The trade deadline is a week away. With that, many Pittsburgh Pirates fans are on the fence on what the front office should do.
Some would like to see the Pirates sell, while others want the Pittsburgh Pirates to be buyers. If the Pirates decide to sell, the market seems simple for them. They can trade Mark Melancon, Neftali Feliz, David Freese, Matt Joyce, and possibly Sean Rodriguez among others.
However, the buyer’s market seem much more complex. The Pirates biggest area of need is starting pitching. The issue is that there is not a lot of marque names available. Chris Sale seems to be the only true ace available (if that), Chris Archer may be available but the asking price is outrageous right now, and after those two there seems to be a slew of middle of the rotation arms. The Pirates have been connected to many of these controllable, middle of the rotation arms such as Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi, Hector Santiago, and possibly a Yankee starter in Nathan Eovaldi or Michael Pineda. They also have been linked to some of the rentals like Rich Hill.
Then there is the other people who would like to see the pirates do both, buy and sell. The Pirates do have the ability to be very creative at this deadline. They could move some of their pending free agents while adding some of the controllable pitchers listed above. I think this is the strategy the Pirates should take. The Pirates for the first time in three seasons are on the outside looking in. With such a tight race, the Bucs could be better off looking to deal some of their pending free agents while keeping others. The Aroldis Chapman deal threw a wrench into things The Pirates would not get as much for Melancon, but still would get a very attractive package back.
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In a buy and sell scenario it would make a lot of sense for Huntington to move one of Melancon and Feliz, Matt Joyce, Juan Nicasio, and of course Jon Niese and/or Jeff Locke. With doing that they can use younger pitchers such as Steven Brault, Trevor Williams, and maybe relief prospect Dovydas Neverauskas to fill the pitching spots. Then they could use prospects Willy Garcia and Josh Bell to fill out the bench. In doing so, the Pirates would still have a strong shot at playoff hunt, but also added some value for future years in trading their veterans.
If the Pittsburgh Pirates buy at all, then they will need to most likely move prospects to get a deal done. They will especially need to move prospects if they are looking to gain a starter from organizations like the Rays or the Athletics. The good news is the Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of highly touted prospects to move.
In fact, they have some in areas of depth. Players that they could deal without hurting the overall system, get value back, and still hold onto their high end prospects. Prospects like Alen Hanson, Harold Ramirez, Clay Holmes, and one of the three remaining at Triple-A in Kuhl, Williams, and Brault could be used as trade bait to get more proven veterans and controllable players for the next few years. No matter what direction the Pittsburgh Pirates go in, there will be backlash. The Pirates have a chance to be very creative this year at the deadline.