Ken Rosenthal had a brief summary of what the Pirates might do this offseason regarding their direction. The article was posted in his latest notes in The Athletic, looking specifically at the chances of a rebuild.
Rosenthal pointed out something that I’ve mentioned many times this offseason: The Pirates could decide to go all-in for Andrew McCutchen’s last year, or they could trade him — and if they do trade him, then it would only make sense to go all-in on a rebuild and trade guys like Gerrit Cole, Josh Harrison, and Francisco Cervelli.
As far as updates to this decision, Rosenthal repeated that the Giants have inquired about McCutchen, along with other teams. He said that Neal Huntington intends on going into 2018 with McCutchen, but that shouldn’t be taken as gospel.
Rosenthal also speculated that market forces would likely dictate the Pirates’ strategy. If the trade market is flooded with players comparable to their own, then it might not make sense to sell. On the flip side, Rosenthal argues that trying to improve on the 2017 team for 2018 doesn’t give a lot of upside, and the Pirates might be better off trading for younger talent and going for 2019 and 2020.
Adding to this, I’d argue that this offseason might be the best time to trade their guys, even with a stronger trade market. Next year’s trade market may or may not be as strong, but the free agent market is shaping up to be a strong one, which would follow the same theory of hurting the value of their players.
It’s not so much that this offseason provides a better time to trade guys than next offseason. It’s just that you can find a reason every offseason to believe that a player’s value will fall due to the availability of other options. It’s also a theory that should work both ways, where teams like the Rays would also be worried about trading this year, due to the possibility that the Pirates could sell their players. The reality is that there would be multiple buyers and sellers per year, which means there is room for more than one team to sell each offseason.
The reality, in terms of the Pirates and their current offseason, is that we still have no clue which direction they will go in, and Rosenthal’s article didn’t provide any strong hints that would clear this up.