Do the Pirates Need to Trade For Pitching?

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had a note on the pitching situation in Pittsburgh, suggesting they “have to be interested” in trading for Bud Norris with the recent injury to Wandy Rodriguez.

1. Bud Norris, RHP, Astros — Quickly moving into the No. 1 spot of pitchers who might be moved now that the draft is over and GMs can concentrate on such things. Norris is 5-5 with a 3.43 ERA on a lousy team. He’s a competitive guy who hates playing for a loser. One concern among talent evaluators is coming out of a noncompetitive situation into a competitive one. The Pirates, who were scouting the periphery of the pitching market, would now have to be interested in a guy who pitched in their division. Another former Astro, Wandy Rodriguez, has gone to the disabled list for the Pirates.

Charlie Morton will be returning soon, which will provide a replacement if Wandy Rodriguez goes on the DL.

Charlie Morton will be returning soon, which will provide a replacement if Wandy Rodriguez goes on the DL.

I would disagree that the Pirates need to make a deal for pitching at the moment. They could make a deal for pitching, but I wouldn’t say it’s a “need” or something they “have” to do. The Pirates have certainly gone back and forth between “having too many starting pitchers” and “possibly not having enough starters”. They have had some outstanding depth this year, to the point where they’ve had eight starting pitchers injured at one point in time. Yet their starters have combined for the sixth best ERA in the majors this year.

Right now the rotation has A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Jeff Locke. Gerrit Cole is coming up tomorrow. Wandy Rodriguez might not need a trip to the DL, but if he does, he will be replaced by Charlie Morton. If Rodriguez doesn’t need a trip to the DL, Morton will be an extra starter (or Gerrit Cole will go back down).

Then you’ve got Jeanmar Gomez, who could be back soon, since his injury doesn’t seem to be serious. James McDonald is currently rehabbing, and threw 77 pitches in his last start. That should put him 2-3 rehab starts away from returning, and would give the Pirates eight starters.

It’s entirely possible that the Pirates could suffer an injury or two before McDonald comes back, or before the trade deadline. That has been the story at every turn this year. Each time it looks like the Pirates have an excess of starters coming back, they suffer an injury to a current member of the rotation. I guess depending on how you look at this, it’s either a good or a bad thing. It’s a good thing that they always seem to have a starter when they need it, but a bad thing that they keep seeing starters going down. At any rate, it doesn’t seem like trading for a starter is a need for the Pirates right now. I would say you’d find a bigger need on the offense, possibly trading for a platoon partner at third base or right field.

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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