Well, something finally happened. It’s really tough to see Starling Marte go. From the very first pitch he saw in the majors, he’s brought a level of excitement to the team, one that it sorely needed when he arrived.
But, in stark contrast to the Neal Huntington’s recent trades, Ben Cherington did this right. He went for lower level guys with upside and not major-league-ready guys to solidify a .500 team. Folks just don’t trade A-grade, upper-level prospects any more, unless it’s for the last piece of a World Series team or a massive talent, which isn’t Marte, good as he is. (It’s no coincidence that easily the best player acquired in the Cole and McCutchen trades is the one who was furthest from the majors.)
One thing I especially like about Liover Peguero is that, although scouts think he can stay at short, he projects to have enough bat that he doesn’t have to. Players who have to stay at an up-the-middle position to remain viable prospects seem always to turn into Rafael Belliard types. The Pirates badly need prospects with meaningful offensive upside.
Malone, like any prep pitching draftee, is certainly going to be a project. The Pirates have correctly emphasized the importance of improving their development processes; Malone and Peguero give them a chance to get started on it right away. If this front office can’t do the development thing, it’s not going to be successful in any event.
Picking up the international slot money is a good sign, too. One of the few good things Huntington did in recent years was add to the team’s international pool when the opportunity presented itself. My understanding is that this goes to the 2019-20 pool and not the 2020-21 pool, so they evidently are still pursuing players. That’s definitely not an area where they want to step back.
Finally, it’s good to see they were willing to throw in some money for Marte’s salary. Of course, Bob Nutting is still saving himself $11M on the deal, or $24.5M if you count the 2021 option. But it beats keeping the money and taking a deputy assistant backup catcher instead of Peguero.