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Saturday, December 10, 2022

First Pitch: Are the Pirates Going to be Buyers or Sellers?

It’s hard to get a feel for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their chances of competing this year. They move close to .500, then they lose a few games and drop further back. They’re 32-34, and yet they’re only 2.5 games back from the Wild Card race. They lose Francisco Liriano, although that might end up working better for them, since Liriano was struggling and couldn’t be removed from the rotation without an injury.

At this point it’s hard to say whether the Pirates will be buyers or sellers this July. You could argue either way at this point. The “buyers” argument would point to some of the above facts, most notably the fact that they’re only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card race, and just two games below .500. The “sellers” argument says they are only 2.5 games back because no one else is stepping up to run away with the second Wild Card spot. The argument would also question whether this Pirates team, with all of their injuries or struggles, is a team that can play better than .500 ball going forward.

My stance is a hybrid of the two. I don’t think that the Pirates should focus on being buyers for this year only. There shouldn’t be any Marlon Byrd deals, where they give up top prospects for two months of production. I also don’t think they should be sellers with any player under control beyond the 2014 season. So where does that leave the Pirates?

There is still some time to wait and see what happens. Most trades go down in July, so we’ve got about a month before anything serious happens. That month will determine a lot on whether they’re buyers or sellers.

If they’re buyers, I think they should be looking at deals which not only help this year, but help in future years. Getting someone as a two month rental is almost pointless when you consider how the Pirates have played this year. Getting a player for one year and two months (or more) is a better approach. The bigger focus would be on the 2015 season, and the time this year would be a bonus.

The Pirates need starting pitching, both in this year, and in 2015 where the only established starting pitchers under control are Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole. Adding someone like David Price or Jeff Samardzija would boost the rotation this year, and give them another established guy for next year. They would have to give up top prospects in such a deal. Fortunately, the Pirates have a good farm system, and a situation where they can afford to give up top guys without feeling any impact.

The trade chip that will make the most sense for the Pirates this year is Josh Bell. With an outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco, the Pirates don’t need an outfielder anytime soon. Austin Meadows would also have value, although his value might be lower than it should be due to his hamstring injury, and the fact that he hasn’t had a chance to improve his value this year. Harold Ramirez is another outfielder who might have some good value, although Bell clearly leads the group.

Losing someone like Bell wouldn’t hurt the Pirates. He’s a top prospect, having a great season in high-A, but with their outfield situation, the Pirates wouldn’t feel the impact of dealing him away. He would be a top five or top three prospect in a good amount of farm systems.

The guys I wouldn’t trade are Reese McGuire, Alen Hanson, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, or Austin Meadows. To sum those up, you’ve got potential starters at positions where the Pirates have a long-term need (McGuire and Hanson); potential mid-to-top of the rotation guys who are close to the majors at a time when the Pirates need starters (Taillon, Glasnow, and Kingham); and Meadows, who I wouldn’t deal while his value is low.

Now if the Pirates were sellers, it would be different than when they were sellers in the past. They wouldn’t have to blow this team up. They’d just have to deal away guys who wouldn’t play a big role in future years. They should try to extend Russell Martin, and deal him if he doesn’t sign (then try to sign him in the off-season). Edinson Volquez might be a nice trade chip, unless they also try to extend him (which might not sound so crazy at the moment). And if you’ve been reading this site for any amount of time, you know my stance is positive on trading relievers, so no relief pitcher should be safe if the Pirates were selling.

This is a different situation for the Pirates than any previous year. They’re now in the process where they should be looking to try and contend for the long run. If that doesn’t happen in any given year, it doesn’t mean you blow it all up and rebuild. If you are contending, it doesn’t mean you go all in and sell key future pieces. If they play it smart, they could get some value for guys they won’t miss in the future, no matter what situation they’re in.

Links and Notes

**SALEGet 24% Off the 2014 Prospect Guide and Other Pirates Prospects Gear

2014 Draft

**2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

**Cole Tucker Calls Signing with Pirates “Surreal”

**Pirates Agree to Terms With Trey Supak

**Mitch Keller Receives $1 M From the Pirates

**Pirates Announce the Signing of Three More Draft Picks

**Pirates Agree to Deal With 13th Round Pick Frank Duncan

**Pirates Announce Two New Draft Pick Signings

**Pirates Sign Fourth Round Pick Taylor Gushue

**Pirates Agree to Terms With 22nd Round Pick Eric Karch


**Prospect Watch: Tyler Glasnow Dominates Again, Josh Bell Homers Twice

**Nick Kingham Promoted to Indianapolis

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Set to Make AAA Debut Tonight


**Pirates Call Up Michael Martinez, Casey Sadler Sent to Indianapolis

**Pirates are Actually Terrible Bunters

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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The Pirates should be sellers because they don’t have the #1 or #2 starters needed to go far in the playoffs this year. You don’t win an award for making the playoffs, only for winning them.This winter they should spend huge money in the FA market to obtain a #1 , without loss of prospects. Hopefully Cole matures to a #2 by next season. Sell candidates: Tabata, Snyder, Grilli, Liriano, Volquez .


Gerrit Cole is at least a #2 starter in this league right now. We’ve seen him become ace-like at times as a rookie. And good luck convincing Nutting to spend huge money.


Gerrit’s ERA is #3 quality now. Hopefully he’ll lower it in the second half.


I would never trade Bell. The Pirates won’t because they’ll never get the $5MM they invested in him back. I wouldn’t because of his power upside. What I might do, if they can extend Cutch, is in Spring 2017 is trade Marte, move Polanco to left and start Bell in right. Or if Cutch leaves move Polanco to center and play Bell in right. Otherwise Bell at 1st base might work, but has anybody seen him take ground balls? Given his injury time Austin might be a full two years in development behind Bell.

Spa City

Josh Bell will be a First Baseman soon enough. They might trade him, but not because his position is blocked.

Monsoon Harvard

I don’t care if they trade pitchers but I would hate for them to trade any hitting prospect. They are notoriously bad at evaluating hitting, be it via trade or free agent, or drafting. So if they are lucky enough to bump into a few hitting prospects like a blind squirrel and an acorn, they simply must hang on to them. I would not be in favor of trading Josh Bell.


why are they notoriously bad at evaluating hitting? not sure I agree. I guess Joey Bats but i don’t think the Jays even saw that coming.


or the As with Moss, who went through the Phillies and another team who gave up on him too.


ah yes. fair enough. man. they could’ve used him last year when Jones’ magic dust wore off.

regardless, i’m not yet ready to say that they are notoriously bad at evaluating hitting.

Mayer Seidman

Very good point Monsoon. I guess it would be a bit sudden to pull such a move, but could we trade for a very good 2B, move Walker to third, and Pedro to 1st?

We are having Pedro stick it out at 3rd against both LHP and RHP anyways….


I wonder if the Pirates might go the Grilli route and go after Brad Mills who can opt for FA on Sunday. Might be worth the risk.


One factor determining whether they should buy or sell is the market. If pitching becomes available at reasonable prices, then yes, take the plunge. If pitching is at a ridiculous premium, then they need to look to 2015.


Hanson’s stock is as high as it will ever be. We can afford to trade him bc of Tucker and Jacoby Jones. We can afford to trade Bell because of Meadows and Joe. One of Kingham, Glasnow, or Taillon won’t make it in the show – just figure out which one and make him available in trade. Theoretically we have enough prospects to get an Ace starter and a big bat for first base for this year and beyond.

If we are sellers, who besides Russell Martin is worth anything? Perhaps just trade Melancon to Atlanta for Gavin Floyd


If they think Neil Walker can play 2b for the next 5 years, then sure. Go ahead and deal Hanson. Otherwise, Hanson is pretty dang important to this team’s future.

I know i’m afraid of how both Mercer and Walker are going to age defensively in the middle infield. i mean… how many 32 year old, 6’3″, 210 lb middle infielders have we seen running around? can’t be many.

Ben Swogger

For me, it would come down to the total package. Because surely it would take more than just Bell to land a guy like Price, right?

So are we talking about a Luis Heredia too? I would be much less inclined to make that deal.

Although Heredia looks less and less promising each year, there is still a TON of potential there and needless to say, you can never have too much pitching.

It seems to me that a high end combo like Bell and Heredia would be more along the lines of what the rays would want in return.


I think this decision will be put off until the All Star break at the earliest. The Bucs are 2 games under .500 and soon they hit a spot of their schedule where they can make some noise. 16 games against the Rays, Mets, Cubs, Phillies and D Backs, teams that are either looking to the trade deadline already, holding on with their fingernails of turning it around or “the Cubs.” Those are book ended by six games against the less than world-beating Reds. A hot streak like like last June, featuring a 7 or 8 game win streak and a 13-3 or 12-4 stretch will put them right in the thick of things. Put the .500 thing to rest finally and start looking at the clubs ahead of them.

Walker will be back, as will Cole and hopefully Liriano for most of that stretch and Polanco should have settled in by then.

They can make some noise. Then let’s talk about the trade deadline.


I think with this team basically playing decently regardless of what happens and with the staff and other injuries there is no reason to give away someone like a Bell unless you get an opportunity to get a really good arm that is locked up for 2-3 years as many have said. We talk about Bell as an OF but they still need a 1B as Ike Davis is just an OK option. I do like the idea of adding just another lesser veteran starter because Cole will be back and hopefully Liriano too. Plus with Taillon and Kingham and possibly even Glasnow coming at some point next year there is no reason to panic over the staff. They still do have Worley who I feel is a very solid option. AJ Morris’ start was impressive last night. Is this yet another Pirate pitching retread success story?


I agree they need to extend Martin. Preferably 2 more years. Tony Sanchez is ok but Martin is such a good defender, a team leader who handles the staff so well, and has such a consistent, patient approach at the plate. As the Pirates’ lineup improves he is a solid 7 hitter in the NL.


Based on the track record of Huntington I highly doubt he will make a deal for one of the elite arms on the market, and rightfully so. It would be an entirely different situation if we were sitting 10-15 over .500 and a SP of that caliber could put us over the top. Don’t get me wrong this team could use another arm or two but it would much easier to pry away a guy like Jason Hammel from the cubs. ERA of 2.81 FIP of 3.02 could be a solid #3 to slot in there with Morton to solidify the rotation. Only issue with him is that he’s not the classic pirate groundball pitcher and he is a rental as he’s only signed thru this year. Still he represents a low risk/cost guy as he’s only making $6 mil this year and would certainly not require the kind of package of prospects that a Price or Samardzija would demand.

Aside from a pitcher this team could use another decent infield bench guy so we avoid the situation of calling up Martinez again in a more pivotal situation. Bonifacio could be a decent pickup off the bench who could slot into the leadoff position for the occasional start and provide infield depth. I do realize the cubs might not want to make all the moves within the division.

R Edwards

Although I would like to see this team make the playoffs again this year, I think it is obvious that they have significant flaws that need to be addressed in order to really be a serious contender beyond just getting into the playoffs. The rotation has a couple of question marks and first base and shortstop need better long term solutions. Therefore, i would not want them to trade off top prospects, for a high priced rental or two, just to try to get a wild card birth. I’d like them to be patient – get Cole, Liriano back healthy – and see what Polanco adds to the lineup – and then reassess where they are.

B Thomas

The Pirates will be buyers no matter what this deadline. Because like said above the core is in place. The Pirates are 2.5 games out of the wildcard. People forget this team made it to the playoffs last year. In baseball your never out of it. Look at the teams over the years the Cardinals and Rays who were both 10 Games back of 1st play in September and both won their division. The Pirates have a winning core in place and now probably one of the best OF’s in all of baseball. They need and will go get a Starting Pitcher with a couple years of control to add to this core. Not saying it will be Price or Samardzija but I guarantee NH will add to this team and not subtract.


How about trading value for value? What value does Alvarez have?


Pedro isn’t leaving until Alen Hanson is ready!

They aren’t trading Pedro before they have a replacement. They won’t have a replacement before Walker moves there. Walker won’t move there before they have a replacement. They won’t have a replacement until alen hanson is ready.

Why has trading Alvarez become such a thing this year?

If they rattle off a 15 game losing streak, then sure. Let’s entertain the idea. But creating a hole at 3b while trying to contend is silly! Pedro is a perfectly adequate player, as frustrating as he can sometimes be.

Nuke Laloosh

They better sign Walker to a long term deal before they do any of that.


Yep. Or buy a another 3b. i dont want them to be spending $15 mil a year on a 34 year old Pedro Alvarez. That’s all i know. His skillset is bound to not age well.

Chase Headley and Neil Walker should age well. Headley is older, but remains athletic, is a good defender, and traditionally has the willing-to-take-a-walk attitude that ages well. plus he’d be a decent buy low option! super low BABIP this year.

Same with walker, minus the buy low part. Athletic and takes walks. can still handle 2b now, so 3b should be no problem for the next 5+ years.


This is what I think Pedro’s future will be: 1) He will play out his time with the bucs and leave as a free agent after 2016 and hopefully play well enough to bring a comp pick . 2) Play through next season and then get dealt during the winter meetings. They will most likely be in the playoff race the next few seasons so he won’t be part of a deadline deal because as frustrating as he is…he is needed. I do like the idea of Walker at 3B. He should be a slightly better fielder than Pedro and more complete hitter. Then Hanson plays 2B ad they keep searching for a SS…I hope Hanson stays at short but I am not very confident about that scenario. If Hanson does stay at SS then you have Harrison at 2B or you go get another decent 2B. Hell, Tucker could be ready by 2017 (Very unlikely)


IF (big if) he keeps it up I like what Harrison brings to the plate more than Pedro right now. Yes, J-Hay’s biggest value is as a super-sub but in the recent past he’s been a more reliable offensive player than Pedro and comparable on defense. We know what Pedro brings to the table. (Walker>Alvarez in pressure situations) And if they can get the right starter via trade….

Frank Brank

Josh Harrison’s wRC+ the last four years is 79, 71, 95, and 125. Which one doesn’t fit? All of his batting average difference has come from a batted ball average still 27 points above his career mark. Josh Harrison is not good at baseball. Plenty of players go on three week heaters and you never hear of them again.

Pedro isn’t amazing offensively as a whole but his walk rate has increased and his strikeouts are way down. He might have his best discipline and power balance of his career this season. He just has an unlucky batted ball average right now that is steadily increasing with his batting average.


Harrison wouldn’t be the first player to figure it all out at age 26 (he’s still just 26! holy crap!). i’m not convinced he’s a .800 OPS guy, but i’m not sure i buy the “Josh Harrison is not good at baseball” statement anymore either.

Frank Brank

I think we can agree we’ve seen his ceiling and upside maxed out by his 27 point boost of batting average from batted ball average which is generally seen as good fortune. I like the guy but if that’s the case, he isn’t very good at baseball. Not so much that we can consider him to be the replacement for Alvarez and/or Walker when he goes back to his 85 wRC+.


I can say that I very much hope that the Pirates find a way to keep Russell Martin. When you watch the guy play you cannot help but think that this guy is probably the true leader of the clubhouse. His passion and intensity, although not overboard like AJ Burnett was last year, is really something hard to ignore. Add to that the fact that his numbers are, again, very good and that we really do not have anyone of his caliber, even at his age, ready to take his spot…one of the more vital spots on the roster. I have no problem with Sanchez as a #2 and a good bat bench. But when you look at how much better our pitching staff seems to do with Russell in the game, his throwing ability, and, again, his all-out effort and intensity it would be hard to imagine anyone else filling that catching role and the Pirates being the same team. Maybe Russell Martin will want more money than the Pirates can give, but I highly doubt that. The Pirates have the money to sign anyone they want (whether they use that money in that way is another topic for another day) and Russell Martin is certainly deserving and a hugely important piece for this team. Last thing: Martin is only, what, 31 years old? He’s not, yet, reached the point where you have to worry that signing him for 2-3 more years is going to lead to a contract you dread at the end.


I really like Martin and think he brings a lot to the team. But, with the year he’s having with the bat and his defense, someone is going to offer him 3 years at +$10 mi/yr. I don’t think the Bucs are going to do that for a then 32 yr old catcher with a lot of games on his body, especially since they already have his replacement. Another positive about Martin having a good year is that they can be comfortable offering him a QO and know it will be declined, getting a comp pick. That’s unless that trade him at the deadline.
I’m curious to see how they handle Volquez. After a rough start, his performances have been trending positive. Anyone see the positives for an in-season extension for him? Cole, Morton, Volquez, unknown trade target/FA signing, Locke, Cumpton, Sadler, Pimentel, Worley, Kingham and Taillon (depending on recovery) and a couple of guys I can’t remember give you good rotation depth going into 2015. And that’s not counting Liriano.


The beauty of Martin is that even if he doesn’t hit for average he gives you value with taking walks, getting hbp, a little power, and the defense. You know that as long as he doesn’t get hurt a ton, most of your money will be well spent.


I think he’s easily worth the $10M a year…and everyone who continues to talk about Sanchez, honestly, are going to be in for an awakening when/if Martin is gone and Sanchez is the every day catcher. This pitvhingn staff, this defense, this whole team is vastly better with Martin than without him…even if he never sustains this hitting.

Monsoon Harvard

What happened to the 17 mil the Pirates didn’t spend on signing a first baseman and A.J. Burnett?
Add that to this years money and they easily have enough to sign Russell Martin to a 3 year contract.


What do you think the market price will be for Martin at the end of the year – $12.5 million / year for a 3-4 year deal? He is 31 years old now and so a 3 year + 1 option year deal seems to make sense.

I agree, catcher is a premier position and when you find a good one you do everything possible to hold onto him.


A key to signing Martin might be to promise to play him 60% at catcher 30% at 3B in platoon with Alvarez. Sanchez picks up the balance of catching duty. I think he is a catcher by the opportunity the Dodgers gave him to play, not because he loves it.

Scott Kliesen

Pirates would be foolish to trade for either Price or Smardzija based on what they would have to give up. There will be numerous “B” level SP’s available in July for a much more reasonable price.

I’m going on record as saying Pirates will be neither buyers or sellers, unless they fall way off between now and All-Star break. NH is like a protective mother with his prospects, rightfully so I may add, and will be reluctant to give up one or more of his babies. I think Ike Davis was Pirates big move.

Frank Brank

One really good starter is better than having a couple average starters. Most guys who sit around league average xFIP are worth 2-wins or less each year. So you’d have around 3.5-4 wins between two guys. David Price has never been below 3.9 himself. Add in a minor league guy next year whether it’s Kingham, Taillon, etc. who would project around 2-wins worth the value and you’re much better off.

Scott Kliesen

You do realize to get Price for 1.5 seasons, they would have to give up at least 2 of the top 5 prospects, plus another in top 10 or so. What in NH’s resume would lead you to believe this is even remotely possible? If he had the balls to make this kind of trade, he would’ve done it for Stanton last year.


also, i am curious of what kind of prospect load it would take to get Price.

The best case study i could find was the Shields trade….

Royals got… 2 years of an ace Shields, a decent young pitcher in wade davis, and a PTBNL….

Rays got… a top prospect – known more for high probability of success than for upside – in Myers, and two prospects with middle rotation upside in Montgomery and Odorizzi, and a low prospect Pat Leonard.

i think i got it right. anyway…. things to note here…

1) Shields makes a lot less money than Price, and is BARELY worse than Price. Price more $/WAR.
2) Price has only 75% of the team control time left compared to what Shields had.
3) Royals also got Davis back.

So… let’s just say that Davis and Montgomery approximately cancel each other out and the PTBNL is negligible.

That’s 2 years of a cheaper Ace for a top prospect, a decent middle of rotation prospect, and a low level prospect.

so 1.5 years of a more expensive Ace would be less than 75% of the price. maybe 1 of the top 5 prospects, 1 in the 5-10, and 1 in the 11-15.


and comparing Stanton is apples and oranges.

1) All signs pointed toward the Pirates REALLY wanting Stanton.

2) All signs pointed toward the Marlins making him untouchable.

3) Stanton in 2013 is probably over twice as expensive in a trade than David Price in 2014.

4) He missed out on Stanton, but got a rental in Byrd instead.


he hasn’t given us reason to think he would, but he hasn’t really given us reason to think he wouldn’t…

every time the team has been desperate for something in recent years, he has come through. Morneau and Byrd last year. Signing Martin. Trading for Davis.

the one thing that makes me believe a Price trade could happen is Taillon’s injury. Cole, Morton, Taillon with 100 innings from 2014, then whoever else would have looked like a pretty damn good rotation.

Taillon is gone. the Pirates should be desperate for a TORP for 2015.

and as i said before, NH has come through every time the team has been desperate for a position.

Scott Kliesen

I say 99% chance they go for a cheap rental this year, or signing next reclamation project on the cheap, and 1% chance they get Price.


Fair enough. i just don’t think pointing towards huntington’s trade resume really means anything because this is a pretty unique situation.

i’ll be satisfied with McCarthy or Hammel. But for the first time in 22 years, i think it’s time to go for one of the big guns. They had just better be ready to bring in a top pitcher in Free Agency because the 2015 rotation neeeeds it.

Scott Kliesen

The one way I could possibly see Pirates go for Price is to do it w intention to trade him next summer to restock the farm system. A move a GM like Billy Beane would strongly consider for sure.

Scott Kliesen

Would be nice to get an established successful SP in the off-season or two for that matter, but a Top 3 of Cole, Taillon and Kingham for the majority of next season would be pretty stout.

Frank Brank

I agree with you. That wasn’t quite the argument. Other teams will offer way more than what the Pirates even have in their system for Price. My argument is IF (big if) they could land him they should because the “two average guys at his cost are better” isn’t true at all.

Scott Kliesen

Your argument sounds valid, but in this case it’s moot. Pirates GM will not castrate his farm system for one Star player.

Frank Brank

Plus you get the huge upside of Price that could produce a 6-win season as a lefty in PNC Park.

B Thomas

I guarantee you the Pirates make a trade before July 31 for a SP. Write it down.

Scott Kliesen

Only way it happens is if they stay in the race for WC and do so despite their SP performance. Which is a combination I wouldn’t bet on. Otherwise their SP’s have exceeded expectations mitigating need to trade for SP, or they have fallen out of race due in part due to SP and become sellers. Both of these options are far more likely.

And as for trading for a SP for 2015, much more likely to happen during the hot stove season.


Really going out on a limb with that one


I agree. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Pirates try to get someone like Jason Hammel, however, which, as you said, is a “B” level SP.


I’m not so sure that I would be quick to trade Josh Bell and especially not because the outfield looks good today. I think we’re starting to see cracks in the veneer of Starling Marte that may or may not manifest themselves in the next few years and depending on whether or not you think the ceiling for Bell is higher or lower than Marte, determines whether you are quick to trade Bell.

While I’d love to see David Price, not only does he cost some big prospects, but then you’ll have to pay him about $20 million next year. I’m not a big believer in putting so much of your money on one guy, since that one guy can go down at any moment and then what are you left with? I’d prefer to see the Pirates use that $20 million to sign 2 very good starters, instead of one superstar one.

I wouldn’t touch Jeff Samardzija for anything.

All that being said, I don’t think ANY prospect should be off-limits for the right return.


There is literally no part of Bell’s game which is better than Marte’s. I hate to be the one to put this into perspective, but because of his inability to hit right handed, it kills a lot of his value. Marte is way better defensively, has a fantastic arm, is twice as fast, and possesses roughly the same amount of raw power and hitting ability……..Even if you say the hitting side is equal, Marte crushes him in speed and defense every time

B Thomas

Why wouldn’t you touch Samardzija? Dude is a stud.

Andy Prough

Agreed, I love that dude, love his toughness. He hits too! Cole-Samardzija as your 1-2 for the next few years would be really interesting.


I’m generally in agreement with you, though I’m not sure yo can get two very good starters for $20 mil–at least not two guys who come without question marks. I would agree that there are no off-limits prospects; you should always at least be willing to be overwhelmed.


I think most pitchers come with some question marks, but I understand what you’re saying. Though, I think you can get 2 good starters for that $20 million: maybe $12 million for one and $8 million for the other, pitchers that land somewhere between Edinson Volquez and A.J. Burnett, both in terms of salary and talent.

Now, I think that if Taillon is completely healthy, then I’d be much more inclined to make a huge move for a guy like Price.

In my completely un-scientific and non-expert analysis, it seems to me that usually a team with a rotation consisting of:
1 above-average starter is one of the worst teams in baseball
2 above-average starters puts you quite a few games under .500 and out of the playoffs
3 above-average starters puts you at or slightly above .500 and competing for a wildcard
4 above-average starters puts you in the playoffs.
Nobody has 5 above-average starters!! Everybody seems to either have a journeyman or a rookie in that #5 starter spot.

So, with the Pirates potentially having Cole and Morton being above-average starters next year, I’d feel much more comfortable with 2 more above-average starters than 1 superstar. And then, either way, you still fill out that 5th spot with a Volquez-type for smaller money.


Now that Kingham is in AAA, he’s a likely June call-up in 2015. Taillon may or may not be ready next summer as well. That’s my argument for a big time SP, let’s say Price, Cole, Morton with Cumpton/Locke/Pimentel/Worley. 2 of those final 4 make the rotation until Kingham arrives, then Taillon is a wild card. I’m also very high on Pimentel and would like to give him a chance in 2015.

My main concern in bringing in 2 “above-average” starters is that we’ll just end up with another guy to throw in the Locke/Cumpton grouping, kind of like we do with Volquez now. Although if both guys pan out, then the rotation would be incredibly deep.


I can buy what you’re selling! However, I guess I’d rather see, say, spending $20 million on Johnny Cueto (if the Reds don’t pick up the $10m option) and Josh Johnson (currently making $8m, perfect reclamation project) combined than Price, given that neither Taillon or Kingham will break with the team on Opening Day. (Also, I know, it would be impossible for Cueto to sign in Pittsburgh after that wild card game!)


Of course, as I wrote that, I realized that Josh Johnson isn’t going to be ready for Opening Day, either (if he even ever pitches again!)

Mike C.

Bell is a great trade chip as he more value as an another team’s OF than a 1B here.
But even if we’re 2.5 games back, look at how many teams we would have to jump. This is just a crappy year with all the injuries to core guys.
But i like how you thimk Tim.
If we’rere not contending, keep our core long term players and Sell away ending contracts and try again next year. We could always try to sign em again, though that rarely happens in mlb.
As u always preached here, what would TB do what would TB do…
I would add, what would Beane do what would Beane do


You don’t have to worry about jumping teams, teams eliminate themselves as the season goes on…..if you stay around .500 for 60 more games, there won’t be many people to crawl over. Worrying about how many teams you have to jump on 6/15 is purely idiotic


This all has plenty of time to change. If they would even just sweep the Marlins that is already one team they have caught. Just keep winning each series and they will be right there by the all star break.

Andy Prough

Anyone notice McCutchen’s line the last two weeks? Completely out of this world: .400/.471/1.000/1.471, 6 HR, 9 doubles, 45 total bases, 11 runs, 14 RBI. WOW!!!!!!!

That’s what an MVP does when his team needs him. And he just added another RBI single against the Marlins as I wrote this.

Andy Prough

“But even if we’re 2.5 games back, look at how many teams we would have to jump.”

One strong week and you could jump all those teams.


It would appear we know what TB would do. They’d bring in a witch doctor and hope things got better 🙂


Bell is the first baseman of the future. The organization hasn’t had a first baseman that was well above replacement level since….since a long time ago. The position players the team needs to come through are Bell, Hanson and McGuire. Yet trade speculation always has Hanson and Bell moving to another team for a player of middling value. I hope these proposed trades are only mirages.

Dilson Herrara is having a decent year…


Please don’t complain about losing Dilson Herrera in order to make a run at the postseason….it was a good trade.


Sorry, but I will continue to complain about that trade. That trade could have only made sense if the Pirates reached the World Series. But they fell far short of a championship.


It’s just the minors but Hanson’s error rate has actually increased this year. It’s disappointing but maybe he can get it together in the 2nd half.


freddy: Yes, he is up to 20 right now. Last year he had 15 in the first 20 games – they put him on the side and called in a roving fielding instructor. The rest of the season, about 100 games, he only had 17 more. He went to the Arizona Fall League and did very well. Now he is back at Altoona and struggling defensively. To me, a change of scenery combined with some one-on-one with a fielding instructor could be very helpful. He is very young – age 21 season – but he is playing on a team that is young, inexperienced, and 15 games under .500. A perfect situation for a kid to lose concentration. I think a change to Indianapolis where there are a large group of mature ballplayers, and a .500+ team that consistently gets good pitching and adequate hitting could challenge him to keep his head in the game.


thats a stretch…..


ski: I thought that trying a switchhitting athlete like Bell was a given to get a try as a 1B, but I have not heard a lot of that lately. Davis has been better than I expected, but his salary is high for the production he has provided, and that always creates the floor and goes much higher if the player has a good year. Again, Hanson to AAA Indy should have happened two weeks ago. Herrera is having a decent year, but he was covered up in the infield with guys like Alvarez, Walker, and Mercer looking like they can continue for at least 2 more years, and Hanson could be up by then either at 2B or SS. Walker 1B/3B? Adrian Valerio is hitting well in the DSL and his fielding is said to be as good right now as some MLB Shortstops, so SS or MI in general is not a place of need.

Tim: Agree with you 100% that it is too hard to predict the direction of the Pirates on trades until we see what happens in the remainder of June. We dug a hole in April, had a .500+ month in May (15-14), and we are currently 7-4 in June. Even with unexpected absences in the Rotation and the lineup, the Pirates Rotation is pitching the best they have all year, and the lineup is getting very strong from leadoff through No. 8. Martin is too important to this team, and worth any amount we want to offer for a few more years, and Barmes and Stewart are gone after 2014. Liriano? Great find last year, but our hope has to be that he comes back, throws a strong game, and somebody comes calling. He and Grilli are both gone after this year anyway, and we have SP’s and RP’s stacking up like cordwood waiting for their turn. Gomez, Mazzaro, and others will be gone from the BP, but guys like Melancon, Watson, & Wilson will be retained as the solid core of the BP in future years. Can we keep all of Sanchez, Snider, Tabata, Harrison? Right now that means 6 bench players when you add Barmes and Stewart which means that we are always one short in either the Rotation or the BP. We are loading up frequent flyer miles from Indy.


So just how valuable is Martin? Since he has come off the D.L. on May 23 the Pirates are 12-8. In games he has caught they are 11-3. With him behind the plate the team’s ERA is 3.09 and starters 2.83. While when Stewart is catching the team is 1-5 over that period with a team ERA of 4.75 and a starter’s ERA of 6.89. The starting pitching has gotten better because he is behind the plate. The Pirates are 18-10 with Russell behind the plate this year and 14-24 with Stewart and Sanchez.


stewart sucks- not as advertised! Sanchez can’t throw and is young- he gets a pass

Andy Prough

I would throw one name out as an exception to the “no reliever should be safe if the Pirates are sellers” rule – Tony Watson. The guy is just nails.


Absolutely agree on that one. And he’s not going to be that expensive to keep.

Andy Prough

Gomez is “meh”, but I’ve got no complaints about Hughes, Wilson, Watson, Melancen and Grilli. With Morris and Vin gone, this has been a fairly acceptable bullpen. And seems like you need a guy like Gomez who can either get out a few batters, or just eat some innings in games that get out of hand early.


Vin isn’t gone, in AAA, and will be called up the next time we need a reliever.


Or do what he did last night. Which was absolutely clutch for four innings.

I am still fuming over Hurdle’s use of the BP in the 9th. I have no issue with Wilson starting the inning. But once he put runners on, you go to Hughes or Watson, not the “closer”. Both Melancon and Grilli are used to having their own innings and putting a guy or two on. They’re not lockdown guys.

I hate that Hurdle uses Hughes to start innings on consecutive days. If anyone in the BP is a true “fireman” this year it’s been Hughes with his 100% strand rate. You need him on call for exactly what happened last night. And if not Hughes, it had to be Watson.

Why Hurdle even thought it was Grilli/Melancon time is astounding to me.


cause it was the 9th inning? and a save situation? This really isn’t that hard to figure out.


Hurdle is often quoted as saying he wants his back end guys to start “clean innings” as opposed to bringing them in when the house is on fire. I’d argue that especially in Grilli’s case, that may be by necessity.

Once you no longer have a clean inning, having a “save situation” should have NOTHING to do with the decision on who’s the best option to bring in. And neither Grilli nor Melancon were the best option with two men already on base in the 9th inning. You want either the guy with the 100% strand rate or the guy who’s been untouchable for the past month.

To automatically defer to a “closer” who is not used to inheriting someone else’s runners just because he has the label of “closer” is narrow and rather stupid thinking.


Mazzaro still in the system too.

Andy Prough

Vin’s not on the 25-man or the 40-man at this point though. And don’t get me wrong – I thought he did some good things last season.


The Pirates need to bring in a SP, preferably big impact player like a Price or Samardzija. They might need another SP as well, depending how the group of average starters for the Pirates (Cumpton, Locke, Volquez, Worley) holds up.

If they remain close to the wild card, they cannot trade Martin. I would look to trade Gaby, Tabata, Snider and Grilli. Gaby can be replaced by Hague, Harrison and Dickerson are replacement 4th OFers and Melancon/Watson can take the 8th and 9th. Not sure what kind of value the 1st 3 would bring, if any, but Grilli is a big time trade piece for them this year.

I also agree with trading Bell. He’s been hot of late and the Pirates may be wise to keep him in A+ to make sure he doesn’t hurt his value.

zombie sluggo

Grilli is not bringing anything of note back to the Bucs. He’s a marginal r.p. If someone wants to give the Bucs something for him, I take it in a minute.


Grilli since coming back from the injury: 8ip/1er/0.875whip/10K/6-6 saves. Completely dominant this season other than the stretch leading up to the injury. Take the 2 bad games Grilli had before going on the DL away and he has a 1.29 era and 1.071 WHIP with 0 HR allowed. Both homers were allowed in those 2 games he was not right.


I hate to see Grilli go but he is an aging closer who will not be worth what he commands on the market which is probably 4-6 mil or so. A team-friendly 1 year deal would be nice but as a 38 year old that has only made 10 mil in the majors I would get the most I could get because this offseason will be his last chance to sign a big contract.


Scott – Care to rethink that after last night?


yea lemme base Grilli’s value on one game. worst player in major league history. cut him now.


Yea Grilli is a good quality closer. He has great deadline value. Look at a couple deals:

Hanrahan and Brock Holt for Melancon, Pimentel, Jerry Sands and Ivan DeJesus
Octavio Dotel for James McDonald and Andrew Lambo.

Grilli’s value is probably a little less than Hanrahan’s but more than Dotel, so he could definitely bring back a major league contributor.


in retrospect, that trade isn’t that fantastic. Holt is good…..and would be a nice player to have in the background for Alvarez, and to play second with walker hurt. Melancon is good and very important to us, but sands and dejesus were worthless pieces, and Pimentel hasn’t done anything either. So Melancon for Holt and Hanrahan?, eh…


Hanrahan is worthless now. Holt is playing well but no room in Pittsburgh…plus Harrison is fine to replace an injured Walker. No way Pirates start Holt over Pedro at 3B.

Melancon has been better than Hammer since the trade. Pimentel, have you really given up on him already? He’s been pretty good out of the pen, and could be in the rotation next year. I wouldn’t say he hasn’t done anything, he is still young. Yea the other 2 failed but I was really referring to the value of the trade…Sands was regarded well.

The trade was a win, Holt at a position of depth and a lost reliever in Hammer for a good reliever in Melancon and a bullpen arm who should be starting in the future.


What sense does trading Gabby make? He and Davis are an effective platoon so why would you want to take away the more consistent side of that and possibly introduce another question mark into the lineup. In addition Gabby is not going to bring back anybody worthwhile so trading him would simply placate all the yinzers on the fan.


If the Pirates are in contention, I absolutely agree that Gaby should stay. He’s a good contributor. The main reason I listed him was b/c I recently saw his name being mentioned as a deadline guy, but I agree the return likely wouldn’t be great unless someone wanted a package of Gaby + Locke/Hughes/Lambo or whatever (don’t take those names too seriously).

If they are out of contention, Pirates have to determine if the 1B platoon will happen all of 2015 or not. No idea what Gaby’s contract/salary situation is.


I don’t think Gaby, Tabata, Snider or Grilli will yield anything of value.
Most teams in contention have a closer.


Not true. Oakland has resorted to closer by committee because of Jim Johnson’s early struggles (though it appears that Sean Doolittle may latch onto the spot).

Likewise Detroit has Joe Nathan with 13 saves and a 7.04 ERA / 1.57 WHIP. Now that Leyland is out of Detroit, Grilli might find a welcoming party.


June 27, 2014 – Jason Grilli traded to Los Angelas Angels for Ernesto Frieri


Grilli has value. Middle relievers with closing experience are always in demand down the stretch.


You’re not going to get anything of value for Snider, unless a team thinks their staff can turn him into the next Brandon Moss.


You cannot replace Gaby Sanchez with Matt Hague and expect anything approaching the awesomeness you get vs. LHP in MLB.

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