It is no surprise that the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking up in the standings. The team has faced a lot of adversity this season, and the trade rumors are starting.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a challenging season. Yes, the front office was called out for not doing enough this past offseason. Yes, the owner could spend more money. Okay, Clint Hurdle does make some questionable decisions at times. However, it is hard to completely blame Neal Huntington, Bob Nutting, and Clint Hurdle completely. The team has seen their best player get suspended, their number two pitcher has been diagnosed with cancer, and arguably their biggest impact bat cannot even get into the country. So what do all these issues lead to? A spot in the bottom of the NL Central standings and talk of a potential fire sale.
The most common name brought up is Andrew McCutchen. Entering the season, the most talked about potential “issue” was how much longer with Cutch be a Pirate. If the Bucs were in it at the deadline would they trade him? What if he was having a really good season and the Pirates were making a playoff push? Would they wait until the offseason? Well now it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder could be one the move, however, he needs to start producing if the Bucs hope to get anything of note for him. Still, trading him at the deadline remains a possibility strictly because an acquiring team would get over a year of control rather than just one. This potential move will likely be one of the main headlines over the coming months.
Gerrit Cole Rumors
There have been a few other names brought up as potential trade candidates. Gerrit Cole‘s name has been thrown out there. The main reason is his agent is Scott Boras and there is no way the Pirates will extend Cole. He is entering his second year of arbitration, and he will likely get a sizable pay raise over his next two years. Plus, in today’s market, young, non-rental, upside starting pitchers can bring in multiple high-end prospects. Doing this could help expedite the Pittsburgh Pirates mini rebuild.
However, the argument against moving Cole is that the Pirates would once again be trading away a quality player for the future. This is something that most of the fan base is fed up with. Also, a case can be made that this team currently had a solid core, and very well could be in the playoff picture next season (if not this season still). If the team can make a playoff push over the next two seasons, Cole will be an important piece to have around.
Tony Watson Rumors
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The last player that is being talked about as a possible trade chip is Tony Watson. Watson, the current Pirates’ closer, is the most likely player to be dealt at the deadline. Even if the Pittsburgh Pirates get into the Wild Card discussion, they could still look to trade the quality lefty. The Pittsburgh Pirates saw this scenario play out last season when they dealt Mark Melancon. The team was only a few games out of the second Wild Card, but they made the decision to deal their elite closer because he was in his last year of team control. Watson is also in his last year of control, which is why he is the most likely candidate to be dealt.
Watson likely will not be traded as a closer, unless it is to the Nationals. However, he still is a quality, backend of the bullpen arm that should net a nice return. The other thing going for the Pittsburgh Pirates is that Watson is a lefty. In recent history, teams have overpaid for late inning relief help, and/or lefty relief help. Watson represents both, and so there will likely be plenty of teams interested in his services.
One team to note is the Houston Astros. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros are looking to add a quality left need reliever at some point. Rosenthal specifically references that Watson could make a lot of sense for the Astros. So there is a starting point in what will likely be numerous rumors regarding Watson over the next few months. It will likely be a noisy couple months in general for the Pittsburgh Pirates rumor mill.