Pirates Prospects » News and Rumors http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:41:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Pirates Don’t Seem to Like A.J. Burnett’s 2015 Salary http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-dont-seem-to-like-a-j-burnetts-2015-salary.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-dont-seem-to-like-a-j-burnetts-2015-salary.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:40:13 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84467 Jayson Stark has several updates over at ESPN, including an update on the Pirates and A.J. Burnett. Earlier this week we heard that Burnett preferred to go back to Pittsburgh if he was going to get moved. Stark says that sources tell him the Pirates would need assurance that Burnett would retire, rather than picking up his player option next year that would pay as much as $14.25 M. In the article earlier this week, I pointed out how Burnett is still owed a little over $25 M from the end of July to the end of his contract, as long as he makes 32 starts in 2014 and 32 in 2015.

Stark also says that it would be a surprise if the Pirates don’t add at least one pitcher, and maybe two. He says that they’ve been looking at potential seventh inning arms for the bullpen, rather than supplanting the current combo of Mark Melancon and Tony Watson as the late inning guys.

UPDATE 8:15 PM: Jon Heyman also says that the Pirates aren’t too excited about Burnett’s 2015 player option. He also says that the Pirates’ interest is believed to be mild at best, and might fall further if Burnett intends to pick up his option.

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Pirates Connected to Phillies Reliever Antonio Bastardo http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-connected-to-phillies-reliever-antonio-bastardo.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-connected-to-phillies-reliever-antonio-bastardo.html#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:24:36 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84390 We heard earlier this week that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a scout in attendance to watch A.J. Burnett last week. According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, they’re also one of the teams who have been connected to left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo. Salisbury also mentions the Royals, Tigers, and Blue Jays as other teams who have had scouts watching the reliever.

It seems like all of these teams are watching a lot of players in Philadelphia, and not just one specific person. As far as relievers go, Bastardo seems more appealing than Papelbon. He’s only making $2 M and is under control through the 2015 season. Meanwhile, Papelbon is making $13 M a year this year and in 2015, and has a vesting option for $13 M in 2016, which is guaranteed with 55 games finished next year, or 100 between 2014-15. I really don’t see the Pirates going after Papelbon, so Bastardo makes sense.

It’s interesting that they’re being connected to a left-hander. Jon Morosi connected them to Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks, but that might have just been due to the past affiliation. If they’re going after a lefty, that either means they’re looking for a third lefty in the pen, or they’re looking for an upgrade over Justin Wilson, who has a 4.86 ERA this year, but a 3.52 FIP.

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Pirates Scouting Diamondbacks Relievers http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-scouting-diamondbacks-relievers.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-scouting-diamondbacks-relievers.html#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:48:22 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84386 The Pittsburgh Pirates have been connected to a lot of relief pitchers so far this trade season. The latest news comes from Jon Morosi, who says they’ve been scouting the bullpen of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Morosi mentions Oliver Perez, although I’m not sure if that’s because the Pirates might be scouting him, or because he used to be a Pirate. Perez has a 1.96 ERA in 36.2 innings this year, with a 10.1 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9. His 3.44 xFIP suggests some regression, but that he will be a good reliever going forward.

Jon Heyman wrote recently about how Arizona could be sellers, but won’t have a fire sale. They’ve already traded Brandon McCarthy and Joe Thatcher, but Heyman says that they don’t seem eager to deal veterans like Martin Prado or Brad Ziegler. He also mentions that they might not deal Perez, since he’s signed for next season and is the only lefty remaining in the bullpen.

We don’t know much about who the Pirates are looking at. We just know that they continue to look at relievers.

 

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A.J. Burnett Prefers the Pirates, But His Salary is Not Preferred http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/a-j-burnett-prefers-the-pirates-but-his-salary-is-not-preferred.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/a-j-burnett-prefers-the-pirates-but-his-salary-is-not-preferred.html#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 17:05:26 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84272 Ken Rosenthal has some interesting updates on A.J. Burnett:

There’s a lot to break down here, so some quick thoughts.

1. It’s interesting that Burnett is now saying he prefers the Pirates, since his whole off-season decision was about preferring to play for the Phillies. Of course, the Phillies aspect could have been due to the fact that he was guaranteed $23 M in the deal, due to his player option (which I’ll get to in a second).

2. I don’t put much stock in what the players are looking for. Every year we hear a bit about what the players want, and it’s always the same trend. Players tend to focus on names, and not on numbers. Right now Burnett is a big name, but the numbers aren’t really an upgrade over what the Pirates currently have in their rotation.

3. Burnett’s option will go up to $8.5 M after three more starts. With the pace he’s on, he’ll probably reach 32 starts this year, making his 2015 player option a $12.75 M salary. He’s currently pitching through a sports hernia, and the last I read out of Philadelphia is that he was going to have surgery in the off-season. He could definitely return for a full season next year if that was the case. But you’d have to worry about how he returns. Cole Hamels had the same surgery after his age 27 season, and was fine the next year. But Burnett is in his age 37 season.

4. As for Burnett’s salary, Cot’s lists him with several performance bonuses coming up. He’ll get $500,000 for 24 and 27 games started, plus $750,000 for 30 games started. He should reach those, which means he’ll be owed an extra $1.75 M on top of the remainder of his $7.5 M salary this year. There’s also about $6.5 M remaining in signing bonuses. Overall, if Burnett was dealt on July 31st, he would be owed about $2.5 M this year, plus the extra $1.75 M in bonuses, plus $6.5 M in signing bonuses, plus $12.75 M next year, with the chance to earn the same $1.75 M in bonuses. That’s upwards of $25.25 M over a 14 month span for a player who wouldn’t really be an upgrade to the current Pirates rotation.

As I’ve said before on this topic, Burnett did great things while he was with the Pirates. He’s not doing that anymore. He’s also set to make a ridiculous amount of money over a 14 month span, which is an amount that wouldn’t have been worth it even at his old numbers.

The Phillies could eat some of this salary, but the flip side to eating salary is that you have to pay prospects to get a discount. Burnett isn’t going to bring an upgrade that’s worth giving up anything of value.

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Pirates Had a Scout Watching A.J. Burnett’s Last Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-had-a-scout-watching-a-j-burnetts-last-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-had-a-scout-watching-a-j-burnetts-last-start.html#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 16:28:59 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84213 Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates had a scout watching A.J. Burnett’s last start on Friday. Gelb says that the scout wasn’t on his normal coverage, which makes it sound like this was a trip specifically to see Burnett.

Burnett hasn’t been the same pitcher this year that he was with the Pirates. He has a 4.08 ERA and a 3.93 xFIP. His strikeouts are down, with a 7.4 K/9, which is a rare that is almost two and a half strikeouts less per nine innings. His walks are up slightly, going from a 3.2 BB/9 ratio last year to a 3.8 BB/9 ratio this year. He’s also not a ground ball machine this year, with a 49.6% ground ball rate, down from 56.5% last year. He’s been pitching with a sports hernia, which will probably need surgery at the end of the year, and is most likely the case for his struggles this year.

Burnett’s xFIP would rank him sixth among regular Pirates starters. The current order:

1. Jeff Locke – 3.48

2. Gerrit Cole – 3.58

3. Francisco Liriano – 3.69

4. Vance Worley – 3.77

5. Charlie Morton – 3.79

6. A.J. Burnett – 3.93

7. Brandon Cumpton – 4.13

8. Edinson Volquez – 4.33

I’m not sure what Burnett would cost. He’s got a limited no-trade clause, which would restrict his value. The Pirates are one of the teams he could be traded to, although the Orioles are another team, and Gelb says they’ve had talks about Burnett.

Burnett was great in his time with the Pirates the last two years. This year’s version of Burnett hasn’t been the same. That could be due to the hernia injury, but if that’s the case, it’s not something that will go away for the rest of the year. Right now he’s not pitching any better than the top five starters in Pittsburgh. He was good for the Pirates in the past, but he’s not worth acquiring at this point.

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Pirates Looking at Joaquin Benoit and Joakim Soria http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-looking-at-joaquin-benoit-and-joakim-soria.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-looking-at-joaquin-benoit-and-joakim-soria.html#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 04:00:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84189 Jon Heyman reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of three teams looking at San Diego Padres reliever Joaquin Benoit. He also says that the Pirates have been looking at Texas Rangers reliever Joakim Soria. This comes after we heard that the Pirates were looking at Huston Street, who was just traded to the Angels for a big return.

Heyman says that the Tigers and Indians are also interested in Benoit. He said the Tigers and Pirates have showed interest in Soria.

Benoit is due $8 M next year, and has an $8 M option in 2016, with a $1.5 M buyout. The option becomes guaranteed with 55 games finished in 2015. He makes $6 M this year, which means the Pirates would be picking up about $11.5 M guaranteed over 14 months by dealing for him.

Soria has a better contract, making $5.5 M this year, with a $7 M club option next year and an $0.5 M buyout. That option could increase by $1 M and the buyout could increase by $0.25 M if he has 55 games finished this year. He’s at 31, and probably wouldn’t reach that total, making the increase unlikely. He does have performance bonuses for games finished, with $100,000 each for 35 and 40 games finished, $200,000 each for 45 and 50, and $250,000 for 60. The Pirates would owe Soria a little less than $2 M this year, along with the buyout next year.

Based on what the Padres got for Street, I’m guessing they’d want a similar haul for Benoit. My opinion is the same as it was for Street. I don’t like the idea of paying a lot of money for relief pitching, or trading prospects. This is a case where you’d have to do both. That $11.5 M would probably pay for a year of Russell Martin, who would provide a much bigger impact than 14 months of Benoit.

Soria doesn’t come with the huge costs financially, but might cost a lot in prospects. The only way this type of deal made sense is if he came at a much lower price than Street. Considering his success as a closer this year, I’d be skeptical that this would happen.

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Pirates Among Teams That Scouted Ian Kennedy Last Night http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-among-teams-that-scouted-ian-kennedy-last-night.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-among-teams-that-scouted-ian-kennedy-last-night.html#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 16:48:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84053 The Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the teams who scouted San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy last night, according to Ken Rosenthal.

I really liked Ian Kennedy as a trade option last year. He was having a down year in Arizona, and ended up getting traded for a low return. The Diamondbacks got a LOOGY reliever, a relief pitching prospect, and a second round pick this year. This was all at the time when the Pirates were going for Bud Norris, and I said at the time that I would have rather had Kennedy.

This time around, Kennedy will cost more, as he has bounced back. He’s currently got a 3.62 ERA, which is supported by a 3.24 xFIP. He’s got a 9.5 K/9 and a 2.6 BB/9. He’s making $6.1 M this year, and I project he’ll see a raise to about $9 M next year in his final year of arbitration.

Looking at his trade value, it’s hard to know where to project him. He’s on pace for over a 4.0 WAR this year, and his previous high was a 4.9 WAR in 2011. However, he had a 2.8 WAR in 2012, and was only a 0.5 WAR pitcher last year. So projecting him as a 4+ win pitcher going forward might be optimistic. It also might be too low to have him below a 3.0 WAR, since he has shown signs of being much better than that level. I’d find a middle ground, and project him as a 3.5 WAR pitcher going forward.

Ian Kennedy Trade Value

NOTE: The purpose here isn’t to suggest the Pirates are offering this amount for these players.  The purpose is to see the value of these players, using projected values (calculated as [(WAR*$5 M) - Salary]) and prospect trade values. We use our updated values for top 100 prospects, and Victor Wang’s research on prospect values for non-top 100 prospects.

Using that 3.5 WAR figure, plus his salary of $6.1 M this year, and a projected $9 M salary next year, I project his trade value to be $12.5 M. You might even bump that up a bit, as Kennedy could be good enough for a qualifying offer in a few years, which could land a draft pick. Looking at the trade value charts, he would be worth a top 51-100 hitting prospect, plus a Grade C pitcher, or a 26-50 pitching prospect.

Guys who rate in the 51-100 range for the Pirates are Reese McGuire and Alen Hanson. I wouldn’t part with McGuire, as his defense and ability to stick behind the plate are both outstanding. He’s got the best shot of being the catcher of the future for the Pirates. Any decision to part with Hanson really depends on how much you think of Jordy Mercer as the current shortstop, and how much you think of JaCoby Jones as a future shortstop. Obviously Hanson is no guarantee to stick at the shortstop position himself, as he lacks consistency. He does have a good bat for the position, and has the skills needed to play at short. From a depth perspective, I’m not sure I would deal Hanson either. But I could see the logic behind it if Jones could stick at short, and if Mercer could bridge the gap until that happens.

The pitching prospect route might be easier for the Pirates to take, since they have a lot of quality pitching prospects. The only guy who might rank in the 26-50 range is Nick Kingham. Kennedy is a good pitcher, but Kingham is close to Major League ready, and profiles as a solid middle of the rotation starter. He doesn’t come with a lot of risk, so that would be a lot to give up for Kennedy, even with the good season Kennedy is having.

I don’t think I would deal any of the top seven prospects in the system for Kennedy. Anyone after that would be fair game, with the exception of the 2014 draft picks, who can’t be traded. I like what the Pirates currently have in their rotation. You don’t want to replace Charlie Morton or Jeff Locke. You’re definitely not replacing Gerrit Cole. Francisco Liriano is a wild card, but if he shows more of what he showed last night, then he’ll be as good, or better than Kennedy. Then there’s Edinson Volquez, who has been great lately, although getting a bit lucky based on the split between his 3.65 ERA and 4.29 xFIP.

If you need to replace Volquez, there’s Brandon Cumpton and Vance Worley. I think Kennedy is a better option than both of those guys, and he’s a better option than Volquez. You could also call up Kingham in the second half, although that’s another situation where Kennedy would probably be better than a rookie.

While Kennedy would upgrade over those pitchers, I just don’t think the upgrade he brings would be worth one of the top prospects in the system. If a deal could work with a group of guys in the middle of the system, then that would be a deal the Pirates should pursue.

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Huston Street Traded to the Angels; Shows Overpriced Market For Closers http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/huston-street-traded-to-the-angels-shows-overpriced-market-for-closers.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/huston-street-traded-to-the-angels-shows-overpriced-market-for-closers.html#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 03:57:36 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84016 Huston Street was traded to the Los Angeles Angels tonight, as first reported by Jim Bowden. The deal is a six player move, and some parts are still unknown. What we do know is that Street and a minor leaguer will go to the Angels, while Taylor Lindsey, R.J. Alvarez, Jose Rondon, and one other minor leaguer will go to the Padres.

Lindsey came into the year as the top prospect in the Angels’ system, and was rated a top 100 prospect by Baseball America at number 93. I’m not sure where he would have ranked in the mid-season rankings, since those lists are rounded off at 50. Getting a top 100 prospect for a reliever is always a good value. R.J. Alvarez was rated the number four prospect for the Angels coming into the year, and projects as a future closer. Rondon was the number 12 prospect heading into the year, and has an upside of a utility player.

In these cases, you can’t exactly compare players based on team prospect rankings. The number one prospect for the Pirates is much more valuable than Lindsey. However, I think it would be fair to say that Alen Hanson is comparable value, as he’s a 51-100 ranked prospect, and a middle infielder like Lindsey. I’m not sure how Alvarez and Rondon would compare to prospects in the Pirates’ system. They don’t really have a dominant relief prospect like Alvarez, but they do have potential utility and bench players like Rondon. I’d say you’re probably talking about a prospect in the 15-20 range, and another prospect in the 21-30 range.

We don’t know what the final pieces of the deal are, but giving up a top 100 prospect for Street — in the Pirates’ case I think that would be Hanson — is not worth it for relievers. This is actually par for the course when trading relievers, and especially closers. These deals always get made, despite so much evidence showing that relievers aren’t worth this price.

The Pirates had checked on Street, but they seemed unlikely to be serious bidders for him. They’ve never made a move like this, so it was safe to say they never would make a move like this. I don’t think they ever should make this type of move. This is a deal that will probably look really bad for the Angels in the not too distant future, and good for the Padres, almost in the same way that the Melancon trade looked good for the Pirates right away. The Angels are a big market team that can make this type of move without ever thinking about Taylor Lindsey or anyone else they gave up. That’s not the case with a small market team like the Pirates, especially when the potential upside coming back is so small.

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Looking at the Pirates Trade Needs on a Quiet Market; Should the Deadline Be Moved? http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/looking-at-the-pirates-trade-needs-on-a-quiet-market-should-the-deadline-be-moved.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/looking-at-the-pirates-trade-needs-on-a-quiet-market-should-the-deadline-be-moved.html#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:28:53 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=83986 Is it just me, or has the leadup to the 2014 trade deadline been quiet this year?

When a rumor came out last week that the Pittsburgh Pirates were checking on Huston Street, it occurred to me that I hadn’t used the “News and Rumors” section of the site in some time. I looked, and realized that the Street rumor was the first trade rumor of the year. And it came on July 14th.

By this time last year, the Pirates had been linked to the following players:

Matt Garza

Alex Rios

Nate Schierholtz

Kendrys Morales

Justin Morneau

Bud Norris

To put things in perspective, I only post rumors from sources that usually show up on MLBTR. I also don’t post anything if the rumor is “Player A makes sense for the Pirates”, as that’s more of an observation than a rumor.

We know that they eventually landed Morneau. We also know that they made an offer of Luis Heredia and their comp pick for Norris. And they were looking at outfield help, ultimately landing Marlon Byrd (who they were connected to later in July, but acquired at the end of August). But that’s the thing. Even if they didn’t make a move in July, we still had a good idea of what they were looking for.

How Active Are the Pirates on the Trade Market?

The lack of activity this year might be in part due to the Pirates not being as active in general. Neal Huntington talked about the deadline with the media last week, noting that there are opportunities to get better, but there isn’t a glowing hole for the team. The full quote:

“We’re looking at all potential options to help this club get better. Whether it’s a starting pitcher, a reliever, position player. We recognize that there are some players out there that would make us better. We recognize that we’ve got some pretty good players here. What is the acquisition cost? How much better can they make us? Does it make sense for us short-term, longer term? We’re always going to find ways to make ourselves better.

The flip side of that, and I hope this doesn’t get parsed, but there isn’t a glowing hole for us. Whether it is in the rotation or the bullpen or a position player. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to find a way to make ourselves better. When Liriano comes back we’re going to have guy that probably deserves to be in a major league rotation…And with two other guys in Triple-A that probably should be in the big leagues. And, that’s a great place to be. But that doesn’t stop us from looking for ways to make us better.”

I think you could look at this team and find some weaknesses. The first base platoon has been struggling big time since the start of June. Pedro Alvarez hasn’t been at his best, but he’s not a bad player either. The bullpen has had its struggles, and could use a boost in middle relief. The rotation is without an ace, with Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano both struggling this year.

In all of these cases, the Pirates could upgrade these positions with a trade. Or they could stick with their in-house options, and hope for a better second half. The latter isn’t impossible. We’ve already seen this with several players on the roster. Jordy Mercer had a .508 OPS by the end of May. Since the start of June, his OPS is .787. That’s a great number for a shortstop. Starling Marte is another guy who struggled early, with a .659 OPS until early June. Since the second week of June he has an .824 OPS. There’s also the flip side of things. The first base platoon looked good up until June, then did a 180.

The idea that a player is going to continue playing one way, because that’s the way he played for the first three months, isn’t always true. It’s even less likely if the first three months from that player conflict with what he has done previously in his career. There are some areas where the Pirates would just be better off sticking with the in-house options, and hoping that those options have a better second half. They’ve managed to contend with the current performances from Alvarez, Liriano, Cole, and the bullpen. Things can only get better in the second half.

There are other areas where the Pirates could, and should look for upgrades. The bullpen is one area. I don’t like the idea of paying for relievers, so I wouldn’t make a big deal for a Huston Street type reliever. He would cost prospects, plus he’d take up $10 M over the next year and a half. As I wrote the other day, the Pirates have had success getting quality relievers for nothing. They should continue that approach. They don’t need a late inning reliever with Mark Melancon and Tony Watson on the team. They could use a middle reliever to strengthen the bullpen leading up to those late innings.

I don’t think they should be looking to trade for a starter. The only trade that would make sense would be to deal for a top of the rotation guy. As we saw with the Jeff Samardzija trade, that would cost a lot in prospects. It would also create a situation where you’re strengthening the current rotation, only to weaken future rotations by dealing away a few of your top pitching prospects. I’d rather see the Pirates call up Nick Kingham if they need rotation help, rather than trading him and other prospects away for an upgrade. As for any other starter, I think adding a middle or back of the rotation guy would just be adding more of what they already have. At some point in the second half they’ll have Vance Worley and Brandon Cumpton in depth roles. Kingham is looking great in Triple-A, and could be ready to come up later in the year. They’ve got enough depth, and can turn to that if they need anything other than an ace.

As for that ace, I think they’re better off hoping for a better second half from Liriano and Cole. They’ve been a contending team without strong production from those two. If just one of them has a better second half, it would be a big boost to the rotation. As for other boosts to the rotation, they’ve already seen one big in-season upgrade, only this upgrade came internally. Jeff Locke has statistically been the best pitcher on the staff, and has only been with the team as a regular starter since early June. If Locke continues what he’s doing, then that would be another boost that they didn’t have early in the season.

One thing about first base is that Ike Davis not only looks a bit like Adam LaRoche, but he plays like Adam LaRoche. In his career, Davis has a .698 OPS in the first half, and an .869 OPS in the second half. Coincidentally (or maybe not so much of a coincidence), he has a .698 OPS in the first half of the 2014 season. It would be huge if he continues this trend, and takes off in the second half. I think Gaby Sanchez will revert back to crushing lefties, and if Davis picks up the pace, then the Pirates will be fine at first.

The Pirates have some weak spots on the team this year. However, those weak spots aren’t due to a lack of talent at the positions. They’re a result of the Pirates having talent that hasn’t performed up to expectations. They could go one of two ways with their second half approach. They could make a trade and not have to worry about guys bouncing back. The advantage here is comfort, and the disadvantage here is that you’re going to be paying a lot, and possibly for no reason. They could go the other way, and hope for better results in the second half. The advantage here is that you don’t give up prospects that could help you contend in future years. That advantage is why the Pirates now have Cole, Polanco, and Marte on their team. The disadvantage is that these players could continue their first half numbers, leaving the Pirates in the same situation.

Fortunately, there’s a new trend in baseball, and that new trend means the Pirates don’t have to decide on an upgrade in the next two weeks.

Is the Trade Season Moving Back?

Last year the Pirates didn’t make any moves in July, but added Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau at the end of August. It seemed like last July was slow all around the league, and August was unusually busy. There’s probably a reason for that.

MLB added a second Wild Card a few years ago, and as a result, more teams have the feel that they’re in the mix. At the moment there are only seven teams that are ten games or more out of a playoff spot. There are two and a half months remaining in the season, and while it’s not probable that these teams will have a sudden turnaround, it is definitely possible. A team that is ten games back might be less inclined to trade in late July, but by late August, that same ten game span seems insurmountable.

Then you have to consider that not every team losing this year is going to trade a player that could help them in future years. Sure, David Price will probably be traded, as a small market team like the Rays needs to take that approach to do a quick rebuild. But the idea that the Rangers would trade Yu Darvish and his team friendly contract, all because they’re not winning in 2014, is absurd. There’s no rule in baseball that says you have to blow it all up and start over when you have a losing season. It is possible to just have a bad year.

The overall result is that there are very few sellers available, and there are so many more buyers. There would also be some trepidation on the buyer’s side. A team like the Pirates is only 3.5 games back, but of the eight real playoff contenders, they rank last. They’re contenders, but not strong contenders. Do they go all in for this year and weaken themselves for future years? Or do they look at the makeup of this team and organization, see stronger years ahead, and decide that their best opportunity might be in those future years?

Teams that are on the fringe of the playoffs also have another m0nth to determine where they stand. In the case of the Pirates, this gives them another month to see how Cole and Liriano do. It gives them a month to see if Ike Davis repeats his second half success, or if Pedro Alvarez revives his power. Last year the Pirates had a stronger need for an outfielder in August than they did in July. They had a weakness in right field in July, but when Starling Marte went down in August, they had question marks at both corner spots. A lot can change in a month. It’s possible that the Pirates could look stronger at certain positions a month from now. Again, this is something we’ve already seen, as the rotation today looks much stronger than it did in early June.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the trade deadline is once again underwhelming. The flip side to this is that we could see another active month of August. Personally I think MLB should move the trade deadline back to the end of August, and avoid the whole process with waiver trades. I don’t know when or why the original trade deadline was set, but I’d imagine it came at a time when there were very few playoff spots, and thus far more sellers by late July than there were buyers. We’re now to a point where it’s always going to be a seller’s market in late July, and most teams won’t really know where they stand until late August.

For now, the trade deadline is in July, with the ability to make trades through the waiver process in August. I’d expect some movement in July, but we’re probably going to continue to see an increase of moves in August. Based on the lack of rumors, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Pirates again wait until August to get active on the trade market.

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Pirates Are One of the Teams Who Have Asked About Huston Street http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-are-one-of-the-teams-who-have-asked-about-huston-street.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-are-one-of-the-teams-who-have-asked-about-huston-street.html#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 21:38:29 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=83741 Jon Heyman reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the teams interested in San Diego Padres reliever Huston Street. The article actually focuses on the Angels’ interest in Street, but talks about how the Pirates have checked in on him, and that the Orioles and Giants are speculated as possibilities.

Street is under contract for $7 M this year, with a $7 M option in 2015. He has a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings this year, with a 2.95 xFIP. I’d calculate his trade value, but trade values are never accurate for relievers. Street actually has an 0.5 WAR this year, which projects to a 1.0 WAR over a full season. He had a 1.0 WAR last year, posting similar numbers over 39 innings. That’s not worth $7 M a year on the open market, even without giving up players. But the cost for relievers has been way over-blown for years, to the point where Heyman calls his $7 M option a “team friendly” deal. And that’s true when you consider what Street is doing compared to what other teams pay closers for the same results.

The Pirates have never been a team to pay for relief pitching. They go after low risk, high reward guys, and that approach has worked well for them. Going after someone like Street would be a big change in their approach. They have a good combo in the late innings with Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Paying prospects and committing $7 M in payroll next year for Street seems like a bad idea. They’d be better off putting that money toward extending Russell Martin. Despite the complaints about the Pirates’ bullpen, they’ve got a talented group. The biggest issue they have right now is that they have two big projects in the bullpen, and they aren’t really using those projects effectively.

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