Earlier today while talking about the Pirates’ interest in Travis Snider, I noted that if Snider was brought back, the Pirates would have Snider, Brad Lincoln, Stephen Tarpley, and Steven Brault in the same organization at the same time. If you don’t know the connection, it’s basically a trade tree full of buy low/sell high moves, where the Pirates sold former top prospects at their highest value in order to get potentially better guys.
It started when the Pirates had Brad Lincoln in their bullpen in 2012. The right-hander had struggled up to that season in his attempts to crack the MLB rotation, combining for a 5.74 ERA in 100.1 innings in his first two seasons in the big leagues. He moved to the bullpen full-time in 2012, and started having a lot of success, with a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings, along with a 9.1 K/9 and a 2.1 BB/9.
The Pirates ended up trading him for Snider, in a move that was largely hated. Snider was a former top prospect who had also struggled to make a strong jump to the majors, posting a .248/.306/.429 line in 917 plate appearances with Toronto. Lincoln ended up falling apart with Toronto, was traded to the Phillies in a minor move in 2014, and re-joined the Pirates this year as a minor league free agent.
After the trade, Snider didn’t do so well with the Pirates. He had a .652 OPS the rest of the year in 2012, then struggled with a .614 OPS in 2013, while most Pirates fans wished they had Lincoln back, despite not so great numbers from Lincoln. Then, in 2014, Snider finally had a big season, posting a .776 OPS, fueled by a strong finish to the year where he emerged as a starting option to take over for the struggling Gregory Polanco.
Despite the success, the Pirates decided that they would go with Polanco as their starter in 2015, and felt they could replicate Snider’s production with one of their other candidates. So they traded him after half a season of success and landed two actual left-handed pitching prospects from the Orioles in Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley. Just like the Lincoln deal, most Pirates fans hated this move.
However, it seems history might have repeated itself. Snider immediately regressed with Baltimore, posting a .659 OPS in the season as a bench player. He was released this weekend, despite Baltimore being in a tight playoff race and needing outfielders. And the two left-handers that were acquired have been tearing up the minors for the Pirates.
In both Snider trades, the Pirates did an excellent job of selling high and buying low. They traded Lincoln after half a season of success in the bullpen, which was a very minor role. They got Snider, with the hope that he could eventually break out into a starter. That didn’t happen, but he did have a good half season in 2014, and they took the gamble that this was an outlier, rather than the breakout they were waiting for. It turned out that they were right, and while Baltimore got nothing for Snider this weekend, the Pirates were able to get two legit prospects for him by trading him at his highest value.
It would only make sense to bring Snider back, just like they brought back Lincoln this year. Snider is now at a low point in value, to the point where no team claimed him off waivers this week, despite only about $650,000 remaining on his deal this year. He would now cost the pro-rated portion of the league minimum, and could still be a decent depth option off the bench. I don’t think his value goes higher than a bench player at this point, but as I noted earlier, the Pirates could use him if they found a way to stash him in Triple-A until September rolls around.
But if the Pirates don’t get him, then at least they sold high on him and got two good prospects, rather than waiting for a point when no team was interested in taking him on, even when the only cost was money.
**Prospect Watch: Tyler Glasnow Shows Electric Stuff in Latest Start. Ryan Palencer had a live report on Glasnow’s stuff in the latest outing.
**Rehab Updates on Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer. Both played back to back games for the first time this weekend, and Ryan Palencer provides an update on their status.
**Pirates Have Expressed Interest in Travis Snider. I went over the rumors, with my thoughts on Snider.
**What Has Led to Stephen Tarpley’s Dominant Season in West Virginia? Speaking of the Snider trade, I saw Tarpley two weeks ago, and broke down why he’s having such a good season this year.
**Are the Pirates Rotation Struggles Due to Injuries to Mercer and Harrison? An interesting look at the starting pitching woes lately, and one possible reason for those issues.
**Brandon Waddell Adds to the Pirates Growing Left-Handed Pitching Depth. My look at the 2015 fifth round pick from Saturday. The Pirates are stocking up on interesting left-handed pitching prospects.
**Despite Many Options, the Pirates Still Lack a Good First Baseman. The first base situation still looks bad, and I broke it all down on Saturday.
**Pirates Sign Pitcher Frank Herrmann, Bristol Player Retires. John Dreker breaks down the latest minor moves, including a new player in Triple-A.