First Pitch: The Trade Market is Looking Pretty Weak So Far

Tonight we heard once again that the Pirates were looking at Alex Rios. Jon Heyman reported the interest this time, also saying they could be interested in Alexei Ramirez. One comment Heyman made stood out to me. He noted that Alex Rios is the top all around outfielder available on the trade market. He’s right about that, and that speaks to the quality of players on the market right now.

Earlier today, Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS pointed out an interesting comparison between Rios and Jose Tabata.

Rios was a great player from 2006-2008, but has been inconsistent ever since then. Tabata hasn’t been great, but has been consistently around a 100 wRC+. Since 2010, here are the yearly comparisons.

Jose Tabata has been better offensively this year than Alex Rios. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Jose Tabata has been better offensively this year than Alex Rios in a smaller sample. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Year: Rios/Tabata

2010: 109/106

2011: 60/103

2012: 126/86

2013: 103/121

They both had one down year, and they both had one strong year, although that year is this year for Tabata, and it’s limited to 136 plate appearances this year. The one area where Rios is a clear upgrade is defense. Tabata has a -23.2 UZR/150 in right field in his career. Rios has a 9.8 UZR/150 in right field in almost 10 times the amount of innings. Rios also has a better chance of going on a hot streak and making an impact for a team, while Tabata’s hot streak would just make him a starter rather than a bench player.

Rios would be an upgrade, but the fact that there is any type of close comparison with Tabata doesn’t speak well. Rios is also owed $18 M through the 2014 season, which adds to the comparison. So the fact that Rios is the best outfielder out there doesn’t speak well about this trade market.

It’s the same with other positions. Kendrys Morales and Justin Morneau are the first basemen being talked about on the market. Matt Garza and Bud Norris are the top starting pitchers. You could argue that Garza is a top of the rotation guy, but he’s also a guy who has dealt with injuries the last two years, and never really has consistently put up top of the rotation numbers.

That’s not saying the Pirates don’t have a chance for an upgrade. It’s just that they aren’t going to find one massive upgrade that will solve all of the offensive problems. It’s more likely that they will find a Kendrys Morales type upgrade where they have a minor upgrade at one position, then force guys to the bench and in turn upgrade the bench. That’s not a bad approach, but it’s also not an exciting approach.

Links and Notes

**Download the newest episode of the Pirates Prospects Podcast: P3 Episode 13: What Are the Needs For the Pirates as the Deadline Nears?

**Episode 3 of the Pirates Roundtable can be viewed here. This week’s episode features James Santelli as the host, along with Ed Giles of In Clemente WeatherMichael Waterloo of Pittsburgh Sporting NewsSteve Petrella of MLB.comCory of Three Rivers Burgh Blog, and Brian McElhinney of Raise The Jolly Roger.

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates International Signing Tracker.

Prospects

**Trade Values: The Prospects in the Pirates System.

**Gregory Polanco Draws Rave Reviews From the Futures Game.

**Tony Sanchez and Vic Black Impress in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

**Keith Law Ranks Three Pirates in His Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects.

**Prospect Watch: Jameson Taillon Bounces Back From Bad Start.

**Minor League Schedule: Pimentel and Kuchno Coming Off Shutout Performances.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates2 Go Extra Against Cubs In Walk-Off Win.

 

Pirates

**Pirates Looking at Alex Rios; Might Be Looking at Alexei Ramirez.

**Trade Values: Bud Norris.

**Pirates Release Jose Contreras.

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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  • coloneldickweed

    Sox not interested in covering any of Rios’ salary…don’t see a ton of legs with this one.

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

      Who said that? If they want to deal him and get return value then they will take on some of that contract. Splitting it 50/50 and snagging a couple of our top 10 prospects and maybe more depending on if Alexi Ramirez is included. I actually think this is a smart move if we can get it done without giving up Taillon or Polanco. There are some other very solid prospects that the ChiSox could get in return. Ramirez and Rios would give us twice the upgrade with the bat,defense,and running game. neither are superstars but it wasn’t long ago Ramirez was one of the best young SS’s in baseball, He is also one of the rangiest middle infielders in the game, He would probably hit in the 2 hole behind Marte. He’s also got 20 steals. Rios would give us a middle of the order RH power option to split up the two lefties Alvarez and Jones. He also runs well and plays great defense. I have to imagine they will like the team chemistry and a change of scenery will help them.They would ass a lot of different dimensions to our all around game. Rios is only signed through next year, he could give Polanco even more time to develop, and Ramirez isn’t a top echelon SS offensively but he would be a solid option to extend an be our SS of the future, especially because I think Hansen would be involved in the deal. I think Kingham, Hansen or Bell,Lambo, and Clay Holmes can get this deal done. Might have to throw in Stolmy Pimentel or Chris Johnson

      • http://www.facebook.com/ej6687 Erik Johnson

        A couple Top 10 prospects? For Rios? Are you nuts?

        Alexei Ramirez belongs no where near the #2 spot in the order. He doesn’t get on base and his power has almost completely gone away.

        No way I give up Kingham or Hansen for either or both. Or Bell.

        • meatygettingsaucy

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who shuddered when I read that.

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

          Then your not serious about winning then Rios is worth a 51-100 hitting prospect and a grade C pitching prospect so that’s either Just Hansen or Bell and Holmes plus I’m guessing your going to have to give up Kingham type pitcher for Ramirez and probably sweeten the pot with a little more, especially if they take on some of the salary which they would absolutely have to do

          • moose7195

            I highly doubt anyone posting isn’t serious about winning. But if the White Sox haven’t been blown away by any deals yet then why are you just willing to throw in Lambo, Pimentel, and Chris Johnson. To make a deal like this it’ll probably take a Kingham, Bell, or Hanson, or maybe some combination of them if the market for Rios heats up. But you seriously overrate Ramirez if you think his addition in a trade is worth Kingham. Kingham is soon to be the top 1 or 2 pitching prospect on this farm

            • moose7195

              *Kris Johnson

          • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

            Trading away top 10 prospects for minor upgrades is a recipe for losing. So sure if you have no interest in the Pirates ever winning a world series, lets trade away Kingham, Hanson and Bell.

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

          Rios and Ramirez have World Series experience and they are upgrades in every facet of the game. I imagine their numbers are down because of the lack of success they’ve had recently plus Bell and Hansen aren’t exactly tearing up the low minors, I think people over value them

          • http://www.facebook.com/ej6687 Erik Johnson

            Please. Ramirez’ numbers have been down since his rookie year. He’s declined every single year since he came into the league.

            Rios is just wildly inconsistent and not someone you want to rely on to put your team’s offense over the top.

            They would both be salary dumps for the Sox and no t players that you would sacrifice ANY top prospects for.

          • https://profiles.google.com/104665323987886559641 Darrell Jones

            Neither of those players were on the 2005 World Series team. Neither have been in the World Series.

      • Cato the Elder

        “they would ass a lot of different dimensions to our all around game”

        That about sums it up if you ask me :-)

  • https://profiles.google.com/115522615427589477970 Mike C.

    sad that there’s not much options to help us this year. most names i hear so far just seem Meh
    Screw rios.
    bring back jason bay~~ !

  • https://profiles.google.com/115522615427589477970 Mike C.

    while we’re at it, sign up Bonds – the ultimate, scariest pinch hitter ever!

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    As far as Ramirez, I like the insurance vs a Walker injury, he’s not going to be right all year.
    As far as Rios, there is nothing wrong with Tabata and Jones being the bench OF.
    I’m not even worried that Neil would overpay, he’s proven to be typically stingy when dealing.
    My only concern would be the amount of money taken on and whether it would prohibit bringing AJ or Wandy back (feel AJ is more likely).
    Alvarez & Cutch wouldn’t be the only power options. The infield D would improve. And so would the power off the bench.
    It would spell the end of the Inge and Harrison regime.
    I love the idea of Walker or Mercer being the IF option on the bench. Walker as a switch hitting option with some power of the bench? Great!

    I think NH would eat more cash just to keep Hansen. I’m thinking Kingham, JMac, Lambo, Bell/Allie, and Barnes/Black would be the return.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    Hmmm…scratch that. Either Kingham or Bell, but not both.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    It’s cracking me up reading some Sox blog posts. Many are wanting the Sox to include Jesse Craine to sweeten the pot in hopes of getting GP and much MUCH more. They obviously don’t know NH history with bullpen creation. The one thing I could NEVER see him doing is going after a high cost reliever.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    I don’t know how you can really compare Tabata and Rios and conclude that there isn’t much of a difference in their performances over the past 3-4 years.

    Tabata has really not done much – because of injuries, being a young player, getting platooned, etc. Rios, OTOH, has driven in around 90 runs in 2 of the past 3 years. He’s been mostly a full time starter in RF.

    I am not necessarily advocating a trade – his contract is totally unacceptable – but there is really no comparison there – based on actual performance over the past 3-4 years.

    • honusty

      I agree 100%. At the very least Rios is a proven major league outfielder who hasalmost hit more HRs this year than Tabata has done over his career. Tabata is more of a 4th outfielder or 4A type player.

  • Blue Bomber

    I don’t see how Ramirez figures into this. He’s owed $20 mil over ’14 and ’15. How do the Pirates pick that up? Way too much for money for this guy. The CWS would almost have to throw him in for free with Rios for me to have any interest. He’s certainly not worth any top prospects at any price.

  • https://www.facebook.com/murfbrown Michael Brown

    Rios and Ramirez is a very costly BAD IDEA and would negatively impact the clubhouse. Neither is known for hustle and they are well past their prime and earning a small fortune. NO WAY, NEIL
    KMorales would be a true impact bat in the middle of the lineup. I’m sure Tony Sanchez would be involved in a deal to SEA. They’ve got Zunino but not much else at C

    • meatygettingsaucy

      but Zunino is the future at catcher for the Mariners. Not sure how trading a catcher to them who lacks the ceiling of Zunino would somehow get the deal done.

    • smurph

      Pirates will NOT trade Tony Sanchez. Book it.

    • moose7195

      But being past your prime doesn’t make you useless. Both Rios and Ramirez are currently performing at levels greater than the players we are fielding now.

  • Monkshot

    I have a feeling we will obtain someone who is not even being talking about right now. That’s the way these things usually go for us. I would love to be a fly on NH’s wall during trade talks, I’m sure there is some crazy shit thrown around.

    I really like Tabata, but he doesn’t hit for power. He would have to change his stance to improve his power numbers and that’s not happening. He’s a perfect 4th outfielder in my opinion.

  • moose7195

    I like looking at Ramirez, but we might be able to save a prospect or two if we substituted De Aza instead of Rios. For one, Rios has been slumping while De Aza has been hot. They’ve been similar players offensively. For another, De Aza isn’t getting paid 18M over the next year and two months, so we wont be strapped with an albatross of a salary taking up RF while Polanco rots in Indy.

  • leadoff

    I agree that there is not much as far as names that are available, but trades are not always made with names that are available, the Pirates could be talking to anyone about anybody. IMO, if they don’t make any moves they still have enough internally to accomplish a very good season. I certainly don’t want them to give up and A or B prospect for a lateral move.
    I look at numbers in the lineup when I look at offense, 1 and 2 do their jobs for the most part, 3 and 4 and down struggle, how do you fix that with “A BAT”?

  • Kevin_Young

    0% chance we trade for either of these guys.

    • Kevin_Young

      *Referring to Rios and Ramirez

    • smurph

      I wouldn’t say zero chance. However, let’s be real here. The Sox are looking at these two guys as salary dumps. So, if the Pirates take on both of their salaries (very unlikely), the Sox would only get B and C prospects. A more likely scenario would be the Sox eat some (half maybe) of their salaries, and get 4 or 5 prospects, one or two of which would be top-15 prospects – Kingham/Bell/Barnes, etc. and then a couple of B or B+ prospects.

  • buster09

    Mike : I would bet that every Manager in the NL would be shaking in their boots if they had to worry about Bonds coming up RIGHT NOW !

  • buster09

    I can tell all of you this : for whatever it means there were at least 12 scouts and crosscheckers at last night’s Curve game,with more radar guns than a major air terminal.

    • moose7195

      The first name out of any GM’s mouth when talking to the Pirates is always gonna be Taillon or Polanco. Teams know that we are trying to fill weaknesses to build a WS contender, and you really can’t blame them for checking out our best prospects.

  • millec3111

    I don’t think he’s on the block, but I wonder what it would take to get Edwin Encarnacion from the blue Jays. He’s signed through 2015 making 9 million next year, then ten million the year after.

  • http://ie buccobil

    What about Giancarlo. Put him in our lineup behind Pedro and wow, Cutch, Pedro and Gian as 3-4-5. This to go along with our strong pitching. Polanco and whoever would be well worth the price.
    Go Bucs!!!