Over the last several years, MLB has seen some changes to the trade deadline which have greatly impacted the values of players. The biggest change was the addition of a second Wild Card team in 2012, which put more teams in contention.
You can see that impact in the standings this year. There is only one team in the National League that is more than seven games out of a playoff race. Now, seven games out at this point isn’t exactly contending. Even if you lower the bar, nine teams in the NL are within two games of the playoffs.
The difference lies with the split between division contenders and Wild Card contenders. Atlanta has a 6.5 game lead in the NL East. The Dodgers have a 15.5 game lead in the NL West. Only the NL Central has a race, with three teams separated by two games. The Wild Card spots add four more teams to that mix, and that’s just counting the teams within two games of the playoffs. It doesn’t count the teams who are six or more out who believe they’re still in it.
I’m not going to spend time arguing that the Pirates shouldn’t believe they are contenders. I’m also going to assume and/or hope that any public comments from Neal Huntington saying otherwise are just public negotiations, at least until we see the results.
In previous years, teams who weren’t really in it could sit out the July 31st trade deadline, and make trades in August through the waiver system. That has been removed this year, with the only trade deadline being on July 31st. That means teams need to decide whether they are contenders a month earlier than in previous years.
Bob Nightengale had a summary of this year’s deadline which summed it all up:
The word on the street among GMs and executives talking about the trade deadline: "Eerily quiet.'' The reasoning: The price tag remains exorbitant for the available players; too many teams remain in playoff contention; and fewer teams are willing to deal prized prospects.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 22, 2019
Now I’ll admit that Nightengale hasn’t always been accurate with his assessments or trade rumors. However, this tweet matches a trend we’ve seen over the years, and something that is expected to continue with the switch to one deadline.
You’d think it would be an easy decision to sell with more contenders and fewer sellers. But the reluctance to deal top prospects makes that difficult. Teams have increasingly wanted to go for it, while also wanting to hoard all of their best prospects. As a side note, have you ever noticed how teams are hoarding top prospects when the Pirates are sellers, but that same practice gets criticized when the Pirates are buyers?
I believe that it’s possible to get a good return at this deadline, but I think that type of return comes from trading top talent with more than two months of control. That’s why I don’t think guys like Corey Dickerson or Melky Cabrera will get much of a return, while Felipe Vazquez could land a return that greatly improves this franchise in the future.
The truth is that we don’t really know what will happen due to the single trade deadline this year. What should happen is that teams should be forced into making hard decisions, and accepting earlier that this isn’t their year. Even if that’s the case, there are more contenders than potential sellers, which means any non-contender who makes the right call to sell should have a good market.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 6-5 to the St Louis Cardinals on Monday night. The Pirates will send out Chris Archer today for game two of the series. He has allowed three runs in each of his last three starts, while striking out 26 batters in 17 innings. Archer’s last start was six days ago against the Cardinals and he went six innings with eight strikeouts. He also faced them in his season debut and tossed five shutout innings. The Cardinals will counter with 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Dakota Hudson, who has a 3.57 ERA in 103.1 innings, with 76 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP. He faced the Cincinnati Reds in his last start and allowed three runs over five innings. His previous outing was against the Arizona Diamondbacks and resulted in two runs over six innings. Hudson started against the Pirates on May 12th and allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings.
The minor league schedule includes Osvaldo Bido making his 20th start of the season. He ranks fifth in the South Atlantic League in innings pitched (105.2), fifth in WHIP (1.10) and his 3.58 ERA ranks tenth in the league. Altoona and Bradenton will play doubleheaders today, with bullpen games likely for the second game for each team. Cody Bolton will make his fifth start for Altoona, trying to build off of six shutout innings on one hit in his last outing. He gave up four runs in each of his first three Double-A starts. Bradenton will send out Nicholas Economos, who has pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts, giving up a total of two runs and 11 base runners in those 21 innings.
Eduardo Vera will try to get back on track for Indianapolis. He has given up 16 earned runs in his last two starts combined, failing to get through five innings both times. After a rain out yesterday, Bristol will send out Dante Mendoza, who has 21 strikeouts in 20 innings this season. He has given up just one earned run in his last two starts combined. Listing a probable starter isn’t something that Morgantown does anymore. My best guess is that it will be Michael Burrows.
MLB: Pittsburgh (46-53) vs Cardinals (52-47) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.36 ERA, 106:45 SO/BB, 90.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (50-49) @ Syracuse (50-50) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (6.64 ERA, 76:26 SO/BB, 101.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (52-45) vs Erie (52-44) 4:30 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (5.31 ERA, 14:7 SO/BB, 20.1 IP) and TBD
High-A: Bradenton (53-45) @ Clearwater (51-48) 5:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Nicholas Economos (2.01 ERA, 54:21 SO/BB, 67.0 IP) and TBD
Low-A: Greensboro (60-39) vs Asheville (45-56) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.58 ERA, 89:27 SO/BB, 105.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (19-16) vs Batavia (22-14) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (15-17) @ Burlington (17-15) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dante Mendoza (3.60 ERA, 21:12 SO/BB, 20.0 IP)
GCL: Pirates (8-15) vs Twins (11-12) 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (22-21) vs Dodgers Shoemaker (21-22) 10:30 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (35-8) vs Tigers2 (18-24) 10:30 AM (season preview)
From Indianapolis on Sunday, Will Craig hits his 19th homer
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) July 21, 2019
JB Shuck turns on a pitch for his third homer
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) July 21, 2019
7/22: Saul de la Cruz promoted to Bristol. Wilger Camacho sent to GCL Pirates.
7/22: Elvis Escobar assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
7/20: Michael Gretler placed on injured list. Victor Ngoepe promoted to Greensboro.
7/19: Jerrick Suiter placed on Altoona injured list. Bralin Jackson activated from injured list.
7/18: Mike LoPresti promoted to Greensboro.
7/17: Bear Bellomy promoted to Morgantown.
7/16: Pirates sign Jesus Castillo.
7/16: Hunter Owen activated from Indianapolis injured list.
7/16: John O’Reilly promoted to Bradenton. Matt Eardensohn assigned to Bristol.
7/16: Lizardy Dicent assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
7/13: Ryan Valdes activated from Bradenton injured list. Raul Siri placed on injured list.
7/13: Keone Kela assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus four trades of note. We start with the trades, which I’ll quickly summarize.
2003: The trade that everyone would love to forget happened 16 years ago. The Pirates sent Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Cubs for Bobby Hill, Jose Hernandez and Matt Bruback. You can check the link if you want to relive this one. At least the Pirates ended up getting Ramirez back for a little bit, so that was fun to see the end of his career.
1999: Four years earlier, the Pirates made another trade that didn’t work out well long-term, though this one was for a team doing well that suddenly had a need. The Pirates sent Jose Guillen and pitcher Jeff Sparks to the Devil Rays, in exchange for Joe Oliver and Humberto Cota. The Pirates had just lost Jason Kendall to a season-ending injury, so the catching depth was necessary. Guillen ended up having a strong career, though it took him about four years to get on track.
1996: Danny Darwin dealt to the Astros for Rich Loiselle. This trade actually worked out well, as Darwin was a veteran signed to a one-year deal, while Loiselle spent five years with the Pirates, occasionally getting used in the closer role.
1986: The final deal worked out the best, as the Pirates sent pitcher Jose DeLeon to the White Sox for Bobby Bonilla. DeLeon was a decent starter after the deal, but Bonilla was a superstar who helped the Pirates reach the playoffs in 1990 and 1991.
As for the players born on this date, Ginger Beaumont was a star center fielder for the 1901-03 Pirates teams that won three straight NL titles. You can read more on Beaumont in this link, which is in addition to the one at the top. He hit .321 for the Pirates in 989 games and scored 757 runs. He has the eighth highest batting average in team history, falling right between Arky Vaughan and Pie Traynor. On a team with Hall of Fame players Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke, Beaumont hit lead-off and led the NL in hits for three straight seasons from 1902 until 1904. He also led the league in average in 1902 and runs scored in 1903.
The other two players born on this date are 1928 second baseman Mack Hillis and 1934 pitcher Ed Holley. If you want to know more about them, check the link at the top of this section for a little bio write-up on each player.