Expect the Pirates to Be Active During Trade Deadline Week

The non-waiver trade deadline is at the end of this week, meaning we can expect a ton of trade rumors, and probably some action from the Pirates this week leading up to the deadline. The Pirates have already made their first move, landing Aramis Ramirez last week in exchange for Yhonathan Barrios. Don’t expect them to stop at that one move.

“We’re exploring basically everything, and trying to find what the acquisition costs are, in our mind, both on the field from a production standpoint but also being sensitive to the clubhouse and what move X or Y would do to our expected production as well as the intangibles,” Neal Huntington said on Sunday.

The Pirates have already been rumored to be going after a relief pitcher, which makes a lot of sense. Their bullpen has been fantastic in the late innings, and Jared Hughes has done well in the seventh inning. But they need one more consistent middle reliever to really put their pitching staff over the top.

“There’s a reason why the Royals advanced as far as they did last year – they played 6 inning games,” Huntington said. “When they got ahead and the 6th inning rolled around, you’re going to have an awfully hard time scoring against them unless you can get into extra innings. There is a benefit to that.”

The Pirates are set up well to do just that. They’ve got one of the best rotations in baseball, and two of the best late inning guys in Mark Melancon and Tony Watson. Hughes has been solid, and if they can add one more key reliever, they could bridge the gap every night from their rotation to Watson and Melancon.

“As we get close to the deadline, there are more teams that tend to realize that maybe the math is working against them. There are some teams that are realizing that the math isn’t working in their favor but not against them. There are some teams that realize that the math is working in their favor. We’re experiencing that. We’d still like to add to this club. We shored up what we felt was our biggest soft spot, but that doesn’t mean we are done. We will continue to look. It just gives us some versatility and flexibility to find where we think the match or next best fit is.”

Last year the Pirates tried to make deals at the deadline, offering up prospects in return. Other teams ended up looking for MLB-ready talent, and the Pirates were left without a trade. As I wrote last night, they’ve got the prospect depth to make some trades this year. Huntington noted that there are some teams looking for such returns.

“It’s case-by-case, there are still clubs looking for ready or near-ready major league talent in return for their players, and there are other clubs looking for the best available prospect, and they will take a shot at the ceiling vs. taking a shot at the lesser ceiling prospect that is closer to the big leagues,” Huntington said. “It’s more case-by-case. I don’t know if we are going to see the same major-league for major-league talent we saw of late, but I didn’t anticipate it a year ago. But there were still a level of prospect for major leaguer deals on the table that didn’t come into fruition.”

The Pirates already dealt one prospect in the Ramirez trade, sending out hard throwing right-handed pitcher Yhonathan Barrios. He’s a Grade C pitcher, so the return wasn’t big, but it does create an interesting scenario.

“Five years from now, Barrios might be pitching in some meaningful games for the Brewers, Aramis Ramirez will be in year four or five of retirement, and some of you might be questioning the move that we made at that time,” Huntington said. “The big thing for us is the balance of short-term need and impact compared to our goal of remaining competitive as many years as we can in the future.”

I don’t know if anyone will question this move in five years, but I also don’t think anyone should be questioning this move. The Pirates have plenty of relievers like Barrios in the upper levels of their minor league system, although he was one of the more promising hard throwers. Still, they had an immediate need on a contending team, and traded a lower grade prospect that they won’t miss to fill that need. This is the type of trade you make every time.

The interesting thing will be if the Pirates deal someone graded higher than Barrios, or deal someone who might have been in the future plans for the organization. That might lead to some long-term questions. But if they deal the right prospects, then they could avoid those questions, as they’d already have players in place at the major league level for those exact same positions.

Other Pirates Notes

**Last week I wrote about how the Pirates might have found the new Cuban market when they signed Jung-ho Kang out of the KBO. Huntington was asked on Sunday how the Kang signing might impact future scouting of the Korean league.

“When we signed him, we believed that he was a regular player – we just weren’t sure where and weren’t sure when,” Huntington said. “He’s come over here and done everything we could’ve asked of him on the field and off the field. If anything, it’s kind of solidified our belief that the better players over there can probably play over here. There is still a lot more that goes into it, and Kang deserves a lot of the credit behind the scenes for how hard he has worked to become a part of this team and how hard he’s work to become comfortable in American culture and American baseball. This young man has done a ton of really good things behind the scenes as well as what he’s done on the field.”

  • I’m just tingly with anticipation waiting for Neal to announce the blockbuster signings of Joe Blanton and Joe Thornton.

  • Clippard and Victorino go off the board. Clippard would have worked for us as a middle reliever. There are others, however.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 27, 2015 2:55 pm

    Okay, I think most would agree that the Pirates need a LH and a RH reliever, to provide upgrades over Bastardo and Worley/Caminero/Guerra….

    TB has 3-4 very good relievers and look to be fading in the playoffs race…they also need position players who can hit. Personally, I like Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger the most of the ones they have – both are very good and will not come cheaply. Neither would be a rental. They each have 1-2 years left of control, maybe more.

    Last year, the orioles traded Eduardo Rodrigues, a very good young pitching prospect for 2 months of Andrew Miller. Miller was a rental, and most people would say he is better than either Boxberger or McGee.

    So, to get Boxberger and McGee, what would be a reasonable asking price that both teams could live with. How about Hanson, Barrett Barnes, and Jose Tabata?

    We still have Gift, Frazier, and Moroff as middle infielders in AA and AAA, and the system is loaded with outfielders to replace Tabata and Barnes.

  • How about this one? Gregory Polanco for David Price.

    • Enough with the silly comments

      • Which team would consider that silly?

        • The fact that you asked that question tells me you are prob a yinzer. Lol. C’mon man, I know your pulling my chain.

          • Nope. The #10 prospect in all of baseball in 2014 for a two-month rental player from a team that is out of contention. That’s more than the Reds just got for Cueto.

  • I’m stuck in MD, too, and I would do this deal if you extract McGuire.
    Throw in Ground Chuck and one of our failing relievers–Guerra or Archi–and withdraw another prospect.

  • I’d like to see Holdzkom brought up, to see if he’s ready before any big deal is made. He’s capable of being dominant.
    I’d consider a starter too, but I’d also be interested in seeing Liz get a change at a start or two… even if that’s in September.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 27, 2015 12:46 pm

    How about this revised trade…

    Alen Hanson, Reese McGuire, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez for Brian Boxberger, James Loney, and Jake McGee.

    • Still trying to give away 2 or our top prospects I see… You funny BFSM. I would imagine based on recent relief pitcher values one of Hanson or McGuire plus a B level prospect could get McGee and Boxberger. That’s if they are even available.

  • We need a pitcher, not a belly itcher. At the very least a solid middle reliever. Even better would be a mid relief guy and another rotation arm. Best case would be mid relief, starter and first base upgrade. Any of these would be fine with me with the chances of a deep run improving. I don’t really care what the cards do, they have got to have a decline from somebody , it’s just not natural to have every move they make work out.

    • Huntington’s remarks about the Royals pen are encouraging…makes me think he really is going to take this bullpen seriously and make the needed additions. Holdzkom is, probably, one of those. That gives you a 7th inning arm to pair with Hughes. Now get another 8th/9th inning man to pair/cover Watson/Melancon who cannot pitch every single day.

  • Doing a little catching up before lunch, I see the Cards were in talks with the Brewers for Lind. Gotta hope that falls thru..
    Pleading ignorance but what determines a Class C project. And are Class C hitters and pitchers of equal value?

    • Bobby….I suggest going thru the archives if you have time. Tim has written a few (very good) articles on that.


    • A/B/C prospect ratings amount to subjectively classifying subjectively scouted prospects. Good for very little other than easy to understand descriptions for articles like these.

      C prospects are generally grouped into guys who project to be bench players/relievers and guys with tools but are too young/inexperienced to accurately project.

      B prospects are basically average big leaguers.

      A prospects are stars.

      And the questions going through your head right now about all the nuanced outcomes in between those simple descriptions are exactly why A/B/C grading is pretty worthless.

      • A = 60-65
        B = 50
        C = 40

        Does that seem correct?

        • Close enough for me.

          I prefer the number system because it (should) be the result of cumulative tool grading. Removes, or at least attempts to remove, that last subjective step of overall grading. Also allows for more play at the upper and lower ends.

  • I am still watching Dilson Herrera. While I loved the Byrd move and it worked out, I HATE seeing him in a Met uni.

    • I really am not that concerned about Herrera. He hit for a .881 OPS in AAA, but in the VERY hitter friendly PCL…I think Hanson would easily put up a very similar OPS in the PCL. We won’t get to keep every prospect and Hanson and Herrera would be competing for the same position now that Hanson has moved.

    • I think he ended up getting optioned back to AAA. I feel like the mets rushed him a little to quickly.

  • aj burnett looks like he could fade, maybe look for a starter with some control yrs,or promote your 3rd best pitcher in the organization. from AA

    • Was just talking abut AJ with a friend last night…the results haven’t been there these 2 starts…but there’s still been things to like. Instead of fading, we were discussing how he has almost seemed TOO amped when a man gets on base, like a rookie, and is trying to do more than what’s been working as his career keeps ticking away…this behavior is starting to make me wonder if he’s subconsciously debating retirement…
      Of course, all is just a guess, but makes for fun conversation.

  • No one wants tabata and we don’t need to give up the future even if we still have prospects to trade. Look at the rule 5 guys instead of these players.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 27, 2015 10:54 am

    How about this trade…

    Alen Hanson, Reese McGuire, Jose Tabata, Barrett Barnes, and Max Moroff for Brian Boxberger and Jake McGee

    • I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no way the Pirates give up 4 of their top 20 prospects (2 from top 5) for 1 elite reliever (McGee) and an above average at best reliever (Boxberger). Even if the Rays took on Tabata.

      • Along with that, that trade causes issues with middle IF depth. You still have Kang-Mercer-Harrison, but lacking depth behind it and (this year helps point out) depth helps in case of injury. If that pushes them to keep Walker around, thats a mistake.

    • No way do I make that trade. That’s a fleecing. There are 2 top 100 prospects in that proposal. The only way Hanson and McGuire are included in the same deal is if it’s for Hamels. I wouldn’t even deal both for Price or Samardjiza.

      • Especially not both your depth middle infielders in Hanson AND Moroff. What sense does that make?!

    • That is a ridiculous amount of value. You’re giving up way too much.

    • Remind me to recruit you if I am ever in a fantasy league again.

      I’d LOVE to make trades with you.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      July 27, 2015 12:43 pm

      Okay, what if we pull back Moroff out of this deal, but leave the other 4 in?

      BTW, McGuire and Hanson will not likely get you Hamels….

      • BFS: Why not all 5 for Boxberger? Or, why not go low ball on Box and McGee and settle on Steve Geltz who is probably better than Boxberger, with stats possibly as good as McGee?

        Are we supposed to be looking for Middle Relief? Of the MR there are some folks out there who are going to be FA’s after this season – why not start there? Of teams with no future – Mark Lowe of Seattle or Tyler Clippard of Oakland. Another guy to look at from Seattle who would not be a FA is Carson Smith. Has Cleveland mailed it in yet? Would Zach McCallister be available?

    • Is Brian Boxberger any good? I know his brother Brad was an allstar!

    • No way they trade Hanson and/or McGuire for a reliever of any kind imo

      Nor should they.