The Boston Red Sox traded Jon Lester to the Oakland Athletics today, getting Yoenis Cespedes in return. It’s hard to see the Pittsburgh Pirates being able to match that price. There are still other starting pitchers on the market, although with the high prices Oakland has paid for Jeff Samardzija and Lester, the odds of the Pirates landing a starter seem small. They’d probably have to pay a ton for one of the remaining starters on the market.
So far, they’ve been linked to a few other starters, along with a lot of relievers. Here is where they stand after the Lester trade.
The Tampa Bay Rays don’t really know what they’re doing with David Price. It would make sense for them to trade him in this seller’s market, but they’ve also been one of the hottest teams in baseball lately, which complicates matters. Despite the hot streak, they’re still 5.5 games back in the Wild Card, two games under .500, and would have to jump past six teams to get a playoff spot. Joel Sherman says they could still listen if someone is willing to up the ante at the deadline.
#Rays begin the day believing they will stand pat. But will absolutely continue to listen on Price if someone willing to up ante at deadline
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 31, 2014
Yesterday there were also reports that the Pirates were one of the teams in on Ian Kennedy. This is another situation where the team might not make a move. The Padres have Kennedy under control through the 2015 season, so they don’t necessarily have to move him now. Just like Price, the Padres would be smart to capitalize on this market.
The Red Sox have also been shopping John Lackey, although the Pirates haven’t been connected to him yet. He’s also under control through the 2015 season, making the league minimum next year due to an injury clause in his contract.
Lester was a better option than guys like Kennedy and Lackey in 2014. But those two guys would be good additions in 2014, and would also help in 2015. Price seems like he would cost way too much, even though he brings the same advantages. We’ll have to see if things change with Kennedy, or if the Pirates get in on Lackey or other starters on the market.
The Pirates had been casting a wide net on relievers, with a specific focus on left-handed relievers. We haven’t heard much in the last two days on the relief pitching market. The Pirates also haven’t paid big prices for relievers in the past, and I would be surprised if that changed this year.
As far as left-handed relievers, the Pirates have been connected to Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, Antonio Bastardo of the Phillies, and a loose connection to Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. Miller seems like a great option, but he’s also getting a high asking price, especially as a two month rental.
Hearing #redsox are asking for teams' best prospects for Andrew Miller. Might have to drop price to make a deal happen.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) July 30, 2014
If the Pirates do add a reliever, I think it will be in the low-key manner that they’ve taken in the past. The best approach might be to just add a starter, and move Edinson Volquez to the bullpen to throw as hard as he can for one inning at a time.
The Pirates have been connected to a few position players. They’ve been rumored to be looking at a backup shortstop, and they’ve also been connected to Marlon Byrd, although that deal doesn’t make much sense when you consider their current outfield. It seems more likely that their focus will be on pitching, considering all of the rumors have been geared towards pitching.
It’s important to remember that rumors don’t always happen before a deal. We didn’t hear anything about Wandy Rodriguez before he was acquired in 2012. Travis Snider was pulled from a game in Toronto that same year, and a few hours later we learned he was going to the Pirates, with no word that Snider was even being shopped. So it’s very possible the Pirates could make a move for someone who we aren’t even hearing about yet.
It’s also possible they could just pass on the July deadline this year, much like they did last year, and focus on a trade in August. Considering the high prices being demanded, that’s not totally out of the question.