First Pitch: The Pirates Don’t Need Giancarlo Stanton

“Being a consumer is like a job. You have to make sure you get the best one. If you get a Blu-Ray player, you gotta do research. You gotta look at reviews of a player. You’ve gotta go on Amazon and read a really long review, written by an insane person, who’s been dead for months. Because he shot his wife and then himself, after explaining to you that the remote is counter intuitive. ‘It’s got really small buttons on the remote,’ he said, before he murder-suicided his whole family. And now you’re reading it and going ‘I don’t know. I don’t know which one to get. I’ve got to get the best one.’ Why? Who are you, the King of Siam, that you should get the best one ever? Bring me the best! Who cares? They’re all the same, these machines. They’re all made from the same Asian suffering. There’s no difference.”

-Louis CK

Last night I was recapping the positions of need for the Pittsburgh Pirates, noting that the Pirates need an upgrade in right field. At the end of the post I joked about Giancarlo Stanton talk, figuring that there would be at least one person suggesting a Stanton trade even though there was every indication that the Marlins weren’t shopping him.

While I was working on the post, David Schoenfield posted an article at talking about how the Pirates should trade for Stanton, sending Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, and Tony Sanchez in the deal. Within minutes James Santelli and I were talking about an article on the subject, exploring the trade and seeing if the values matched up.

If you haven’t seen that article from James, you should check it out here. It’s very thorough, and explores every aspect of the proposed Stanton trade. I have to agree with pretty much everything James said. Stanton would be a huge upgrade for the Pirates, and the value of the deal lines up. But I also thought about “wants” versus “needs”, which led me to remembering the Louis CK quote above.

Every year around the trade deadline people confuse “wants” and “needs”. In this case, the Pirates “need” a right field upgrade. Giancarlo Stanton is a right field upgrade, but he’s not a “need”. Instead, he’s a “want”. You can upgrade right-field without him, and without giving up the huge price it would take to get him. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be amazing to see him in the Pirates’ lineup. But don’t confuse that with the Pirates needing him in the lineup.

It’s kind of like if you need a car. The need is just a car. The want would be a BMW, or a Lexus, or whatever your preference is. I’m not a car person, so I have no preference here. But if you are a car person, then maybe you can envision how great it would be to have all of the features of the BMW. Those features would be so much better than just a basic car. They’d make everything in life better. They’d hit against left-handers. How can that not be a need?

The truth is the need is just a car. And in the case with Stanton, the need is just a right field upgrade. Stanton is the BMW of right field upgrades, fully equipped with special features that your older model cars (Josh Willingham, Alex Rios) don’t have.

I think everyone would agree that they would gladly take Stanton in the lineup (although some might not want to give up Taillon and Polanco to get there). But at the same time, the Pirates don’t need Stanton, they just need a right field upgrade, and there’s a difference. That’s my main view of the Stanton discussion, and it pretty much forms my other views below on the topic.

Is Stanton Even Available?

This doesn’t have much to do with Stanton’s value, or the proposed trade. Or it could have everything to do with that. Either way, I think everyone is glossing over the fact that Stanton hasn’t exactly been made available. He isn’t being shopped around, and most of the trade rumors start with “The Marlins traded a lot of guys before the season, and they’re rebuilding, and I don’t think they’ll be competitive while Stanton is there, so they might as well trade him and go all-in on the rebuild”.

Here’s the problem with that from Miami’s perspective.

1. If you trade Jose Reyes and company, it just says you’re not going to be competitive in the next year or two, and you don’t want to pay while you aren’t competitive. If you trade Stanton, it says you don’t expect to be competitive for the next 3.5 years.

2. It’s not like the Marlins don’t have other young talent. They’ve got a great young pitcher in Jose Fernandez, and Jacob Turner looks promising so far.

It almost reminds you of the Andrew McCutchen talk we had to hear up until last year. Before McCutchen’s extension, the Pirates were never expected to be competitive while he was here. Or at least that’s what people would say when bringing up the idea of a trade. But trading a guy like McCutchen or a guy like Stanton doesn’t fall in the “we’re rebuilding, so let’s trade anyone with value” category. If you’re trading away guys in an attempt to build around young, impact talent, it doesn’t make sense to trade away young, impact talent.

So maybe the Marlins would listen on Stanton, but I feel like no one is really addressing the fact that if Stanton was on your favorite team, you’d hate to see him moved, especially when you can pair that young hitter with two young pitchers to hopefully provide a quick turnaround.

What Would the Pirates Lose in the Trade?

I think the Taillon/Polanco/Sanchez trade would be fair value. That said, I don’t think I would want to deal any of those players. Going player by player:

Jameson Taillon – We’ve seen this year the impact of pitching. The Pirates have seen their offense struggle, yet they’ve remained competitive because of their strong pitching. It’s not just this year. The offense wasn’t as good last year, and the pitching kept them in it. Taillon is close to the majors, and isn’t a big risk. He still needs to polish his changeup, but he could be in the majors by this time next year.

Gregory Polanco is a potential impact outfielder and could be in the majors by next year.
Gregory Polanco is a potential impact outfielder and could be in the majors by next year.

Gregory Polanco – Personally I’d hate to see Polanco go. I’ve always been high on him, and feel that he doesn’t have a lot of weakness to his game. He’s a good hitter, has a great approach at the plate, and he’s still developing his power. He’s going to need some time in Double-A, and he could make it to the majors by this time next year if all goes well. I’ve said before that I think Polanco could be the most valuable out of Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. Of course that goes back to me being higher on Polanco than most.

Tony Sanchez – The problem with losing Tony Sanchez is that you don’t really have any upper level catching depth if Russell Martin goes down. If that happens, you’re looking at a starting combo of Michael McKenry and either Lucas May, Ali Solis, or Carlos Paulino. Hello, 2011. In the proposed deal, Sanchez wouldn’t be hard to replace, value-wise, so this wouldn’t preclude a deal.

A different way of looking at this trade is that you’d be trading Taillon, Sanchez, and the lefty pitcher to turn 6.5 possible years of Polanco being an impact right fielder to 3.5 years of an established Stanton in the majors.

Prospects Aren’t Guaranteed, But Neither Are Major Leaguers

The common argument here is that prospects aren’t guaranteed, and that the major league player you’re trading for is guaranteed to bring results. That often gets taken to the extremes to assume that the prospects will fail, while the major leaguers will succeed.

In Stanton’s case, there aren’t performance concerns. He had a .968 OPS last year, and this year he has an .866 OPS. That’s not great like the last few years, but it’s still good. The concern is that he’s dealt with a lot of injuries the last two years. When he’s healthy he plays well, but how long can you expect him to be healthy? James accounted for his injury problems in his trade values, but there’s still the fact that you’re trading for a guy who might not play the entire season.

On the prospect side you have risks, but not all risks are equal. Jameson Taillon is a top pitching prospect. So is Tyler Glasnow. They both have the same upsides. But Taillon is a very safe pitcher, while Glasnow is a high risk starter. Saying that prospects aren’t guaranteed is ignoring the fact that Taillon has great stuff, and amazing results in Double-A. At this point the “he’s not guaranteed” just refers to his upside. He’s going to make the majors, and it’s only a question of whether he becomes that number one starter, or settles in as a number two or a really strong number three. When talking about prospects the tendency is to look at that statement, assume the worst, and talk about trading a number three starter. But you can’t do that. You have to consider all outcomes. Taillon would be just as likely to become an ace as a number three starter. And number three starters are nothing to dismiss.

Then there’s Gregory Polanco. If you’re trading for Stanton, then Polanco becomes expendable. If you bring Polanco up in June 2014, you have him under team control through the 2020 season. You’d have Stanton under control through the 2016 season. Stanton’s biggest value would come in the next year, when Polanco isn’t expected to arrive. After that, you’d be missing out on four years of control with Polanco.

It’s really a question of value. On one side you have Stanton, with injury concerns, and he’d be filling a need that Polanco couldn’t fill for the next year. On the other side you’ve got Polanco, who has three more years of control total, could be ready a year from now, and would have to be paired with another top prospect plus two more good prospects to get Stanton. I’m not sure that 6.5 years of Polanco plus another top prospect plus two good prospects is a smart move when you really only need a right field upgrade for one more year.

Finding a “Need” That is Less “Want”

We don’t really know who is out there on the trade market yet. Just like Stanton, all we can do is look at teams that are losing, look at their best or highest paid players, and speculate what it would cost to get those players. That speculation leads us to guys who would be cheaper to acquire than Stanton, such as Alex Rios or Josh Willingham. Those guys wouldn’t come with the same production that Stanton would bring. But the Pirates don’t need that production from Stanton. They just need an upgrade in right field. Rios or Willingham would provide that, at a much lower cost. That’s the best of both worlds. You get your upgrade, plus you keep Polanco and Taillon around, with both of them on pace to arrive next year.

The thing about Stanton is that people tend to look at a weak offense and feel that one big bat will fix the issue. The Pirates aren’t Giancarlo Stanton away from fixing their lineup issues. They need to consider platoon options at second and third base. Shortstop probably isn’t going to be the most productive position, although Jordy Mercer has added some power as the new starter. Some other guys have experienced slumps this year, such as Garrett Jones, Starling Marte, and Andrew McCutchen. Stanton would definitely help the lineup, but if they’re losing 4-0 games, he’s not going to singlehandedly take them to a 5-4 victory. They’re going to need some other upgrades. You could add platoon guys in the infield, and add Stanton. But that gets back to “wants” and “needs”. The Pirates don’t need Stanton if they’re upgrading the other positions with platoons. They just need a right field upgrade.

When Should They Trade Prospects?

Here’s one thing I’m not going to be afraid to admit: I don’t like the idea of the Pirates trading prospects. That’s a stance that is criticized, but it’s one I’m fine taking. It has nothing to do with the fact that I run a site called Pirates Prospects. It’s just my philosophy on how small market teams should be run. For full disclosure, the site actually does better when the Pirates trade away prospects. In the short-term you get all of the traffic from the new team sites trying to find out about their new prospects. You also get Pirates fans excited that the team is being upgraded.

The top six traffic days in site history involve the MLB draft. The seventh best day is the day Wandy Rodriguez was traded. So if I’m looking at things from a business standpoint, and from the standpoint of what helps the site, then I’d advocate trading prospects in a second for Stanton. That would be the best thing for my business. It would generate excitement surrounding the Pirates that we haven’t seen for a long time. It would all but assure the team of contending, leading to traffic spikes in September and October, which is usually when traffic starts to dive. That would allow me to send James and Tom on road trips to cover the team full time as they battled in a playoff race down the stretch. And the truth about the prospects is that no individual prospect is important to the site’s coverage. We don’t cover the top X prospects. We cover the entire minor league system. I’ve seen the numbers, and the quality of the system doesn’t matter. People just want to know what is going on. That’s why I created the site in the first place, and the demand for information hasn’t gone down.

The reason I don’t like dealing prospects is because of my “What Would the Rays Do?” motto. You can also throw in my “I don’t have a good catch phrase for this” motto about the trade deadline. It’s another “wants” and “needs” issue where everyone says that contenders “need” to upgrade at the deadline. I’ve always been confused by that. If they’re winning without the upgrades, why do they need to make a move to keep winning? Plenty of teams have made a move and didn’t keep winning, or lost, despite looking like the favorites after the trade deadline hype.

One team that didn’t make a move was the 2008 Rays. They could have easily traded for Jason Bay with the quality of prospects they had. In the end they didn’t trade for Bay. They made it to the World Series and lost, and it’s not like Bay would have taken them from a 4-1 loss to a victory.

That’s what the Rays do. They don’t go for the big splash. They don’t trade their top prospects away. They build up top prospects, they bring them up to the majors, and if there’s no room, they trade away a veteran for prospects to make room. The Rays have been horrible at drafting the last several years, but they keep seeing top prospects arriving because of this approach.

None of this should be foreign to Pittsburgh fans. It’s the exact same thing the Steelers do, and have done for years. The Steelers don’t go out and make a huge splash in free agency. They don’t make a big trade and try to bring in a star. They build with draft picks and sleeper free agents like James Harrison. They also play in a league with a salary cap, which allows them to hold on to guys that are good for longer. But when that player is starting to decline, they’re not afraid to cut him and move on to a younger player.

That’s the approach the Pirates need to take. They’ve spent the last several years getting to the point where they’ve got a good team in the majors, and they’ve got a strong farm system. Right now they’re set up to have that desired wave after wave of prospects. This year it’s Gerrit Cole, Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson, and you could even throw Jeff Locke in if you’re counting guys who are getting established but came up before 2013. Next year it could be Taillon, Polanco, Nick Kingham and Tony Sanchez. The year after that we could be talking Alen Hanson, Stetson Allie, Tyler Glasnow, and Josh Bell.

Not all of these guys are going to work out. We’re also going to see other guys step up in the process. That’s how it works with prospects. Unfortunately, MLB is set up so that teams like the Pirates can only contend for a long period if they commit to building through prospects. That’s something that Pirates fans seem to hate. But look at the team this year, and all of the big names who came up through the farm system:

Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Jordy Mercer, Jeff Locke, Justin Wilson, Gerrit Cole, Brandon Cumpton, Tony Watson, Bryan Morris.

The Pirates are where they are right now largely because they built through the farm system. That doesn’t mean they should never make trades and send prospects out. There’s just a difference between trading Taillon/Polanco and trading the types of guys who have landed A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and Gaby Sanchez.

Giancarlo Stanton is not a “Need”

Would I love to see Giancarlo Stanton in the lineup everyday? Absolutely. That would be exciting to watch, only because any player with his ability is fun to watch. But that’s not a “need”. The “need” for the Pirates is an upgrade at right field. In the short-term, Stanton would be the best upgrade to have. But the Pirates don’t necessarily have to get the best possible upgrade. If they fix some other weaknesses (find a platoon player for second, and/or third), they’d be a good enough team that any upgrade in right field would do. The benefit of a lesser upgrade is that the team can still contend, and you get to keep your two best prospects, and two potential impact guys who could arrive next year.

The approach of adding an upgrade who isn’t as good as Stanton and continuing to build through prospects isn’t as exciting. But that approach is what got the Pirates to the point of being contenders in the first place. Why abandon that approach now?

Links and Notes

**2013 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker.

**Pirates Prospects Has a New Mobile Theme.

**Polanco, Taillon Could Get Giancarlo Stanton: Why the Pirates Should Do It.

**Pedro Alvarez’s Five-RBI Day Completes Series Split in Cincinnati.

**Prospect Watch: Cunningham Hits 14th Homer; Strong Pro Debut For Dickson.

**Minor League Schedule: Kingham and McDonald Headline Busy Day.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates Pitchers Showing Impressive Control.

**Alex Presley Optioned to Triple-A, Duke Welker Recalled.

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Douglas Wilcox

Stay the course! The only thing that’s stabilized, then improved this team has been pitching. Fortunately, we have even more coming down the pike and we will need it. The Pirates have a great farm system finally, I can’t see trading it away for a good right fielder now, only to lose a possible ace, backup catcher who can gun to second and replace McHenry, and a promising outfielder all of which will be within our budget for years.


I agree with the article to an extent. With what has been rumored, Stanton isn’t worth it. Taillon and Polonco, simply not worth it at this time. I imagine the Yankees are gonna grab Stanton to be honest. Stanton is an amazing player, but I think strategically the move isn’t the right one. Although, the Marlins ARE a suspect organization and I wouldn’t be surprised if Stanton was acquired for far less. Being said, I think Stanton IS the rare type of player who can win games solely by himself. Let’s not kid ourselves, Polonco’s best projections point to the character Stanton is now, or another high-average moderate power OF like McCutchen. I have yet to see a scout hail Polonco the next big HOF slugger like Bonds.( If so, yay us!) It’s a pretty common thing for Stanton to be associated as such.

If I had to make a deal at the deadline, I would see we could dump some of our OF depth to MIA and some of other pitching prospects exlcuding Taillon. He’s untouchable. When push comes to shove, I doubt MIA would trainwreck a deal because Taillon wasn’t included. It would come down to more rather they want to trade him in the first place. Assuming that deal would never happen… I’d go Alex Rios, or take a DIFFERENT route than I have seen… and grab a first basemen like James Loney

Nuke Laloosh

Getting Stanton would be a great upgrade to our present RF situation. However, the proposed(hypothetical) trade would never happen. I for one(as I stated in a previous post) would not make that trade. I would, however, look at dealing two prospects while throwing in Travis Snider and/or perhaps McKenry if Sanchez was not part of the deal. What is the trade you would make right now and for who?

IC Bob

Leadoff you always have good insight. I disagree on a few points. As the talent moves forward the PBC will need to navigate a roster crunch at the 25 man roster as well as the 40 man. Additionally the point is to try to win. Right now the readers of this forum are so excited about the future they no longer care about the present. The problem with that is the future always looks brighter then the present. I really believe we can have our cake and eat it to. I don’t believe we have to trade Polonco or Tallion if we so choose. I think we could get a guy like Stanton for less. The Marlins need players and who more can offer the bulk then the Bucs. Additionally when does a team go for it? We love to speak of the Rays but they are an afterthought in the AL east and what looked like such a promising present and future now looks suspect. I would prefer to look at the Cardinals way of thinking which combines present talent with the future. The Cards had no problem getting a Beltran even though they had Craig, Tavares and others waiting in the wings. I fear we become the KC Royals and always have a team to look out for but not the team to make that next big step. If we got a Stanton we would have to trade a lot but who is to say we can’t get a lot for him in two years? We could still have a guy who hits 40HRs drives in 110 runs, gets on base with a bunch of walks and makes everyone in the lineup better by his presence. One last thing, in two years their is going to be a roster squeeze (40 man roster) that is going to force the Bucs to give away talent. Lets make sure we get something really good in return.

Like I said before, Polonco could be a future HOF but how huge would it be to add that type of power and skill to this line up?


While I don’t like the hypothetical trade because it gives up 3 pretty sure major leaguers for one, is thereany circumstance the Pirates would ever consider a Stanton type player if not now? The farm system has great depth so why not trade some of it? Stanton or a player like him will never be acquired in free agency because of price. Are the Pirates limited to home grown talent and minor free agent additions?

Nate Rose

I&#8 217;ve been throwing this around the blogosphere, so I&#8 217;ll post it here, too:

For those saying &#8 220;Don&#8 217;t sell the farm,&#8 221; you have to consider the stunning failure rate of what “The farm” produces. Let’s look at some blockbuster player-for-prospect deals and how they turned out:

Jason Bay landed four prospects. And say what you will about the performance of the people we got in return, but LaRoche and Morris were both highly regarded, while Moss was a C-grade prospect and Hansen was a former top prospect with a chance to rebound. And yet, you kinda have to say the Red Sox and Dodgers won that trade, don’t you?

How about the trade that the ESPN article linked to in this blog post mentioned, where the Tigers sent Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera? Maybin was BA’s #8 prospect in baseball. He’s now 26 and is a 4th OF for the Padres with a career .248/.311/.370 line. Miller was BA’s #10 prospect in baseball. He’s 28, in Boston as a reliever, and has a career 5.37 ERA, 1.67 WHIP. Was 6 prospects – including two of the top 10 in baseball – for 2 MLB players (Dontrelle Willis also went to Detroit) a bad deal for the Tigers? Did the Marlins get more value out of Maybin and Miller than Detroit has gotten out of Cabrera? Kinda hard to make that case, don’t you think?

Remember when the Indians traded Cliff Lee and got Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Jason Knapp? Carrasco was Philly’s best prospect, number 41 in baseball per BA. He has a career 5.18 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and had Tommy John surgery. Marson was another top-50-in-baseball prospect. He’s a backup catcher now. Knapp was a top-100 prospect and is out of baseball now. Donald is in AAA for the Reds and was a utility player in Cleveland. It’s kinda hard to say that the Phillies paid too much for Cliff Lee in retrospect, isn’t it?

Remember when those same Indians traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Michael Brantley and Rob Bryson? LaPorta was ranked 23rd in baseball by BA, 14th by MLB, and was drawing comparisons to Ryan Braun. He ended up being a quad-A player with a career .238/.301/.393 batting line. He’s in AAA now. Jackson was the Brewers’ #10 prospect. He has a career 5.81 ERA, 1.56 WHIP. Rob Bryson was the Brewers’ #11 prospect. He’s in AA now at 25 years old. Brantley is a semi-successful fourth OF for the Indians, but can you really say he provides more value than Sabathia provided to the Brewers? They won the NL Central largely because of Sabathia that year.

The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays for Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor. D’Arnaud was and remains a top prospect. We’ll see how he turns out. Drabek was ranked #25 by Baseball America. He’s now had two Tommy John surgeries, and at 25 hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues. His AAA line has a 7.44 ERA and 2.02 WHIP. Michael Taylor was ranked #29 by BA. He has had 81 MLB plate appearances…in Oakland, scattered over 3 seasons, for a .135/.210/.189 line. He stopped hitting after he made the jump to AAA.

There are, of course, deals where the team getting prospects wins the trade, and wins big. The Nady trade for us comes to mind. Bartolo Colon for Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee comes to mind. But those deals are MUCH rarer than the case where the team that’s getting the player wins the trade.

Do you know why it takes multiple top prospects to land elite MLB players? Because the vast majority of prospects, no matter how highly regarded, flame out. Pirates fans should know this too well. Remember Chad Hermansen? Scouts said he could walk on water. Kris Benson? At one time, he had as much national hype as Stephen Strasburg.

When you’re a rebuilding team, it’s wise to stockpile prospects. That’s not because they’ll all pan out, it’s because most of them WON’T pan out, and you need to gather as many players with potential as possible to catch the few that do. But when you can compete for the World Series, that focus shifts. You start trading “maybe” for “definitely.” The Pirates are at that stage right now. They have the third-best record in baseball. If they carry that into the trade deadline and they can upgrade RF from Travis Snider to Giancarlo Stanton, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT. He’s one of the best hitters in the game. They’ll have him for three years after this one. And while Taillon and Polanco both have a chance to be very good players for a long time (Sanchez, I’m not as sure about), Stanton is definitely a great player right now and barring something horrible happening will be for years. If he continues on his current pace, he’s a future Hall of Famer. Maybe Taillon will be the next Roger Clemens, and maybe Polanco will be better than Stanton. Then again, maybe Taillon will be the next Kris Benson and Polanco will be the next Chad Hermansen.

We are the only contending team in baseball with a fanbase that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to trade top prospects for Stanton. Everywhere else, fans of teams are constructing elaborate packages of “what it would take for us to get this guy.” 21 years of losing has conditioned Pirates fans to always think about the future. Always think about “In a couple years, when some prospects pan out, we’ll contend for the World Series.” The Pirates are 43-30. The future is right now. The prospects HAVE panned out. It won’t take a couple years. RIGHT NOW is the time to contend for the World Series. And the beauty of Stanton in particular is that he’ll also help us contend for the entire duration of this McCutchen/Alvarez/Walker/Marte offensive and Burnett/Rodriguez/Cole pitching core. He’ll be there for the whole time that the window is open. Trading prospects to get him isn’t mortgaging the future at this point, it’s competing for the present AND the future. And you know what else? When his contract is about to run out, if we’re not contending, we can trade him to acquire prospects.

Despite the failure rate, there are still few players in the Majors whose talent make it worthwhile for small-market, contending teams to trade a bunch of prospects for players. But Stanton is one of those players. Stanton is special. I’ve been against the deals proposed in the past – the “sell the farm for Hunter Pence” types. Those were trades for slightly above average MLB players. There is a HUGE difference between trading top prospects for a half-season of Hunter Pence and trading for 3 1/2 seasons of Giancarlo Stanton. If Stanton’s career arc continues in the way it has so far, he’s a future Hall of Famer. His similarity scores through age 23 include Boog Powell, Bob Horner, Frank Robinson, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton and Jose Canseco.


Definitely on THIS side of the fence on trading for Stanton! As I read fron tge first comment, stay the course!


Tim what would it take for us to get Rios? I was looking at his stats and he’d provide a huge upgrade for us and bring in veteran experience.


Reading more and moreof those comments we seem to run out of any sensible arguments for trading away Taillon, Polanco and Sanchez for Stanton (or any other hotshot hitter for that matter we might be interested in).

NOT doing a trade like this is the clever thing to do for the Pirates.

Dean Manifest

It’s only fair to point out that there’s a fair bit of group-think going on here. I’d imagine if this article came out in favor of the trade we’d see a much more mixed attitude reflected in the comments.

I think I’d pass on the trade too, as constructed by ESPN. But if it were Glasnow, Bell and Allie? I’d bite.


But if it were Glasnow, Bell and Allie? I’d bite.

Not me, no way. I agree with Tim, there are enough quality players that will be available for a lot less that will help the Pirates. Most teams in baseball will not give up any of their top ten picks unless it is for a rent a player that they think will take them to the promise land and most teams don’t have the quality top 10’s the Pirates do. Glasnow, Bell and Allie are top ten players in most organizations. I am leaning more towards giving up someone of the current 25 man roster and possibly 1 prospect. A Justin Wilson for example might be a pitcher that would be in demand.


I do agree that an upgrade in right field would help this team, but the rest of this team has to start reverting to their means.
What the Pirates really need is a solid NO. 3 hitter in the lineup, I believe that McCutchen gives the appearance of a 3 hitter, but he does not hit like one, he hits more like a leadoff hitter, like a Joe Morgan, much better hitter when no one is on base.
If I am looking for a player to play right field, I am also looking at one that can hit in the 3 spot, I don’t believe the Pirates have one of those on this roster. If that is what I am looking for, it might take a bit more than I want to give up, tough situation, brought on mostly because of McCutchen’s failure in the 3 hole.
Why does everyone want to trade away top ten prospects so easily or future solid starting pitching like Cumpton?
The players IMO that might be traded in the future are players like Walker, Harrison, Presley.Snider. You have major league players that can be added to trades.

Dean Manifest

While I don’t completely agree with everything here, I do think Cutch has been over-swinging recently, and perhaps he performs better when the lineup is producing around him and he doesn’t feel pressure to produce like a power hitter. I’ve always felt that he’d be a dynamite leadoff hitter on the right club. While we aren’t at that level yet, who knows what the future will hold….


I don’t know what level we are at, I just know we don’t have a 3 hitter on this roster at this time, but we are at a level where we could get one. I also believe McCutchen has the talent to be a 3 hitter. But Marte’s OBP, (.350’s) tells me we should be scoring more runs especially when that OPB translates into a lot of standing on 2nd and 3rd.

Dean Manifest

Let’s not forget the impact this trade would have on payroll either.

We’ve been fortunate the past two years to enjoy the production of AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez while only paying a portion of their salaries. If we resign AJ for next season we won’t have the Yankees to absorb half of his paychecks anymore.

Stanton will get a big raise through arbitration. And that money will have an opportunity cost. It might mean that we can’t afford to bring back Burnett. Would that change people’s minds? What if the acquisition cost was 6 years of JT, 6 years of Polanco, 6 years of Sanchez, and 1-2 additional years of Burnett (and of course those 1-2 years would come right when we’re supposed to be “going for it” behind Stanton)?

Not only are we going to lose the cheap production we’re hoping/expecting to get from these three prospects (forcing us to pay market value for veteran free agents*) but we’re increasing our payroll at the same time (hindering our ability to do just that).

*Take a look at what mediocre pitchers like Joe Blanton and Edwin Jackson get paid in free agency (hint: it’s 8-figures).

Dean Manifest

Payroll considerations are the reason I’d expect another team- one that would actually SAVE money by adding Stanton as opposed to paying full market value to a top free agent- to come in with a more attractive package than the Pirates would be willing to part with.

Let’s say you’re Texas for example. An earlier poster said the Rangers are too smart to go in for a move like this, but I disagree with the premise. It may be a mistake for the Pirates, based on the opportunity costs I outlined above. But for a team that routinely fills its holes with top free agents? It becomes a totally different equation.

A team like Texas could be expected to sign a player like Carlos Beltran if they decide that RF is a hole. The $15-20M per year they’d spend on such a player is available in their budget. So acquiring Stanton wouldn’t preclude them from filling their other holes (like it would for us).

As a result, the kind of package that would make this deal a go for them would probably be too much for us- not because we are smarter than them, but because the ramifications are so different.

David Lewis

Yes. Just, Yes.

Although I found it amusing that you said, “Stanton would definitely help the lineup, but if they’re losing 4-0 games, he’s not going to singlehandedly take them to a 5-4 victory,” the day after Pedro pretty much singlehandedly took the Pirates a 5-3 victory three days after they lost 4-1.

(Well, OK – the other guys had to get on base.)


Have to disagree! pirates are 13 games over 500 thanks to good pitching. If Stanton would help with only a couple of extra wins per month, we´d be in 1st. Place!!!
Marlins should keep Stanton for the rest of the year though, since he´s quite inexpensive right now, and the return in the off-season should be as good as right now.
But as dreams go, wouldn´t you want to have an Albert Pujols in his prime as a Buc for the next 5 years??? That’s the kind of upside Stanton has!


I truly feel that Polanco and Taillon will meet expectations. I see a strong core of players here that have the ability to keep the window open in Pittsburgh for years to come. I think it’s a awesome time to be a Pirate fan.


I know it would be unpopular, but what kind of value would Locke have. Seems like his value would be at an all time high right now. Do you think he will still be this effective after teams see him a 2nd and third time through. When I think of the start Locke is having it makes me think of Zach Duke in his first year up. Sell high (Locke), not low (JMac)

Dean Manifest

It’s funny, but I too am reminded of Snell, Gorzo and to a lesser extent Duke every time the Bucs have a B-prospect come up and pitch well. Immediately they get penciled into the rotation for the next five years and become off-limits. After all, they’re “part of the future”.

I’m not saying I’d dump Locke, not in a year in which we’re contending. But if this were one of our down years he’s EXACTLY the kind of guy we would’ve been wise to sell high on. While we NEVER did this under Littlefield, NH’s trade of Lincoln at the height of his popularity and productivity was a very encouraging sign about his ability to make tough decisions.


Excellent article. Although it seems radical, I would like us to give early auditions now to some of the minor league bats who can help at RF and other positions such as catcher and 2B. I’d even consider Polanco – yes it’s a year or two earlier than planned, but it’s the best option I’ve heard to upgrade RF; I’d expect him already to hit better than our current RFers. That would move Snider to a PH and occasional starting role, which he may be better suited for given his below average skill set. I think that building from within is the only way to go for a small-market team.

Thom Kay

Taillon’s numbers have been similar to, but better than, Jordan Zimmermann’s at the same age. I think he’s going to be that level of pitcher. After thinking about that trade for a bit, I can’t stand the idea of giving up Taillon.


If i were the GM I would have kept Presley up and allowed him to keep doing his thing in RF until something falls our way in a trade. It’s time to give Snider a long break on the bench, cut ties with Inge, and see if Presley could give us at least a temporary spark.


I agree with you, I think Presley would add a spark to this team. He can also lead off and you can move Marte to 3 and maybe Cutch to 4th in the order.

Dean Manifest

AP’s inability or unwillingness to draw a walk will always limit his value at the top of the order.

He’s got a nice compact little swing that generates enough pop to take advantage of the Clemente Wall……but he simply won’t walk. And he’s not a talented enough batsman to reach base consistently if he’s solely reliant on BABIP.


Agree totally. Presley “looks” like a leadoff man but his OBP belies it.

Vicente Barletta

After reading Tim’s and James articles, I have made up my mind. I don´t want Stanton if the cost is Taillon or Polanco or Hanson. At the risk of the Pirates becoming the next Royals (that were supposed to have all the talent that is still not showing) , I rather wait and gamble to see what can Taillon/Polanco/Hanson can become.
It is too soon to start dealing prospects, it is only the first year the Pirates are really looking like a contender. The last two years they had winning stretches but I never felt the team was really solid, this year they do.

Like Tim said, the Pirates should upgrade at RF and a platoon for Walker. I can live with Mercer/Barmes at SS since there are no really good options on the market. Maybe Stephen Drew if Boston decides to shop him. Then you have a better platoon with Drew/Mercer.

For RF my dream option is Alex Gordon, but I doubt the Royals will trade him, and if they do, I am sure they will ask for at least one of Taillon/Polancon/Hanson.

For the platoon at 2B I would take a shot at Alberto Callaspo from LAA. He is a switch hitter that bats better against LHP. He can platoon at 2B and 3B.

The realistic options at RF are:

1- Willingham (low average, good OBP and reasonable salary 7M this year and 7M next year) – His low average maybe a sign of his decline, but his salary is aceptable.

2- Alex Rios (Two years younger than Willingham, but almost double salary at 14.5M for each in 2013 and 2014)

3.- Mike Morse (injury prone but onlya fraction of the 6.5M he is getting in 2013)

Conclusion: Take any of these three that requires the less value on prospects. I’m thinking it can be Rios because of his high salary. Maybe send Snider and Cumpton to Chicago with the Pirates taking the rest of Rios salary.
One last crazy idea: I have a hunch Justin Smoak can turn his hitting around in the NL and PNC Park. So maybe try to buy on him low, place him at 1B and then move Garrett Jones to RF.


The Pirates shouldn’t be seeking the trade, You deal from your strengths. Every baseball GM out there not only knows what their team needs but what the other team needs. They also the strength and weaknesses of your farm system. The teams that have a real chance of making the playoffs and want to go deep in the playoffs usually need pitching to fill in that missing piece. Finally that pitching depth the Pirates have gives the Pirates a position of strength they have not had in decades. The Pirates shouldn’t be offering anything for anybody right now. If NH has patience and I believe he does I think the Pirates will get a really good deal without giving up a lot.


Also what a pleasant surprise Cumpton has been so far, I bet nobody saw that coming. It shows what can be done if you thoroughly and patiently develop your draft prospects. You keep hearing the more obvious names like Cole, Taillon, Locke, Glasnow and Heredia making up our future lights out starting rotation for years to come.

A guy like Cumpton (small sample size so far though) looks capable of making the starting rotation and become a solid, reliable No. 4 or 5 starter. Which fills me with a lot of confidence.

Also I’d still expect some of our players to come around and get their hitting averages back to a better standard, Pedro has started doing that and I’d also expect Cutch, Jones, Walker and Snider to hit A LOT better in the coming weeks.

Finally, does anyone know why it’s taking this long for Austin Meadows to sign ? The vibes he sent out after the draft made me think he would be quick to sign like Reese McGuire. Maybe we’re signing some other guys first, trying to save some pool money so we can offer Meadows well over slot ? There seem to be plenty of players this year we drafted who’d expect over-slot deals in order to sign…

nick c

Agree completely. We have waited 20 years to get to the point where we can have this conversation why change course now. I personally don’t think NH will blow up the system to aquire a talent like Stanton. He’s done a great job of stockpiling talent in the minors, I don’t think he will throw that approach aside for a playoff run this season. I would love to see the Bucs make the playoffs this year and end the misery. Stanton may halp us achieve that goal but we are not yet a championship caliber team even with him added to the roster.


rburgh : do you think they would make a Quentin for JMac deal ? I am pretty doubtful about that. Maybe a Jean Mar Gomez and a lower tier prospect ( Cumpton ) sounds more likely ? After seeing JMac on a couple of re-habs I can’t imagine they would take a chance on him.


I wonder how other teams view J Mac. I’d assume he’d have to be a high upside throw in but if some team thinks they can get the first half J Mac they might be intrigued. I’d like to see J Mac in long relief and have him drop a pitch or two that’s not working like James suggested. But in all honesty if it comes down to say Morton, J Mac or Gomez in long relief I have to think J Mac is the odd man out. But that’s assuming everyones healthy and that’s just foolish on my part.

joe g.

Another great article with great perspective. Tallion is part of a rebulding process that will solidify the starting rotation for several years – Cole, Tallion, Locke…..add your choice of two more that could include Justin Wilson, Phil Irwin, Crumpton, Glasnow, etc. We are looking at the potential to have a DOMINANT starting rotation!!!!! Marte, Cutch, Polanco will give us one of the best outfields in baseball….in the next year or two. This is a great time to be a Pirate fan.


I second that emotion. In fact if you look at the replies to James’ article, I said more or less the same thing, if considerably less eloquently. Alex Rios is also a big upgrade in RF, and he will be a lot cheaper because (a) he’s over 30, (b) he’s already getting paid, and (c) he’s not a big name. But he hits, hits for power, gets on base, and is a better defensive OF than Stanton. He could probably be had for Brandon Cumpton, and surely for Cumpton and Snider.

Also don’t neglect the idea of trading for a LF and moving Marte to RF. Carlos Quentin is basically out of a job in San Diego, he’s also getting paid, and the Padres need ML ready pitching so they don’t have to start burning the service time clocks on their lower-level prospects like they have been doing. He might be available for JMac.

Kerry Writtenhouse

You don’t move Marte out of leftfield to put a butcher like Quentin there. Our leftfield would eat him alive. Of the options I’ve heard, I’d much rather go get Rios than any of the others. I’m sure there will be other options out there.

Nuke Laloosh

Great article Tim! We all know that Pirate fans are tired of waiting to win and have become impatient and want to win now. However, I agree with you on most of your points, particularly on not trading the prospects. The Pirates have done a remarkable job in a short period of time in building their minor league system. Now that we have so many top tier prospects it would be a shame to start looking short term and start dealing them. I understand wanting to try to win now, but the reward in the years to come could be memorable to say the least.


I think this sums up everyone’s views that follow your site. Until someone that doesn’t care that they lose 50 mil a year buys the team (never happen) this is how you run a major league team. The player funnel has to stay full with top talent. We may luck out again this year and have a team throw us a bone like the Orioles did a 2 years ago with Derrik Lee. However, if not we make a trade with the White Sox for Rios.


I’m going to ask you a question that’s probably going to get the answer “depends who we get”. Which is fair. But who’s the highest prospect you’d be willing to give up in a trade? My thought was Dilson Herrera since we have Walker, Mercer and Hanson in the mix. And maybe Bell because we have Cutch, Marte, Polanco and then maybe Meadows years later. Maybe Bell’s value is a little low now. I figured rather you list off 12 untouchables I’d take a shot at who you might part with.


As of right now I think we could trade Cumpton for Rios. Rios is slightly overpaid and Cumpton’s value is as high as it will be for the next few years. He’s a decent pitcher due to his control but he’s not a huge loss.

Nuke Laloosh

You said it all with pitching is the impact. Pitching wins championships. Taillon, Cole, Locke & Co. for the next five plus years!!! By that time you will have Cutch, Marte and Palanco. That is how you build championships. And don’t forget Sanchez is the catcher of the near, and ever close future. To trade those three would be two holes you would have to fill instead of filling one now.


A truly excellent article (which means,of course, that it says exactly what I think only much more eloquently than I possibly could)! I wanted to add that the Marlins will not trade for “value.” If they were to trade at all, it would be for Value plus tribute. There is truth to the old saying, “Where there is desperation, there is profit.” Contending teams buying at the deadline are pigeons for plucking. Fortunately, to this point, NH has been immune to the urge to make some crazy trade to appear good in the press.

Lee Young

Tim…well thought out article! Pretty much sums up my views, too.


What a fantastic article Tim! This mirrors exactly my view.
As a fan it’s great to see the Pirates improving all the time thanks to their farm system. It’s also more gratifying seeing success on the field and knowing you didn’t buy this success (hard to do anyway if you are only a small market team like the Pittsburgh Pirates), but built a team largely through good scouting, drafting and devleoping all those prospects.
The way our farm system has been shaped up in recent years makes it a fantastic base to work from and compete year in, year out.
Remember the impact we had when Marte was promoted to the first team and started shining ? In coming seasons we will have at least, in my estimation, one or two prospects making the step up to the first team, like Cole and Locke this season.
And it’s not only the big names like Polanco, Taillon and Sanchez either.
We still have guys like Lambo, Dickerson, Hague or Goedert.
I also haven’t given up on Harrison who is hitting very well in Triple A.
With the Wandy Rodriguez trade I wasn’t happy at first, but this one seems to have worked because we didn’t trade a ton of top prospects, only Grossman.

The trades we should be looking to make is like the one we did with Hanrahan. No one could foresee Hanrahan going down with an injury like he did, but we got four players in return (for Hanrahan and Holt) all of which are likely to make the first team sooner or later (Sands, Melancon, DeJesus Jr. and Pimentel). Trades like that don’t turn out this well all the time obviously, but the Pirates should try to make those trades, not trading for a potential superstar who might make it in Pittsburgh (or not) while costing at least three top prospects who are all likely to be MLB regulars at least. Teams like the Yankees or the Rangers might trade away three of their top prospects for Stanton, but this is not what the Pirates should do. Why ? Because the Rays wouldn’t do that either…

PS: I shudder to think what might have happened if we had traded for Justin Upton, giving up Marte and two other top prospects in the process.
The Pirates will not be successful by trading away their future stars for having the chance to have ONE star playing for them for two or three years like Stanton.


Tim,no need for me to say anything as it would just be repeating the thoughtsof yours and some others here. I am with you all completely. I did want to tell Hamburg though,no,the Rangers will NOT trade multiple top prospects either. Their GM is too smart for that also.


No time to read the whole thing this morning, but I have stated the following for at least the last 3 years – stay the course! The Pirates have built a treasure trove of talent and are starting to see the benefit this year with newbies Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, Brandon Cumpton, Justin Wilson, and Bryan Morris, most of whom have been drafted and/or developed in the Pirate system. I am anxious to see Taillon move to AAA this year and be in Pittsburgh alongside Cole in June 2014, and possibly the same for Gregory Polanco, and Tony Sanchez. Continuing to add more while signing our core players long term will keep the Pirates competitive or better for years. Pedro Alvarez is carrying the team right now and ‘Cutch will get hot again. Neil Walker needs to break out and get that average up to .280. Of, Stanton is finishing his 3rd year of MLB service this year, therefore, the big money will begin in Arbitration. Nope, do not need to alter the course in any way shape or form.


The Pirates DESPERATELY need someone like Stanton! By all measures the Pirates offense ranks in the bottom third of the NL. The main reason is they don’t have anyone other than McCutchen they can count on everyday. Stanton would give them that bookend to go with McCutchen make them an explosive offensive club. Rios and Willingham will still cost the Pirates a couple of prime prospects (although they can probably hold onto Taillon) as well as millions in salary. That cost is not worth the minor impact they’d have on the Pirate offense. A 2B and/or 3B platoon would have a negligible impact on the offense.

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