Williams: What Prospects Do the Pirates Have For Starting Roles in a Rebuild?

At this point it looks like the Pirates will definitely be trading Gerrit Cole this offseason. That would most likely happen with a trade to the Yankees, although the Pirates are talking to other teams.

If/when Cole gets traded, I think the Pirates should follow that up with trades of a few other players who are under control through the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Guys like Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison, and Francisco Cervelli should follow Cole, as the Pirates won’t be competing without Cole on the roster, and have no use in keeping those players around. We’ve already heard trade rumors that the Pirates would deal any of those three players.

There have been questions about who would play for the Pirates after a Cole trade, or after any other trades. I really don’t think that question matters for 2018, and maybe not even for 2019, since the Pirates would be in a rebuild. They could have their younger pitchers stepping in for Cole, and have younger players stepping in for other players who were traded.

In the long-term, the Pirates do have some eventual replacements for guys they could trade away. Let’s take a look at those options for each position.

The Rotation

Cole is currently the top of the Pirates’ rotation, paired with Jameson Taillon. The Pirates also have plenty of rotation depth for the final three spots. If Cole and Taillon were on their game at the same time, the Pirates would have a strong rotation.

The Pirates will need a top of the rotation guy to step up and replace Cole. Fortunately, they have that guy in Mitch Keller, who is one of the best prospects in baseball, and who looks like he could be ready by the end of 2018 at the earliest, or 2019 with a little more time. Keller is about as safe as you can get for a top of the rotation prospect. There aren’t any big concerns or obstacles to overcome like there have been for Tyler Glasnow. He’s more like Taillon and Cole in terms of his potential to step in and be effective in the majors right away.

The hope is that Glasnow would also get things figured out and add a third piece to the future Taillon/Keller combo. The Pirates have Shane Baz as another potential top of the rotation guy, but he wouldn’t be ready in the next few years, and would likely be a future replacement for Taillon. The same could be said for the many young prep pitchers in the lower levels, if any of them break out in the next few years.

Then there’s the chance that the Pirates could add a rotation piece in one of the trades, although I think the best they can hope for is a good number three starter behind Taillon and Keller, rather than a future top of the rotation guy.

The Outfield

The Pirates have their eventual replacement for Andrew McCutchen, and his name is Austin Meadows. But there are questions surrounding his health and durability. The Cole discussions have largely mentioned Clint Frazier as the main piece in a potential deal. That would provide some insurance for Meadows in the event that the injuries prevent him from reaching his upside.

There should be no reason to avoid adding other outfield options until the Pirates have three established guys in the majors. There are too many question marks involved in the current outfield, and that goes beyond Meadows. Until the Pirates are in a situation where there are very few question marks from the outfield, they shouldn’t avoid adding other options. That goes for other positions as well.

The Infield

The Pirates are set with infield options in the upper levels of the minors. They have Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer ready to open the season in Indianapolis, and both could arrive in the majors by the end of the year. Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes will open in Altoona, and give two more infield options.

Right now the Pirates don’t have a third base option. They could trade Josh Harrison in a rebuild. And Jordy Mercer is in his final year of team control. They will need starters for three of their infield spots in the future. The likely starters would be Newman taking over for Mercer, Kramer taking over for Harrison, and then Hayes taking over at third. I could also see Tucker taking over for Newman eventually.

Just like the outfield, the Pirates shouldn’t avoid additional options coming back in a trade. They can’t count on three of those four prospects in the upper levels working out. And it’s not that those are the only people they’re relying on. Max Moroff could also be a starter at second base before Kramer arrives, and there are other options in the upper levels who could surprise by becoming a passable starter if all else fails. But you can never have too many options, especially when there are three spots open.

Catcher

The Pirates have the least amount of depth at catcher. Elias Diaz could be a starting option if Francisco Cervelli is traded, but Diaz is far from a guarantee right now to be a starter. It’s also not guaranteed that the Pirates could trade Cervelli and get anything in return, other than some salary relief.

There aren’t any starting options in the upper levels of the minors. There aren’t really any starting options in the lower levels, outside of a few guys who have a small chance to be passable MLB starters. The Pirates need Diaz to work out, because they have no other catcher of the future. If Diaz doesn’t work, they need to re-create the magic that landed them Russell Martin and then Francisco Cervelli on cheaper deals.

Columns

  • Spent far too much time yesterday daydreaming about Sherten Apostel, Lolo Sanchez, and Samuel Inoa which likely has more to say about me than my family’s dinner table conversations.

    You can squint and see a legitimately deep window developing if they’re able to retool for 2019 using their existing controllable talent, couple upper levels prospects, and freed payroll while bringing their low, low level talent to fruition and supplementing them with high-upside pieces in return for Cole, Cutch, and Harrison.

  • If the Pirates can land a good upper-level catching prospect, a guy who has the look of a starter in the next year or two, they should pull the trigger on that trade. I like the idea of bringing in an outfielder, a third baseman, and some kind of pitcher, too. Obviously, they have to be good, quality players, but spreading the talent around to several positions would help them build a contender more quickly. Which they should try to do, to take advantage of Taillon and Marte.

  • Anybody in favor of using the $50 million free money from MLB as a big chunk of what it would take to sign Cutch to an extension?

    • Sentimentally, it would be nice, but he’s in decline. I don’t think it would be a good baseball move.

      • I think it’s 50/50 whether it will happen. I have a feeling he’s going to make us another sweetheart deal. I get the feeling he wants to finish his career here.

  • Meadows, Glasnow, and Cutch (and cash) for Yelich and Realmuto.
    Cutch is a FLA guy that can put some butts in seats and who will be off the books in a year/flipped at deadline for more talent, plus two solid prospects in Meadows and Glasnow.
    Pitt gets OF set w/ Yelich, Marte, Polanco. And a C.
    An then send Cole to NYY for Adams and Andujar. Also send off Cervelli and Freese for bullpen parts.
    Rebuild for Pitt is done, FLA more prospects and less $ committed.

    • Funny you mention the Marlins.

      If Cutch, Harrison, and Cole are cleared from the books, the Pirates will be saving about $55M.

      I was thinking earlier what the Marlins would package if the Pirates agreed to take on Wei-Yin Chen’s contract of 3/$52M.

      It would definitely be a risky move for the Bucs, but it might be a sneaky way to buy a bunch of young, controllable talent.

      • I think we match up w/ the Fish. I think those 2 swaps would set up all squads nicely w/o anyone trading in-division.

    • Do you really think Meadows, Glasnow and an year of Cutch has the same value as Yelich (still 5 years left) and Realmuto (3 years left)? To me, that sounds as crazy as the Yankees fans arguing Frazier alone is worth Cole.

      I believe in Meadows and Glasnow’s potential, but one is injury prone and the other… well some even argue he’ll be a reliever. On the other hand, Yelich and Realmuto are the top two asset for the Marlins. If they ever sell them, they’ll request a huge package from the other teams – understandably. Don’t even need to sell Chen with Yelich/Realmuto to salary dump because their payroll is already significantly smaller since Stanton trade.

  • Most of you guys seem to follow minor league prospects like no tomorrow. Regardless, I’m not sure I’m as excited about all the kids the Pirates have coming up as some of you do. I think that we have no choice other than to trade Cole for two or three other solid players/prospects just to keep even with what the Cubs and Cardinals have done. It’s exciting to think about. I think we all know if/when Cole gets traded Cutch and maybe JayHay will soon follow. It’s sad but it has to be done. Competition in professional sports is a never ending process. April will be here before you know it and I’ll sitting in my Barcalounger watching the Pirates hopefully win. Maybe I’ll even get to Pittsburgh this year.

    • I agree the Pirates system is rather barren right now.

      Keller, I think is tops…and having a pitcher holding down the #1 spot always scares me a bit…it seems they’re always one pitch away from “elbow discomfort”. But I think he’s legit and will be sitting atop the rotation by the end of ’19.

      I still really like Meadows and think he can be one of the top 20 OFs in baseball…but the injuries are beginning to cloud my rose-colored glasses.

      Tucker continues to surprise me, if he can grow into that 6’3″ frame without losing too much speed, I think the Pirates have an All-Star on the way.

      With Hayes, I believe the bat will catch up to the glove and it’ll be a treat to see he and Tucker holding down the left side of the infield for years.

      I’m not excited about much other than those…from AA up, those will be the guys to watch…anybody below those levels is just too far away to project.

      As far as trading Cole/Cutch…meh, I try to be reasonable…the Pirates aren’t that good right now. They were a few years ago, but they couldn’t keep up with big spenders or the teams with genuinely deep farm systems. If there are players on the team with tangible value who won’t be on the team in 2-3 years, to me, it makes no sense to hold them. Convert them into the best young talent you can get, add that to what you already have developing, draft as best as possible, try to find some gems in the international pool, keep your eye open for some rebound free agents and, if it all comes together, maybe the Pirates are competitors in ’19 or ’20.

  • Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s the Forbes article on MLB team values. Great investment for these owners. Pirates ranked #17. Enjoy….

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2017/04/11/baseball-team-values-2017/amp/

  • All I want for Christmas is Todd Frazier to play 3rd base for the Bucs in 2018 and keep Cutch and Cole. One final run at it.

  • Just waking up. For Christmas I asked Santa to have Bob Nutting sell the Pirates. Did my wish come true?

  • I don’t get the concept of following a Cole trade by trading everyone else away – mostly because they don’t have much value. Outside of Cole, I’m guessing the other players you mentioned have surplus values of:
    – Cutch: $16.5 million (or roughly a #50 pitching prospect)
    – Harrison: $15 million (or roughly a #76 pitching prospect)
    – Cervelli: $3 million (nothing)

    Now Nova (@ $27) might get you something more exciting…
    The other thing they could do is eat some of the contracts so that they have higher values, if they are rebuilding that would earn them some respect also…

    • This is where an actual, competent scouting staff comes in.

      Guys and gals who can mine complex-league rosters for the next superstar too far away from the Majors for the contending team to mind giving up in a trade.

      It saddens me as a Pirate fan that their scouting department has such little success finding these players that Huntington is forced to look only at the close to major league-ready prospects everyone with a subscription to BA already knows about.

  • Besides Jason Kendall, when was the last time the Pirates were able to draft a good catcher? They consistently take junior college guys in the late rounds passing over guys who are major league caliber. The words “Salary relief” gives both Neil Huntington and Bob Nutting an instant hard on so look for a yard sale here soon with little spending in the draft at positions of need (or any position really). I fully anticipate the Pirates will keep taking prep pitchers who tend to be more enamored by less money in the higher rounds which is an assanine way to build a team back up especially when combined with an extreme reluctance to spend in the International market as well. Felipe Rivero is the biggest trading piece we have next to Cole and will serve zero purpose in a rebuilding period. I would trade him ASAP before he loses value because, you know, he is a Pirate so it is almost a certainty something bad will happen soon that will drastically reduce his trade value. I like the idea of a rebuild but, to do that effectively, you must have a GM capable of maximizing a teams assests to return ratio as well as be adept on draft day and in the international market. Based on recent performance, I do not have any faith in NH to do either one of these things. We see Jeter and Co. ripping the Marlins apart to make a cool couple mil from profit sharing and to cover the debit in which the team owes. It seems like the Pirates were serious for a few years but have regressed back to their old ways where winning doesn’t mean success.

    • “They consistently take junior college guys in the late rounds passing over guys who are major league caliber.”

      I mean, Huntington certainly has been unquestionably terrible at drafting catchers but he’s done so by using two first round picks in the top 13 overall on them, not just drafting JC guys in the late rounds.

      Equal opportunity failure, I suppose.

  • If they are selling, I’d like to see if they could move Nova. If Nova and Cole are gone they could spend money or acquire someone with a higher salary attached

  • Sad to see him go but it’s probably necessary. They aren’t going to compete in 2018 with or without Cole on the roster. They don’t look to compete for years without an upgrade in talent. They have no star power on the roster or in the minors. What talent they have doesn’t figure to be ready until 2019.

  • If Mitch is throwing a changeup in the picture, and struggles to take velocity off — something like this could help https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMKwqAEQhwU

    • Keller has had problems with the circle change in the past because his hands aren’t big enough to go all the way around the ball like that. His new grip allows him to throw that pitch, but I doubt he could do what was in the video.

  • I wonder if at any point they look at character and leadership when building. Champion teams have leadership that get the most out of every at bat, do we have any up and coming leaders?

  • yuk that infield except for Bell is meh. tucker is really the only one of those who could be something and he has a long way to go. Newman, Kramer and Hays are bench guys at best.

  • “as the Pirates won’t be competing without Cole on the roster, and have no use in keeping those players around. ”

    Based on what? His pedigree? I like Cole a lot but he has regressed the last two years. If you are expecting a bounce back then yeah. But just because he’s not here doesn’t really change anything for me. Jamie Garcia or someone else can put up similar numbers to what Cole did last year. And if your young rotation continues to take a step forward they will better than last year overall.

  • I don’t think any of the depth prospects are near the level of Astros or Dodgers that recently came up. The next wave seems like a long shot to even help for wild card unless supplemental veterans that cost money can be brought in along side them. And we all know how that will go.

    • Burnett, Liriano, Russ Martin, and others were pretty strong gets from the outside. Same with Kang for those two years. It’d be great to see them get another couple that become anchors.

      • Absolutely cannot be understated.

        The 2013 club alone got 10 WAR from veteran acquisitions for under $10m.

        That’s two superstar’s-worth of value, in one winter.

        The role that veteran acquisitions played in the 2013-15 peak explains *exactly* why the club has struggled since then.

  • I think we could trade Cole without tearing down and rebuilding.

    As far as Glasnow goes, I just wonder if all the changes have messed him up instead of helped. It seems like he is being told to change everything that got him where he is at. I can imagine him getting on the mound and thinking too much about what he needs to do. I think Morton said something along those lines. Let the guy pitch. If he walks a few guys, who cares if they don’t score. Was he effectively wild in the minors? What did he do that worked for him? I really don’t know – just asking. I know that there is supposed to be a big difference between AAA and the majors. I never really got that. Other teams bring up pitchers from AAA, and we seem to have trouble with them.

    Okay, I guess I feel weird today, or something. 🙂

  • The summary is not inspiring at all. It really doesn’t seem as if they have “impact” prospects for the infield, more in the nature of “average” or “above-average” possible starters in players like Newman, Kramer and Tucker. There is no one approaching Correa or Gleyber Torres anywhere on the horizon. And the :Dream Outfield” TM isn’t looking all that strong, with Cutch not quite what he was as a younger player, Polanco not having reached what seemed to be his potential and Marte a major question mark after his PED suspension. They are nowhere near the top tier of clubs in MLB at this point. Compare Cubs: Rizzo, Baez, Russell, Bryant, Contreras. Looks like years until they have their next “core”, if they do. It really hurt that Pedro blew up and lost all value as a defensive player…..

  • My wish list, Florial and Montgomery from the Yanks, Tucker and Whitley from the Astros, Verdugo and Alvarez from the Dodgers.

  • Bridgevillebuck
    December 24, 2017 2:51 pm

    It’s amazing how fast it can go from “we’ve got some good depth at catcher” to the cupboard is totally bare. Excited about a rebuild, maybe catcher could be handled externally like last time (Martin, Cervelli)

  • The Pirates have the potential to be a really, really okay team this season…or downright horrible if the rebuild goes into full swing.

    There’s no one on the horizon who is going to replace Cutch, Harrison, or Cole’s contribution…even if the Pirates get rebound seasons from Marte/Polanco and Bell/Taillon progress, I can’t foresee the team putting up a .500 record if all three are traded.

    That said, Newman/Tucker, Meadows, and Keller could make up for the losses in a year or two…if they get reasonably close to their ceilings.

    Catcher is going to be a black hole for the team for years…and years….to come. Cervelli is untradeable at this point…unless the Pirates are going to kick in about half his contract in the deal…and packing $11M in a deal is definitely not the Pirates MO. Their best bet for the position is holding him and hoping he rebounds. If he can recapture the magic of 2015, maybe they can move him at the deadline, not have to eat cash, and maybe get a lottery ticket for him…well, maybe a scratch-off.

    Rivero is the Pirates biggest chip…he matches up beautifully with a lot of teams…Texas, Anaheim, Colorado, Arizona, Atlanta, St. Louis…basically any team that thinks they can contend, but lacks a solid closer. Make him a set-up man, and the suitors are lined up around the block.

    Cole to the Yankees makes perfect sense…and, for some reason, I’m thinking Cutch to Colorado seems like a solid move for both teams. Harrison is a little trickier…he’s good at 2B, but there aren’t a ton of contending teams needing that position filled…move him elsewhere and his value plummets.

    Moving Cole and Rivero should get the Pirates 2-3 ML ready players and some lower tier guys who have the potential to be impact players. Cutch gets a top-100 guy and probably not much else. Harrison, might, return a couple of A-Ball pitchers that project at the back end of a rotation.

    All in all, I think there’s enough coming back that, coupled with what the Pirates already have and have in the system, the team has the potential to build a solid club for 2019 or 2020.

    • Blaine, why can’t Bob Nutting just provide Neal Huntington with enough of a budget so that he can bring in the necessary suitable veterans to supplement Cole, Cutch, and J-Hay, so that this team can win in 2018?
      Why do we have to go through this b.s. every year? The farm system has been rebuilt. Now they need to sustain that, number one. And number two, do what they said that they would do if the fans supported the team: raise the payroll so the team can contend. It won’t take $175 million for crying out loud. It just will take more than $100 million. Why can’t Nutting just up the payroll to $112 to $120 million? In my opinion, I think that Neal H. could put together a very nice team. Is that too much to ask?

      • I don’t think it’s unrealistic for the Pirates to increase the budget…I also don’t think that will happen.

        But, as well, it’s not all just “Nutting” while he’s the majority owner, he’s not the only member of ownership…yes, he could unilaterally make the call, but there are also the other investors to consider.

        I’m not too down in the dumps with a rebuild…with where the Pirates are situated market/revenue-wise, I don’t think…in today’s world of sports economics…you’re going to see too many small team dynasties build…no matter how well they’re run. I think smaller clubs can gear up for a 3-4 year run, then do a multi-season rebuild.

        …just my opinion, though.

        • I don’t think that it is unrealistic either for the Pirates to raise their budget. That has been my point for several years now. I am not asking them to spend with the Yankees and Cubs, but at least spend what is necessary to field a winner.
          An organization’s farm system is its foundation. But once that foundation has been set, and it has for the Pirates, it then ushers in the time to spend enough to keep the foundation strong, and to bring in established talent through trades and free agency.
          Regardless of whether or not it is Nutting or a group of investors, they all need to see the need to spend more and that having a solid farm system is not going to be enough.
          As far as the 3-4 year run followed by a re-build, one of the biggest problems I have with that notion is that, o.k., let’s for the moment sympathize with the small market teams and their supposed inability to have the $$ to compete. Whey then, every time a new collective bargaining agreement needs to be negotiated, do we not see the Pirates, Reds, Indians, Royals, Brewers, Twins, and Rays ownership groups banning together to form a fraternity of sorts and try to leverage MLB to even the $$ playing field? That never happens, yet we always hear of the small market lament. I find that to be a very curious dichotomy.
          Merry Christmas to you and yours, and all the best in 2018.

          • Because Television pays the bills and they like the big market teams?

            • No kidding, but without the small market teams, the large market teams won’t be able to reap any benefit.

          • Because there is PLENTY of money, and they would rather the pocket lining status quo.

          • Why do you think the big MLB clubs are enraged by the Liriano deal (and others alike, i.e. Arizona did something similar a few years back) that are clearly hoaxes to cover up a payroll dump? Because the smaller market teams are essentially subsizdized by the larger teams allowing them to not only stay afloat but, to turn a rather substantial profit as well. As long as small market teams can remain profitable and can increase that profitability by keeping their spending low and placing a dumpster fire on the field nothing will change. Selling tickets and merchandise etc. doesn’t matter anymore however, a downturn in said sales will be used by the owners as reasoning to punish the city and further reduce the payroll further increasing the money that goes into their own pockets. That is the name of the game in baseball. Most small market owners do not care about their teams success on the field, they only care about the success of the bottom line and right now it is a win / win for them. The smart small market investor would realize, if in the right town like Pittsburgh, that the history and successful franchises that surround them increases their value dramatically if they place a winner on the field and can sell the team close to or north of a Billion dollars. Nutting is not that smart and, is clearly in the camp of trying to make money by collecting baseballs equivalent of Wellfare from the larger market clubs, just like the owner before him and the owner before him. It is a symbiotic relationship that keeps the large market teams in the spotlight profiting the MLB while the small market owners profit as well. It sucks, but the relationship is 100% symbiotic.

          • Now that is a good question. But remember, the biggest advantages that large markets have is the revenue from local TV contracts. The Dodgers local TV contract pays for their roster before the season even starts. I would safely assume that the Yankees are the same or similar. Pittsburgh’s market size would never support such a model. Nor any of the small market teams you mention. Would the Red’s love to get out of the Votto contract? How about Joe Mauer for the Twins? Ryan Braun? Rays just traded Evan Longoria. Maybe Bob Nutting is cheap, but his fellow small market owner’s are doing the same things.

            • In fairness, I would love to have the Cleveland team this year, or the Royals World Series, but those are both based on young controllable assets, then adding a few veterans. I would also have loved to have been a Giant’s fan for six years and endure there present issues. But simply spending isn’t always or even usually the answer. Giant’s and Tigers are paying the salary ceiling penalty this year, and had the two worst records in baseball. Angels signed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to go with Mike Trout, what have they won.

              Short term contracts, Encarnacion for example, make some sense. But all I ever hear is higher budget, spend more money. And it is proven that it usually doesn’t work, examples sited above. How many World Series did the Yankees win with their high budget team? Have the Dodgers won anything recently? How are the Red Sox doing with their $400 million investment in Sandoval, Ramirez and Price? List goes on and on.

              The teams that won the last two World Series, Astros and Cubs are exactly what I am advocating. Why is that crazy? And my initial point was, we may be closer than either of those teams, based on our present controllable core, plus prospects getting close. How that doesn’t make logical sense is beyond me.

        • You do understand Nutting is one of the 5 wealthiest owners in all of sports Nutting could spend whatever he wants if he wanted to. He doesnt

          • Nutting doesn’t spend money, the Pirates do.

            Huge difference.

          • You are full of it.

          • Tonight, ESPN was running a list of the wealthiest owners in sports, compiled by Forbes Magazine. The list is headed by Steve (Dead Money) Ballmer at No.1 worth over $20 billion. No. 30 (whose name I don’t remember) is worth just under $2 billion. Bob Nutting’s name is not on the list.

          • I’ve never understood the whole nutting has money, he just won’t spend it. The odds of getting an owner who opens his checkbook to spend is about as rare as an honest politician. It’s not likely to happen. They need to spend what their revenues support. I don’t profess to know what that range is.

          • Lol I can make up stuff too… Kate Upton is coming over for Christmas, can’t wait!!!

          • Did you know studies say 96% of stats are made up on the spot?

        • This poor small market shit is getting old. It’s the morons who defend the Nuttings as poor small market owners that are starting to get on my nerves. Look at this. http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2017/12/15/each-owner-will-get-at-least-50-million-in-early-2018-from-he-sale-of-bamtech/

          But we CAN’T add payroll? Bull. They WON’T add payroll, because fireworks are cheaper. 50 mil plus the money they get from big market clubs. Hell the state government even gave the Nuttings a million dollar hand out. http://triblive.com/local/regional/13105492-74/cash-strapped-state-giving-1-million-to-seven-springs-hidden-valley

          Really??? Keep drinking the small market kool aid. Baseball is awash with cash. The dumpster fire with no fan base just sold for 1.2 BILLION!!! There are no excuses, except refusal to spend. PERIOD.

          • I think you must’ve read the opening line of:

            “I don’t think it’s unrealistic for the Pirates to increase the budget…I also don’t think that will happen.”

            as:

            It’s unrealistic for the Pirates to increase the budget.

            Either that, you just had a prepackaged rant that you felt just had to be made.

            So, let’s look at your three arguments…

            Yes, the Pirates got a one-time payout of $50M. Not chump change, and, yes, it could be reinvested in payroll. So, let’s say, just for the heck of it, they go nuts and add Darvish and Moustakas…filling two of their most glaring holes. If you like MLBTR predictions, that’ll cost $43M…per year. So, after 2018, they’ll still be on the hook for over $200M to these guys. Where does the money come from in years 2-5 of their contracts to cover the spending spree? And what does it make the ’18 Pirates…a team that wins 88 or 90 and still misses the playoffs?

            Maybe you want to go smaller and not incur future debt, so what do you do with the $50M? Maybe bolster the BP and sign 3 pitchers to 2/15 contracts. More fiscally responsible, right? Is that going to push the Pirates into post season?

            The point is…why pour money into a team that isn’t going to contend? I’d say the more intelligent thing would be to assemble a team that is close to contending and putting the money in then. Sort of makes sense, right?

            #2…Seven Springs got a payout from the government because someone convinced bureaucrats it would help create jobs. And this relates to the Pirates…exactly how?

            #3…the sale of the Marlins. I don’t know how that has anything to do with the Pirates. Perhaps you would prefer that the Bucs were sold for 50% over their value and the newest owners dumped every player possible because they were flat broke and bought a team swimming in debt?

            • I’ll work backwards. The sale of the Marlins indicates that even these “poor small market teams” are raking in money hand over fist. They don’t spend because they choose not to, not because they can’t. If the Marlins weren’t making a ton they aren’t sold for 1.2 billion. I’m sick of the sympathizers, like you, defending the actions. First we needed a new park to spend, then attendance had to rise, what the next excuse? I was there at the 2013 playoffs, all the games. It was standing room, and for the next 2 years attendance was high. No big names were added, no big payroll upgrade. I get it went up, but that was more basic baseball inflation than adding payroll to win. They would have been the years to either use your prospect equity or spend for that key piece. Not the BMTIB, they are now paying the price with Glasnow and Meadows both floundering for different reasons and no titles to speak of. All for the sake of market size and sustaining a contender. I’m tired of the excuses. The owners of this team are garbage, and although I will root for the players, I will do my best not to give them another dime of my money.

              As far as this year, it’s too late. Darvish and Moustakas aren’t the investments to be made. We needed to turn Neil Walker not more than a salary dump pitcher, or ya know JUST KEEP HIM and get the first round pick if he left. Queue the we can’t pay him 17 million violins. Bullshit. We will never know, but again, baseball is oozing cash. We could probably have a 160 million dollar payroll and they would still make plenty. But the greedy ass Nuttings will never allow it. We are in middle ground hell due to their actions, and we will most likely need to “trust the process” and be terrible for a while again. I am rambling a bit….my point, wake up people, stop with the small market sympathy. It’s a crock. The reason the small market teams don’t fight for equality or a cap is they a making a ton and they fight just doesn’t make sense.

      • Roster Resource has current data on all 30 major league clubs. The Pirates and Miami are at the top of the bottom third in budgets with projected budgets of around $105-106 million for 2018, although the two teams got there from different directions. The middle third of teams range from Atlanta at $118 million to the Blue Jays and Rangers at $143-144 million respectively. The top third payrolls range from The Astros and Cards at around $149 million to the usual spendthrift suspects: Nats, $179 million; Dodgers and Giants in the $184 million range, and the Red Sox at $207 million. IMO, Ownership is comfortable where they are and has given the BMTIB a budget. The BMTIB are not risk takers, which may be why they have recently been rewarded with four-year contract extensions. They have a draft and develop strategy which they supplement with low-cost fill-ins and roll off players who get “too expensive.” They made the Playoffs three years in a row, including a 98-win season in recent memory with this strategy. I’ve offered the opinion before that The Pirates will do very little this off-season, counting on around $67 million rolling off their payroll after 2018, assuming all free agents leave and no club options are exercised. Unrealistic, I know. Upping the budget to $112 -120 million as you suggest would accomplish very little, IMO, moving us from the top of the bottom third in club payrolls to the bottom of the middle third, alongside Atlanta. Playoff teams predominantly come from the top third of payrolls with the occasional lightning strike into the middle third (e.g., Arizona, Colorado around $125 million) or even (e.g., Pirates) the bottom third. I could go on. I highly recommend Roster Resource. Merry Christmas to all!

        • You have completely missed my point. Both the Royals of 2014 and 2015, as well as the Pirates of 2013-2015, have shown that small market teams can compete with the teams that have deep pockets, AS LONG AS THE SMALL MARKET TEAMS HAVE A PRODUCTIVE FARM SYSTEM. That said, even the best of farm systems have to be supplemented with established talent. Even a one billion dollar payroll would not guarantee that you would win a World Series, however, you do have to spend to at least a certain level, and the Nutting regime has proven that they simply don’t want to come up to that level. They would rather build with reclamation projects and hope for the best apparently. That simply is not going to pass muster. I really wish that the fan base in Pittsburgh would just stop, ENTIRELY AND COMPLETELY, going to games. Maybe then the Nutting regime would get the message.

          • Actually, except for your last point, I think we area mostly in agreement. Merry Christmas!

          • If what you suggest in the last sentence happens, you’ll be cheering for the Montreal Pirates before long.

            • The chances of Major League Baseball allowing an ownership group to relocate a historic franchise such as the Pittsburgh Pirates from a city who built them the greatest ballpark in the country within our lifetimes is between zero and get-the-hell-out-of-here.

              But by all means, continue with the fear-mongering!

    • Give up on having a .500 record. Record should not even be in your brain for at least 3 to 4 years. If you are worried about competing these next few years you are going to lose a lot of sleep. Tear it down but face the facts. Cutch, Harrison and Cervelli while potentially very productive for whoever they are traded to will not fetch anything of value let alone anything close to what they are worth. Keep them (Pirates wont because they cost money and paying players is an absurd notion to Bob Nutting), trade Cole and Rivero and don’t settle for the bull sh*t notion that Cole isn’t worth a premium return. Those two guys will allow the Pirates to stock-up on high level, close to the pros prospects and serviceable MLB starters that can fill the gaps until the true talent can arrive.

      • I agree with most of your sentiments. If the rebuild is handled effectively, I think 3-4 years is on the very conservative side…I’d say 1-2.

        If the Pirates can get Frazier and Adams and and another of the Yankees prospects from the #16-20 range…you’re getting an ML ready OF and, probably, someone that can go directly into the rotation. Now there’s talk that Harrison might be included in the deal and that may net the Pirates Andujar…if that’s the case, NH should be all over this deal in 2 seconds and treat Cashman to a nice dinner.

        With Rivero…I agree. He’ll be at a premium and the Pirates will get a better potential return the lower down in the minors they’re willing to go…pontentially 2 guys with Torres’ promise, if they’ll take guys in the low minors…that and a couple of 50s would make it worthwhile.

        I agree about Cervelli…he is not going anywhere. Cutch? He’ll get something….and if the Pirates are jettisoning Cole, Rivero, and Harrison…no need to keep him around. I could see something in the #50-#70 range. Personally, I think he’d be an awesome fit for Colorado and they have a lot of intriguing guys to choose from.

        With Keller, Meadows, Tucker, and Hayes on the way, Bell and Taillon growing into their roles, a slew of pitchers that can hold down the backend of the rotation, and an injection of Andujar, Adams, Frazier, and whoever the Pirates can get for Rivero and Cutch…I’m thinking…if the winds blow the right way…the Pirates could be knocking on the door to contention rather quickly.

        Just my take on it though…

  • Luplow deserves a call out here for outfield depth, further reducing the need for OF prospects like Frazier. Infield depth is much weaker. I don’t think Newman, Kramer, or Hayes profile as starters. Optimistic about Tucker. Infield is where we need higher upside prospects than what we have in the system.

  • Michael Sanders
    December 24, 2017 12:43 pm

    Off topic. Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks Tim and the crew for writing such engaging articles!

  • Since we have a core of Bell, Polanco, Marte in pro’s, plus Hayes, Newman, Tucker, Meadows, Glasnow,, Keller coming. I say burn it down! What would the Yankee’s give if we included Taillon with Cole and Harrison? Bet that would bring a lot of high-end prospects, that would arrive with other’s above. Give us a nice 3-4 year window. And if we went that far, what do we need a closer for. Rivero has got to bring a bounty. Left handed, multiple innings, years of control cheap. Andrew Miller with less of a contract. Just saying………………………..

    • That sounds like a totally wonderful recipe for completely sucking through the next decade. “Burn them all…” Usually doesn’t work out well.

      • Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!! I was trying to come up with a suitable response to the absolute insanity that Ron Zorn posted. You took care of that for me. Why on God’s green earth would you want to include Taillon in a deal with Cole, and then also trade Rivero? WHAT THIS ORGANIZATION NEEDS IS FOR BOB NUTTING TO PERMIT A BUDGET THAT WILL ALLOW THEM TO COMPETE!!! Otherwise, this cycle of trading players away once it comes time to pay them will never end. Neal Huntington has rebuilt the farm system. Bob Nutting now has to give him the operating capital to supplement the youth with veterans through free agency and trades.

        • What the organization needs to do is give Taillon one of those early career affordable extensions like they gave to Cutch, Marte and Polanco to hold over one top of the rotation pitcher until Keller, Baz, Hearn, Ogle, Kranick and whoever else round out the rotation arrives. Build the foundation of the team for the next wave or core through the rotation. Taillon would probably take something like a five year 65 million extension given all he’s been through in his career so far.

          • or an early career affordable extension like they gave Tabata, Liriano, or Jason Kendall.

          • Love JT, but I wouldn’t extend him until he proves he can pitch to his capabilities for a full season. Even if that means an extension is more expensive.

          • 5/65 is not really an extension for Taillon since the Pirates already control him for 5 more years.

            • I didn’t mean that it needed to be done this offseason. Definitely makes more sense to wait at least until he reaches arbitration and hopefully Keller is in the big leagues and ready to roll so they can both be in the rotation together for about 4-5 years.

        • Worked out splendidly for the Cubs…Jeff Smardzja (or however you spell it) for Addison Russel? Uhhhhhhhhh yea all day. I am not for trading Taillon, I am absolutely for trading Rivero. What on Gods green Earth do you need an elite closer for when you will never use him? For all those insane individuals out there who believe Gerritt Cole isn’t worth Torres and that Andrew Miller is more valuable than Cole, you should be absolutely on board with the notion of trading Rivero then. Oh also, tearing it all apart seems to be working just fine for the Reds and the Brewers who will both be good to very good teams begginging next year. Rebuilds take time but, if you do it right, then it can be done with a self imposed salary cap of 100 million dollars. I just don’t think NH will do it correctly, he belongs on a Bazooka Joe comic strip not behind a GM desk. I do wish that Nutting would stop being a Dollar General owner and poney up some more cash as that would make things easier but, that is just not going to happen.

        • Spend money, spend money, blah, blah, blah. You are simply ignoring the facts of a small market, on top of which, when did spending money guarantee anything? I ask over and over on these platforms, name me a good long term high dollar contract? For every one, I can name you ten bad ones. But folks continue to advocate spend money, spend money. And ironically, this year, nobody is spending money, not named the Yankees. I tried to come up with something fresh, got slammed. Should have known better.

          • Don’t have to spend huge money on a JD Martinez or Yu Darvish but something like 20-30 million for a solid reliever and a stopgap third baseman would be great.

            • Just need a platoon partner for Freese, not an everyday 3B. As for Reliever, say hello to Steven Brault and/or Tyler Glasnow.

        • bucs, The operative words are BUDGET THAT WILL ALLOW THEM TO COMPETE. Its very hard to compete with 55-60’s with 45’s. You have to get extremely lucky.

      • I think there’s a good point. Taking the Sox as an example they’re staking a lot on Kopech Giolito and Moncada working out. Not much core to lean on. Not much in their system until they fire sold their MLB roster.

      • I was simply throwing out a thought, a different path. Since we are very likely to be trading Cole and Harrison this off season, your response implies that we will suck for another decade by trading two valuable pitchers for high end prospects. That is actually the ridiculous statement. Two pitchers do not a team make.

    • Best case scenario of trading taillon would be getting taillon back. What possible sense does thay make

    • Thumbs up on cashing Rivero in for high upside prospects. Thumbs down on trading Taillon.

    • The fact that the NYYs wouldn’t have the least bit of interest in a ridiculous idea like that might come into play.

  • Good article Tim. Maybe I’m undervaluing our tradeable veterans and am overly optimistic about our prospect replacements, but I just feel that post-rebuild Pirates have at least the same chance to compete as pre-rebuild Pirates in short term. Maybe it’s those recent underachieving below .500 seasons. Seems like the prospects can at least match that with some upside for more. And I feel this way without even knowing what prospects could come back in the trades. It’s like Branch Rickey told Ralph Kiner- “We finished last with you, we can finish last without you.” But the prospects bring hope. Go Bucs! I’m getting excited for a rebuild!

    • I am not so sure this team underachieved the past two years as much as they overachieved the three years before that. The loss of Kang and Collapse of Liriano absolutely murdered this team as well. Since there are absolutely no discussions surrounding Kang, I have to assume he is gone for good which is just devastating. Also, it is quite apparent that Cole Tucker is much better than Kevin Newman however, Newman is rated higher by scouts and therefore has better trade value. Package Newman with Rivero or Cole to maximize return. I can stand one more year of invisibility by Jordy Mercer. Max Moroff should never, ever, ever, ever be considered a legit option (starter or bench) although given the idiocy this organization has shown recently I have a feeling we will see old Maximillian way more than any human being should ever be made to see.

  • This article highlights how I feel about this team… they really have a good core of solid contributors coming. They don’t really need any kind of depth trades. I’d much rather them trade Cutch and Cole and Harrison for one top 10 prospect than trade them for 4 top 125 types.

    • Right, the Bucs have an abundance of 45 prospects, but need one or two stars.

      • Or 4. I do like the solid depth and the end of filling in with Travis Snyder Jaff Decker Travis Ishikawa. If the pirates have to throw in Max Moroff at least he has a little bit of upside.

      • They have a chance to get 2 or possibly 3 from the Yankees. I doubt Cole is enough, therefore add. The only thing the Yankees need in addition to Cole as a SP is a 2B/3B/OF like Josh Harrison. If Cole/Harrison bring Frazier, Andujar, and one LHSP – Sheffield is my preference, but Montgomery had an excellent 2017 for the Yankees.

        • Yankees can not fit Harrison’s salary into its salary structure and stay under their self imposed cap.

          • Then it becomes how much of Harrison’s salary do the Pirates eat for another prospect in return. They are prepping to go deep in the playoffs in 2018 and the Pirates are prepping to be competitive in 2019 and beyond.

            • As an add, the Yankees are so deep we could throw a dart at the Top 30 and get a quality player/pitcher. We have mentioned some of the better prospects but secondary guys like #15 Nolan Martinez RHSP, #20 Dermis Garcia SS/3B, #30 Trevor Stephan RHSP, and a guy not even in their Top 30, Jorge Guzman RHSP are worthwhile if we pay part of Harrison’s salary to get another one or two prospects.

              • Didn’t they send Guzman out for Stanton?

              • This, so much this.

                The Pirates’ negotiating strategy shown so far of going all in on Gleybar Torres is quite frankly lazy and uninspired.

                The Yankees have an incredible amount of high upside prospects *not* named Gleybar Torres who could easily end up tertiary pieces in a Cole deal, yet end up providing the most value in the long run.

                Luis Medina, Frecier Perez, Roansy Contreras, Oswaldo Cabrera, and so on. Do some actual advanced scouting for once.

                • HaHaHaHa, LLOYD has little time to read thru comments, but NMR, when I do, its refreshing to read yours and certain others that are so dang arrogant, because YOU, sir, are the smartest man on the planet.
                  HaHa…..”quite lazy and uninspired”….haha, telling the front office to do some advanced scouting!!!!!
                  HaHaHa, yup they don’t know all of the prospects from EVERY team.
                  In LLOYD’s humble opinion, NMR = joke
                  Thanks for the giggles my friend.
                  LLOYD will probably never be on this thread again but please look me up on future ones to tell me how smart you are……
                  hahahahahahaha
                  LLOYD

  • There are more than a couple of orginizations with little or no catching prospect depth, but the Dodgers seem to have 3 or 4 up and down the levels,

    • They might be able to get Reese McGuire back eventually. Danny Jansen and Max Pentecost would seem to be ahead of him in Toronto’s future plans.

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