Yesterday the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics made a trade that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. The Cubs ended up getting shortstop Addison Russell, outfielder Billy McKinney, and pitcher Dan Straily. There have been a lot of people wanting the Pirates to trade for a pitcher like Samardzija. Here is a look at what the recent trade would have looked like if we substitute Pirates prospects for the guys the Athletics gave up.
Addison Russell – He’s one of the top prospects in the game. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus both have said he will be in the top six of their mid-season top 50 rankings (BA will have him number five, and BP six). The only guy for the Pirates who would rank that high would be Gregory Polanco. He would probably rank a few spots higher than Russell if he was still in consideration for those lists. The fact that he’s off to a good start in the majors means that his value goes up. I don’t think Polanco for Russell is a 1-for-1 swap at all. But the Pirates would have a bigger downgrade going to one of their next prospects and trying to match Russell’s value.
Billy McKinney – McKinney was a first round pick last year, as was Austin Meadows. However, Meadows had a higher value coming into the year, and probably still has a higher value. From an age and position perspective, I’d say that Harold Ramirez is comparable. They’re both 19 and outfielders. From a value perspective, I think Josh Bell would be comparable to McKinney.
Dan Straily – He’s had some time in the majors, posting a 4.11 ERA in 230 innings. He’d probably have the same value as one of the depth options for the Pirates, like Brandon Cumpton.
One thing to consider here is that the Cubs would be trading in their own division if they dealt to the Pirates. It would probably take more from the Pirates to get a deal done. I’m not sure that means they’d have to give up Polanco, Bell, and Cumpton for this deal, as the Polanco factor might be too much. The trade value for a top 10 hitting prospect is $42.2 M. I’m assuming Tyler Glasnow will be a top 25 prospect ($18.89 M) and Austin Meadows will be a top 50 prospect ($18.12 M). That would still leave the Pirates short, about the value of a Grade B hitter. That would be someone like Harold Ramirez.
Considering the difference in value between Polanco and Russell, I’d say a similar trade value for the Pirates would be Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez, and Brandon Cumpton. That would be four of the top ten prospects in the system, all for a year and a half of Samardzija, and half a year of Hammel.
The point of this isn’t to say whether the Pirates should have or shouldn’t have made this particular trade. This is to get an idea of what a top of the rotation pitcher would cost. The Hammel part of the trade complicates this a bit, although that’s only going to take off from the back end of the deal. The price for a top of the rotation pitcher with 1.5 years of service will be high, likely costing at least three of the top ten prospects in the Pirates’ system.
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.