Welcome back to the latest edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we discuss all of the latest acquisitions, promotions, demotions, signings, and minor notes from the past week. Of note this week includes lively discussion about what the Pirates would have to give up to get Cole Hamels, a minor trade made by the Pirates, and a player activated off the disabled list.
Gregory Polanco for Cole Hamels?
There’s been a lot of discussion recently about what it would take for the Pirates to try to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies. The answer to that is, most likely, a lot. Hamels has four years left under contract (including 2015) and an option for 2019. Hamels has a career 3.27 ERA and a 3.19 ERA so far this season. He would be a staple as a front-end of the rotation pitcher for any rotation in baseball for the next three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years. On the flip side of that, he is set to make $22.5 million from 2015 through 2018 with a $20 million option for 2019 with a $6 million buyout. That’s money the Pirates probably can’t afford to pay in full if they want to extend Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco, or other players in the future. He’s also 31 and would be 35 by the time the deal ends. Not to mention that Hamels would have to approve a deal to the Pirates, as Pittsburgh is on his no-trade list. However, the less money a team asks the Phillies to pay off of Hamels’ contract in a deal, the less that team would have to give up to get him.
Let’s assume the Pirates want the Phillies to pay down some of Hamels’ contract. Then, the Pirates would have to give up premium prospects to get him. The top prospects in the Pirates’ system are Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, and Josh Bell. Taillon’s value might be a bit lower than it has been in the past since he got Tommy John surgery, and the Pirates are generally protective of their top prospects. What about Gregory Polanco?
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He’s no longer a prospect, and while he hasn’t played up to expectations so far in his major league career, he was still a top five prospect in all of baseball just last year and he’s barely played more than one full major league season. The potential is still there for him to become a true five-tool talent. Plus he’s on his rookie contract, so he’s cheap. The Pirates could be trading away a potential superstar, or they could be trading away a future bust.
Do the Pirates even need Cole Hamels, though? Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Francisco Liriano seem to be a true top-three right now, and Charlie Morton is putting up great numbers from the four spot in the rotation. Jeff Locke will need to be replaced in the fifth spot if he keeps pitching poorly, but the fifth spot in the rotation won’t be necessary come playoff time. Then again, Burnett and Morton may be pitching above their heads, so regression may be due for them
The Pirates are currently second in all of baseball in ERA at 2.90, so pitching is a huge strength of this team. They probably need bullpen help, but the security of having a proven ace next to Gerrit Cole as Pittsburgh hopes to catch St. Louis in the division under contract for at least the next three-and-a-half seasons would be hugely beneficial. Is giving up Polanco too much for Hamels? Probably in the eyes of some Pirates’ fans due to his high ceiling. But to the Phillies, it’s probably not enough. It’ll be interesting to watch more rumors about Hamels unfold in the coming weeks.
Jameson Taillon continues strong recovery
Jameson Taillon is still in extended spring training, but he seems to be getting closer to pitching in real game action. He’s looked good so far in his outings, and many fans hope Taillon can reach the big leagues at some point this season.
Clayton Richard looking like a strong depth option
With Jeff Locke pitching poorly as of late (at least until Friday night’s game against the Phillies), Clayton Richard keeps looking more and more like a solid depth option out of Triple-A. He’s another one of Ray Searage’s reclamation projects, and he will be given a shot at the big leagues at some point this season.
John Holdzkom activated from disabled list
John Holdzkom had been dealing with shoulder fatigue when he was placed on the disabled list by the Pirates. He hadn’t fared well in Triple-A, posting a 5.56 ERA in 11 1/3 innings through May 11th. On June 9th, Holdzkom was officially activated from the disabled list. With the poor performances from Antonio Bastardo and Rob Scahill (as of late) out of the bullpen, Holdzkom may be needed up in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Pirates trade PTBNL for John Bowker
In a move that went relatively unnoticed, the Pirates traded a player to be named later for outfielder/first baseman John Bowker from the San Francisco Giants earlier this week. Bowker has a career .232/.283/.382 line in the majors and played for the Pirates in 2010 and 2011. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t played in the majors since 2011 and even had a stint in Japan before returning to the Giants. At Triple-A this season, Bowker has a .263/.304/.372 line. He will be nothing more than a depth option for the Pirates this season, and it’s highly unlikely that he sees any action on the major league roster this year.
Thanks for tuning in to this week’s edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we discuss all of the latest trade rumors and minor news and notes from the week. As we near the trade deadline, more rumors will surely sprout, so make sure to keep tuning in!