Pirates Continue To Shop Jon Niese


As the Major League Baseball non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the Pirates are attempting to trade left-handed starter Jon Niese.

For the second time in three days it is being report that the Pittsburgh Pirates are shopping Jon Niese. This time, it is according to Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. According to Nesbitt, the Pirates are currently ‘actively shopping’ Jon Niese.

After posting a 3.65 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 3.85 xFIP, and allowing just 0.89 HR/9 innings pitched between 2012 and 2015, Jon Niese has been a mess in 2016. In 98 innings pitched this season Jon Niese has a career worst FIP of 5.44, and his ERA (4.78) and xFIP (4.34) are the second worst in his career behind just the 2008 season when he pitched only 14 Major League innings. Adding to Jon Niese’s woes is that he has allowed a National League leading 21 home runs, and his 3.12 BB/9 is the third highest of his career.

Attempting to trade Jon Niese makes a lot of sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are about to have a very crowded starting rotation, and Jon Niese has been one of the weak links in the rotation this season. Plus, as hard as it might be to believe, Jon Niese would bring some trade value.

Look at last year’s trade deadline as an example. Prior to being traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Pirates J.A. Happ had a 4.39 ERA, 4.21 FIP, and was allowing 1.18 HR/9. These numbers are not as poor as Jon Niese’s are this season, but they still were not good.

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In exchange for Happ, the Mariners received Adrian Sampson. Now Adrian Sampson will never be a star in the Major Leagues, but he is still a solid number six or seven starting pitcher to have in your organization. Also helping the trade value of Jon Niese is that, like J.A. Happ, he is a left-handed pitcher. There is always a demand for left handed pitching, especially a left-handed starter with as strong a track record as Niese’s was entering the season.

The biggest reason attempting to trade Jon Niese makes sense for the Pittsburgh Pirates is that they simply have better options. Despite his struggles this season, Francisco Liriano‘s spot in the rotation is safe. When he is pitching well, he is too talented to give up on. Plus he has a 4.03 FIP his last three starts, so maybe he is close to turning a corner.

Gerrit Cole will return from the disabled list next weekend in Washington D.C. Jamson Taillon, like Cole, will also rejoin the active roster next weekend in the nation’s capital. Plus, Chad Kuhl has done nothing to deserve being sent back to Triple-A in his first two Major League starts. Factor in the fact I expect Tyler Glasnow to permanently join the Pirate rotation shortly after the All-Star Break, and this leaves Jon Niese with no spot in the Pirate rotation.

Next: The Pirate Bullpen Has Become A Strength Again

In the Stephen Nesbitt report I linked above, he reports that the Pirates expect several teams to send scouts to Jon Niese’s start on Sunday against the Chicago Cubs. I honestly expect the Pirates to trade Jon Niese sooner rather than later in order to create a spot in the rotation for Tyler Glasnow. Hopefully Jon Niese has his best start of the season on Sunday. Not only to help the Pirates win, but also to raise to trade value.