We’ve been busy the last few days wrapping up our mid-season top 50 rankings, and during that time, the trade rumor mill has started to heat up. Of course, the Pirates have also swept the Brewers in four games, pulling themselves up to .500, and just three games back in the NL Central. So it’s hard to say what they will be doing at the deadline. However, here are the latest rumors from the last few days.
**Jon Heyman of FanRagSports talked with someone in the organization who said that Andrew McCutchen is unlikely to be traded, and Gerrit Cole is less likely. That’s not a surprise with Cole. Despite the constant mentioning of Cole’s name, he’s never really been on the block. Instead, it’s one of those classic trade deadline dream scenarios where you imagine a team getting a huge haul in prospects if they did want to trade him. By imagining that over and over, it becomes a situation where you start to believe the only thing holding the Pirates back from making the move is that they just haven’t made Cole available. The reality is they’re not shopping him, and getting a massive haul isn’t as easy as changing their mind on the subject.
As for McCutchen, I’m only a bit surprised he won’t be traded. The Pirates can keep him the rest of the year, take a gamble that he continues his current production, and try to trade him in the offseason for a similar value. That allows them to contend this year, while still getting a good return on him. The downside is that if he struggles the final two months, they pretty much lose all trade value during the offseason.
**Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that the Red Sox have explored David Freese and Josh Harrison as options for third base. He says that Freese could be had, and it would take a lot more to get Harrison. Keep in mind that we don’t know if the Pirates would shop either of them, considering their lack of third base options, and their current place in the standings. Keep in mind that the article from Cafardo was loaded with options from all teams, so it sounds like the Red Sox are just doing due diligence.
Travis Barnett broke down the trade values last week, noting that Harrison would be worth $23-61 M, depending on how much you buy into his 2017 results, and Freese would be at $6-25 M. So it does make sense that Harrison would cost more, since his optimistic value would match Harrison’s conservative value.
**Tony Watson is going to draw some interest, and has been connected to two teams recently. Jon Morosi says that the Nationals have been in contact with a few teams on relievers, including the Pirates with Watson. I wonder if they have another Felipe Rivero laying around? Ken Rosenthal also says the Rays are looking at Watson as part of a “deep list.”
I could see a Watson trade being more likely than any other player, regardless of the standings, as the Pirates aren’t currently relying on Watson. They could take an approach similar to last year, trading from the bullpen, while also adding in other areas.