Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Ideas Part 1: Juan Nicasio and the Nationals

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Editorial: The Pittsburgh Pirates are likely to going to be sellers to some degree this trade deadline.  The biggest pending free agent chip the Bucs have is likely Juan Nicasio.

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio has been the Pittsburgh Pirates second best relief pitcher behind only Felipe Rivero.  Nicasio has thrown 39 innings so far this year, and he has a 2.51 ERA in those games.  This includes two games where he gave up four earned runs each.  If you take those two games out his ERA would be even better.  Outside of his ERA, his best stat is that he is striking out more than a batter per inning, racking up 40 strikeouts in his 39 innings.  With that, Nicasio is in his last year of control.  With numbers like that he will likely be one of the most desired relief trade options over the rest of this month.

All season the Washington Nationals have had bullpen struggles.  It actually dates back to the last off-season when they were not able to retain Mark Melancon and lost out of big free agents like Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.  To make matters worse, the Nationals gave up Felipe Rivero, who is turning into one of the best relievers in baseball, for Mark Melancon last season.  All in all, the Nationals bullpen ranks dead last in the league in terms of bullpen ERA.  They have used 6 different relievers to record saves, and only have one reliever with an ERA under 3.70.  This team obviously could use a bullpen upgrade.

A Potential Match

The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to be a perfect match to make a deal with the Nationals.  Last year the Nationals came to the Bucs when they hand pending free agent Mark Melancon, so why not again?  Now, yes Juan Nicasio has not proven that he can close out games, but with a thin legitimate closer’s trade market, the price could be too high to acquire a proven one.  Still, Juan Nicasio would immediately become the Nationals best reliever.  That alone should interest the Nationals as a way to help make their bullpen better.  There also is the possibility of turning a deal into a multiplayer one.  There are two options to break down.

Secondary Piece

First is Tony Watson.  Watson has struggled, and once again will not fill the Nationals closer spot.  However, Watson still has posted better numbers than all but two of the Nationals relievers.  He currently has an ERA of 3.89, one that is higher than Pittsburgh Pirates fans are used to seeing from him.  However, compare that to the Nationals relievers and it is an upgrade.  Add him along with Juan Nicasio, and the Bucs could sell the notion that they are helping the Nationals completely change the dynamic of their bullpen.  Obviously, the deal would cost the Nationals most likely two prospects including a higher rated one.  Even with that, the Nationals may be more inclined to getting a dominant reliever and a serviceable one on expiring contracts versus trading for one single, and likely more expensive closer, like say, David Robertson.

Next: Bradenton's Closer

To acquire both Nicasio and Watson, it would require one higher ranked prospect.  One prospect the Bucs could insist on would be their fourth ranked prospect Carter Kieboom. Kieboom is a shortstop by trade, but may project better as a third baseman according to MLB Pipeline. Outside of Ke’Bryan Hayes and 2017 draft pick Dylan Busby, the Bucs do not have a lot of depth at the third base position in their system. Meanwhile, the Nationals seem secure on the left side with both Trea Turner at short and Anthony Rendon at third.  Another player could be Andrew Stevenson.  Stevenson ranks as the Nats sixth best prospect.  Stevenson would give the Pittsburgh Pirates a safety net for Austin Meadows if he continues to have hamstring problems delaying his MLB promotion.

A deal could be done straight up for just Juan Nicasio.  However, to get a more highly rated prospect, the Bucs will likely need to give more up than just a proven 7th or 8th inning guy.  This is why it seems logical to pair Nicasio with another player who the Nationals may view as an asset.  Earlier, I wrote that there are two options to break down.  This was option one, check back tomorrow for another idea in a potential Nicasio to Washington deal.