We’ve heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been scouting a lot of players on the Philadelphia Phillies. A.J. Burnett has been the big name, and that continued tonight, as they were one of a few teams in attendance tonight for Burnett’s start against the Mets and Bartolo Colon.
Blue Jays, Cardinals, Pirates, Braves have scouts at tonight's Bartolo Colon vs A.J. Burnett start. @FOXSports1
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2014
We’ve also heard them connected to Phillies lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo, which Jon Morosi repeats tonight. One new point of information is the news that the Pirates are looking at Marlon Byrd.
Pirates showing interest in Phillies LHP Antonio Bastardo and OF Marlon Byrd, sources say. @FOXSports1
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 29, 2014
The news on Byrd doesn’t make much sense. The Pirates seem to be set in the outfield with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. Even if Marte had to miss some time, taking on Byrd doesn’t make sense in the long-term. He’s owed $8 M this year, $8 M next year, and has an $8 M option in 2016, which becomes guaranteed with 600 plate appearances in 2015, or 1,100 plate appearances in 2014-15, including 550 in 2015. He currently has 437 plate appearances this year, so it seems likely that he’ll only need 550 next year to get that option. The Pirates wouldn’t need Byrd for a potential two more years, with up to $16 M owed after this season.
It is possible that they could try to acquire him this year, then trade him in the off-season. But again, that only makes sense if Marte needs to miss a significant amount of time, and it also comes with the risk that the 36-year-old could get injured or have something else happen to lower his trade value.
The Pirates paid big to get Byrd last year, sending Dilson Herrera and Vic Black for one month of the outfielder. This year he is being paid much more, and the production is about half of what it was last year. I’ve got Byrd projected as a 2 win player this year. Giving him two wins in the next two years seems optimistic, considering his age, and the fact that he isn’t repeating his 2013 success in 2014. At 2 wins per year, and $8 M per year, he’d be worth $8.1 M in trade value on this market, using the inflated price paid for relievers. That would be a Grade B hitter and a Grade C pitcher, plus maybe a Grade C hitter thrown in. Basically, it would be similar to the price paid for Byrd last year, only this time around you’d be getting up to two years and two months.
Still, adding Byrd doesn’t make sense in the short-term or long-term, unless there’s something about Marte we don’t know, or unless there’s something else in the works that puts this all in perspective.
On the subject of trade values, last night I estimated what relief pitchers would be worth in the current market. Using the price paid for Joakim Soria, I’d estimate that Antonio Bastardo would be worth a Grade C pitching prospect — likely a lower level starter. That’s not horrible, considering the price that some of the other relievers who are available would be worth. At the same time, Bastardo isn’t doing that great, with a 4.17 ERA and a 4.23 xFIP. If we’re looking at xFIP to judge how he would do going forward, that’s slightly lower than Justin Wilson’s 4.13 xFIP.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.