Leading up to the trade deadline which is Thursday, the Pirates have been connected already to several players from the top tier guys(David Price, Jon Lester) to middle relief guys(Joakim Soria, Joaquin Benoit). Whatever deal the Pirates make, it seems to be a seller’s market so everyone needs to pucker up because if the Bucs do make a move, be prepared to lose a prospect or 3 that people have been following.
In this article, I’m going to talk about the 3 areas the Pirates either should be targeting or will be targeting with the trade deadline fast approaching. Also remember, the Pirates could stand pat by Thursday and look to make a move or two in August. I am a big fan of MLB moving the trade deadline back a couple of weeks and they should considering with an extra wild card team in play, so many teams are still feeling in the race. If you move it back even 2 weeks, there will be a lot more teams selling and the market will be better set for the playoff run.
Let’s take a look at the 3 areas the Pirates should be targeting.
1. Relief Pitching
The Pirates bullpen has not been nearly as good this season as it was last and let’s be honest, how last season’s bullpen did what they had all year was amazing. Regardless if the team brought back everyone from the previous year, some guys were just pitching way above their normal and it was unrealistic to think it could be sustained. It’s not to say the bullpen has been awful despite blowing 14 saves to this point but guys like Jason Grilli, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Jeanmar Gomez were simply not getting it done. Grilli has since been traded to the Angels and Morris to the Marlins but Wilson and Gomez remain. Wilson has done a much better job recently and Gomez barely gets on the mound. That’s how it goes for a long-relief guy.
With that being said, the Pirates could use a very solid arm coming out of the bullpen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a righty or lefty because whomever they bring in needs to be able to get either side out. The latest trade rumor target for the Bucs is Boston Red Sox lefty reliever Andrew Miller. Miller is having a ridiculous season thus far and would be fantastic for the Pirates but at what cost? Granted middle to late relief guys come and go, look above to already see that’s true. However, a guy like Miller is going to cost quite a bit in a seller’s market because he will be in demand and teams will fight over him.
If the Bucs don’t want to go that expensive with Miller, they could go out and grab Koji Uehara, Craig Breslow, Benoit or Oliver Perez. I’m not a big fan of retreads coming to the team which Perez would certainly be, however if any of these guys could solidify the bullpen, I’m all for it. Again, I want to say that my concern is which prospects would go back in return for anyone at this point compared to what we already have. My top choice is obviously going to be Miller but he will still cost the most whereas the Pirates could be interested in going after Rockies closer, LaTroy Hawkins instead.
2. Starting Pitching
This is an area the Pirates are unsure if they need to address or not and my biggest point with this group is going to be, which starting pitcher is brought in. Clearly, the Pirates have enough in terms of prospects to get anyone they want but money will be a factor, time of control could be a factor and which prospects would they need to give up. If the Pirates couldn’t bring in one of the top starters out there(Price, Lester, Ian Kennedy) or had to overpay for middle of the pack guys(Ben Zobrist, Brad Ziegler, Bartolo Colon), I’d much rather keep what we have, shore up the bullpen and see what happens. There are a couple of guys out there the Pirates could be interested in which probably wouldn’t cost them much in terms of prospects but years of control could be the issue.
AJ Burnett has been linked constantly with the Pirates but according to reports, the team doesn’t like AJ’s option year and these reports have said the only way they would bring him back, is if they had assurance that he wouldn’t use the option but retire instead. Burnett was great for the Pirates the past two years and he’s a leader of any team he is on. However, I’m not sure he’s really better than any of the starting five the Pirates currently have. With Francisco Liriano looking better as of late and Gerrit Cole coming back really soon, is it worth the efforts to bring AJ back? My answer is no.
3. 1st Baseman, 3rd Baseman, Shortstop, Bench
If you read Twitter, you will see people’s opinions going whichever way the wind blows, which means if Player A struggles that day, the Pirates instantly need to go out and get themselves a replacement for that position. The combination of Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez at 1st base hasn’t worked out as well as most people have hoped it would and so everyone wants the team to go out and get themselves a 1st baseman. The name most commonly said is Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve had plenty of discussions involving Rizzo and like everyone, I would be thrilled if the Pirates could bring him in. I would pretty much give up the farm to bring him in but realistically, why would the Cubs want to give up a possible cornerstone of production at 1st base? It makes no sense.
The Cubs could be looking to move Starlin Castro with the addition of Addison Russell that they got for Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs could try to move Castro to 3rd base and keep both guys for the long-term. I know that everyone sees the Cubs out of contention and wants to pick off any good players they have but it still needs to make sense for the long-term of the Cubs organization as well. I have seen the Pirates connected to Justin Morneau again but my rules about retreads still apply. Plain and simple at 1st base, the Pirates are going to stick with what they have and have Andrew Lambo in the wings, just in case.
I’ve seen the Pirates connected with some guys like Josh Willingham who would serve time on the bench at this point and may not cost much in prospects but most people seem to look at this type of move as an option in the outfield if Marte continues to be so-so and they can move Josh Harrison to 3rd base and get the struggling Pedro Alvarez out of there. The Pirates will simply not give up on Pedro at this point and Pirates fans should be weary of giving up on him as well. I’ve been on Twitter and voiced my disgust with Pedro’s play this season but the realist in me goes back to looking at Jose Bautista and what he’s doing now.
I wouldn’t expect a big bat move from the Pirates unless a serious injury were to happen and even then, I’m not sure the market is all that great yet for the hitting positional players. It’s not to say the Pirates shouldn’t kick some tires but who can argue with what Travis Snider has done recently from the bench or being able to mix and match with Harrison able to move around. With Lambo hitting again in the minors, it might not shock people if Ike Davis went on the DL at some point just to give the kid a 2 week tryout to see what he can do with regularly playing time. Sometimes, things just tend to work out and sometimes, it doesn’t. Whatever move the Pirates make or don’t make, it will be an interesting ride to the end.