Welcome to another edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we discuss the latest trade rumors, signings, promotions, demotions, injuries, and other news and noted from around the Pirates’ organization. The non-waiver trade deadline is just over three weeks away, so the rumor mill is heating up. This week, we discuss whether Jameson Taillon has any worthwhile trade value, we wonder if Gregory Polanco could be dangled as a trade chip, and we take a look at what injuries to Josh Harrison and Starling Marte could mean to the Pirates’ trade plans. First, we take a look at a prospect that just can’t catch a break: Jameson Taillon.
The news broke recently that Taillon was injured and would need surgery. He officially had surgery on Wednesday and his recovery time, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is typically eight weeks. Essentially, that knocks out any chance that Taillon had at reaching the majors this year. This surgery, coupled with the Tommy John surgery he had before the 2014 season, has set Taillon back at least a year-and-a-half in terms of his major league arrival. This obviously isn’t good for the Pirates in the short-term, but Taillon still has the potential to be a top of the rotation ace in the long-term.
Is it worth it for the Pirates to wait for Taillon to hit the majors at some point in 2016, or should they try to use him as a trade chip? And does Taillon even have any trade value at the moment? We had a lively discussion on twitter yesterday based on this very question:
Taillon may have been considered one of the Pirates’ untouchable prospects in the past, but now, based on his injury history, he may not be untouchable anymore.
Let’s say he’s not untouchable. That would mean that Neal Huntington would be willing to add Taillon to a package in a trade. But would Taillon fetch as much in a trade as he would have in the past? Probably not. Tommy John surgery, though the perception of it has changed dramatically in recent years, would still give teams some hesitation. Why should the Pirates trade him now if his trade value is lower than it’s ever been?
It may be more worthwhile to the Pirates to hold onto Taillon rather than trade him at a low point. Huntington is one of the best general managers in the game. I don’t believe he’d sell low on a prospect with such a high ceiling as Taillon. It’s a better move to hold onto him and hope that he pans out to at least a major league starter, with the ceiling of an ace. After all, he has a career 3.72 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in the minors, which isn’t horrible.
Could the Pirates dangle Polanco as a trade chip?
Rob Biertempfel recently joined Buster Olney on the ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast (which you can listen to here; fast forward to about the 26:10 mark to hear Biertempfel), and one of the points he made was that the Pirates could dangle Polanco as a trade chip. Now, before everyone has a conniption, the recent injuries to Marte and Harrison, coupled with Polanco’s two game-winning RBIs in the last two games, could have caused the Pirates to pull back from this idea. But before this past week, I’m willing to bet some fans wouldn’t be opposed to trading Polanco, as long as he was part of a package to bring in a big-time player, such as a Cole Hamels, a Josh Reddick, or someone similar. It would be unlike Huntington to trade a cheap, high ceiling prospect under team control for the foreseeable future, however, for anything other than a dynamic major league talent. We’ll break down potential trade chips for the Pirates in an article coming to Rum Bunter soon, so stay tuned.
Josh Harrison out approximately seven weeks due to thumb injury
In injury news, the Pirates sustained their first major blow of the season by losing Josh Harrison to the disabled list after a slide into second base caused him to damage ligaments in his left thumb. This is a tough loss for the Pirates for many reasons, as they lose their starting third baseman and a proven utility player. This will force Jung Ho Kang into an everyday role and the Pirates will now have to use a new leadoff batter, which will most likely be Polanco, during this stretch. With Polanco’s recent struggles and Kang’s relatively unknown potential, this will be a forced experimental period for the team, which is always a risky endeavor when involved in a playoff race.
Starling Marte out indefinitely
Marte has been held out of the lineup recently due to pain in his left side. Biertempfel also addresses this topic in the Baseball Tonight podcast, and notes that Marte told him that he’s experienced this pain before. Of course, many of us fear an oblique injury, which would place Marte on the disabled list, and would take a shot at the Pirates’ depth even more. With the offense struggling for much of the year (despite the Pirates’ winning ways), the last thing they need is an injury to a player as vital and productive this year as Marte. Here’s hoping he’s back in the lineup soon.
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Pirates lose Clayton Rrichard to the Chicago Cubs
The Pirates’ lost one of Ray Searage’s reclamation projects, Clayton Richard, to the Cubs in a trade last weekend as a result of a clause that Richard had in his contract. It’s unfortunate that this loss is to a division rival, and even more unfortunate for the Pirates’ pitching depth, which has already taken hits with the losses of Brandon Cumpton, Nick Kingham, and Jameson Taillon. Richard was pitching very well in Triple-A for the Pirates, and it’s certainly unfortunate that the team couldn’t hold onto him.
Thanks for tuning into another edition of the Pittsburgh Pirates Rumor Mill, where we bring you all of the latest trade rumors and notes from around the Pirates’ organization every Thursday at noon. Make sure to tune in here next week at the same time as the trade deadline inches closer by the day!