the fact that he runs the bases like he’s drunk.

        • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

          But Headley put up those #s in San Diego …

    • Y2JGQ2

      We wouldn’t be able to afford to make him a qualifying offer. We would get no draft pick because of that.

      • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

        Incorrect. The Pirates could easily afford to pay Headley ~$13 M. And it doesn’t matter, because obviously Headley would reject that offer and find something for a lot more years and money.

  • tempman89

    Tim,
    Absolutely loved this article. I touched on this in a post earlier in the week about prospect washouts.
    In my opinion, the pirates do have to view both long and short term. But that being said, you go after rock solid MLB players with prospects. Not necessarily Headley (because of MLB need for bucs), but upper echelon players. To much uncertainty with ‘cant miss’ prospects.

  • https://profiles.google.com/110366060287562968136 James S

    The time to do it was last JULY. Not now, It’s too late.
    They blew it when they should have done it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      LOL….had we traded for him, he wouldn’t have had that monster series vs us!!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      No individual player could have prevented what happened in the final two months of 2012.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        Tim….agree…but I was just joshing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

    i totally understand the reason of why not to do this kind of deal. but there is one problem i have with it: we’re assuming that no other deals would be made once Headley becomes a Buc. we’re saying that it seriously diminishes our CURRENT farm system and doesnt take in effect the two seasons that Headley would be here. For example, Bell could really take off and become a top 50 talent. The Bucs could aquire other players in the future, through the draft, foreign or trades.
    .
    Im torn when it comes to Headley. I think he’s a legitimate two way talent who is worth some prospects to give up. I also would hate to give up Hanson and Polanco for him. But here’s the difference: Headley is LEGIT. A good offensive player, especially away from Petco in his career, and a very very good defender at 3B. Do we not trade for him because we already have Pedro at 3B, when we all agree that Pedro will probably be gone in a couple years anyway???

    • Y2JGQ2

      I’d Trade Bell and Heredia maybe…….but not Polanco and Hansen. Specifically not Hansen. We finally have a prospect shortstop with offensive upside. when was the last time that happened? I DARE someone to answer that, the answer is literally not since i’ve been watching Pirates baseball in 1986. Literally. You don’t trade Hansen, and there is no “if he sticks” at shortstop. Based on his offense, you just put him there. Anyone can at least reach mediocrity defensively with hard work

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

        thats easy: Jordy Mercer. was projected as being a offensive first SS who could stick at the position.
        .
        I understand the love for Hanson, I really do. But his success was in lowA ball.
        .
        i know we’re not going to trade Hanson right now, but it’s not hard to also understand the attraction to Headley.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ron.loreski Ron Loreski

        Don’t forget Brian Bixler was supposed to be the next big thing too. We didn’t know how good we had it with Jack Wilson.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ron.loreski Ron Loreski

        Another reason to want to hold onto Hansen is there aren’t even any above average shortstops on the open market next year. Clint Barmes’s contract is up after this year, and here’s a list of free agent shortstops for next year.

        Stephen Drew (31)
        Derek Jeter (40)
        Clint Barmes (35)
        Ronny Cedeno (31)
        Willie Bloomquist (36)
        Jhonny Peralta (32)
        Yunell Escobar (31)
        Rafeal Furcal (36)
        Alex Gonzalez (36)
        Brendan Ryan (32)
        Alexi Casilla (29)
        Cesar Izturis (34)

        There’s a pretty good chance one of those guys will be a Pirate next year, but none of them are long-term answers. And unless Jordy Mercer or Chase d’Arnaud emerge as a starter, Hansen gives you the best fit at the position.

        Unless of course Headley can play SS.

  • Emilio

    I realize Tim is using Headley as an example of an established player and that the article isn’t really about Headley specifically. But, I wouldn’t exactly call him a can’t miss established player. Yes, he had a terrific season last year, but he’s been in the league since 2007. Before this season, he has had 2 season with over 600 ABs and has never hit more than 11 HR or slugged over .400. The uncertainty of unproven prospects is undeniable, but a guy that has had one great season is not without uncertainty either.
    IMO, the Pirates are an organization that needs to hold on to their prospects as opposed to getting an established player for a couple of years then losing them to free agency and have nothing to show for them.
    Perhaps I’m too far sighted though.

    • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

      Good call. It’s easy to forget that “proven” big leaguers fall apart all the time too. Headley could regress and still be a useful player, but the Pirates need to be very cautious about giving away (potentially) twelve years of control for two. When you can’t afford to add even ONE eight-figure player through free agency you’ve gotta hope that your system produces several impact players within a 5-6 year stretch at some point.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      please check out Headley’s stats away from Petco Park for his career. a career OPS of nearly .840 while at home its less than 700. this is a huge difference. so take him out of Petco and lets see what he can really do on a yearly basis.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=headlch01&year=Career&t=b

      • http://www.facebook.com/ian.rothermund Ian Rothermund

        Lol, yeah, I’m not so sure the power numbers are relevant. I don’t think he’s all that he’s being cracked up to be, but the home/road splits speak for themselves.

      • Emilio

        Touché, those splits are pretty compelling. They are so drastic though, that it makes me suspicious. Petco or not, there shouldn’t be that much of a discrepancy (BA .240 vs .300). His teammates have better splits away from home, but nothing to that extent. Some guys just play better away from home.
        Nevertheless, he has still only had one good season out five.
        This could be the start of many years of top notch production from him, but our two best hitting prospects are a lot to give up for taking that chance.

        • http://twitter.com/Pghfan987 Pghfan987

          A 5 WAR season isn’t a “good” season?

          He’s only had one MVP season out of five. And several other All-Star seasons.

        • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

          nearly 1500 PAs from Headley on the road in his career. this is not a small sample size. you take Headley out of Petco and he will be a multi-appearance allstar at 3B. bank it.

  • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

    I think that’s the kind of deal you make when you’re in a win right-now scenario and you think you’re just one player away. Given that the Pirates finished 18 games out of first and nearly 10 games out of a wild card spot, the Pirates just aren’t there. To me, making that kind of deal is much like what the Royals did with trading for Shields and Davis–they misread both their own talent and their competitive situation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      heres where the royals are different: they have absolutely no pitching. thats why they made the deal. not one single stellar pitching prospect for them has made a dent in the show. hochevar, montgomery, lamb, etc… Duffy has been the best of the bunch and hes been “meh” and hurt.
      .
      the royals offense is going to be fine. they need serious help in the rotation. they may end up missing myers but they arent going to win with Hochevar and Chen.
      .
      the pirates are somewhat different. dealing hanson and polanco, whom are nowhere near ready, to aquire Headley, isnt really damaging the future of the team. hanson and polanco isnt bryce harper and steven strasburg: guaranteed stars of the future.

      • NastyNate82

        I was wondering when people bring up the Royals and their pitching prospects. Were they thought of as highly as Cole and Taillon?

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Great article Tim.

    These are the types of trades that Capt Hindsight loves! Prospects for vets.

    :)

    .

  • leadoff

    Trading minor league players all comes down to how much depth you have at each position, if Polanco is the outfielder that the Pirates see as a future starter in the majors, they would be much more reluctant to move him, since they have a lot of talented outfielders in the system, they might move him someday before he sees the majors.
    If Bell and Polanco are both doing very well when they get higher up in the system, one of them will surely be included in some kind of trade, I don’t see both of them reaching the majors with the Pirates, even guys like Snider can change the minor league thinking when it comes to outfielders, if he starts to realize his potential it will make a trade easier.
    If the Pirates are convinced that Hanson can stick at SS, it would take a lot to pry him away from the Pirates, I would say Polanco could be had a little easier, even though I think he is the best position prospect they have.

  • NorCal Buc

    Would you rather have Polanco/Hanson than Chase Headley?

    YES.

  • http://atung.net/ Steve Zielinski

    Hmmmm…Trade for Headley, and win 85 games in 2013 and 85 games in 2017.

    No thanks. I’ll keep Hanson and Polanco in order to try to win 95 games in 2017.

    What would Bowden do? He’d try to get a kickback on someone’s contract.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      What would Bowden do?

      Get fired!!!!

      :)

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    Interesting post Tim! The one part of your analysis that troubles me is the assumption Headley has to leave once he reaches free agency. The Bucs need to spend real money when they have a team ready to compete.

    Same goes for Cutch, Alvarez and any other impact player. We need to pay the going rate. As much as I respect the money Nutting has spent in the draft and at the MLB level when asked, his next financial test comes when this team needs to keep it’s stars.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      The whole idea behind Bowden’s trade idea with Headley is that San Diego tried talking an extension with him, but the two sides were far apart. Bowden talked about how San Diego couldn’t sign him once he reached free agency. So Pittsburgh also wouldn’t be able to sign him.

      The Pirates will always lose their stars when they hit free agency. That’s just how baseball works. Even if they offered up a huge amount, some other team would offer more. Just look at the Brewers and Prince Fielder.

      • leadoff

        “So Pittsburgh also wouldn’t be able to sign him.” ABLE being the key word, hard for Pirates fans to accept, but reality non the less, they can’t outbid big market teams on these players when they hit free agency, and players like Alvarez have Boras as their agent and he has not shown that he will do extensions for top players. The only way they could keep Alvarez is if he under performs.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

        all things considered, Headley hasnt reached Fielder’s status as of yet. Another season like 2012 and Headley will be extremely hard to lock up.
        .
        remember when no one thought the Pirates would sign Cutch long term?

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelVelaTTU MichaelVelaTTU

    I’ll take the CF and SS/2B over a 3B for two years.

    Always take up the middle guys. Always always always.

  • pdad

    Another way of asking the question, would you rather have a major leaguer who had a breakout year in 2012 vs. 2 players who had breakout years in low A? Given the number of low A players who never make it to the majors, you would have to be very sure of these two not to make the trade.

  • Nuke Laloosh

    We have been waiting for years to see such high caliber prospects in the system. It would be a disaster to trade a SS prospect. We haven’t seen a true SS prospect come thru the farm system in 20 years.

    • pdad

      If Hanson had been in AA in 2012, I agree or if you now believe both are can’t miss prospects. Two potentailly good major leaguers are better than one but how sure are you of their potential?

  • piratemike

    I have always followed the Pirates during the season but when the new leadership took over and said they where committed to building a strong minor league system is when I became a full time year around fan.
    I am like all fans, every year I hope that the ML team will improve but unlike some fans I don’t want to start trading top prospects until the system is full from top to bottom.
    I’m 70 and in poor health, I doubt that I will see how this turns out but whomever is in charge of the Bucs I hope that they never forget about the minors because as long as the system favors the large markets that is where the Bucs have to live.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      I pray your health improves.

  • atniup

    I would do it under, and only under, the following circumstances:

    1. Headley can play 1st
    2. Jones will move back to RF.

    OR

    1. Alvarez is willing to move to 1B.

    • atniup

      As a side note, Hansen would be my main concern. I don’t understand why the team is enthralled with Clin Barmes. There is no way he is any more productive than any of the following: Mercer, Chase, Hansen, Harrison.

      He’s better defensively than Harrison, but Harrison is a poor fielder. I don’t understand the raving about the defense of Barmes, I’d like to see some in-depth numbers on him. He one-hops every other throw, and doesn’t seem to have range. I could be an idiot, just my view.

      • meatygettingsaucy

        You are not an idiot however your judgement is definitely off on this. Barmes is not a flashy option at SS, especially considering his limited offense this past season. Defensively, however, he proved to be one of the top SS in ML baseball. Mercer will most likely settle into a backup role and keep that job for his career, playing 2B, SS, 3B. D’Arnaud hasn’t found his groove and there is no point leaving him overmatched both offensively and defensively. Hansen will be in High A this year, he really can’t challenge Barmes for the job and the idea of putting Harrison as an everyday SS is horrifying.

        Like everyone else, I’d love to get more offense out of Barmes but he is probably our best defensive player on the team. If none of your immediate SS options can provide a ton of offense, you may as well play your best defensive guy for the job.

        • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

          spot on, guv’nah!

      • Green Weenie

        Fangraphs has Barmes rated as the 2nd best defensive SS (and 8th best fielder) in the majors last year with a UZR of 14.4. That is excellent, by the way, for only 13 SS in all of baseball had a positive UZR. Even considering issues with sample size (in particular) and defensive statistics (in general), 14.4 UZR rating is robust enough to conclude that Barmes was one heck of a defensive SS. Enough so that, despite his abysmal batting he still posted a 1.7 WAR.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=ss&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&type=1&season=2012&month=0&season1=2012&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0

  • keithconto

    I see the logic of what your well thought out piece tried to convey.

    However theres a couple points you didn’t really consider.

    1. The OF’s you mentioned, have ALREADY had chances, either here or with other teams. The one execption may be Sands. Tabata and Presley of course had theirs here. And I believe that if you have a chance to “fix” a spot you do it.

    Which leads to :

    2. Having too many question marks and using it for a reason NOT to get better players VIA trade is a self sustaining path to endless losing.
    Those question marks are here because of the practice of throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks.

    You seem to be suggesting that the way to fix that is to continue to do it. The very difinition of insanity.

    And whos to say whos on this team 2 or 3 years from now ? Using your logic of not being able to predict from year to year what a player is going to do defeats the suggestion thats it’s better to wait till those 2 young players are ready.

    The best course of action, to me, is to do everything within reason to win this upcoming season. Trading those 2 kids would be a reasonable move.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrishale525 Chris Hale

    Tell Me not all Pirate fans are this dumb

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      no, they’re not. but they sure are rude as shit, aint they?

  • pirate fan

    I would trade Polanco and Tabata. Take it or leave it. I don’t think a player, no matter how good they are should require 2 top prospects for just 2 years. Headley had a breakout season in 2013 but he wasn’t that great before.