Over the weekend there was a rumor that connected the Pirates to Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers. Moreland is expected to make $5.6 M in his final year of arbitration, and would be a good upgrade for the Pirates at first base, providing defense and potentially following up strong on his 2.1 WAR season last year.

Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News says that the Pirates and Rangers are expected to meet today, with the Rangers looking to get a better feel for how serious the Pirates are about Moreland. Grant says that previous conversations had the Pirates looking for a three-way deal than something straight up. It’s impossible to say for sure why they could have been looking for such a trade, but the easy speculation would be that the Rangers are looking for something the Pirates don’t have. The Pirates have been comfortable trading prospects, so it’s possible the Rangers are looking for MLB talent instead.

Grant does mention Charlie Morton in his own speculation, although I’ll repeat that this was just speculation. It might point to the idea that the Rangers are looking for MLB talent though.

UPDATE 2:27 PM: Chris Cotillo has some updates that lead to the MLB-for-MLB theory:

That lines up with Grant’s earlier speculation about Morton. It would solve the Pirates’ needs at first base, but create another hole in the rotation, with just Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, and Jeff Locke in the mix. While there probably wouldn’t be a huge outcry for the loss of Morton, that would overlook the fact that he has performed like a strong number four starter, and would be a good option until the prospects arrived.

UPDATE 5:29 PM: TR Sullivan says that the Rangers are interested in Elias Diaz.

That would be a big overpay for Moreland, although this could be unrelated to Moreland, since the Rangers are looking for catching. It could also be as a part of a bigger deal if the teams try to combine all of the talks. Trading Diaz would only make sense if the Pirates were able to extend Francisco Cervelli, as Diaz is next in line to take over the starting catching duties when Cervelli becomes a free agent next year.

UPDATE 5:57 PM: Sullivan updates that the Pirates aren’t motivated to move Diaz.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. If the Pirates could get Moreland with Morton as the centerpiece of the trade…I would do an Antonio Brown front flip

  2. Food for thought on the irrational hate for Locke and Morton. There were 140 SPs with 90 IP or more last year. Here are the stats with rankings via Fangraphs:
    ERA FIP xFIP WAR
    Cole 8 3 17 9
    Liriano 34 23 16 23
    Locke 106 68 67 85
    Morton 121 91 55 110

    Cole: true #1.
    Liriano: lower level #1.
    Locke: FIP/xFIP upper #3, WAR lower #3
    Morton: upper #4.

    It’s easy to hate on Locke and Morton if you aren’t familiar with the quality of pitching in MLB. In all actuality one of Locke and Morton’s biggest problems last year was the defense behind them. The Pirates actually could do a lot worse than Locke and Morton. Just look around all 30 teams rosters.

    • A little confusing, but I am old. Locke has been a solid #4/5 or better over the past 3 years while making minimum salary. Morton was signed for #3 money (at the time) and based on his performance in the second half of 2013 we all expected him to achieve #2/3. Instead he has been a #4.

      It is a contract year for CM and I expect him to look like 2013 again, and that we will not have to worry about the Rotation except for a #5. I am fired up to see if Jeff Locke will continue to gain velocity in 2016.

    • Nay, its easy to hate on Morton and Locke if you’ve watched them. I’d happily be the guy to drive Morton to the airport.

      • I’ll pay for the gas and share the driving with you. I never felt confident when either took the mound.

        They both were hugely disappointing in the back half of last season, so I assume all of the apologists think we should overlook that when evaluating them???

  3. While they both have 1-year left on contracts and Moreland is cheaper, we need a 4th pitcher (Morton) more than we need a platoon 1B (Moreland) at this point. If we trade Morton, we’ll be looking for 3 MLB caliber pitchers.

  4. While Morton struggled in 2015 I would view him as too much for Moreland. If Morton rebounded in 2016 he has an option which may be attractive given the ridiculous rate for starting pitchers.

  5. Lol, I don’t have the massive problem with Morton that others do, but I’m sure some people would volunteer to drive him to the airport.

    It sounds like Bannister wants to keep the ball on the ground at Arlington.

    • Per Grant’s article “Morton has had two
      down years, but he’s coming off sports hernia and hip injuries”. Maybe
      Morton will have a bounceback year in 2016. He is one of my favorite Pirate players for how he’s been able to bounce back after his 2-12 season in 2010 so I’d hate to see him go. That being said, who would replace Morton in the rotation?

        • Theyd be saving 6 million by essentially replacing Moreland for Morton and a non tendered Alvarez. Cahill just signed for 4.25. Theres guys who could be a 4th/5th guy who could be had for 6-8 million.

          • Cahill aspires to be as good as Morton. That’s why he signed for $4.25 to be a middle reliever.

            It’s like Masterson vas Locke talk… If I’m signing Bat hoping for the 2013 version why not hope for 2013 Locke cause he’s been a lot better of the two since then

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