First Pitch: What to Expect From the Pirates at the Trade Deadline

In a normal year, we’d be wrapping up the trade deadline right now, looking at the moves made by July 31st. But this year, the deadline was moved back an extra day, giving us one more day to look forward to what the Pirates will do.

Last week, I started off by suggesting that the Pirates should trade Mark Melancon. It was a move that I thought made a lot of sense, but that I didn’t actually think they would do. And then they actually did it on Saturday afternoon. I don’t think they were going to be doing much in the post-season, even with Melancon on the roster. Instead of losing him for nothing, they got 5+ years of Felipe Rivero and a high upside prospect in Taylor Hearn. This is the type of deal that could turn out looking fantastic — much like how the original Melancon deal looked.

I don’t think the Pirates are done. In fact, I could see them having a very busy day on Monday. The following is just pure speculation and my read on the market and rumors.

First, I wouldn’t be surprised if they add a starter. I don’t think they’d pay the big prices for someone having a good season, or even pay for a guy under long-term control like Matt Moore. If that happened, I would actually be surprised. Instead, I could see them making a move similar to last year, where they add a struggling starter with some upside, and hope for the quick turnaround.

They’ve already been linked to a few of those guys, and tonight there was a (questionable) rumor that they were looking at Nathan Eovaldi. I wouldn’t put much stock in that yet, as I don’t know Mike Ortiz Jr.’s track record reporting news. But this does match rumors that the Pirates were looking at Eovaldi earlier. There was even a rumor in 2014 that didn’t pan out, where they were trying a Pedro Alvarez for Eovaldi swap with the Marlins (you’ll notice in both of those links that I’ve been high on Eovaldi for some time). So while the specifics of the latest rumor are questionable (it would make sense to deal from one of the Triple-A starters to try and get an upgrade though), I wouldn’t rule out the Eovaldi aspect, since this has been rumored multiple times.

And that totally makes sense. Eovaldi is a hard thrower — with the second best velocity among starting pitchers, behind Noah Syndergaard — who gets ground balls, a decent amount of strikeouts, limits walks, and has seen his ERA inflated this year by an unusually high HR/FB ratio (so he’d fit right in). It was only a year ago that he posted a 3.2 fWAR, and two years ago he was a 2.9 fWAR pitcher. There’s a lot of upside here, and he’s only 26 years old. If he turns it around this year, much like Happ did last year, it’s a huge boost for the Pirates and their playoff chances. If he doesn’t turn it around, they have control of him next year, with a chance to work with him over the off-season and in Spring Training, and try to get him back to his old numbers.

I’m not putting a lot of stock in that rumor yet, but this type of plan is what the Pirates should be going for. Make a high risk/high reward type move, bringing in a pitcher who might not help this year, but does have a chance to turn things around, and has a better chance to be an upgrade for next year. You get an off-season move out of the way, with a high upside guy for the current hopes of a playoff run.

I think the Pirates will add a starter. That would open the door for a starter to move. They’ve got Jon Niese and Jeff Locke in the bullpen, although Locke is scheduled to return to the rotation this week. So is Ryan Vogelsong, but if they added a starter, one of those guys would have to go, as they couldn’t both be in the bullpen after the Pirates switch back to five starters, due to the lack of bullpen space. I wouldn’t expect much from these types of deals, except maybe a lottery ticket lower level prospect.

I’m guessing the Pirates are done with their bullpen. Then again, this is the team that added Joe Blanton last year and optioned Vance Worley to Triple-A, which was a move that was hated at the time. They also brought in Joakim Soria, boosting the middle relief group.

I also wonder if they would make a move to send out John Jaso and clear space for Josh Bell. This falls along the lines of something I think they should do, rather than something I expect them to do. Jaso is better than Bell defensively right now, but has been struggling at the plate. If I felt they were serious contenders, I’d suggest keeping Jaso and using Bell as a September call-up. However, since they’ve got a low chance at contending down the stretch, I think they’d be better off giving time to Bell, and letting him get adjusted to the majors for the 2017 season.

Outside of that, anything is possible. Last year they surprised everyone with their low-key moves, claiming Joe Blanton off waivers, trading for Joakim Soria and J.A. Happ, and swapping the bad contract of Jose Tabata for Michael Morse.

We’ll see what this year holds. At the very least, I think the Pirates will have a new starting pitcher by Monday night.

**We’ll have full coverage and analysis of any moves tomorrow. Subscribe to the site to follow along, and learn about any prospects traded away or brought to the team.

**Prospect Watch: Williams, Holmes and Hinsz Highlight Sunday’s Action. All of the minor league reports, with some great starts from Gage Hinsz and Trevor Williams.

**Where Does Taylor Hearn Rank in the Pirates Top 50? We went through the ranking process to slot Hearn in our recently updated top 50.

**Pirates Recall Max Moroff, Option Steven Brault. I’d do a Book on Max Moroff, but I don’t expect him to be up for long. You should definitely read this article from Brian Peloza a few weeks ago though.

**Morning Report: Is Elvis Escobar Finally Turning Into a Prospect? John Dreker takes a look at the good numbers Escobar is putting up.

  • they reason that you are losing you games is that you don’t have markmelancon with you any more so if you want to win the game get mark melancon back and never let him go again untillhe is dead

  • cvlint hudle if you want me to watch the pittsburghjpirates ever again pleaswe resign mark melancon to 5more years making king him an again in 5000

  • Since rumors of MM trade surfaced, posters here (and I include myself) have been more upset than at any time since the Coon & Hunt group arrived. Let’s hope after another half hour or so we can all get more positive.

  • After seeing what you can get for a rental like Hill, maybe the Pirates should be sellers. The asking price of pitchers with ERA’s above 4 and even 5 have a high asking price. With that you should be able to get a lot more for Liriano than it would cost to get a similar pitcher in the off season. Use this time to see how the young arms can do at the next level. They can’t do much worse than Liriano.

  • Tim, what’s going on with the Buccos?!? Are they buyers? Are they sellers? I’m not hearing them in rumors on either side and I’m channel surfing ESPN and MLB Network.
    If they’re not getting starting pitching, then why don’t they trade their players on 1-year deals?

  • Note to Mr. Nutting:
    I have been a partial season ticket holder for four years. I still have nine games to attend this season.
    As the team is, for all intents and purposes, out of postseason play thanks to the singularly uninspiring road trip this weekend, I am not attending further games unless the team changes course and plays Bell, Frazier, the pitching prospects and any other prospect that shows promise.
    The team you and your staff assembled this year sucks and shows no inclination or desire to their collective heads out of their asses. With the exception of Marte and Polanco, your bench can outplay your starters. You have two starting pitchers worth a ticket.
    Unless any trades between now and 4pm remove Jaso from the roster or Neal can work out some blockbuster for Cutch and Kang, please don’t make any roster moves. Keep the kids, bench the vets. Play your best lineup, which would include Bell and Frazier, along with Freese and Joyce. I’m OK with giving Vogelsong a start to see what’s there and use him to eat innings to save the young arms if necessary, but no more Locke or Niese.
    I’m simply not interested in spending another dollar in your team over what I’ve already invested.
    And if Clint objects, fire him. He’s lost the club, in my humble opinion.

    Thank you for your time,
    Concerned partial season ticket holder who gave you $1400 plus concessions money in 2016.

  • Koloacat–You make too much sense fot he PBC management.

    They’ll do little, including moving Jaso.

    But, I hope they play the kids and look, post season, to trade Cutch who has declining skills and won’t resign with them, so–as in Melancon’s case–get something or him. (But in looking at what other prime relievers brought back, NH didnt get enough for MM.)

    • Read some of the D.C. take on the deal…They are not happy to have given up what they did for MM.

  • I would trade Niese, Locke, Jaso, Vogelsong and cash to the Yankees for Eovaldi….if only they would take it 🙂

    • No offense buy WHY???? would the Yankees take that deal. Vogey is 39 and yet to return from the DL no one is going to take him in a trade. Niese and Locke are not pitching well and Jaso has little to no value for the Yankees either.

      • Its fantasy Ron, i realize – thats why i say ‘if only they would take it’

        • OH OK!!!! NVM!!!

        • Sad thing is, there are many that post on these types of boards that think a team will take a bunch of lower level guys and give you a quality player in return. Give up garbage for a nice steak are deals that always happen!

          • Just saw a new post on MLTR re: Rays starters. Pirates are in on Moore still. Someone posted that the Dodgers had to just offer up Urias and they would get both Archer and Longoria…. Not really offering garbage for Archer and Longoria but if the Rays wanted to start with Glasnow and Meadows for just Archer, how does this poster think that they will give 2 top MLB players with control for just one top prospect?? People make me just shake my head……lots….

    • If only…

  • Tim, is Cutch still struggling with his thumb? If he’s healthy, they should try to send him to Tampa for Archer straight up. Not sure his value, but Tampa would get a shot in the arm either way I believe, attendance wise. They could play him on a corner where he belongs without worrying about hurting his feelings. They need to act now IF he is healthy. I worry he is in the early stages of a Carl Crawford decline. If they wait until this time next year and he continues to struggle, it’s going to become a sad situation.

    • That is not a good deal for the Pirates. A great deal for Tampa. NO PLEASE NO!!

      • Have you watched Cutch this year? He hurts us in center, and is just terrible at the plate. He is clearly trending down, but be a rose colored glasses homer.

        • I have been watching the last few years as well. Players have bad seasons. Its not uncommon. Archer is having a bad season so why the expectation he will recover next year and Cutch won’t. What glasses are you looking through?

          • Look, without emotion, at Cutch’s numbers since 2013. Then make a line chart and tell me the direction it’s heading. Archer is having a down-ish year, but the stuff is still there. Now I will concede Cano came back better after a horrible year, and that is why I put the caveat that if this has to do with his thumb, maybe he’ll bounce back. But he is real close to the same type of player Crawford was. Where are Cutch’s steals? I REALLY hope I am wrong, because I was there at the 2013 playoff games chanting MVP, but my eyes tell a different story than my heart. He looks defeated but the struggles.

            • lets take that line back to 2010 and look at the peripherals…I agree that his knees are probably shot and he has lost a step…but, Miggy won a triple crown with bad wheels – if the hitting returns, maybe he may need moved out of center but still a supremely serviceable player

              • K’s have escalated at an alarming rate, and I concede that players have come back from down years, sure. Lets look at this a different way. This is a trade deadline conversation, not an I hate 22 conversation. Would you rather trade Bell for Moore, or Cutch for Archer? Because if he doesn’t turn this around next year, he will have no value.

                • Why trade for either of those pitchers???

                • i keep bell and kuhl/glasnow/taillon/brault….but the bucs supposedly have PLENTY of pitchers in the system and you can only use about 10 at one time *5 starters and 5 relievers*….lose some guys at the single A and double A levels that can be replaced in the draft – I would give up Keller, Diaz, Kingham and even Clay Holmes to get Eovaldi or Archer

                  • Do you worry, after getting no results this year and some regressions, that Benedict (that went to Marlis) was the real genius

                    • Yep.

                      Marlins already have the best OF in MLB and they’re now in WC position with basically two starting pitchers. The big difference between them and us: Their #2 has pitched like a #2 and their middle relief has been solid.

                  • Archer will not be had for those guys. Supposedly they wanted to start with guys like Glasnow and Meadows. Who knows what else they would have to give up for Archer. Would Not give up Glasnow and Meadows.

                  • This is you showing your lack of a full understanding of the sport. Keller’s upside is huge, and Diaz is damn near indespensible given the injury histories of our MLB catchers. They are not like the other players you list to trade.

        • yutz, plenty of stars have down years from time to time…i would hate to give up on a guy that could win the next two MVPs while in a bucco uniform….he is clearly hurting mentally and maybe there is a physical component to it as well..put him on the DL and give him 30 days –

    • The Rays are not going to come close to picking up a contract like his.

      • Cutch and Archer’s contracts aren’t all that dissimilar.

        • Cutch is making 13 this year 14 next year. 14.75 in 2018. Archer is making 3, 5 and 6 million in those years. HOW are they anywhere close to similar?

          • Lol, so you are now saying we won’t do this trade because Archer is more valuable to Tampa than Cutch would be. Both contracts a viewed as extremely team friendly. If Cutch was a free agent he’d get at least 25-30 million a year due to his past. Archer’s deal is also a great value. Plus our best prospect is a CF and is almost ready. The cost of pitching is getting silly.

            • NO Bobby is saying the Rays wont take a 13 million contract. They wont. That is what I am agreeing too. Team friendly or not. They are not the same value.

              • If I’m the Rays I take a shot, they are loaded with pitching. Cutch is somewhat of a hometown guy and gives them a draw. It’s all speculation, obviously.

                • The Rays Never have and they don’t have the market for it.

                • His effervescent personality, fearless base running, spectacular play in the outfield, and dangerous bat will pack them in!

  • I’m just going to be completely honest here, how are the Yankees, Brewers, and other teams that are out of it getting praised for selling pending FA or players like Lucroy? And the Pirates get bashed for dumping Mark M, who was leaving after this year anyway. People can talk about the new TV deal w Root that is coming up, and the CBA. But the owner has to shell out the cash to keep players, or they will keep just trending water.

    Last of the trade deadline I would move Freese, Joyce, and Jaso for multiple mid level prospects. I wouldn’t not trade for another starting pitcher. Just keep Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Brault and Kuhl up here. Let the young guys learn now in a season when we wont make the playoffs, most likely. Move the log jam of B+ position players and call up Bell and Hanson. Let them play now, we have nothing to lose. Except to be better next year. See what Frazier can do in an expanded role and quit babying Kang we have him for 2 more years they need play him more.

    I would also put Frankie on the DL, and Cutch as well. Move Marte to center and Polanco to left. When Cutch comes back after a few weeks he can go in RF, I would keep that way til 2018. Locke and Niese are lucky to have a job, they can stay in the bullpen this year.

    Bring up the young guys and let them learn now so they don’t kill you next year.

    • I agree with some of what you have to say, but, you cannot send your closer away mid-season when you are still in a wildcard race – period. It sends the players a GFYS message…cannot get rid of Freese – i would sign him to a 3 year deal (if he is willing) because Kang is a lost cause for this season as Chicago fucked with him yet again)….i agree with you to give the young guys a chance to get acclimated and putting at least Cutch on the DL….

      • You can send your closer away when you were prepared to do so in the previous off season and replace him with the same guy you planned to do so before the season started. You would have a valid point if the Bucs did not have Watson on the roster. He was slated for the closer role last winter but the Pirates must not have been getting many bites on Melancon. The deal has been bashed in the Washington media. Read where the Nats will be upset when Melancon leaves and Rivero stars for Pittsburgh. On top of that we go a huge upside pitcher in Hearn thrown in.

      • There is what 60 some games left, no way we are chasing down the Mets, Mia, Cards, or Dodgers. They did the smart thing by getting something for him now in Rivero and the future. Lefties that throw it 100 do t grow on trees. I wouldn’t mind bringing up Travor Wiliams and putting him in the bullpen. And starting young guys isn’t always giving up. It’s preparing for the future and could be a boost for the team. Also Diaz needs to come up and stay up.

  • This is crazy speculation. This team is not going anywhere and if they trade for anyone significant it is to keep fannies in the seats and nothing else. Cutch and Liariano as well as Kang are having awful years and it is not going to change because they add a starting pitcher to the mix or a reliever for that matter. Unless they are making moves with next year in mind then it is a waste of time and prospects. Time now is to sell, Jaso, Joyce, Jhay, niese, Locke and Liariano. Give the kids a few months experience to see what you have for next year. If they fail miserably then you can trade them for a proven veteran. Other than trading those noted for prospects I do not see this team having any chance to make the playoffs this year, so why bother.

  • Edinson Volquez would make some sense. He’s only got one year left and a buyout, so he’s affordable. I could see the Royals accepting Jon Niese and a minor league pitcher with fly ball tendencies.

  • I also like the Upside of Eovaldi more than some of the other pitchers the Pirates have looked at. I haven’t heard if he profiles as a closer. He’s still an upgrade of what they have now. I don’t know what they can do with Liriano, they can’t trade him or move him to the pen. At this point you can’t just keep sending him out there. I would have put him on the DL a long time ago and had him work his way back with some rehab starts. The AAA season will end this month so they will lose that option.

  • I like the upside of Eovoldi. I think the Pirates are still in it. They’ve shown they can get hot this year. Although I think it will have to happen without a resurgence of Liriano or McCutchen.

  • At least one of Jaso/Rodriguez/Joyce/Freese will be dealt today, I’m betting.

    • michael schalke
      August 1, 2016 10:29 am

      Not Rodriguez. I think Hurdle might quit if they traded him. Get rid of Jaso at the very least!

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 1, 2016 9:55 am

    In pro sports in general, particularly in baseball, different managerial styles sometime are needed for different stages of team development. Clint is obviously a players manager – is well liked, communicates well, and is a very positive voice.
    But, now that the team has had some success, but hasn’t been able to take the next step (win the division or go deep in the playoffs), maybe a different kind of manager is needed? Maybe this team needs someone who will apply the needed “kick to the pants”, that some on this team apparently need? To demand more personal accountability in regards to fundamentals on the bases and fielding, which the team is abysmal in both. Maybe a Mike Sullivan type is needed? Thoughts on that?

    • Honestly I have never really seen that work in baseball. Its a different then football and hockey. I have coached baseball and coach football. I am a very strict discipline style coach. My coaching style works well in football not so much in baseball. You need literally a manager in baseball its why they are called that. Valid argument though but not sure it really applies in baseball.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 1, 2016 10:19 am

        Do you see any evidence, by the lineups he puts out every day, that Hurdle ever disciplines or holds anyone accountable for poor performance?

        • Well yes and no. I mean Cutch aside, I have seen him play others in a way of benching guys. Harrison has been sat a few times. I don’t know as a coach what to do with Cutch. That is a really tricky situation.

    • The HAWTHORN EFFECT: Make the lights brighter and you get more productivity. Bring in a brighter manager! That guy from the Rangers: He is a tough no nonsense manager. Trade Jaso- I think Hurdle wants to be liked by everyone. Guys seemed to have quit because of no accountability./

  • Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed

  • Maybe an infusion of youthful energy is just what this team needs. What they’re doing now sure doesn’t seem to be working. Bringing back Vogelsong and Locke and keeping the same lineup day after day is likely to just result in more of the same. Unless something changes quickly and pretty dramatically, the Pirates have little hope of making any sort of playoff run this year. The Cubs aren’t this much better than the Pirates, but they sure seem to believe in themselves. Perhaps the young players the Cubs have don’t know any better than to think they are going to win even when they are behind by 6 runs like they were yesterday. Enthusiasm is contagious, but unfortunately so is frustration.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 1, 2016 8:38 am

    Sell, sell, and sell….the team has quit…time to inject youth and energy…

    • You hear so much about the clubhouse. With so many players having tanked this season, there are bound to be grumblings. It’s not hard to imagine.

      Time for a managerial change.

      • As someone else pointed out (I think it was on this site) Neil should just handle any clubhouse grumblings by pointing out, “Maybe if you guys had played better during the first 2/3 of the season, these moves wouldn’t be necessary.

        • Players always gripe when they lose and it is never their fault (altho a handful man up)

        • ….and maybe they respond by saying to Neal, ” the starting pitchers you provided for this team were jus not good enough.”

          • While its hard to argue with that, but still this lineup has left SO MANY runners in scoring position. Our record is not just on the pitching. They didn’t get it done period.

          • and his response would be to point out the combined lack of effort, bone-headed batters box decisions and Little League base-running gaffes that didn’t help those pitchers out.

        • Management quit on this team early and often this year. I doubt NH wants to discuss this with the players. Now maybe they could finally bench Cutch for his complete lack of effort in the field and on the basepaths and let everyone on the team know they will be held accountable going forward (they certainly have not been in the recent past). That could possibly light a fire but then again it could really bury them.

    • I don’t know about them quitting, but they do need injected with something.

      • Watch it! Injecting things is not really keeping in the rules these days!!

      • I’ll never forget sitting in a quarterly management meeting years ago when the presidents of operating divisions had to report to a pretty tough CEO.
        At point the CEO screamed at one guy that if he didn’t shape up he was “personally going to inject him with a hot applesauce enema.”
        Caused some real fear in the room, and the whole scene was so damn funny I drew blood biting my tongue.

        • I despise managers who act that way.

          • He was not an asshole generally, the remark was delivered so well and was so out of character it left an impression on everyone in the room. I still laugh every time I think about it.

  • Tim….I asked this yesterday (and got a few likes, so I think others would like to know, too). Is Bell’s 2b defense closer to Pedro’s or Garrett Jones;??

    On a scale of 1-10, Pedro is a 1. Jones was a ‘4’ (or 3.5).
    I’d put Jaso at a ‘6’. Sean Rod is probably an 8 or 9.

    I know Jaso is better than Bell defensively.

    I guess I just assumed Bell had progressed to Jones’ ability.

    Thx

    • Tim that is a great question. Great way of putting it foo.

    • Last year, Bell was rated below Pedro in defense. Has approx the same error rate this year as last but has been said that he is improved this year. Have never seen him play in the field so no idea what type of errors he is making or if he is making routine plays easily or not or having to think on each play he is involved in. Thinking he is a Jones type on defense right now and the pirates want him playing every day to keep learning as opposed to platooning at best or sitting on the bench. If they brought him up to play everyday, then it may be worth the risk to let him keep learning in the Bigs.

      • I’ve seen him twice and he has looked clumsy around 1b (not counting the video that JD posted awhile back). But that was last year.

        I’d really like to know where he is at THIS year. If he hasn’t improved much, it might be time to end the experiment?

        Put him in RF and trade Cutch?

        Trade him to the AL where he can DH?

        • Where to you put Meadows next year? That is the master plan for the outfield. I think Bell is close to being the everyday guy at 1st. He does not have to be an all star for his defense but has to be at least adequate. From what I have heard, he is better than last year but still needed time and work. I would rather the stay down a little too long and work out some of his mistakes so that when he come up for good, he does not have to think so much in the field and less chance of him taking his fielding woes to the batters box as happens to guys who struggle in the field. Would rather him take an extra couple of months to get to the bigs in Pittsburgh than to trade him away to bash the ball somewhere else. See Aramis Ramirez and Jose Bautista. Whole lot of people were glad they were traded and they blossomed after traded away. Bell will work out and be on 1b for many years for Pittsburgh

        • As far fetched as it might seem, trading him to an AL team might not be a bad idea if his defense is still bad (as some have inferred).
          He would be a big chip. Sale or Quintana are probably the only starters I think would be of interest to package with Bell and a huge load of prospects.

          • From what I have seen it would take not only Bell but Glasnow, Meadows and others just to get the White Sox to talk.

    • Do you like me ? YES NO
      Want to go steady? YES NO
      Can you give me your Math Notes? YES NO

    • Apparently, Tim wants nothing to do with that question????

      • I wouldn’t go that high with Jaso, I would go 5….Maybe lower is 5 is the mean.

        • I would say Jaso is a 6. He makes most the every day plays, and half the above average plays, Just not many way above average plays.

    • It’s really hard to quantify defense in that way. How many steps are there between Pedro and Jones? How many between Jones and Jaso?

      All I know is that by watching him, he clearly has a lot to work on. Missing practice grounders on the backhand. Not smooth at all fielding some difficult grounders (more throwing his body at them than fielding them like normal).

      This is one of those situations where all of the people who haven’t seen him are currently saying “His defense is good enough” just because they want the bat in the majors. Then, those same people will be saying “Wow, his defense is bad” like it’s a surprise when they finally see him in the majors.

      • I will certainly take your word for it….When Kuhl came up for his MLB debut, I felt like I seen him pitch before because of your and Drekker’s analysis on here. Same can be said of Brault and Taillon. You guys have been watching these prospects for years now and you report exactly what you see and that’s what makes this site the best around for prospect coverage.

        BTW, I’m not kissing ass, just giving you my perspective.

      • Thx Tim….gee…if he is that bad after all of that work, maybe it is time to call off the experiment?

        It sounds like he has hands of stone, a la, the ‘great’ Dr Strangeglove, Dick Stuart?

        And, then, in that case, what do we do with him? Trade him to the AL?

  • It does feel like it should and will be a very active deadline day for the Pirates. Does GM Neal Huntington decide to try and improve this year’s club or deal for the future? Joyce, Freese, Rodriguez, Jaso. Locke, Liriano, Hanson, Rogers, Harrison, even Cutch have to be in his mind if he decides to go future only. Not to mention a lot of our desirable pitching and outfield prospects that could be in the trade package mix.
    Or does he decide to retool and add for a run at the wildcard, dealing from the prospect pool ans some of the laterals? The Bucs still have an easy schedule, if they play like major leaguers. He won’t stand pat…..and this site will be screaming with activity tonight and tomorrow.
    Which way will he go?

    • I am of the opinion that Freese shouldn’t be moved. The Kang situation is far from resolved. I think I posted yesterday that MLB will make an example of him.

      • How does “making an example” of Kang improve the image/popularity of MLB in Asia – specifically South Korea

        • I don’t know that Asia is highly considered with this. It’s all about sending a strong message to MLB players. The domestic violence issues in the majors have been treated differently with no across the board consistency. I just think if Kang is implicated, even if he’s innocent, he’ll become the minimum standard for this type situation.

          • Jose Reyes already is that.

          • If Kang is found to be innocent why would MLB make an example of him?

            • Chapman, among others, had charges dropped but MLB suspended him. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but IMO it’s going to be about sending a message….don’t make anonymous hookups, especially on the road. And keep what you do in public areas.
              Athletes are prime fodder for get rich quick schemes.

          • yes, the Asian market will be a consideration

        • Il tuo una TESTA DI UN ASINO

      • I agree with not moving Freese I think that’s a valid point. Not sure MLB will make an example of him though. But even if they do what they have done with others still would be nice to have Freese.

      • Absolutely agree…..unless NH is tanking at which point you move him because he clearly has value.

      • Freese should be moved unless the front office wants to resign him now to a contract extension. No point in holding on to pending free agents at this juncture. Feliz and Joyce should also be on the block with Feliz potentially providing a Melancon type return. If Kang gets suspended the Pirates can start Frazier or Hanson in his place.

        • The difference with Freese and Feliz is they may be able to resign them even after the season. Joyce I may agree with.

  • – We have two reliable starters in Cole and Taillon.
    – We have two active veteran projects in Vogelsong (the current best hope) and Liriano (who has deserved a demotion but won’t get it.) (Locke, Niese, and Nicasio have been and should stay demoted.)
    – For the final spot we have 4 other rookies – Glasnow, Kuhl, Brault, and Williams.

    If we make trade, it shouldn’t be for next year. It should be for this year. If we were playing for next year, start the young guys and see what we have in them.
    If we make a trade it should also not be a trade for a “project” as we have that about 5 veteran projects and 4 rookie projects already.

    We need to trade for a guy that is ready to step into the 2 or 3 spot of the rotation. If we don’t what is really the point?

    • Well I caution you on saying the trade should not be for next year. My concern is how young the pitching staff is going to be. Cole still with 3 seasons. Liriano will be back next year as a veteran but since the Niese project did not work out that would leave 3 rookie level pitchers to start the season next year with another at less then 3 full seasons. If we can find another veteran even a 4-5 guy who is an inning eater it would benefit us over the next couple seasons. Liriano has one year left and it will be a contract year so trust me he will play better (I don’t mean to say he isn’t playing well because it isn’t one but). He has a chance for one more big contract in his career so he will do whatever it takes to get back to form before next season and hopefully we can take advantage of that giving us a nice 1-2 top with Tailion at #3. So a good #4 with experience like a younger Vogey type would be nice to help mentor the young guys and eat innings for their short starts they will have.

      • I agree with your goal of needing a veteran amidst the rookies next year (assuming the veteran is not Locke or Niese). However, we just traded Melancon. Combining that with the Locke/Niese releases would free up about $22 million (although Cole’s raise will eat into that). That should be plenty to spend on a legit non-prospect pitcher.
        No reason to waste a prospect on a project at this point when next year can be addressed in the offseason

        • That’s an option as long as he has some experience too. Don’t forget Polanco’s boost starts next year too. But still a viable option.

        • It’s not that simple, Rich. A lot af that money will be eaten up by arbitration eligible players, as well as escalating salaries of those players that signed multi-year contracts. If I am NH, I utilize my prospect capital to obtain a cost controlled pitcher with an established track record of success at the MLB level. With that being said, I create a trade package around any prospect(s) not named Meadows or Bell.

      • I like the idea of going with a young rotation next year with Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Kuhn and Brault. Chances are all five of them will not workout but then you have Williams, Kingham, Holmes, Eppler and Duncan waiting for their turn in AAA. The idea of signing a vet to be a “mentor” for the young pitchers is overrated and Cole has enough experience at this juncture to fill that role anyhow. The Pirates have young, cost controlled talent. Better off developing this talent. Ya there will be some growing pains but I would bet that a young rotation as listed earlier would easily out do this years staff and would set up the Pirates for the next half decade plus.

        • Problem is the offense and position players are built to win now. Don’t want to waste that.

          • That’s why I was hoping for an Archer trade last week even if you have to give up Glasnow plus several other quality pieces. By the time Glasnow and the rest of the rookies (possibly excluding Taillon cuz he looks like he’s settled in the bigs a bit already) have gone through their growing pains and are reaching their respective peak years Cole, Cutch and J Hey will be leaving or already gone, only one year left of Kang, two on Marte. By the time the young rotation hits it’s stride the front office has to replace their whole starting 8 (yes I know several spots will be filled internally).

            • Not a fan of this kind of impatient win-now-at-all-costs thinking. Especially since Cutch & J-Hay are not worth gambling the farm on. I do get where you are coming from with Cole, a bit. And oh – we got Marte through 2020.

          • Since everyone is signed for at least three years except Mercer and Cutch this team is really built for more then now. A year or two developing internal pitching options is way more likely to result in a WS then holding back young pitching with savvy but less talented vets.

    • Totally agree with not adding a project.

      An innings eater with an ERA under five would really help this team. There is no way this BP can keep piling up innings.

  • Almost everything had to go well for the Pirates to contend this year. With Frankie turning back into the pumpkin that the Twins dumped and our MVP turning into Mario Mendoza in front of our eyes, everything has not gone well. A rental asset makes no sense. Trade Jaso and Liriano, bring up Bell, bench Cutch, or at least move him down in the order. Bring up the kids and let them play they might get hot and do better than the “veterans”. Tomorrow morning several players need to be on revocable trade waivers.

  • Hey the old gang is about to return. Locke and Vogelsong. We are ready and fully armed for the stretch run. Throw in that “magic dust” for the pitching staff and have Hurdle light a fire under our players and we…… Oh wait I was dreaming. Sorry

  • The youngsters could turn what looks like a lost season into a playoff run. Won’t know unless NH and his crew commit to them. What’s the harm?

  • The whole point of trading for an upgrade, is to actually acquire an upgrade. I like Eovaldi as much as the next guy, but not at deadline prices. This team has been flawed from day one and they didn’t bring in the necessary pitching to compete. They did well on their bench additions, but not so much on the mound.

    I think it’s time to turn it over to the kids, specifically Josh Bell. I would move the pending free agents, along with Liriano and Jaso. They will be selling low on Liriano, but this is the market to sell him in. Jaso has faded as the year has went on, and although they claim he’s better than Bell defensively, how much better can he really be, if you’re replacing him everytime you have a lead?

    • I’d give them Willy Garcia and Alen Hanson for Eovaldi and maybe throw in Trevor Williams, but that is about it.

      In other words, no Top 10 prospects. Eovaldi has been an under achiever his whole career. He has shown flashes, but hasn’t put it together and may never.

      • That’s too much. He definately is not worthy of a top 10 piece.

        I have no idea who I would offer tho.

      • foo: Unless the Pirates offer somebody like Harold Ramirez as a part of a trade for Eovaldi, the Yankees will not bite. Their OF is 32, 32, and 39 so the need is there, but Eovaldi is no slouch. I like Hanson for the Pirates because there is a need and he is young, but the Yankees already have a strong middle infield, and some very strong MI talent in their Farm System, including the kid they just got from the Cubs.

      • chuck conner
        August 1, 2016 3:27 pm

        He has the second best fastball in the majors. Although, the home runs are disturbing.

  • Our #1 SP Prospect Jameson Taillon has done well; our #3 SP Prospect Chad Kuhl has done well; and our #4 SP Prospect Steven Brault has been good. Why would we be looking for a SP? Would that mean we are giving up on Glasnow and Kingham also?

    I would be looking to improve the anemic offense and we can do that with promotions from AAA also. BTW, the Marlins have raised their team batting average by 12 points over 2015 – from .260 to .272. Can a new Hitting Coach have that much influence on a team?

    • I couldn’t agree more, emjay. Why Kuhl and Brault keep getting sent down baffles me.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 1, 2016 8:43 am

        This FO is a joke….no plan, just react

        • 3 postseasons in a row. Helping change the chess board so even the Yankees are selling off bad contracts. Somehow having one of the best farm systems AND best MLB teams 3 years in a row, and contending for a 4th above .500. Pretty hard to be reactive and end up with that. That’s a joke that’s lost on me.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 1, 2016 10:05 am

            The best, and most underutilized, farm system in baseball. If they don’t trade or give players like Hanson, Garcia, Diaz, Moroff, etc. a real opportunity soon, they won’t be considered prospects anymore….

        • The F.O. has been slow to react.
          Nicasio overstayed his starting role.
          McCutcheon batted second for far too long. His stay at 3rd has gone on too long as well.
          Jaso getting most of the starts at 1B hasn’t had the proper reaction.
          Frazier has been unable to get a realistic shot.
          Joyce is underused.
          The F.O. has kept Bell at AAA.
          Brault and Kuhl have not been given adequate chances to followup on their limited starts, instead being shuffled off to the minors.

      • The same can be said of using Jaso over Bell. Unless his defense is Pedro bad, he needs to be up and playing first base full time.

        • His defense is below average has been the reports which is why they prefer him to play everyday in AAA. Makes sense to me actually. I expect him to play a lot in Sept. Especially if we get to a point where we are out of it. Or he will start and be pulled even earlier then Jaso. From an offensive standpoint you are 100% correct though.

      • Kuhl and Brault and Glasnow and Schugel all have options that allow them to be sent down and brought back up. The Pirates have had off days and have been able to shift different young guys in and out and allow them all to get ML starts and have Schugel bolster the bull pen when needed. That would have all settled down when the off days dwindled and after today and they see if they get another ML starter. Things got screwed up in the plan when Glasnow and Kuhl both got hurt.

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      August 1, 2016 8:42 am

      Only the Pirates would acquire a starting pitcher when they have so many young starting pitching prospects

      • With the exception of Taillon, none of our AAA pitchers are remotely close to a guarantee. Their collective inconsistencies and continued development are most likely the reason behind the FO’s promotion-demotion carousel, injuries not withstanding. The chances of all of these prospects panning out as above average MLB starters is slim to none. At this point in their development curve, they are basically warm-bodies. If I am NH, I take advantage of Glasnow’s current prospect ranking and package him along with one of McGuire/Newman/Tucker and various B level prospects to get a bonafide #1 or #2 MLB starter with cost controlled years. FA is not a realistic option, and pitching prospects with #3 and #4 upside will not cut it. Glasnow has the highest upside of the pitching prospects but also carries the most risk. At a minimum, he looks to be a couple years away from reaching anywhere near his potential; just too much development left to be a reliable front-of-the-rotation option.

        • This is certainly a very well reasoned option that is in front of the GM today…you correctly point out that there is risk with our prospects. Neal should be considering a prospects for proven starter deal.

        • BuccosFanStuckinMD
          August 1, 2016 10:03 am

          There is risk with all pitchers, including veterans like Eovaldi – who has never really put it all together. He’s just slightly more of a proven commodity than Glasnow. There is now way I trade Glasnow, who has the potential to be the #1 on this staff – Cole doesn’t have the makeup of a #1 and too early to tell with Taillon.
          Now, if they could land a Mike Moore – and not have to trade Glasnow or Meadows to get him – I would consider that. I like Moore a lot, and he’s still pretty young. I’d consider trading Tucker, McGuire, and Craig – as they all have significant flaws, yet were first round picks and have value.
          I would prefer to go into 2017 with a projected rotation of Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Brault, and Kuhl.

          • Not 100 percent on this but I think you have to wait a year to trade a player from the most recent draft. I though about sending Craig to an AL team to get pitching but I don’t think he’s eligible to be traded.

            • They changed that rule a year or 2 ago….D-Bags traded away the #1 pick in the draft (Dansby Swanson) 6 months after drafting him.

            • chuck conner
              August 1, 2016 3:24 pm

              That has changed. Don’t know the particulars, but I believe you can make a trade with a new draftee.

        • chuck conner
          August 1, 2016 3:21 pm

          I do not agree. Glasgow is a series of appointments to a shrink to be one of the best pitcher’s in baseball. Right now he over thinks. Come on, he was shaking off the catcher in his first ML game. Needs to learn to just pitch, and he can learn to think later in his career.

          • I respectfully disagree, Chuck. A shrink will neither provide Glasnow with command of his fastball and curveball nor help with the development of a MLB caliber change-up. I think his frustrations stem from the inability to repeat his delivery on a consistent basis, thus leading to inconsistent results that do match the physical tools.

    • Brault and Kuhl look “good” primarily because the two guys they’d be replacing absolutely sucked as starters. But neither have convinced me they belong long term on a team that’s finished this year but expected to compete in ’17-’18.

      Kuhl still hasn’t shown a sinker that sinks. Brault is still going to too many deep counts.

      Of all the AAA arms, only Taillon really has the smell of a guy who belongs on a championship team.

      If the Bucs are still actually thinking of competing this year, I’m not sure I dump Niese or Locke. So far both of them have been better pen options than Gas Cam and Hughes. And with 3/5ths of the rotation incapable of going 7 innings (and usually less), there’s plenty of work for those two.

  • Hoping they dont get rid of there young starters to get someone like evoldi.. brault has shown he can do well here same with kuhl i would hate to see them go an i think that would be a bad trade.. let those kids pitch.. I was seriously sick when i saw they plan to start locke and vogey this series. Williams has been doing well id like to see him get a shot at it, so im really hoping they dont send one of these guys out of here

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. I’d be very disappointed if we traded Brault and others to pick up Eovoldi. Just pitch our young guys and see what they have. Not going anywhere this season anyway.

      • Eovaldi is definitely worth a shot. He is signed thru next year and is 26 yo. He has stuff. Brault is a potential back end starter but bucs have others of those types. If they can’t aim higher then this type of move makes sense

    • I wouldn’t trade Kuhl, he’s more than likely their next closer. Brault you can part with.

  • Since the Pirates have clearly given up on this season, time to let the young players show what they have. Dump Niese and Jaso, bring up Bell, Brault and Kuhl. A complete waste of time to be starting Locke and Vogelsong and playing Jaso. Trade Freese or Joyce. Play Frazier more. Take advantage of the season they have obviously given up on to get the young players some experience going into next season.

    • I don’t agree with your premise that the Pirates have given up on the season. If they had, they’d already have brought up Diaz, Bell and Kuhl to stay, rather than stashing them at Indianapolis.

      It sounds more like you’ve given up on this season. Not that I blame you. But until those kids come up en masse and start playing everyday, the front office is still following THE PLAN.

      • Sorry, but trading away your closer is the definition of giving up on the season. But feel free to continue your delusional thinking that the Pirates are actually trying to win this season.

        • Watson is as good if not better than mark.. bringing in the guy they did will compliment that move.. mark was always shakey.. its not all lost

          • I couldn’t disagree with you more, Watson is not nearly as good a closer option as Melancon.

            • And guess what Melancon was not nearly as good of an option as Hanrahan when we traded for him. Funny how things change.

              • The big reason Melancon was included in the Hanrahan deal was his prior success(20 saves) as the Houston closer. He failed in Boston but the FO targeted him as a turnaround and were correct.

            • It’s reasonable to debate who is the better closer, but “not nearly as good” is ridiculous. I know I’ve liked it when the opponent’s toughest hitters come up in the 8th, which implies I have as much confidence in Watson as Melancon.

            • michael schalke
              August 1, 2016 10:11 am

              How do you know? He’s never tried it.

            • iagree with you about tony watson not agoo closer so trad watson and bring markmelancon back

          • Indeed. Melancon was very very shaky. Almost 7:1 shudown to meltdown ratio as a Pirate. All that consistent hard contact outing after outing.

          • I have to disagree with you here. Melancon’s cutter is an extremely effective out pitch….very difficult to square up. Watson, unless he has pinpoint control, has outings where his hittable fastball has batters teeing off on it.
            I hope I am wrong, but I believe Watson will never be “as good if not better” than Melancon.

            • Melancon’s cutter isn’t that effective anymore, that’s pitch where he normally gets hit now. Melancon relies more on location with his other pitches and going to the curveball for outs.

              While I liked him as a closer, your days are limited when you top out at 91-92 and have to rely on control at this point.

          • chuck conner
            August 1, 2016 2:44 pm

            Shaky?? The most saves in baseball the last 3 yrs. Last year he had ONE blown save, and that was because of errors. This yr, 3 blown and one because of errors. His hard contact is probably one of the best of relievers. He throws strikes. He seems to get the strikeout when needed. I disagree that he was shaky.

        • Wow, you went straight to calling someone who disagreed with you “delusional.” And here I thought I was making a reasoned argument, that a team doesn’t keep its MLB ready prospects in the minors if it is punting the season.

          Please, Koloacat, enlighten everyone on this board as to just how smart you are, how you see everything so clearly, compared to us delusional folk.

          • We were just swept by a garbage Brewers team. The wild card is starting to get away from us.

        • Yeah because we traded Melancon we were swept by the Brewers. He made the difference in those games. Delusional thinking is when you believe that the closer is the key to winning games. If we don’t score runs I don’t care who your closer is.

          • He didn’t directly impact the games directly, but I believe his trade impacted the team. They were flat, I would imagine they feel let down that they lost their closer when they felt they were in contention. You can say they are professionals and should get over it, but they are human. At this point they may as well be sellers and see what the young guys can do before the off season.

            • Except they were Flat on Friday and MM was still there then In fact if anything I think the loss Friday just made NH go for the trade. No reason we can’t muster up some offense against a 31 year old Rookie. No offense but a Playoff lineup should have been able to do that. There is a reason you are a rookie at 31. Might be a good pitcher but its not like its Jake.

            • They have been flat all season. They didnt all of a sudden reverse course those 2 games.

              • BuccosFanStuckinMD
                August 1, 2016 10:10 am

                Poor starting pitching makes any team look flat, and that is what the Pirates have dealt with all season. They could have taken steps to correct that, and save the season, if they would have replaced Locke and Niese in the rotation in early June, but they waited far too long and didn’t start making any changes until mid to late July. This is mostly on the FO – how they thought a rotation with Niese, Locke, and Vogelsong in it was good enough – only NH could answer that question.

                • Again its not just the pitching though. How bad have we be with RISP all season. And really everyone needs to back off the criticism on Niese. If you look at his last 4 seasons yes last year was not good but the previous 3 were all mid 3ERA with FIP to match. Replacing him earlier I can see that point but the offseason move I liked. The Vogey move I was not as big on and I will fully agree with the Locke question I honestly couldn’t agree with that more.

                  • chuck conner
                    August 1, 2016 3:07 pm

                    I’m on record not liking the Niese for Walker trade. Niese has lost 3-4 mph off his fastball and the FO new this and still pulled the trigger. I also did not like the Broxton/million $ kid for Rogers. I liked Broxton as a fourth OF, and his power and defense. Rogers can hit, but not field or run. The young 19 yr old pitched 53 innings and cost 1 million dollar bonus. The only excuse the FO could give for that trade is they didn’t know Freeze and Joyce were going to fall into their laps.

            • chuck conner
              August 1, 2016 2:54 pm

              It’s reasonable to assume the Pirates were flat losing a very important member of their family, and yes being a professional is a large part of the game, but when you have players that truly like one another, it’s hard. They don’t have any Players that only think of themselves, but the players have to know friends are going to be moved. The Pirates represent Pittsburgh and MLB very well. Just look at people outside of the Burgh that love them. I’m very proud of our Pirates.

        • What dictionary are you referencing? Let’s extrapolate that thought; MM walks in free agency at the end of the year, Pirates are conceding 2017. In reality, the impact of trading MM will be minimal. Often times, opportunity spurs growth. The Pirates have four very capable arms at the backend of their bullpen. I don’t think Nicasio’s performance last night was a coincidence. He looked like a man auditioning for a higher-leverage role.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 1, 2016 8:39 am

        I think he meant that the players appear to have quit on the season….getting swept by the Brewers and showing little life in the process…

        • I sm not sure the players have given up on the season – but it seems Hurdle sure has – he continues to trot out Jaso, Cutch and J-Hay when he has better options on the bench – and in Indy.

          Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results IS the definition of insanity.

          When 3/8ths of your line up is not producing it is very hard to score many runs.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 1, 2016 10:07 am

            I blame that on NH, not Hurdle. NH has shown to prefer journeyman veterans over his own prospects – its been that way for 3-4 years now.

            • Not sure how you can say that with Marte, Polanco, Mercer, Cole, McCutchen, Harrison, Watson, Tailion and Hughes all currently in MLB. I mean I get it with Jaso maybe. S. Rod has played very well with us. Not sure I exactly see your point.

            • Taillon, Kuhl, Brault, Boscan, Glasnow, Diaz, Frazier, Bell, Moroff?

      • The FO may not have given up on the postseason, but the players and coaches certainly have.

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