The Pittsburg Pirates may get involved in the trade market soon
As the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches there will be rumors swirling about every Major League Baseball team. As for the Pittsburgh Pirates, they appear open to moving any of their players that are going to become free agents after the season. One of these players is left-handed relief pitcher Tony Watson.
Even though Tony Watson has struggled this season, teams still love left-handed reliever. Especially left-handed relievers who have had as much success in the past as Watson has.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Tony Watson is one of multiple relievers that the Tampa Bay Rays are discussing internally as a trade target.
Tony Watson and the Rays would be a good fit. Tampa Bay currently owns the top American League Wild Card spot, while sitting 3 games out of first place in the American League East. Tampa’s biggest need is relief pitching, primarily left-handed relief pitching.
From the time he made his Major League debut in 2011 through the 2015 season Tony Watson was one of the best relief pitchers in all of baseball. He consistently just took the ball, did his job, and got outs for the Pirates.
During this stretch, however, he pitched more innings than any other left-handed reliever in the Major Leagues. It appears that now that may be catching up to Watson, and could be a leading contributor to his struggles the past two seasons.
2017 has been the worst season of Tony Watson career. He owns a 3.67 ERA, 4.94 FIP, and a 4.77 xFIP in 41 2/3 innings pitched. Minus his ERA, all of these are a career high. Furthermore, his 1.51 HR/9 is the highest home run rate of his career.
His struggles have led to him being removed from the closer role, and bumped down to lower leverage situations in the Pirate bullpen. However, as was started above, teams will always value left-handed relief pitching which will give Tony Watson some trade value.
The next few weeks will be a very busy one in the Major League Baseball trade market. Personally, I fully expect Tony Watson to be traded before the end of the month. This is due to the combination of him being slated to hit free agency, as well as his struggles for the Pirates this season. It appears that one team that has interest in Watson is the Tampa Bay Rays.