The Pirates enter the weekend with a 33-35 record and in fourth place in a very competitive NL Central division. They’ve been struggling for most of the last month, leading to this current situation. As a result, it wouldn’t be out of the question to wonder if they would be sellers at the upcoming trade deadline.
Jon Morosi discussed that today at MLB.com, saying that the Pirates haven’t publicly said they will be sellers (and they never will, even if they do intend on selling), but that they are expected to trade key veterans if the team doesn’t rebound.
That shouldn’t be a huge surprise. We saw the Pirates trade Mark Melancon and Tony Watson in previous years at the deadline when they weren’t contending. This time around, they might have some more interesting trade chips.
Morosi mentions Ivan Nova, Francisco Cervelli, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Sean Rodriguez, David Freese, and Corey Dickerson as candidates to be moved. That’s basically everyone on the roster who is under control through the 2019 season.
Cervelli, Harrison, and Dickerson are having nice seasons, and could fetch a good return. Mercer, Rodriguez, and Freese probably wouldn’t fetch more than a lower level lottery ticket, although the impact there would be opening up MLB spots for guys like Kevin Newman, Jose Osuna, and others in Triple-A.
These kinds of rumors come up every year, and it’s hard to say if the expectation here is based on early discussions the Pirates are having, or if it’s the standard “This team is losing, so all of their veteran players will be mentioned as trade chips by default.” It’s important to note that the Pirates went into this year expecting to contend with guys like Harrison, Cervelli, and Dickerson. So it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to feel they could contend with those guys next year. A key difference here is that they’ve got younger guys ready to step up for the rest of this year and next year, allowing them to move forward with and build around a younger group of players.