Travis Snider Officially Dealt to the Baltimore Orioles

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Earlier this evening we commented on the possibility of the Pittsburgh Pirates dealing Travis Snider to the Baltimore Orioles.  Both the Pirates and Orioles have now confirmed via Twitter that Snider has indeed been traded in exchange for left-handed minor league pitcher Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.

The PTBNL is not expected to be an impact player which leaves Tarpley as the selling point for this deal.  Tarpley, a third round pick of the Orioles in 2013, projects as a middle of the rotation starter with the potential for 2-3 plus pitches.  The only problem is it will be 2017 before we see him.  Tarpley made just 12 starts last season for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the low class A affiliate of the Orioles.  There is zero chance of Tarpley making an impact this season.

After reaching the post-season in back-to-back seasons, dealing a role player of Snider’s caliber for a low level prospect is troubling, if not upsetting.
If this was 2011, the trade would make sense on some level.  But for a team that should be looking for ways to improve the big league club rather than stocking the system, this trade leaves me scratching my head.

The expected objective should be to improve the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, not weaken it

It is hard not to trust the judgement of Pirates GM Neal Huntington.  He dug out from the crater left for him from his predecessor and turned the club from the laughing stock of baseball into a legitimate contender.  Huntington has long been heard echoing the old mantra “you can never have enough pitching.”  Acquiring that pitching always comes with a price and in this case, the price was too high.

After coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the summer of 2012, Snider struggled until finally settling into his own last season.  It was realistic to assume that the Pirates would look to sell high on Snider by marketing his low cost and productive 2014 season to a team in need of a starting right fielder.  The Orioles with no significant internal options to pencil into their opening day lineup, will immediately insert Snider as their right fielder.  The argument can be made that with spring training set to begin in just a matter of weeks and the market for outfielders thin, the Orioles need for a right fielder was much greater than the Pirates need to trade him.

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After being the 14th round pick of the Blue Jays in the 2006 draft, Snider was once a top-10 prospect before injuries limited his production.  In the second half of 2012 and early 2013, Snider showed glimpses of his potential, but injuries continued to bog him down.  It wasn’t until last season that Snider found his groove and allowed the Pirates to take their time with transitioning prized prospect Gregory Polanco into the lineup.

Polanco got off to a fast start before experiencing some struggles and Snider lessened the repercussions of those struggles.  With Polanco set to enter his first full season, the belief was that Snider would be an insurance policy while settling nicely into a bench role that he thrived in last season when he tied for 5th in the league with 13 pinch hits.

With an additional two years of team control and a reasonable $2.1 million dollar contract that was agreed upon last week, Snider seemed poised to enter this season as a proven 4th outfielder. A well-liked teammate, Snider will undoubtedly be remembered for his shiner after coming off the bench in a different role last season to defend Gerrit Cole in a benches clearing brawl against the Milwaukee Brewers.

It will be difficult to replace the void that dealing Snider creates.  Pending any further moves before the start of the season, Andrew Lambo looks to benefit the most from Snider’s departure.

Lambo is already 26-years-old and although cheaper than Snider, Lambo has yet to prove he can carry over his minor league career .280 average and impressive power numbers and make the adjustment to major league pitching.  Sean Rodriguez, who was acquired this 0ff-season from the Tampa Bay Rays, could also see some time in the outfield as he is slated to fill a super-utility role.  Another candidate to break camp with the big league club is outfielder Jaff Decker who was acquired by the Pirates prior to last season and went 0-5 in two short stings with the team and hit just .257 with AAA Indianapolis last season.

Without knowing who the PTBNL is going to be, it is difficult to put a final grade on this trade.  But regardless, this does not sit well with me.  The expected objective should be to improve the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, not weaken it.  No team with an eye on the present should be dealing a key player for player(s) who will not make an impact until the future, if ever.  The Stephen Tarpley and the PTBNL may very well turn out to be quality ball players, but they will do nothing to improve the chances of the Pirates making a third consecutive post-season appearance.

Next: Where does Reese McGuire rank among catching prospects?

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