Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Garza, Rios Headline Players Bucs Are Interested In


The trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and names are popping around as to who the Pirates might pursue before July 31st comes around. About a month ago, rumors circled around about a possibility of the Pirates trading to the Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. Some Pirate fans loved the idea, some hated it, and I myself, wasn’t much of a fan when I saw who the Pirates would most likely have to give up.

Over the past week, a few tweets have been sent around as to who the Pirates may be interested in trading for.

The tweet from Ken Rosenthal on Matt Garza was the main one that Pirate fans focused on. Contrary to a lot of other Pirate fans, I’m not all that big on Garza. His contract is up at the end of the season, he’s making over ten million dollars this season, the Bucs would probably have to give up one of their top pitching prospects, and when it’s all said and done, he would most likely be a rental for the last two months of the season. Since that tweet, it’s become clear the the Rangers are the front-runner for Garza, and a deal between the Cubs and Rangers will most likely be completed sometime in the next few days.

Jun 28, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher James Russell (40) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 8th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The second tweet, that featured the names Kevin Gregg and James Russell, made me a lot more interested than Garza. I’m not a big fan of Gregg, but when I saw Russell’s name, I got excited. Personally, I think the Bucs really need to look for bullpen help. It’s tough to figure out what certain relief pitchers are on the trading block, but Russell, if he is actually available, is definitely one to pursue. He’s only 27-years old, and is a very solid left-handed pitcher out of the ‘pen. He is arbitration-eligible at the end of the season, but isn’t a free agent until 2016. Unlike the Garza to Pirate wishes, barely anyone has discussed their hopes of acquiring Russell. It was only one tweet that signified they were interested, and there hasn’t been any progress made since, but he’s definitely a name to keep on your radar for potential bullpen help.

Jeff Passan broke news yesterday on certain teams interested in Bud Norris. I discussed in an article last month about Norris being a potential trade candidate for the Bucs, and Passan’s report backed me up on it. Personally, I am surprised that Norris hasn’t been dealt yet, as the Astros have been sellers at the deadline for several years now, and that Norris is one of the few big league pitchers they have on their roster. Norris isn’t a free agent until 2016, and is currently 28-years old. He’s putting together one of the better seasons of his career, and isn’t all that great of a pitcher, but definitely would help out a bullpen that has seen a fair amount of injuries. Since Norris pitches for Houston, he never gets much recognition and his offense has never helped him out much (three straight seasons with a losing record), but he’s still one of the more solid pitchers in the MLB who will be available these next couple of weeks.

Jon Heyman reported last night news about Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez possibly being a fit for the Pirates. Rios’ name has been thrown around a good bit this past week or two, but this is the first time that Ramirez’s name has popped up. Rios has been discussed a lot, and personally, I’m not all the sold in on sending away for him. The question: who will the Pirates have to give up for him, and will the White Sox include money in the deal. Rios is currently making 12.5 million dollars in 2013, and is set to make the same amount in 2014. To me, money is a big factor in these trades, and if the Pirates aren’t able to pull off a good chunk of money from the White Sox, this deal wouldn’t be worth it to me.

While some say that right field is the main priority at the deadline for the Bucs, I look at the alternatives. Jose Tabata has been playing well as of late, and there is always Andrew Lambo in Triple-A who the Pirates could call upon if needed. Also, unlike other fans, I haven’t completely given up on Travis Snider. There are other options in right field for the Bucs, and trading away a top prospect along with paying the majority of his contract isn’t the best answer in my opinion.

Jul 2, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez (10) rounds first base during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at U.S. Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

Ramirez, on the other hand, is a good fit for the Bucs. He makes a good bit of money with a 10 million dollar salary this season, and isn’t a free agent until 2016. His bat is decent – nothing great – but definitely an upgrade from Clint Barmes and Jordy Mercer. He’s a smooth fielder, and he would take over the everyday duties at shortstop for the Bucs. If Ramirez is acquired by the Bucs, it would most likely be the end of the road for Barmes.

Nothing is certain, but I would think that the Bucs are pursuing both Rios and Ramirez. If they are looking for both in the same deal, I’m not sure how much I like the idea of them dealing away a couple of their top prospects. Jim Bowden proposed a trade idea a few weeks back that Rios and Ramirez could be brought over for Gregory Polanco, Nick Kingham, and Mercer. A trade such as that doesn’t seem too realistic to me, and the Pirates are giving up way too much if they agree to something like that. Bowden is right when he says Mercer would be dealt, but giving up Polanco and Kingham would be too much. Tabata is an example of a player that Chicago may be pursuing if they give up Ramirez/Rios in a package.

The White Sox have a couple of other good trade pieces, and they have a possible solution for bullpen help. Relievers such as Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain are two players that Chicago might look to deal. Unfortunately, nothing has been reported about the Pirates being interested in either of them.

Other names have popped up in rumors such as Nate Schierholtz, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, Kendrys Morales, among others. Morales is a good fit, but I am a big supporter in the possibility of the Pirates scooping up Russell, Norris or Ramirez. Unfortunately, nothing has been said about Russell since Rosenthal’s tweet last week, but Norris and Ramirez name’s on the other hand, are two new ones to pay attention to these next twelve days.

The trade deadline is July 31st, and rumors are starting to get hot. The Pirates will make at least one or two moves before then in hopes of increasing their chances of a playoff appearance, and the question just remains as to who they will go after. Right field, short stop, a backend starter, first base and possibly bullpen help are the positions that the Pirates are looking at, and all these players listed would improve the team at those respected positions.