Guide to Pirates Trade Deadline Options
By Aron Minkoff
The Pittsburgh Pirates began the second part of the season tonight with a 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies. Francisco Liriano looked shaky at times but finished the game with just one earned run in five innings of work.
Regardless of how Liriano looked tonight, given his questionable stats and the various injuries to the pitching staff throughout the season, it is hard to be comfortable with the current pitching staff going forward. The Pirates ought to look at picking up an additional starter as well as a back-of-the pen reliever. Should the Pirates trade for another starter, Vance Worley could add depth to the bullpen.
A lot of fans claim that this team is not talented enough to make a playoff run and that they should not trade for anyone. The truth of the matter is that this team as it is built right now is not built for a playoff run. However, they are only 3.5 games behind the first place Milwaukee in the National League Central and only two game out of a wild-card spot.
The division is essentially up for grabs with St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and the Pirates all within 3.5 games of each other. The Pirates need to improve the team at the deadline to put themselves in a better position to win the division. There are many rumors circulating about who is available for a trade and who the Pirates may be interested in.
If you are going to part with a guy like Josh Bell or Austin Meadows, two top-prospects, you better get something of high value in return. Something to consider is trading away Pedro Alvarez to acquire a guy Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo produces similar power numbers as Alvarez this season and has a significantly higher batting average. Alvarez’s agent Scott Boras has priced Alvarez out of the Pirates price range, it is not likely that he is a Pirate beyond 2016.
I have no issue with the Pirates trading away any of there high-level pitching prspects as long as they get a return of equal value.
Potential Pirates trade returns:
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Rizzo is a power-hitting first baseman who, at 24, is a longterm solution to the Pirates long search for a first baseman. Rizzo is under control through his current contract through 2020, with team options for 2020 and 2021. Rizzo is cheap too. He is batting .275 with 21 home runs and 51 RBIs thus far.
Price is eligible for salary arbitration for 2015 and is one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball. This season he is 9-7 with a 3.23 ERA, and he boasts a career 3.20 ERA with a record of 80-46.
At 41 years-old, Colon is at the end of his career. He would not cost the Pirates all that much in terms of a trade with the Mets. At 9-9 with a 3.99 ERA, he has not been as dominant as he once was but his addition could add a veteran and stable arm to the pitching staff.
On the outside, Burnett’s numbers are poor this season. He is 6-8 with a 4.08 ERA. However, since his tumaltous June 4 start in which he allowed eight earned runs, he has not allowed more than three runs in seven starts. Burnett has thrived at PNC Park and was a fan favorite during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He is a big reason for the turn around of the organization and would not cost a lot for the Pirates to get.
Street has an ERA of 1.09 and would be a welcomed addition to a struggling bullpen. The 30 year-old all star closer has 24 saves this season and with a 2015 team option could be more than a short-term solution to the Pirates closing needs. He will not cost as much as some of the names at the top of this list but given the amount of teams reportedly interested in him, he will not be easy to get. As of earlier Friday, it was reported that the Angels were close to acquiring him via trade thus removing him from this list.
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Van Slyke is a terrific utility player. The 25 year-old is under team control through 2020 and has put together a pretty nice season coming off of the bench. He is batting .268 with eight home runs in 155 plate appearances. He is able to play any of the three outfield postions and first base. He would not be too expensive for the Pirates to get and given his versatility could spell out the mess that has been first base.
Miller is a left-handed reliever for the Boston Red Sox. He boasts an impressive 2.23 ERA and would too be a welcomed addition to the bullpen. He is 29 years-old and is not under team control past this season but would help solidify the bullpen.
If I were Neal Huntington, I would pull the trigger on whatever it takes to get Anthony Rizzo, whether that be pairing Alvarez and Bell together or any trade involving Bell. Rizzo is a talented first baseman that is not only cheap but young. He will be the long-term first base solution, Ike Davis is simply not the solution they had hoped he would be.
Prospects are just that, prospects, no one knows what you will get out of them. Bell could turn out to be the next Roberto Clemente or he could be another Travis Snider, who knows? The outfield is set in stone for the next five years at least, meaning that Bell would have to switch to first base, a position that he has yet to play. Rizzo is a proven first baseman, one that is of all-star caliber.
Trading away Alvarez would open up the starting third base position to Josh Harrison. Harrison is an all star and has still yet to find a position to start at consistently.
If the Rizzo trade does not happen, the Pirates should try everything to lure Scott Van Slyke away from the Dodgers. He and Bartolo Colon should not be to expensive and could help propel this team to a National League Central pennant.