Welcome to another edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we discuss all of the latest rumors, trades, signings, promotions, demotions, and other news and notes from the past week. In last week’s edition of the Rumor Mill, we broke down a Gregory Polanco for Cole Hamels trade and the positives and negatives for the Pirates if that were to happen. This week, we wonder if Scott Kazmir would look good in a Pirates’ uni, we analyze what General Manager Neal Huntington said recently regarding the trade market, and we look at some injury updates from the minor league system.
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Neal Huntington speaks to the media
Neal Huntington spoke to the media recently and was asked some questions regarding the trade market and how he sees the Pirates getting involved. He spoke about major league player for major league player deals, how not to make decisions as a small market club, and how he wants to put the team in position not only to make the playoffs this year but to make the playoffs and be a World Series contender for years to come. You can check out the full transcript here from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Here’s a quote from the conversation:
"The benefit of having a deep major-league team is if there’s a deal out there maybe we can add without subtracting. That’s always a good thing. That’s what a prospect trade always does, it adds without subtracting from your current major-league team. It seems like there are going to be more and more trades of fits versus teams moving veteran players to replenish the farm system to be able to make a run in the next year or two."
If Huntington believes the Pirates have a deep major-league team, which he is most likely alluding to, then, logically, a prospect trade would be a beneficial trade for the Pittsburgh. That’s the type of trade that the Pirates have made the past two seasons, giving up prospects for major league players. I see Huntington trying to take that same approach this year if a deal is made, as he has helped build a strong farm system for the Pirates that he can dip into if necessary.
Here is what Huntington had to say about the trade market over the last few seasons and for 2015:
"This one sure looks like it’s gonna be about July 30. … I wish these markets existed when we were on the other side of it, when we were selling. It’s an absolute seller’s market again, at this point in time."
What does this mean? Well, it could mean that the Pirates will attempt to make a trade by the July 31st deadline as opposed to attempting to make a waiver wire acquisition before the August deadline, as they did two seasons ago when they got Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau. It will be interesting to see what position the Pirates target at the deadline this year. They have few glaring needs, but could they attempt to bolster an already-stellar rotation?
Could the Pirates pursue Scott Kazmir?
And Sawchik’s response:
Heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox, the Pirates had the second-best ERA in all of baseball at 2.75. Three of their top four pitchers (Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Charlie Morton) all have ERAs under two, and the team is likely to net at least two starting pitchers at the all-star game. Why would they need to address this strength and add a starter?
They would think about adding a starter because the Pirates don’t have the luxury of playing in a division not named the National League Central. They have to look up at the St. Louis Cardinals, the one team with a better ERA than them on the season at 2.63 and the team with the best record in all of baseball. The Pirates will make focus on making moves at the deadline to compete with the Cardinals, not to compete with other teams in the National League.
If Scott Kazmir was added, he would immediately replace Jeff Locke in the rotation. Kazmir, like Locke, is a lefty and would be a huge improvement over Locke. The 31-year-old was consistently good early in his career with Tampa Bay, but has since traveled to a few different teams and finds himself in Oakland now. Kazmir is only signed through the rest of this season, so he would be a rental player, and he is making $11 million this year. He currently has a 2.84 ERA and a WAR of 1.4 to go along with 73 strikeouts. However, he has a WHIP of 1.20 and averages less than six innings per start. Oakland currently sits 11 games under .500 and in last place in the entire American League, as well as eight games behind the second wild card.
If any American League team is going to be in sell mode come trade deadline time, it’s going to be the A’s. Kazmir would come much cheaper than a Cole Hamels or another pitcher with years of control left. It’s the type of move I could see the Pirates making. Keep an eye on Kazmir and the Pirates as July 31st inches closer.
OF Willy Garcia is promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis; OF Mel Rojas Jr. is demoted to Double-A Altoona
The Pirates recently promoted toolsy outfielder Willy Garcia to Triple-A this past week. To help alleviate an already-crowded outfield in Indianapolis, Mel Rojas Jr. was sent down to Double-A. Both Rojas and Garcia could see time in Pittsburgh later this year as bench options, but more likely next season as fourth outfielders.
Pirates sign Kevin Newman, among other draft picks
The MLB Draft finished up recently and draft junkies began to focus on how many picks their teams would sign. The Pirates wasted no time in doing so, signing first round pick, shortstop Kevin Newman, on Monday. The Pirates have also signed third baseman Ke’Byran Hayes and second baseman Kevin Kramer, among others. A complete list of the first ten rounds of draft picks for all major league teams and if they signed and/or how much they signed for can be found here.
Minor League injury updates
Jameson Taillon is still pitching in extended spring training, but he seems to be improving with every outing. Tyler Glasnow, who has a 2.76 ERA in 29.1 innings pitched this year, is still battling an ankle injury, while Andrew Lambo may be dealing with plantar fasciitis for a long time this season. If Lambo can’t return to the Pirates before the trade deadline, the need for a bench bat becomes more pressing.
Thanks for reading the latest edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill. We aspire to cover the latest rumors, trades, signings, promotions, demotions, and all of the latest news and notes regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates. Make sure to tune in next week as the trade deadline inches closer every day to read about the hottest trade rumors involving the Pirates.