The Latest Rumors Treat the Pirates Like Sellers, But Those Plans Could Be Out-Dated

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.

  • I do believe Yu Darvish would be a good pick up and being a rental hopefully shouldn’t be that pricey.

  • I really don’t understand the strong hold on Cole. They need to bring up Glasnow now and see if he can be consistent to stabilize the rotation if Cole were to be sold. Cole would bring us quite a return and, to be honest, he is not consistent enough nor is he likely to stay around much longer anyway. The combination of years of control and upside could really bolster our farm and major league system. That however, hinges on one of our pitching prospects performing (preferably the one who dominates AAA but, can’t get his act together in the bigs).

  • Don’t think the Pirates need any position players nor any starting pitchers at the moment. But, they seem to have need for a few more reliable late inning pitchers. That’s what I’d like to see them pick up before anything else.

    • I agree Candy. Stand pat unless you can pick up a BP arm for a prospect or two. Preferably controlled beyond this year.

  • Guess it’s time to dream. Fix along the margins. Be a seller and buyer but don’t give everybody away.

  • Just can’t see the Pirates selling off now. Hard to even think they wouldn’t keep Cutch for his option. May not get to the post season in 17 but I like how this team is evolving for next season.

  • Samardzija if the Giants will eat some of that contract.

  • If they could somehow trade Jaso or Freese while still improving their roster this year that wo Iuld be ideal. The way this team has played this pack month it would make a mistake to outright sell.

    • Freese is not bad to have as a backup. His D is good and he is fairly cheap.

      Jaso, on the other hand… they may have missed their chance to deal him. wOBA by month: 42, 107, 170, 10

      • I was just thinking if some team would be dumb enough to take them. The infield bench ou’d the most obvious upgrade I can see.

      • I love both guys but was just thinking about possible upgrades . Jaso is hit or miss, agreed

  • Verlander. Don’t ask for money from DET.

    • Ben, do you pay attention to this team? No way they are adding his payroll. Based upon thier self imposed cap I doubt they will be able to afford everyone under contract next year and bring back Cutch.

    • That is like 70+ mil for 3 years of a declining pitcher. No thanks.

    • Verlander $ 28 mil this year, $ 28 mil cap hit. Seriously ???

  • Darkstone42
    July 20, 2017 5:46 pm

    If they’re looking for a pure rental at 3B, Josh Donaldson would be the clear best. He’d be expensive by merit of being a really good ball player, but perhaps that cost would be offset a bit by his contract expiring this year. He would improve the infield defense and add a right-handed power bat to the everyday lineup.

    If they want a multiyear option, they’d pretty much have to turn to 2B, as far as I can tell. If the Orioles are serious about selling, I’d ask them about Jonathan Schoop. He’s in his first year of arbitration this year, so he’d be expensive, but he’d lock down the position through 2019. Jed Lowrie would also be an interesting target, since we’d have him for next year, too, at a good price. (And obviously Neil Walker is out there.)

    EDIT: Donaldson would not be a rental. Apparently he’s under control next season, too, according to MLBTR. Fangraphs only has him signed through this season. I don’t know who to trust!

    • Donaldson is in his last year of arbitration next year. Making $17M this year.

      • Darkstone42
        July 20, 2017 7:26 pm

        Weird, then, that Fangraphs had him listed on a two-year contract. I assumed the Blue Jays had just bought out the last two years of arbitration when I saw that.

        Actually, that’s exactly what Fangraphs says happened. One year of arbitration in 2015, then the Jays signed him to a two-year extension in 2016, which expires this year. So is he a Super Two player, with a fourth year of arbitration the Blue Jays didn’t bother to buy out when they signed his extension?

        • as far as I can tell, they signed him for two years before 2016, buying out two years of arbitration but leaving one, which is weird.

          • Darkstone42
            July 20, 2017 7:35 pm

            He made $4.3MM in 2015, listed as arbitration (player lost), after three seasons of pre-arb league minimum. So if they bought out two arbitration years, after he had one year of arbitration money, the only way he has another year of arbitration is if he’s a Super Two.

            And if that’s the case, yeah, super weird on the Blue Jays’ part leaving one year not bought out.

            EDIT: He is a super two. I just found it.

    • Spotrac seems to figure out situations as they go they listed Alydmys Diaz as a FA and later figured out he was arb eligible but his situation is a little out of the ordinary. Sorry to inadvertently start a Neil Walker rumor.

  • I don’t remember. What was their record last year when they traded Melanceon? How far behind were they in the WC race?

  • Going back to the top 50 from yesterday the pirates are loaded with the level of prospects that they would get for Watson – hoping he can turn it around is probably worth far more than more of the same type of prospect. If they’re dumping his salary and Freeses salary to make way for Addison Reed and Neil Walker fine.

    • Is Reed-and-Walker a thing you’re hearing? I kind of like that idea. Does Neil play 3rd or 2nd if he comes back?

      • 2b Harrison at 3. I made it up but it shouldn’t be unrealistic it will require a handful but no one more high profile than Will Craig. No guarantee Walker can come back

    • Are the Mets shopping Walker and Reed?

      • I made it up but like it because Walker is far higher upside than Jed Lowrie. Addison Reed is great but they could find a more creative cheaper pen option. I’m not real sure the pirates have the budget to swing that might take them $3m over sadly it’s down to that. Walker is hurt so the Mets should pick up his salary until he’s off the dl.

        • I just saw MLBTR had reed as their #2 trade candidate. If like to see him or Neshek to bolster the pen.

  • What do you guys think about moving Watson and letttng Brault take his place? Is asking Brault to become a reliever this far into the season too much to ask?

    Is the “Osuna at third” thing something that can happen this year?

  • buccobrach2
    July 20, 2017 4:35 pm

    I would love for the pirates to give a kings ransom for trout. Clear out our prospects and go for it this year. Give the angels cutch, meadows,Keller, baz, Newman, Diaz, glasnow and gerrit Cole. I want to win a world series now.

    • You must be an angles fan.

    • There’s no way Angels are trading Trout anyway

    • Bridgevillebuck
      July 20, 2017 8:24 pm

      Ok, the Angels (Angles) have Trout, but where are they at?? Pitching (recently)has got the Bucs to where they’re at, which is still only .500. WS let alone the playoffs is still a stretch right now.

      • buccobrach2
        July 20, 2017 9:02 pm

        We have the pitching…its coming around and needs to be utilized properly….we have taillon,nova, kuhl,Williams, and brault. I would feel good about that rotation as long as nobody gets hurt. We could hopefully trade freeze and jaso for prospects then flip them for another decent starter. I know it’s not well thought out.

    • buccobrach2
      July 20, 2017 8:56 pm

      It was a joke….it would never happen unless I was gm. How many prospects will really pan out anyway. I say take Cole train off the trout deal and trade him for bregman.

    • I hope Trout can pitch under this scenario

    • No. Just no. The Angels would undoubtedly say yes to that offer but the sum of those players has more value than Trout. I do understand how good Mike Trout is but that would be an awful trade.

      • buccobrach2
        July 21, 2017 1:50 pm

        As come on guys….dont tell me a line up of

        Marte
        Jahay
        Trout
        Bell
        Bregman
        Polanco
        Cervelli
        Mercer

        9 out of 10 times prospects do not work out or take longer to develop than expected. If the brass made these moves I would not be upset at all. They tried to get us a world series. If it didn’t work out at least they tried. Believe me I want this team to succeed as is but they are too streaky….we all know that

    • Ha ha ha ha……

    • So Trout gives us a better chance of winning than having Cole and Cutch on the team does? Unlikely.

    • and we get to pick up trouts contract .wow what a deal for the angels.

  • Given the weak market for outfielders – the return for Martinez was pretty bad – it’s unlikely the return for Cutch would have been good. Getting the Bucs to .500 and seeing Meadows slow to develop has made the decision an easy one.

    • lets not forget- we get to the playoffs- no marte again

      • That will be a nice problem to have, it that materializes. Let’s worry about crossing that bridge if/when we get to it.

        • can’t- the fact remains that if we aren’t sellers, we HAVE to be buyers, and if we are buyers, we need at least one outfielder. We aren’t going to give up getting good returns for our players, just to have a mediocre chance of getting to and getting swept in the first round against someone like LA

  • Jonah Simon
    July 20, 2017 4:14 pm

    Need to buy and sell. Sell Watson, Jaso, and Nicasio. Try and upgrade SP/BP/3B with controllable players. Keep Cole, McCutchen, Harrison unless a monster offer comes. Gives us the best chance to win both THIS year and the years to come.

    • piraterican21
      July 20, 2017 5:08 pm

      Bring back NFW?

      • Joe Nastasi
        July 20, 2017 8:24 pm

        He was abysmal in playoffs. Guys who perform that bad in playoffs don’t typically turn it around.

    • Seems to make some sense

    • If you’re looking to upgrade the pen, why trade Nicasio?

    • If you are making a run, you can’t trade Watson AND nicasio.

      • I disagree. I feel that a Brault, Santana, Kuhl (if we trade for a rotation piece) could suffice.

        • That’s delusional, to say the least. Brault is not a relief pitcher, and his time in the big leagues has been brief and unsuccessful. Santana has had a cup of coffee, but is not ready for high leverage situations. Why would you want to remove Kuhl from the starting rotation when he now has shown signs of turning a corner?

          • Long term, id agree Brault shouldn’t be in the pen. However, the kid could easily ramp it up to 95-97 with one inning of work. I’d only want to remove Kuhl if we got a clear upgrade over him. Like Brault, could be a weapon in the pen come October.

            • No, I think that you are barking up the wrong tree. This team has fought their way back into the post season picture. They need to pick up a bat for third base, and perhaps tweak the bull pen. I would not make a bunch of wholesale changes and put players, especially young and unproven ones, into new roles.

              • Jonah Simon
                July 21, 2017 6:18 pm

                Agreed on 3B. The rotation/offense and Rivero have been the ones to bring us back. Trading Watson/Nicasio and swapping them out for young, controllable talent does not come with much risk. Let’s not act like we are in first place. We need to add talent that can help us compete both now and the future. As a small market team, we can’t afford to lose them for nothing

        • you may “feel” that, but you have no emperical data that even hints at that being a reality.

  • how about brandon phillips he could spell the infield and probably not too pricey
    cincinnati did ante up most of his contract

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