The trade deadline is less than one month away and the Pittsburgh Pirates rumors are starting to come out. There is plenty of directions the Pirates could go in at the deadline, but most of it will revolved around pitching.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been receiving phone calls on Francisco Liriano. Many have reported that the Baltimore Orioles have been in touch with the Pittsburgh Pirates regarding the 32-year-old pitcher. The Miami Marlins have also expressed interest in bolstering their rotation with the left-handed pitcher. This connection makes sense as former Pittsburgh Pirates assistant Jim Benedict would have interest in a reunion with Franky.
The Pirates recently played the Oakland Athletics. Rich Hill was one of the starters who pitched against the Bucs in that series. According to Susan Slusser, a reliable reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle:
"“There were several scouts on hand to see Hill’s first start since May 29. He is on a one-year deal, making him a strong candidate to be traded before the deadline, and he will be in much demand.”“The Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Pirates and Royals were among the teams with scouts in attendance Saturday.”"
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Hill would have made a lot of sense in the off-season. The left-handed pitcher inked a one year deal for six million dollars. The Pirates should have afforded that deal then. However, they may be able to make up for missing out on him within the next few weeks. The Athletics are in full rebuild mode and likely would be looking for prospects back in a deal. The interesting thing is the Pirates have too many starters on the roster right now. If the Pittsburgh Pirates front office made a deal for the 36-year-old, they would likely move a pitcher in another deal. Whether it would be dealing Jeff Locke or Liriano, designating for assignment Jon Niese, or demoting Chad Kuhl (which is unlikely).
According to Jon Perrotto of Today’s Knuckleball, the Pirates are becoming more and more frustrated with Francisco Liriano:
"“The normally mild-mannered Searage became so frustrated during one of the bullpen sessions that he got into Liriano’s face then stormed back to the clubhouse.”“Liriano tends to move from one side of the pitching rubber to the other on the mound during the course of a game. The Pirates have asked him to pick one side or the other and remain consistent with it but he refuses.”"
Now this is hard to say whether this is true. On one hand media reported can be in the stadium well before the fans and see things like this happen. Yet, Perrotto is known for stretching the truth at times for a good story. Take it as you want, if it is true Liriano could be the one finding himself off the Pittsburgh Pirates, especially if other teams are interested in him.
Right-Handed pitching prospect Nick Kingham, who received Tommy-John Surgery in May of 2015, will make his first rehab start for the Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast team affiliate on July 8th.
Some believe that if the Pirates are still battling for a Wild Card spot by the trade deadline, that the Pirates should deal Mark Melancon for pieces that could help this year and next. I believe that it would make more sense to hold on to Melancon while making a push for the playoffs. Worst case you miss a playoff spot and give Melancon a Qualifying Offer at the end of the year if you cannot reach a contract extension. It would not shock me if the Pittsburgh Pirates push for an extension with Melancon this off-season.
The Pirates should look for controllable bullpen pieces. They could use the front end of the bullpen help this year and to help replace pending free agents Neftali Feliz and Mark Melancon (if they cannot retain either).
Trade Deadline August 1st
What are your thoughts on these rumors and notes? Comment below!