There are plenty of reasons why it is so critical to ensure that you create as much of a prospect pool as possible, especially as a smaller market team.
With the right kind of depth now in the system, it has freed up the Pirates to be able to trade one for a player that can make an impact at the major league level immediately, taking out the risk factor that comes with prospects.
We saw that earlier in the offseason with one of their first moves, trading Jack Hartman for Ji-Man Choi.
The Pirates again moved a prospect for a major leaguer, trading right-handed pitching prospect Nick Garcia in exchange for Connor Joe. In the grand scope of things, it’s a fairly simple trade, but there are quite a few observations I have off of it.
– Joe probably slots in as the starting left fielder, for now. He’s a solid fielder in left by most metrics, walks a ton, and has been a near average hitter at the major league level (career 92 wRC+). This isn’t a groundbreaking move by any means but it does address yet another position of need, right-handed outfielder.
– Regardless of the impact Joe truly has with the Pirates, this trade is interesting as it signifies a new stage in the build under Ben Cherington. When he came on board it was all about stockpiling as many prospects as possible and starting to develop them.
Now that the team is starting to see the depth they have envisioned, it’s time to find the best way to leverage the prospects in making the major league team better, whether it be trading or promoting them.
– In regards to the system, this is another move that kind of loosens the belt when it comes to the pending logjam they are going to have in the minors this upcoming season. We saw it a little bit earlier in the month when they left themselves in a position to have some bodies plucked out by the minor league phase of the Rule 5, now this.
I broke down how the potential rotations at each level were starting to shape up, and Altoona was one of the hardest to put together. While Garcia was likely to be one of the better, if not the best, starters in Altoona next year, moving him does free up a spot in the rotation coming forward.
– Garcia is an interesting player to move, as 2022 was his first season as a full time starter and he managed to throw over 100 innings. After switching to pitching in college, he didn’t make the move to the rotation until 2020, when the season was cut short.
In Bradenton last year he started out the bullpen before making the move to the rotation full-time. He’s not a pitching prospect that is talked about much, but a move to a more pitcher friendly ballpark like Altoona could have changed that.
He is Rule 5 eligible next season, and the list of players that could get taken continues to grow. Quinn Priester, Nick Gonzales, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Kyle Nicolas among players that will also need to be protected. Some will make their debut this year and be added anyways, but shaving a name off the list was something they were going to want to do at some point.
Regardless of how you feel about the additions, the Pirates have stayed very busy this offseason in reshaping the roster. Joe is just the latest of several moves made by Cherington.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**The Pirates added Connor Joe for Nick Garcia. They have been targeting right-handed hitting outfielders this offseason. Miguel Andujar was brought in at the end of the 2022 season, and re-signed to a one-year deal. Prior to adding Joe, they also brought in Ryan Vilade. I think if you look at any one of these players, you could raise questions about their ability to have success. If you look at the group, the odds are higher that the Pirates come away with this with at least one outfielder who can provide positive MLB value — possibly as part of a platoon with one of the younger lefties.
**Ethan Hullihen looks at the Pirates’ estimated 2023 draft pool.
**John Dreker breaks down all of the latest Pirates winter league action, where there was a double-header in Australia and a walk-off win in Mexico.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony broke down how the Pirates are focusing on defense behind the plate with the signing of Austin Hedges.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
Ethan Hullihen looks at the 2023 Pirates draft pool in his latest Pirates Business update.
I’ll have my latest First Pitch on Monday afternoon.