Williams: Should the Pirates Trade Marte and Rivero in a Rebuild? Not Just Yet

This week I’ve written a lot about a potential Pirates rebuild, which seems likely to take place in some fashion. Rebuild is a word that can come with many definitions. It could mean a total “blow it all up, trade every player away, and contend somewhere down the line” or it could just be a retooling where you trade a few players, and hope for a quick turnaround.

A lot of the rumors surrounding the Pirates have focused on guys who are only under contract for the next year or two. Andrew McCutchen is under control through the 2018 season. Gerrit Cole through 2019. Josh Harrison through 2020, with two of those years being option years. It seems that if the Pirates are going to be sellers, and are going for a rebuild, they will be going for more of the retooling approach, rather than blowing it all up.

I wrote on Tuesday that I felt the Pirates could turn things around quickly and put themselves in position to contend as soon as 2019. If we’re doing a comparison to the previous timeframe where they were contenders, the 2019 season could be the 2012 year where they get close, but don’t have enough. The 2020 season could be the 2013 year where they finally become contenders all year.

That raises a question: What do you do with the guys under control through the 2021 season? Do you keep them around and go for another 1-2 years of contending, hoping that you can stretch it beyond those years when those players depart? Or do you trade them now, and go for that total rebuild?

I bring up the 2021 players because there are two important players who are under team control through those seasons: Starling Marte and Felipe Rivero. Marte is arguably the best position player on the team right now when he’s at his full potential, with the chance for a 4+ WAR on an annual basis. Rivero is one of the best relievers in the majors, after having a breakout year in 2017. If the Pirates want to contend in the future, these will be two key players who can get them there.

But would it make sense to hold onto these two players for 1-2 years of rebuilding, just to keep them around for the final two years of control where the team might be contenders? Or would it make more sense to trade them now, and maximize the prospects in the system, hoping that the next contending team can all come up around the same time?

That last thing was an issue with the previous contending Pirates team. The Pirates had top prospects arriving almost every year. Andrew McCutchen was up in 2009. Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez joined him in 2010. Starling Marte arrived in 2012. Gerrit Cole in 2013. Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison became starters in 2013/14. Gregory Polanco was up in 2014. Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell were among the prospects that arrived in 2016.

It’s good to have a continuous flow of prospects arriving year after year. But when you’re building a team of prospects, this becomes an issue.

By the time Taillon and Bell arrived, Walker and Alvarez were out the door, and McCutchen was into his extension years. The Pirates had Bell to replace Alvarez, and used Harrison to replace Walker. But they found themselves with a window closing. They had younger guys like Polanco and Bell adjusting to the majors, while older guys like McCutchen and Cole were nearing free agency. They made some bad calls as far as the direction of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and had some bad luck to go with that in the form of injuries, poor performance, and suspensions. And as a result, they had three years of contending, and now find themselves sellers, hoping to build another window sooner than later.

You don’t want the same thing happening again in the future. Fortunately, a lot of the prospects in the upper levels are set to arrive at the same time.

The 2018 season could see the arrival of Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer, with the latter arriving as a starting option only if Max Moroff doesn’t hold down the second base job. Austin Meadows should finally arrive, along with several of the rotation prospects, including Clay Holmes, Nick Kingham, and the potential for Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault to stick in the majors.

The 2019 season could see the arrival of Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker, and Ke’Bryan Hayes. That might be a year too early for Hayes, and a year too late for Keller as far as predictions go. It all depends on their performance in 2018.

Those arrivals could give the Pirates three of their starting infielders, one of their starting outfielders, one of their top of the rotation starters, a few other rotation options, plus bench and bullpen options. That could be a core group to create a new window. And that doesn’t include prospects they could get back in trades this offseason, or MLB players they could sign or trade for before they are ready to contend.

But if that group isn’t ready to contend until 2020, does it make sense to keep Marte and Rivero around to join that group? Or does it make sense to trade them, and hope to add a few future impact players to that future team?

I think the Pirates could afford to wait on those decisions for a year. First of all, there’s value in waiting for both players.

Rivero was one of the best relievers in the game this past year, and there’s obviously value for an elite reliever with years of control. But there would be even more value if he could repeat his performance for another season, and show it wasn’t a one year deal. Considering his stuff, I could see him easily repeating the 2017 results.

Marte had the PED suspension, and then struggled in large part in 2017. He finally looked like his old self in September, and could use the 2018 season as a rebound year to show that he’s really back.

Both players could improve their trade values in 2018. But there’s also value to the team waiting and seeing how things go in 2018.

I mention 2020 as the potential 2013 year where the Pirates return to contending. But it’s possible they could do this in 2019. That would require some combination of the following:

**Mitch Keller showing that he’s ready for the majors by the end of the 2018 season, and making a seamless transition, similar to what Cole and Taillon did.

**Kevin Newman stepping up in 2018 to replace Jordy Mercer as a league average starter at the least.

**Either Max Moroff or Kevin Kramer replacing Josh Harrison as a league average starter at second.

**Elias Diaz showing that he could hit enough to start, even if he’s still more of a defensive-minded starter in the majors.

**Ke’Bryan Hayes having a big year in Double-A, showing that he could be ready to take over at third at some point in 2019 — combined with one of the infield prospects providing a stop-gap until he’s ready. David Freese could even combine with one of the infield prospects in this scenario, as Freese would have more value to the Pirates in this role than he would in a trade.

**Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows showing that the 2017 season was the extreme for their injuries, and that they can be somewhat healthy and productive, even if there are the inevitable injuries to come.

**Polanco and Josh Bell continuing to take strides in the majors to improve their performances.

**Jameson Taillon showing that his 2016 debut, and his 2017 season before the cancer diagnosis is what we can expect from him going forward.

**Someone from the Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams, Steven Brault, Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes, Nick Kingham, and “all of the other starting prospects” group stepping up as more than a back of the rotation starter, providing a solid number three to the combo of Taillon and Keller.

**Someone from the Edgar Santana, Dovydas Neverauskas, Nick Burdi, and “the starting prospects in the top levels who become relievers” group becoming a solid late inning option to pair with Rivero.

**Plenty of breakouts from the young prospects in West Virginia, along with consistent progress from the other guys in Altoona and Bradenton, showing that more help is on the way, and that the above players aren’t the end of the talent run for the next window.

**Plus the impact of the prospects acquired this offseason, with their potential to be ready in 2018 or 2019.

Some of the above things are easier to imagine than others. For example, I could see Keller’s situation playing out a lot easier than I could with Elias Diaz’s situation. And not all of these things need to work out in order for the Pirates to have a shot at contending in 2019.

The 2018 season is going to be a huge evaluation year. It’s going to be a huge evaluation year for the young players on the MLB club, along with the farm system taking a step back toward being one of the top systems in the majors, rather than a middle-of-the-pack group. If things go well, then it’s not hard to imagine the Pirates being buyers next offseason, hoping to build on their young talent and start the next window as early as possible.

Or, I should say, if things go well, then the Pirates SHOULD be buyers next offseason, hoping to build on their young talent and start the next window as early as possible.

And if things don’t go well in 2018? Then the 2018-19 offseason would be the time to discuss trading Marte and Rivero, and trying to maximize that next window of contention.

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.

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Pirates need to target a Catching prospect in any deal, IMO.

Jesse F

Late to the discussion and usually a quiet observer. Tim I really enjoy your articles. Nmr – wow I’ve learned much, What would be the possibility given the retool/rebuild mindset of stretching Rivero out as the lefty starter we need. I don’t know if he has beyond 2 pitches but changeup is exceptional. I would think of it as a trade for top end starter for premier lefty reliever but still have the reliever if it doesn’t work.


As a pure experiment I’d *love* to see what happened to Rivero if you stretched him back out, but the knock on him as a starter was that the stuff played down and command wasn’t actually good. Enough control to throw strikes, just not good ones.

Jesse F

Shame – lefty starters hard to come by today. Thanks Nmr!


Since the Marlins are having a fire sale the Pirates should work on getting Relamuto and Yelich for a couple of our stellar arms and Meadows. Move Cervelli, Marte, McCutchen for some minor leaguers and then pull the trigger on Cole and add Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar.


The best thing that could happen for this team in 2018-19 is Kang getting a work visa and returning to his past production. Put him at 3B and the whole team looks different.


Just for kicks – what would a package for Rivero look like either now or at the deadline?


There’s essentially been four major reliever trades in the history of the game.

Ken Giles returned Vince Velasquez and a bunch of marginal additional pieces. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/12/phillies-trade-ken-giles-astros.html

Craig Kimbrel returned Manny Margot and Javy Guerra, plus some stuff. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/11/red-sox-to-acquire-craig-kimbrel.html

Andrew Miller returned Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, plus some stuff. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/07/indians-to-acquire-andrew-miller.html

Aroldis Chapman return Gleyber Torres and Adam Warren, plus some stuff. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/07/yankees-trade-aroldis-chapman-cubs.html

The best packages (Kimbrel and Miller) were essentially a prospect ranked in the 20s plus a prospect ranked in the 50-75 range, plus some filler.

Given how folks around here having treated the potential returns for Cole and the general thought that Rivero is more valuable, it seems they may be disappointed by what the latter would actually return.


Which is why it would be silly to trade him.

Arik Florimonte

Based on Miller/ Chapman returns (more established RP but less control and less surplus value), two top 100 prospects and two other decent prospects.

Arik Florimonte

I love Rivero and no doubt we need a player like him on a contending team, but…

Rivero has 4 more years of control. He’s a super-2, projected to get $3M this year. If he stays as good as he has been, you can expect his salary to go something like $6M in 2019, $10M 2020, $12-15M* 2021.

(* this would be a record, but there’s never been an elite closer go through a 4th year of arbitration that I can find)

Every day that passes, his surplus value decreases and the risk that he is no longer elite increases. As he he has already performed as one of the best relievers in the game, there is almost no room for an increase in value. It’s true, a second year might add a little bit of perceived reliability, but it would also be burning the year with the most surplus value.

Therefore, if you aren’t going to contend until 2020, you absolutely should try to trade Rivero RIGHT NOW. (If there are no suitable offers, it would make sense to wait until July when teams might overpay)

If you aren’t going to contend until 2019, it might still make sense to deal him now, if you can get a package like what the Yankees got for 2 1/3 years of Miller (at $9M/yr) or 1/3 year of Chapman ($11M salary).

So to sum up, his surplus trade value is likely as high as it ever will be. Waiting brings risk of injury or performance falloff, guaranteed increasing salary (and therefore decreasing trade value), and only small upside in perceived value.


Cole is the only one that I’d be interested in trading as I think we could get Frazier and Andujar in the trade and back fill Cole with Brault/Holmes/Kingham/Glasnow.

I would trade Cutch but I do not think teams are valuing him properly – so I would wait until the deadline unless I was blown away

As to the others:
– Keep Harrison if we are letting rookies play like Moroff, the new Frazier, Andujar, Harrison makes the perfect back up. He could start at 2B,3B, or even LF/RF if needed
– Cervelli has no value and would be better served as a platoon with Diaz until we know what we have. Plus, Cervelli could surprise and have urgent value at the deadline
– Nova would be the only vet in the rotation, I think that is important for now – like when we had Burnett


I feel like the Pirates could trade Cole and Harrison and still compete next season. That all hinges on what kind of return they could get for those 2 players.
That being said, the McCutchen situation should say all they need to know about trying to trade players. You should never try to trade a player, for what you believe their full value is AFTER that player has a bad season. Always trade someone before they have a bad season.
Last thing I will leave you with is this, I don’t think the Pirates should ever again give out an early career extension again. Draft, develop, and keep them on the team for 4-5 years and trade them for more talent. It is not really a good way to establish a strong fanbase, but the Pirates don’t have a strong fanbase, they have a few devout followers, and a lot of people that will watch if they are winning. Therefore, winning should be the ultimate goal, not collecting young guys on “team friendly” deals.

Scott K

I see what you suggest as a formula for coming up just short. I say don’t marry yourself to any one ideology. MLB seems to take rather abrupt turns. A savvy GM is one who is ready to adapt quickly, or even better yet, before others follow suit.


The silver lining for this fo ownership group is that they’ve learned a handful of lessons the hard way and don’t repeat.


I want to see Polanco wear his glove somewhere other than his left foot.


keep marte and polanco and most of your starting rotation except for nova. also were only trading anyone if your getting a good to very good return , their no rush you still have the trading deadline for cole harrison and cutch. Rivero should be shopped and your just looking for high end talent at any level, cervelli your going to have to pick up money to move him, so not much coming back in return.keeping bell and this will be mercers last yr, also try to move freese for anything. ps just tank baby for 3 drafts to get high end talent in the top 3 picks.


The years to tank were the years 2009 and 2010. The Pirates could be good or bad thins year, if there isn’t a Strasburg or Harper that emerges, it doesn’t really matter if they tank. his is considered to be a good deep draft.


would you rather win 75 games and pick 10th or lose 95 and pick in the top 3 for 3 yrs. also put the word out that your willing to spend top dollar in latin america ,maybe you lock some pre 16 yr old players. its a rig system but you have to play the game.


This year, I am fine with the 10th pick. Last year, top 3 was ideal. Until we see how the eligible draftees fare next season, it is hard to say just tank.


it work out well for houston


Did it really? The years they tanked, I’m assuming you are referring to the 2012-2015 drafts, have netted them Correa, Appel, Aiken and Tucker. Correa is great, but signed an under-slot deal to be drafted first overall, otherwise there was talk of him going 8th to the Pirates. However, he has proven to be a great pick. Next is Appel, do I need to say anything about him? Aiken didn’t even sign, so tanking did no good at all there, unless you want to count Alex Bregman in his spot, but he is not a direct result of tanking, more something they lucked into. Kyle Tucker is their actual result of the 4th year of tanking, and he appears to be doing well in the minors, but has had zero affect on the major league roster.
The only player I can name that has played a direct role in Houston’s team that is also a direct result of their tanking in Carlos Correa
I think the bigger reason Houston has been able to rebuild the way they did is due to their TV deal.


you mean future hall of famer carlos correa, and tucker and bregman not bad either also you get more money to spend and move around ,they hit on a few 2nd round picks with the extra money. Also you get more money for international spending when your bad. Of course this a knew rule.


Counting anything other than the teams top pick should not be considered when evaluating the merits of tanking. Any other team could have drafted and signed those players as well. Tanking is only really in order to get a higher pick. Correia is great, but it is far too premature to call him a future Hall of famer, let him get out of arbitration first, maybe even get 10-15 years in the league before we have that discussion. Bregmann is good, and I gave them credit for that. Tucker is in AA, so I would withhold judgement on him until he gets some time in the majors, also, I am not sure he should be considered since he was a comp pick for not signing Brady Aiken, and they were also not tanking at the time, but actually turning the corner to being a good team.

Why do you keep avoiding the picks of Aiken and Appel, both of whom were direct results of tanking.

Overall, I would say they did well with their years of tanking, but they were far from perfect, and in 50% of their drafts, their top pick was horrible.


I didn’t count anyone after the first pick, because when you tank, it is for the better draft pick. Anyone drafted after the first pick has been passed on by multiple teams.

Carlos Correia is great, but calling him a future Hall of Fame player is a bit premature at this point. And like I said, Houston chose Correia, not because they thought he was the best player in the draft, but because they thought that he would be very good and they could sign him for less than his slot bonus and spend elsewhere in the draft.

You completely ignore the selections of Appel and Aiken, why is that? Those were both 1-1 picks, which by your thinking are the 2 guys that they tanked for. However, they both illustrate my point very well that tanking a season isn’t always the best way to go.


At this time I would guess that Marte’s value is rather low due to his suspension. Maybe another year of clean tests will help that, and of course playing well. I fear that trading any of Cole, McCutchen, Harrison, and Cervelli will be difficult but necessary, and trading of Rivero may turn out to be the easiest and most beneficial to Pirates.

Alejandro M

RIVERO, ABSOLUTELY! What does a 70 win team need a lights out dominant closer for??? You could go to the top farm systems in all of baseball and demand each of their top 3 prospects plus! That’s how valuable Felipe Rivero would be!


Wasn’t the old adage that a strong closer helped young starters acclimate


Totally agree about Rivero ! If you can get starting pitching or position players out of a closer my opinion a small marker team’s win that deal every time ! Plus the fact that Rivero will probably be gone by the team is ready to win again . Not saying to give him away but you get a good deal make it !


While he’s still under team control in 2019, 2020, 2021, he’ll be extremely valuable. If he were only around for a year or two, I’d agree, but as early as 2019, this team could be at least a fringe contender. And a fringe contender turns into a real contender when their bullpen can steal them some games.

joe s

If they were to move Rivero and Marte along with Cutch, Cole, Harrison and everyone else then to me it seems like another 20 plus years of losing. I doubt they trade anyone before the trade deadline in July.

IC Bob

Good article but it shows how far away we truly are from competing. You mentioned about 15 things that need to go right for us to contend in 2019. I also like that you mentioned we lost Alverez and Walker when Tallion and Bell came along. I would correct that and state we gave away Alverez and Walker for nothing when those two came a long. We didn’t have to but we chose to.


In fairness Tim, I think Neal saw a pitcher in Niese with double figure wins and a Lefthander in PNC. park. His scouts just left him down on Niese’s ability.

IC Bob

I would agree that Aleverz had no value but the Pirates never replace his or Walkers power and it really became a problem for the Pirates. As bad as Alverez was he had a power quotient the Pirates needed and lacked the last two years.


I just miss the ball cap over the ears….quite a unique look.

Harry B

I say, give this team one more chance. Last year they were confronted with unbelievable misfortune and poor offseason management decisions. Focus the present on building a better bench with a few veterans not named Rodriquez and straightening out the bullpen. If they don’t get off to a good start, then you can always rebuild.


Extremely well done, Tim.

No critique, but if I had an addition…

The lesson of the 2013 turnaround is as much about *outside* additions as anything else. Russ Martin, Francisco Liriano, and Mark Melancon alone added a net 10 WAR to the 2012 club for a net payroll cost of roughly $1m. An absolutely incredible job by Neal Huntington.

While a repeat performance like that can never be expected from any GM, it does highlight the value in supporting young talent with outside additions. And the 2019 Pittsburgh Baseball Club just happens to have a *massive* amount of payroll room for outside additions.

As we sit here today, the 2019 club has just $65m projected from guaranteed contracts, arbitration, and pre-arb players. Further, almost exactly *one third* of those commitments go to Francisco Cervelli and Ivan Nova, players the club should actively be looking to drop.

This is the small market sweet spot. Young pre-arb talent with limited veteran contracts. With so much cheap talent on hand, you can throw the 20% rule out the window. While the club obviously won’t be in the Machado/Harper/Kershaw market, there’s legitimately no other free agent they could not afford. Few bad contracts they couldn’t take on in exchange for better talent.

There’s simply no reason *not* to aggressively add to the 2019 next winter.


On top of which, we haven’t even considered the possibility of getting an impact player back in a trade of Cutch or Cole. Or at least a couple average players. 2018 could give the team a good idea of where they most need to add in 2019 to make the turnaround on the rebuild as fast as possible. If Newman, for example, steps up to be a solid SS, and Moroff performs like an average 2B, they know they can sink big money into 3B. If the rotation options work out, they can focus their pitching budget on the bullpen, or vice-versa. And any position player signing will necessarily bolster the bench. If they fail to get a good catcher in any trade, that’s where their money goes in free agency.

It’s not just that they’ll have money to add to the team. They’ll have a really good idea of how best to spend that money.


I genuinely said to myself at this time in each of the past two seasons that if nothing else, the club will know what they have with the players they’ve got. Then baseball happened and we all look like fools. 😉

Your plan is a good one, but I also really like what the Cards did this year. They had no *need* for an outfielder. Hell, they had too many of them. But they saw an opportunity to get a difference maker, and didn’t let position get in the way.

I think that could be instructive for the Pirates next winter, as a club who only projects to have a real black hole at one position but merely average-at best talent just about everywhere else.


You might also add that they got a power bat that plays good defense for pennies on the dollar. Hell, for what the Cards paid for him the Bucs should have jumped into the fray.

Scott K

These circumstances assure one thing, NH’s legacy as Pirates GM will rest on how he navigates this opportunity.

Hey Neal, if you’re reading this, fortune favors the bold.


I love the push!

That being said, I’ll still hold Neal in high regard for his prior work regardless of what happens moving forward.

In my opinion, he’s already shown he’s not the guy to take the next step, and that’s fine. We all have our place, and his seems to be one of organizational competency, if not Major League disappointment. I’ll be happy for him, and for Pirate fans, if he shows to have the boldness needed to take the next step. But I won’t fault him for being who he is.


I’ll admit this much: I was one of those screaming fans after Martin signed with Toronto. In hindsight, he was right as Russell Muscle has not matched his last year in Pittsburgh. That contract would have turned into Kendall II.

Scott K

That’s fair. I’m not expecting the average fan to be so reasonable.

As I recall, NH was roundly criticized for nearly every trade and signing in the early years of this decade. Few saw the genius of acquiring Burnett, Martin, and Volquez, just to name a few. No matter what moves are made, I’ll try to refrain from making a snap judgment. No guarantee I will though.

John W

Besides keller( and tinstaap) there is almost no high end talent on the farm to help in 2018/19.

We shall see how much high end talent they can acquire by trading assets.

John W

This is absolutely correct and this team needs to be very aggressive in FA next year. I mean aggressive by Pirate standards.

Giving NH until 2020 to turn this team into a true talent contender is ludicrous.

John W

The problem is they really need a lot of outside help because while they are deep in average players their farm is really weak in terms of guys who can be 4+ WAR players. Keller and Meadows has a very outside shot(due to injuries and regression in development)

In retrospect, Kevin Creagh’s 2015 piece that the Pirates farm system had peaked looks incredibly prescient. An OK farm, but his contention that at the time there were very few high end pieces and mostly complimentary guys has clearly been validated.

John W

I had no clue about any history between the two of you. But his material point at the time that most of these prospects profiles as complimentary players as opposed to stars looks on the money. Him referencing Bell as a complimentary player would have been a minority view st the time but looks accurate as if today.


“I added the policy that only people covering specific teams could write about those players”

Seems like an odd, somewhat arbitrary rule given that you still pen entries about players you have not covered (like players the Pirates acquire, for example) and also pen entries (like ‘Adrian Sampson and the Dream Rotation’) that lean heavily toward a best case scenario in spite of your coverage of those players.


I’m not Andrew Smalley. Why would you attempt to violate someone’s privacy like that?

John W

I don’t know precisely what he said. According to verify on tpop he claims not have been firmly against picking bell but having a set amount to p

He also claims to have gone on save an st the time and said not that josh bell would fail, but that he was only a 3.5 tool player which looks clearly on target

Scott K

Did you add the second paragraph of this post just to keep your reputation as #1 NH Basher intact?


That’s a great point. It would be a great start towards that if they can retool with cheaper/younger options in cole/cutch deals and have almost $40M to spend. Depending on how many holes they still have to fill, they could complement the team well.

Also with how the market is looking like some players may need to take less money, the Pirates could fill a need a year early if they are able to trade Cutch/j-hay/Cole to free up that money.


That guy would’ve been Zack Cozart for me. Alas.


Hopefully Donaldson is realistic to have a chance at signing.


Donaldson will be 33 years old next offseason. That’s exactly the type of FA the Pirates should stay away from nowadays. My comment is based on age, not cost as NMR pointed out the team can afford to invest in a big-time player.


Ha! I had him on my initial no-go list before talking myself into there being a chance, albeit extremely slim.

I’m looking at guys like Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Lucroy at catcher. Daniel Murphy and Marwin Gonzalez on the infield, maybe Logan Forsythe. See what Michael Brantley and AJ Pollock look like when healthy this year. Plus a whole slew of pitching.

Tons of options with legitimate upside.


I like Grandal, plus he will only be 30 next offseason. Nice power for the position.


I would be all about signing Grandal. I think he’s a top-5 catcher in baseball, and for some reason doesn’t get billed as such.


Seems like that might be a matter of *nobody* really knowing who the Top 5 catchers in the game today are at any given time.

Grandal’s never had the star-level performance to make himself stand out, just steady above-average production for the past three years. Something that very few catchers have provided.


True. Though 2015 and 2016 he was a pretty excellent hitter on top of the great defense, and I think a lot of his value is hidden from metrics. The only catchers I would definitely rank ahead of him right now are Posey (obviously) and Realmuto. Martin and Molina are likely going to regress moving forward, Sal Perez gets good billing, but he’s basically just less-good Grandal across the board, Gary Sanchez is really bad defensively, and everyone else has far less track record or consistency than Grandal.

Basically, I agree, no one really knows who the top five catchers are, but I think there are three or four guys who are definitely in the conversation, and I think he’s one of them.

Scott K

Based on how Martin immediately impacted the franchise, NH needs to absolutely get the Catcher position right. All three you mentioned have potential to be the next Martin. Hope NH gets lightening to strike twice.


I **think** he’s a FA and probably a bargain and WV’s favorite son Jed Gyorko is more realistic and comes with warts – would free up money to go after a bigger fish at another position yeah it sb catcher. Not sure how I feel about Lucroy mixed on giving him bank. I like Grandal.


I don’t think you “shop”’ either this offseason. But at the deadline if the Pirates aren’t contending (which I’m assuming most people right now would think that’s the case) and a contender comes and offers a top level talent for Rivero I believe you listen. For example if Houston has a package around Tucker or the Dodgers around Buehler than I listen.

As for Marte I think you don’t even listen until next year’s winter meetings. If the Pirates still aren’t ready to really contend and you get an an Adam Eaton offer from whoever loses out on Harper you take it.

However, If the Pirates are ready to compete I think you keep him.

Bill W

TV contract comes up in 2019– If this franchise is not competitive the fans will stay away both on campus and in their respective living rooms. So they can trade every last warm body but when someone wants to ” see the eyeballs” to base a TV contact on you better be prepared to not receive anything what has been given the last 5 years with other teams. COMPETE!


In 2014, the Seattle Mariners signed the 5th richest TV deal in baseball following 90-loss seasons in three of the previous four years.

In 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies signed the 7th richest TV deal in baseball following a 99-loss season and five years without breaking .500.

In 2013, the Houston Astros signed the 8th richest TV deal in baseball following consecutive 100-loss campaigns and six straight years of finishing 3rd or worse in their Division.

I don’t profess to have an intricate understanding of these negotiations, but there sure as hell seems to be an incredible amount of evidence pointing toward market size, not team record, driving the value of TV deals.

I don’t see why this should be a factor in the direction the team takes, nor do I really see what leverage the Pirates have regardless of team quality.

Bill W

Seattle #14 , Houston #8 , Philadelphia #3 &#8 212;&#8 211;Pittsburgh # 23 and shrinking&#8 212; It is all measured by eyeballs&#8 211;who is watching what&#8 211; The size of the Pittsburgh market could be substantially hurt by poor performing teams. Look at the last time they did their contract&#8 211; it was the worst in baseball. It was completed in 2010&#8 211;The record was terrible. If you think the Pittsburgh market is like the three mentioned that does not fly.

Scott K

Two different players with two different answers for me.

Marte should not be included in any trade discussions before 2019 season is completed. He is one of few position players who should provide significant surplus value in next couple seasons. If Pirates hope to have a new window of success, Marte returning to a 4+ WAR player is integral to making this happen.

Rivero, for as good as he is, has a skill set much easier to replace. In addition, contenders routinely lose perspective at trade deadline with top notch Closers. As such, if Pirates are able to acquire a true difference making prospect(s) this July, I’d be in favor of dealing Rivero. Unless they are in contention, then I’d like to think Pirates would be buyers.


I think Rivero is an All Star quality player. You create a winning playoff caliber team by obtaining and retaining All Star quality players at every position. Keep Rivero for as long as you can!

Scott K

I would agree with you, except Closer position offers a unique opportunity for acquisition of top tier prospect talent at trade deadline.

Furthermore, Pirates have had success identifying successful Closers in past, and seem to have numerous potential replacements for Rivero in coming year. Santana, Burdi, Holmes, and possibly Glasnow, come immediately to mind.


Rivero, was more than just a “closer” last year. He was pitching 2 innings when he first took over, something that was very surprising from Hurdles standpoint.


How many of those alternatives can throw 101 MPH and have a four pitch mix? ……none. They can place fill as a closer, but they don’t actually replace Rivero.


How Nova comes out of the gate is huge. A big rebound can make Nova a valuable chip trade chip to further add to the rebuild/tool. He’s also critical if the turnaround progresses faster than expected and 2019 looks salvageable. Within the group of backend starters I think the ability to make a few of those guys into good and excellent relievers is just as important. It might give more incentive to trade Rivero to add the infielder or catcher they need.


I would not trade either yet and evaluate what we get in return for Cole, Harrison, McCutchen andhopefully Cervelli. Do you see them 4 being in a bucco uniform next season?

Scott K

I’d venture the most likely one’s to be on 2018 opening day roster are Cutch and Cervelli.

I think Cole and JHay have enough suitors for one team to meet Pirates demands for these two players.

Just one man’s opinion.


I think much more than just one man’s opinion. The Pirates need to figure out in their minds what the future holds and what trading 2 solid, but short-term performers, for 3 or 4 long term VG prospects who can fill some holes in the lineup and provide solid building blocks for the future

Marte – just look at the numbers from last year and explain how he is worth $7.5 mil. He was progressing to where an expectation of 20 HR/season was possible – then the PED issue. How can he be trusted as a leader on this team? Is the real Marte what we saw a few years ago, or is he the shell of a player we saw last year? Can the Pirates afford to gamble with him? I think he has 2 more years on his contract – 2/$17.5 mil and then a few option years. If the Pirates do not pick up his $11.5 mil option in 2020 he gets $2 mil as a buyout.

Michael Sanders

Hamilton was a leader on the Rangers. People rebound, learn from their mistakes and move forward. Marte can do the same.


Marte was still close to a 3.0 WAR player last even with the suspension and distraction and slump the first 3 weeks he was back. He was great in Sept and there is no reason to believe he won’t be a gold glove level, .280 hitter with 15 HR and 30 SB in 2018. I know people want more from him but he’s a 5 WAR player without hitting 20+ HR…and also he has an incredibly team friendly deal.

IC Bob

You cant just give up on Marte because he was injured/PEDs and had a bad year. Additionally the Pirates don’t have anything to replace him with. you seem to like Frazier for the Yanks but that guy couldn’t bat 260 in the minors and has never hit more than 20 HRs in any season. Looking at his stats I see why the Yanks can’t wait to trade him (-.04) WAR with Yanks last year. There comes a time you have to trust some of the guys you have. In Marte I trust he will have a good year. Will he hit 20 bombs? I doubt it but he may steal 50-60 bases hit 300 play Golf Glove OF. That’s plenty good enough to be this teams MVP and you don’t trade that after one bad season.

Scott K

Have to hope last year was nothing more than a lost year for Marte. If he doesn’t bounce back, then Pirates are screwed.

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