Winter Meetings Day One: Are the Pirates Sellers?

The MLB Winter Meetings have officially kicked off, with today being the first day, and potentially leading to the first moves. The biggest revelation this week for the Pirates will be their direction, and whether they are sellers or buyers. We may or may not find out the answer to that today. However, the early rumors and speculation has the team looking to sell.

First, there was Ken Rosenthal outright speculating yesterday that he thinks the Pirates will be sellers this week, and could trade Andrew McCutchen.

That is just speculation, and far from a guarantee, but Rosenthal is the most connected baseball reporter, so his opinion and feel on this would have some weight.

Then there were some rumors surrounding Josh Harrison. Marc Carig of Newsday says that the Mets are looking for second basemen, and that they might explore a trade for Josh Harrison during the Winter Meetings. He also says that Ian Kinsler and Jason Kipnis are targets.

Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette also reports that the Mets have some interest, and adds the Blue Jays to that mix as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean the Pirates are sellers, since this is just a report that two teams are interested in one of their players. But you’d have to believe that teams exploring a trade for one of the Pirates’ starting position players are going in with the assumption that the Pirates will be selling, and probably for good reason.

Again, we have no confirmation of what direction the Pirates are heading in, but some strong early predictions and indications have them as sellers this week.

We’ll be keeping track of all of the news and rumors this week, along with analysis on any transaction that takes place.

  • I’d like to see the Pirates kick the tires on trades involving Marte or Polanco. They have underperformed their talent levels and both continually make baserunning mistakes. Their durability has been a problem also. I know the team thinks they may have breakout years that contribute to a successful year, but I think it’s probably more likely they will repeat the performances from the past two years.

    • I think if they are trading Cole, Cutch, Harrison, Cervelli, Freese, Rodriguez, and Nova, they might as well deal Marte & Rivero too — Marte because he’s probably not going to be part of the next contending team in that and Rivero because his value has to by sky-high right now and if they keep him they will be wasting his super cheap years on a losing team. No point in going halfway. Polanco they might as well hang on to, since I’d guess his trade value isn’t great because he hasn’t broken out yet in 3 seasons.

  • I like the idea of trading Harrison but who do the Mets really have to offer?

  • The problem is that I dont think the Pirates will get decent value for Cutch, Harrison, and even Cole. I would rather try to improve the club and see what it can do this year. I do not see Huntington trading these players unless blown away and its not going to happen.

  • STL just added Gregorson for 2 yrs $11M. Perhaps a slightly better investment than the same figures for Daniel Hudson…

    • I think I read somewhere (probably MLBTradeRumors) not related to the Pirates last year that they though the Pirates did well to sign Hudson.

      • Didn’t follow you – who thought the Pirates did well to sign Hudson? St. Louis?

        • FanGraphs, for one:

          Basically, 2/$11m is nothing in today’s game and Hudson had a few underlying qualities that *could* have led to success that surpassed his contract.

          He also had a whole bunch of stuff keeping him from utilizing those qualities, and that’s why he failed, but in terms of relievers being relievers he was a decent bet.

          • Gotcha. Thanks for the follow up.

          • Exactly. A guy like Hudson is a good get…even if he fails. This is the type of move and can look at and say, meh, it didn’t work out, that happens…but it was reasonable.

            That said, that’s what makes the trade for S-Rod so confounding.

            • I didn’t like giving two guaranteed years to a two-time TJS survivor who now is a max-effort bullpen arm, but health hasn’t stopped him. The fine line between stuff and command has, it would appear.

              • Risky, but I was happy with it…coming off of back-to-back decent FIP years and throwing a K/inning made it understandable. It didn’t work out for 2017…and that happens…hoping he turns it around this season, but of the opinion it won’t. Oh well…the bright side isn’t there’s only one more year left on the contract….it’s that I’m not paying it ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • Whoever wrote on the site I read or listened to. That was mostly a staff writer at MLBTradeRumors or a baseball analyst on the MLB network.

  • I have seen zero evidence that we should have confidence in GM NH to be able to trade Cole or Cutch and get a good return.

    • NH is a mediocre to average GM by 2017-18 standards but he has some decent trades on his resume. The Melancon deal was a very good return. It’s hard to say what the market for both these guys is right now. I have to think Cole should return a very, very good package though.

      • Indications are if anything NH was sticking to his guns in asking for a return for Cutch last year. So that points more toward not being able to move guys, rather than not being able to get a good return.

  • Michael Sanders
    December 11, 2017 10:41 am

    Would love to see Tim as a GM one day. He should have should have been a strong consideration to replace Rene Gayo.

  • Frank Coonelly called it when the Marlins signed Giancarlo–vastly overpaid and it destroyed their franchise. He also said that Kang’s visa clearance was his mistake. This guy does not get enough credit. Now if he gets an TV contract like the Cardinal’s it will be his crowning achievement.

    • I think Loria called it when he said…”don’t worry about it, the Marlins will never pay it…he’ll be gone before the real money kicks in”…or something to that affect.

      Then he bails on the team before the big checks have to be signed and leaves the new ownership having to make a horribly unpopular move.

      Thank goodness that man isn’t an owner anymore…hopefully he never gets his tendrils near the sport again.

    • “Frank Coonelly called it when the Marlins signed Giancarlo–vastly overpaid and it destroyed their franchise.”

      Back on Bizarro Planet Earth where actual facts still matter, Giancarlo Stanton just won the league MVP award making only 12% of team payroll and providing more financial value than all but two players in the entire game.

      • and i’m pretty sure Coonelly never even said they overpaid. He just predicted that they were always going to trade him.

        There’s a huge difference between “overpaid” and “unable to pay”

        Just because some car is too expensive for me doesn’t mean that the car isn’t worth that price.

    • I nominate this for most entertaining post of 2017! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • rickmontgomery
    December 11, 2017 9:12 am

    With the Yankees getting Stanton, why not just get real, designate the Marlins, Buccos, et al, as AAAA franchises and stop pretending they can somehow compete with the Rich and Famous. Until MLB takes parity seriously all these “who gets traded for whom” scenarios are looking kind of pointless. I feel like the folks at the University of Central Florida must feel about now.

    • Did Stanton sign off on the deal? My guess is that Stanton’s agent balks until the Yankees agree to increase the compensation to cover the increase in State and City taxes that Stanton would be facing so that his net compensation stays the same. That is what I would do.

      • How many millions does he need?

        • As many as he can get. I think his increase in taxes will be offset by his Endorsement possibility in NY vs Miami though, and he has indicated a desire to play for a team that is a WS contender. Only a few of those.

    • I generally agree with your assessment, but it also wasn’t long ago that the Pirates made the playoffs in 3 successive years.

      Baseball will never have parity because it is run by and for the rich teams. They are also the teams shown on national broadcasts almost every time so casual fans almost never get to see a team like the Pirates.

    • We can’t expect a permanent run like 2013-15, and it’s reasonable to expect recurring rebuilds. I think the issue is whether they successfully do the rebuild so that we don’t wait 20 years between good teams. Yes, it would be great to increase payroll, but small market teams in bottom 1/3 of payroll like KC, Tribe, and now Twins have had recent success. Brewers are doing a quick rebuild well, etc. Better drafting and player development is achievable, 150 m payroll is not.

  • i said when they extended both NH and CH that they were going to gut the team. Not sure what this team will look like this coming year but I think you will see a White Sox like approach to cleaning house. Could be 20 years or 2 years before we see a team worth watching. Will be interesting to see what we get. When teams know you want to move salary they are not giving a lot away (see the Marlins). I hope the Pirates don’t try to sell us on a bunch of single A guys that are three or more years away.

    • 20 years has only been achieved once so don’t expect it again.

    • michael schalke
      December 11, 2017 9:48 am

      If you are a Pirate fan, every year is worth watching.

    • ” I hope the Pirates don’t try to sell us on a bunch of single A guys that are three or more years away.”

      This is the club’s only chance at actually getting *good* prospects.

      • And it could really help plug the gaps they have with high end position players above the short season leagues.

      • I think if they were to trade Rivero they could get the Andrew Miller return or better. Which could include multiple top 100 players and at least one in high minors.

  • I’m still a firm believer that they can be both buyers and sellers. Sell their steady low upside, medium salary guys like Harrison, Mercer, Nova, and maybe even Cutch, and them buy some higher risk, short to medium term FAs.

    I really have no interest in watching a 65 million dollar payroll club. If you’re gonna deal away your steady veterans for prospects, at least do us the service of keeping payroll above 90 million via short term FAs with risk and upside to keep things interesting.

    • I think most Burgh fans will agree with you on the disinterest in watching a low budget team. They would stay away in droves, which is why the Bucs won’t do a clean the house rebuild.

      • I think most Burgh fans *already* believe they’re watching a low budget team.

        The difference between a $65m and $90m team *that wins the same amount of games* will be nil.

        • Point taken. Maybe I should have said micro budget team. I still don’t think they should trade Cutch to retain marquee value, and because he is there best offensive player today. He may not make the difference between a playoff and non contending team. But they still retain him for business purposes, at least I would.

  • I really think Moroff is a better option at 2B in ’18 and is $10M cheaper. If he was OOO it would be a no-brainer, but they option makes you consider him a depth option in AAA.

    • michael schalke
      December 11, 2017 9:52 am

      I agree about Moroff. I believe he passes the eye test and can be a solid player going forward.

    • Yes on Moroff. He has 15 HR potential if given a chance, and unlike Frazier he is reportedly a solid fielder. They can live with a .240 avg.

  • Cole is the one I would move. I feel you could still contend without him. I understand his stuff and what he could be and what they need him to be. I just feel they have solid depth in rotation. Bring in a Garcia to fill out rotation. Nova, Garcia than you still have Taillon, Kuhl, Williams, Brault, Glasnow and Kingham as young solid arms + Mitch Keller on the way. The time to move Cole is now, imo. Yankees will prob offer the moon for him.

    • Agreed, I called for this last year.

    • I’d like to see Clint Frazier and/or Blake Rutherford included in the return package. Frazier is rumored to be on the block after the Stanton signing – they have 5 ML OF’ers.

      • Andujar has to be in the deal for me. I’d ask for Gleybar Torres too because it doesn’t hurt to ask lol

    • I’d rather see them trade NOVA and use the cash towards buying a FA 3B man.

    • You have Cole for 2 more seasons, why would you trade him now? His value after throwing a million HR balls last year is down and he will not get a return that he is worth. And replacing him in the rotation with Garcia or a AAA back end guy will result in even more losses. Frazier and others would be great, but he cannot play third base…

      • I think most front offices will look at HR/FB spike as bad luck, and see the 3.81 xFIP, which was about 75th %ile. You trade him now because his trade value is only going down. If you aren’t going for it in 2018, you might as well maximize the return.

  • If Cutch is dealt this week, I hope they have the good sense to deal Cole, JHay & Nova, too.

    • I’d like to see them trade JHay, Cole and Nova even if they keep Cutch as replacements are available and they need more minor league talent. There are too many questions about other outfielders and the offense in general to trade Cutch right now in my opinion. Keep him and QO him might be the best approach.

    • and Mercer. And Rodriguez, Freese, and Cervelli if you can.

  • The content is a little thin for a paid site don’t you think?

    • Itโ€™s the off-season what do you expect? Once the seasons get started itโ€™s hard to keep up.

    • So far this offseason the Pirates haven’t done anything to report in terms of trades or signings. That tends to be the most interesting part of the offseason.

      • I genuinely feel bad for Tim & Co, basing their livelihoods on a product that’s almost completely dictated by a club who rarely does anything of interest for six months out of the year.

    • Where’s the “down vote” button when you really need it?

      • Just yesterday, I was surprised to see I had 97 articles posted since November 1st, not counting anything Tim has posted. I checked after someone said it was a quiet off-season. So to hear someone say the content is thin, especially during the first hours of the busiest week of the off-season, is quite shocking.

        Unless we sit here and do things like make up fake trade scenarios or breakup rumors into different articles (as in this could have been three articles, not one), then we have posted everything significant and far more than anyone else this off-season.

        One thing we could have done is breakup the season recaps in the minors into more articles, but you wouldn’t have got more content that way, just more articles. People got over 25,000 words on the prospects in the system in those eight articles.

        We can’t help it if the Pirates aren’t doing anything, but people are still getting a lot for the off-season and throughout the year. For the record, this is the 1,524th article since last December 11th. That doesn’t include the 245 updated player pages, payroll section, draft/international signing charts. That article number downplays how much info some articles have, such as the Prospect Watch including a recap of every single minor league game, many of those being live coverage.

        • John, the overall vast majority of people on the site know how much all of you do day in and day out as far as content goes. You guys are appreciated for putting stuff out year round. The fact you can put out as much info. in the off season that you do that is relevant is great!

        • Well, it’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t…

          I’ve noticed there’s always someone who pops into an article about the signing of some minor league FA and shits all over the author for having wasted his time writing it.

        • I cannot believe people are complaining about content for the pittance that is paid for this site. Well worth the investment, IMO, to stay informed with the organization.

        • Didn’t sound to me like there was a complaint about the quality of coverage or the amount of awesome detailed work you all do every day to bring us entertaining and insightful Pirates coverage that can’t be found anywhere else. The complaint was about the Pirates and how boring the major league squad has been as far as major trades and transactions the last few years. Tim said it – we don’t even have a clue as to whether this team is rebuilding or trying to contend, because they have done nothing, nada, zilch, zero. They have no plan. They were so much more exciting several years ago. I don’t know what changed, I really wish I did- they just are not the same. Despite that I think you guys and your coverage has improved every year. I hope the major league club figures it out because you all deserve a contending team.

          • The comment was in reference to the amount of articles for a paid site. Had nothing to do with, nor did it consider, the slow offseason.

            We’ve been churning out articles daily, despite no news to write about, when other news outlets in this town have written about the Pirates only a few times per week, at most.

            • Oops – I see that now. That’s definitely insulting. I check your site multiple times a day in the offseason, you all work very hard and put out great work. Anyway, my comment is that there’s something off about the major league club, and you all deserve a contender for the dedication you put in. They are an enigma to me, it feels like there was a clear shift from making good decisions/transactions to making bad/mediocre decisions/transactions.

            • Do you think you would get more traffic if the Pirates were contenders or if they were in pure rebuild mode? I loved tracking the first rebuild. All of that so exciting, seeing what type of prospects came in, reading up on everyone and feeling like there was so hope for the Pirates future.

              • Hard to say now. I think Pirates fans got used to winning very quickly, and anything less — even if they’re in a dedicated rebuild — is going to be unacceptable.

                The weird thing is that, even though this is a prospect site, the traffic is better when the MLB team wins, and people care more about the MLB stuff than they do the lower level guys. I could write an article about Lolo Sanchez with information no one else has, and it would get less attention than an article about George Kontos that analyzes information we all know.

          • Might not be seeing the comment I responded to. He said the coverage is light for a paid site and we have actually kept it fairly busy without being given much by the Pirates to work with.

    • No.

  • Here’s hoping that the Bucs ‘blow it up’, but I doubt that they will.

    • I agree foo, i don’t think with this talent base that they can compete for a world series, let alone the divisiion, and i am not interested in a wild card, there just isn’t enough talent. Cole & Rivero in seperate deals would bring them a haul, NH doesn’t have the guts to trade Rivero, but what good is Rivero going to do them on a team that finishes below 500, AMAC, and Harrison need to go as does Cervelli, but i am not sure they won’t be able to move Francisco due to his injury history and salary.

      • My thought is that they have a good young core so even if they blow it up, they could be quickly rebuilding to contend in 2020. Rivero has 4 year of control left so if the rebuild is successful, he could be closing for a contending team. If not, I think he’d still bring Pirates a haul even with 1-2 years of control left.

        • The problem with Rivera for 4 years is that he will become pretty expensive in years 3&4 if he keeps performing like last season. The Pirates should trade him if they rebuild.

          • All of this rebuild talk, once again. The one thing that has not changed, and probably will not change, is that even if they do decide to “rebuild”, and it is successful, with this ownership, we’re going to be back in the same situation when it comes time to pay those players. This cycle just keeps repeating because the Nutting regime just is not going to pay what it takes in this day and age to put a legitimate contender on the field. I’ve use the analogy before: You cannot expect champagne if you are only willing to have a beer budget.
            The sad part about all of this is that with the farm system that the Pirates have, they don’t have to have a payroll of 150 or 200 million to be successful. If they just got up to the 112 to 120 million plateau, they would be in very good shape from a competitive standpoint. This notion that we are fed all of the time that the Pirates will be at or around 100 million dollars in payroll and that that dollar amount should be viewed as an indication that this ownership is committed to winning is an absolute joke. A payroll of 100 million dollars was a significant plateau….back in 2005. It is not nearly enough in the present day and age for a team that legitimately hopes to contend for a World Series Championship.

      • Given his controllable years I think it would be foolish to trade Rivero. You build a great team by acquiring great players with relatively low compensation, and he clearly fits that bill. Your thoughts of treating him like a Chapman are only valid if Rivero were a high priced reliever (which he is not), in which case why spend big money on a closer when you are going to lose more than half your games anyway? Rivero is cheap for multiple years to come, so keep him around until the next time the Bucs can compete, which hopefully would be in 2019 or 2020.

    • They will screw up that up too.

  • I would be surprised if ‘Cutch is traded during the Winter Meetings unless somebody completely overbids expectations.

    I do expect one of the two teams who have already done plenty so far – the Angels or the Yankees – to make a serious play for Gerrit Cole. Both need a Top of the Rotation type, and the Yankees have to search for a guy with a projected salary that will keep them under the penalty. The Angels are out from under the Josh Hamilton $25 mil, and have that money to spend for 2018.

    • Would have been nice if Cole would have been a bit more consistent last season. Had issues with the long ball and always seemed to have that one inning that derailed him…At least he showed the injury bug from the season before was not the norm. Have to think some teams may try to pay on the low side for him after the last two seasons, bucs need to stand firm and not get underwhelmed with an offer.

    • I look at the pittance the Marlins received for a HOFer and wonder why we’d bother trading cutch. I realize the contracts are in no way the same, I’m just a little frustrated with MLB right now.

      • The Marlins only got the pittance because of the size of Stanton’s contract…there was really now value to be had in it. Cutch shouldn’t have much problem outperforming the money he’s owed and, I’d assume, the Pirates will get about as much for one year of Cutch as the Marlins did for 11 years of control of Stanton.

      • Amen to all of that. I am a lot frustrated with MLB right now; have been for several years.

    • Those are the two teams that come to mind for me…after that, Twins and Brewers. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot in the Angels system right now.

      • The Angels have a couple of nice OF (Jahmai Jones and Jo Adell) as well as Kevin Maitan… (are they allowed to deal him so soon?)

        • I think signees can be dealt whenever a team chooses. Draftees used to be a year (or until the next draft, maybe) but I’m pretty sure that rule has been done away with, as well. With Maitan, I think if the ink is dry on the contract, he is trade-able.

      • I think the play is Cole going to the Yankees for Gleyber Torres. I would like to get more, but Torres is as good a 3B/SS as anyone in the game. We may have to be the team adding.

        • For Cole, I think you have to set Torres as the starting point in negotiations.

          Not to be one of those that are constantly harping about the front office, but I think he is ready now. Most teams, I think, would hold him out for that two week span to get the extra year of control…the Pirates, I’m sure, would keep him at AAA until mid/late June.

    • I actually think we can get a fairly significant overpay for Cole if we decide to pull the trigger and play our cards right. We really just need to market solely based on the potential of him being a #1. Cole has never been l, and Iโ€™m not convinced that he ever will be, consistent enough to be a true ace. Sell them on potential and steal some top prospects.

      • It was reported today that the Astros are looking for an upgrade in the starting rotation. We could get a haul if we add Rivero to that deal. One of the best farm systems in baseball. Go take your pick of the players.

      • I think Cole has the ability and mental toughness to give a contender another 19-8 record, 2.60 ERA in 32 starts, and 200+ IP like he achieved with the Pirates in 2015 when he was the No.1 guy in our Rotation – Nobody else even close.

    • It is my understanding that the Angels have one of the worst minor league systems in baseball, though.

  • With a lot of young middle infielders at AA and AAA, Josh Harrison can be easily replaced. Harrison has been a regular for 5 seasons after being a part-timer for about 3 years, so getting equal or better performance right away should not be expected. Regardless of when, he will be moving at sometime this year – doing it now will give the Pirates more time to find a solid replacement not named Rodriguez or Gosselin.

    • When the Bucs made the trade, who would have thought that Harrison would have this kind of career?

    • Here’s the question though who plays 3B? Right now if the season started tomorrow I have Harrison at 3B and Frazier/SRod splitting time at 2B. They trade Harrison hopefully they will be able to acquire a young 3B.

      • The way they’ve treated Frazier, Kramer, Newman and Moroff I think they are the future of 2B and 3B and the stars are aligned for Tucker at SS.

      • A lot more is expected offensively from 3B, for example:

        Player A:

        .277 BA, 20 HR, .735 OPS

        Player B:

        .267 BA, 23 HR, .751 OPS

        Pretty indistinguishable, right?

        The first player is Harrison over the last two seasons, the second player is Freese.

        If Freese isn’t good enough for the 3B job, why on earth is Harrison?

        • took the words out of my mouth.

          Freese has become underrated. The man just needs a platoon partner.

        • I agree. I’m just stating on what they have right now. Thing with Freese is durability, he admitted as much as last year that he played too much and was worn out. Platoon partner? Yeah maybe. An everyday 3B Would be nicer. Only way I see that happening is a return in a Cole trade.

          • Gotcha.

            I just don’t think there’s any value gained in moving Harrison to the corner…his bat’s going to play as well as Freese’s and now you have a gaping hole at second that had been manned by a guy that had been hitting well for the position.

            The new guys may be able to match Harrison’s production…and maybe they won’t…but I don’t see them bettering it. So, the most I think you can reasonably get by moving Harrison to third is the same level of production.

            Having someone to spell Freese, and keeping Harrison at 2B (if he’s kept on the team, at all) would be best…my guess would be Moroff as the primary, S-Rod as the backup–but I’m sure Clint would do it the other way around.

    • I am not so sure if “easily” is the descriptive I would use even though I believe he should be traded for good value.

      • As for the “good value” part, is it reasonable to think a GM could get even a B prospect for Harrison?