The Pirates have been overwhelmed by trade interest in Justin Wilson. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Pirates Overwhelmed by Trade Interest for Justin Wilson

Jon Morosi reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been overwhelmed by trade interest in left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.

The Pirates have been overwhelmed by trade interest in Justin Wilson. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates have been overwhelmed by trade interest in Justin Wilson. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

There has been a lot of talk that the Pirates could make a trade from their bullpen this off-season. Wilson would definitely draw a lot of interest. Not only did he have strong numbers in 2013, but he also has five years of control remaining. Right-handed 7th and 8th inning relievers have been getting about $4 M per year on the open market, so a guy like Wilson should be seen as a huge value to teams looking for relief. He also has more value to a team who would try him as a starting pitcher, since he throws four quality pitches and has been a starter in the past.

As you may know, I’m all for trading relievers to get a big return, especially since the Pirates do a great job finding low-cost relievers. In Wilson’s case I value him more than most relievers because of his potential to be a starting pitcher. However, the Pirates have alternatives for the rotation, such as Stolmy Pimentel, who has the same starting upside as Wilson.

UPDATE 8:33 PM: Mark Zuckerman of reports that the Nationals are looking for left-handed relievers, and that Wilson is believed to be on their radar. For those of you rushing to your Baseball America Prospect Handbooks to see the top Nationals prospects, Zuckerman does add the disclaimer that the Nats have been reluctant to part with top prospects in trades. That might make a Wilson to the Nationals deal unlikely.

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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, 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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  • Patrick Kelly

    I pray he does not get traded. I’ve got a man-player crush on Wilson and have for years. He should get a shot at the rotation next year. His upside is very high and I think they are wasting him in the pen without giving him a shot to succeed as a starter. Worst case if he doesn’t look good in the rotation in ST, move him back to the pen where he can continue to be a dominant late inning, hard throwing, lefty. Let Pimentel start the season in the pen and move him back to the rotation as necessary.

    Now if the return they get for Wilson is a young, cost controlled, every day player that has good upside, it should be done. But if they aren’t blown away by an offer, I would strongly prefer that Wilson stays with the Bucs.

    • Hank

      I realized Wilson’s upside last year, the rest of baseball has realized it this year, when will the Pirates realize it? The man should get a starting shot come ST………

  • Nathan Swartz

    Who are the prospective partners? KC, Seattle, LAA, NYY, Texas?
    I’m thinking he’d fetch a pretty penny.
    Butler, Franklin/Miller, Cron, Moreland? Are any of those possibilities?

    Keep in mind, I understand it would not be a one-for-one kinda thing.

    • bjointbucs

      With the surplus of OF prospects I could see them parting ways with one of them (Barnes, Ramirez, Garcia) in a package. I really think Butler is the player they need to go after. I’m not concerned with his defense, he’ll hit cleanup, cutch butler pedro plus polanco mid season, he would be the significant upgrade that they need.

      • csnumber23

        No way I give up Justin Wilson straight up for Billy Butler let alone adding something. I am concerned about is pathetic defense. I do it for Hosmer not Butler!

        • bjointbucs

          Really? A lefty reliever for an everyday guy who can hit 20 dingers and drive in 90 runs? Why wouldn’t you. You want power from first base not defense.

          • NastyNate82

            Because Butler’s power takes a pretty big hit if he moves to PNC park. And defense at first base isn’t a bad thing; preventing AND scoring runs both matter.

          • bjointbucs

            Well obviously you would like him to be sound defensively, if he was we wouldn’t be having a discussion about the pirates trading for him because of the return. I’m saying trading a lefty reliever for an everyday player that has a career slash line of .298/.364/.459 and k 14.3% to 9.2% bb wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

  • stickyweb

    Now this is the kind of rumor I’m looking for. Totally out of the blue. By all means, somebody overwhelm the Bucs with an offer.

  • Chris Hale

    I don’t blame teams at all for being high on J Wilson. Power lefty who has the upside of a solid #3 or at the very least a late game reliever with nasty stuff. For me I hold onto him barring any ridiculous offers.

  • Chris Hale

    Justin Wilson for Jurickson Profar straight up :))

    • Bob Martin

      Now that’s a trade I’ld like to have happen..

  • wlarch

    know way traded justin wilson

    • leefoo

      know way? no way I know.

      • Cato the Elder

        Gnome, eh?

  • leadoff

    Wilson may throw hard as a reliever, but if he turns into a starter he will not be throwing 97, he will be 91-94, that is a big difference from a hard throwing pen reliever. Most of his success as a reliever has been his overpowering fast ball from the left side.

    • Tim Williams

      As a starter he usually sits 91-94 and touches 96. That’s still great for a left-hander.

      • Jared

        Especially due to his tremendous movement he gets on his pitches, which is the primary problem for his wildness and, thus, his no longer starting.

        Someone with his potential, you’d have to give me a lot for.

      • Hank

        There is only a handful of left handed starters in the majors who can match his stuff. Trading him now would really be rolling the dice……..see the Snider deal. He turned out to be basically useless, and maintains a spot on this roster for reasons that most of us cannot see(certainly not his hitting ability). If the Pirates trade him now, that would tell us they don’t think he can start.

  • Dean Manifest

    No so sure I’d agree that Pimentel has the same starter ceiling as Wilson.

    Not surprised teams are calling though- that easy arm action is a beautiful thing to watch.

  • Andrew

    Has not the knock on Wilson, hurdle to being a major league starter, been that he has control issues? Last year was the first time ever he walked less than 10% of batters he faced.

  • Monkshot

    I’m a huge Wilson fan but this is the type of guy who can get you a solid return. I’m torn.

  • Jared

    Here’s an idea, again not a rumor just an idea: what about trading Justin Wilson+ for Asdrubal Cabrera? Yes, I know that Mercer hit well last year and that the Pirates want to go with him, but Cabrera has a career .267 ave against righties and .286 ave against lefties. This would give us a very good bat, even better than Mercer at SS and allow Mercer to play all over the diamond in the super-utility role…spelling Neil Walker against lefties. A move like this could actually add 2-3 WAR to the team over the course of the season (adding WAR with Cabrera and adding WAR with Walker/Mercer).

    • csnumber23

      Cabrera only has 1 year of control left so I would not trade Wilson straight up for him. I would need more, like Masterson for Pimentel or something similar to that.

      • Jared

        Ahh, you’re right cs…I thought he had 3 years left for some reason.

        • NastyNate82

          Also, his defense is getting worse and worse at short.

    • Stephen Brooks

      Cabrera is a hack at SS – worse than Mercer. And the bat is trending the wrong direction – no reason to think he would be any better than Mercer at this point. I say let someone else overpay.

  • Jeff

    Brad Lincoln brought Travis Snider….can Wilson bring more than that?

    • leefoo

      I would DEFINITELY hope so. Otherwise, I’m keeping him.

    • Hank

      And Travis Snider isn’t worth a bag of sunflower seeds. I don’t think I would trade Wilson for that….

      • Cato the Elder

        He of the 7.11 k/9, 6.25 bb/9 and 5.91 xFIP in <32 innings of middle relief?

        How many bags of sunflower seeds is Brad Lincoln worth?

        • Hank

          Aren’t we talking about Wilson now……..who is worth a warehouse of sunflower seeds at this point

  • Frank Restly

    Justin Wilson for Eric Hosmer (K. C.) straight up? Hosmer has one less year of control left by K. C though Hosmer is 2 years younger than Wilson (Wilson is 26, Hosmer is 24).

    • csnumber23

      Now that I would do! I love Wilson but Hosmer I think is about ready to explode.

    • Matt Beam

      Would love that but it won’t happen, more likely Billy Butler for Wilson but even then not sure KC would do that deal straight up

      • Frank Restly

        First, K. C. has three lefties in their rotation:

        Tim Collins (Reliever) – 3.59 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (Age 24)
        Jason Vargas (Starter) – 4.02 ERA, 1.34 WHIP (Age 30)
        Dan Duffy (Starter) – 1.85 ERA, 1.36 WHIP (Age 24)

        Compared to:
        Justin Wilson (Reliever) – 2.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP (Age 26)

        Vargas’s numbers haven’t improved since he was in Seattle. K. C. has a need for quality lefty pitching IMHO.

        I think K. C. would do a deal, though you are probably correct that it would take more than Wilson for them to part with Hosmer (maybe).

    • Matt Beam

      I wish SF had gotten the Cuban 1B instead of the White Sox so that Brandon Belt was potentially available

    • leefoo

      KC would NEVER do that deal!

      • Frank Restly

        Kind of like the Brewers would never trade Norichika Aoki?

    • Jared

      You could build your package around Wilson, but you’d need to give up a top prospect as well…you’d probably have to part with Kingham too.

  • csnumber23

    Of course teams are going to be interested in Wilson. He’s a left handed kid who can hit 100 on the gun. He is getting paid the league minimum and has 5 years of control left. He could either be a great set up guy. A possible dominating closer or even a possible solid starter. If we trade Wilson we better get something BIG in return!!

    • Frank Restly

      Verus Righties: .804 OPS, .291 AVE, 63K / 40BB, 12HR in 406AB
      Versus Lefties: .797 OPS, .323 AVE, 37K / 11BB, 5HR in 217AB

      It doesn’t get much better than that from a 24 year old. No need for a platoon at first base.

      • Jeff

        The answer to who hangs up 1st, Dayton Moore would not let Huntington get past Eric before he hangs up…..

      • piraddict

        For Hosmer, yes I’d do it. But for practically no one else. Wandy and likely Liriano will be gone after this season, Locke is still questionable and with PNC as the home park the Pirates need lefty starters. The fact that there is so much interest in Wilson should indicate to the FO that the rest of the League sees more value in Wilson than the Pirates have gotten from him for how they are using him. The Pirates should keep Wilson and give him a shot at the fifth starter, trading Wandy if he is healthy for some lower level prospects.

        • Hank


      • NastyNate82

        Pretty sure you’d have to give up more than Wilson to get Hosmer. Hosmer has 2 out of 3 very good seasons so far and he’s a well-rounded 1B to boot.

  • piraterican21

    Describe overwhelmed? Someone wrote Hosmer, that’s beyond overwhelm, down right ridiculous, so is Profar. Anyway, it will pain me to see JW go, I see him as our lights out closer in 3 years time. If given a choice I will rather see Melancon trade before seen Wilson go.

    • Matt Beam

      Would you risk weakening this year’s team to set it up better for the future? Say Melancon for Matt Davidson (Dbacks AAA 3B and a top 50 prospect) if you’re convinced Davidson replaces Pedro at 3B after next year and allows you to trade Pedro for the motherload or move him to 1B (where we also have no prospect waiting)

    • Jared

      Hosmer would be downright ridiculous for JW alone, but I DO think that if Hosmer were being traded it would be sufficient to build the deal around JW…he has that much value because of his arm.

      Very, very few lefties have his combination velocity and movement!

    • NastyNate82

      What do you think it would take to get Hosmer? Wilson + Kingham?

  • ncap

    Wilson has always had control issues, love his arm but we should have sold high on hughes when we had the chance. If there is one thing i trust NH with is building a pen. Sell high who knows with his control where he might be at, also end of the year his velocity was way down too.

    • csnumber23

      Quit comparing Justin Wilson to Jared Hughes!! Nobody ever wanted Hughes so I don’t know what you think this sell high on him going to generate?

      Why would you just sell high on Wilson?? Unless high is something like Hosmer, Wilson should not go anywhere period!!

      • Jared

        Unless Wilson is bringing back a top prospect or a major league starter (and by starter I don’t mean starting pitcher although that could definitely help)…I wouldn’t take the deal. Wilson is a great, great arm.

  • Jacob Sussman

    According to MLBTR, the Nats are interested in Wilson. They have been talking about unloading Storen and Clippard. So maybe one of them + mid-level prospect, like Zach Walters (2B/SS). Don’t see any promising First Basemen in their system. But it looks like we’ll be filling that hole elsewhere.

  • jon6er

    He is worth more than Butler let alone Moreland. At least I don’t have hear any more turtle Trumbo talk.

    • csnumber23

      I agree, he is worth more than Butler or Moreland for sure!

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    It would take a lot offered, for me to ever consider trading Wilson. I think he has a ton of potential, whether as a starter or in the bullpen. He has good enough stuff to be a closer, and a good one.

    Unless I am getting a big bat at first base or right field – that is not an over the hill retread – I would not even consider trading Wilson. As much as I like a guy like Dominic Brown, I wouldn’t trade Wilson straight up for him.

  • LongJohnSilver

    No way I trade Justin with our starting pitching so iffy right now. I have been hoping for him to get into the starting rotation for the past year.

  • IC Bob

    Wow we now want Profur or Hosmer but not Dom Brown or Butler. Why not say we would consider Bryce Harper for Wilson. Heck since we are shooting for the moon we can ask the Nats to throw in Laroche and maybe Strausburg since Wilson does throw 100mph!

    • csnumber23

      Oh I forgot young left handed pitchers who dominate there first year in the majors just grow on trees. Not to mention getting paid the league minimum and 5 more years of control. Could be a dominant closer or a very solid starting pitcher. They grow on trees so we should just hand him away. There is a reason so many teams are interested chief!!!

      • NastyNate82

        He kind of has a point in a roundabout way. Fans tend to highly overvalue their own players. I like Wilson and think he’s very good. But given how he did so well as a starter that he was moved to relief, I think its a bit faulty for us to just assume he could slide seamlessly into a starting pitching role.

  • CalipariFan506

    Wilson and Tabata for Smoak and Miller. I think Seattle would say no but that’s the kind of return I’d be looking for.

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