Neal Huntington, Pirates Botch Trade Deadline
Pittsburgh Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington botched his handling of the trade deadline on Monday
Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates are 51-54. This puts them 5.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. On paper, the Pittsburgh Pirates are still alive in the division race. Is this the reality, though?
In my opinion, the answer is no. After three months of mediocrity, the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs finally look like, well, the Cubs. It now appears that the Cubs are primed to run away with the division.
Neal Huntington and the Pirates may feel differently, which would be totally understandable. After all, July was the first month in which the Pirates had a winning record this season. Dating back to the start of June the Pirates are 28-23, which should give the team hope.
Also, it is tough for a general manager and a team to ever throw in the towel. But the Pirates could have handled the trade deadline properly without completely throwing in the towel. They could have done it simply by committing to move their players on an expiring contract.
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Trading away Tony Watson was absolutely the right move. Especially since, to his credit, Neal Huntington was able to get more for Watson than he is probably worth. However, they should have also traded their other free agents to be Juan Nicasio and John Jaso. Especially Nicasio who, in theory, could have netted the Pirates a very rich return in a market where power arms were a hot commodity.
If Neal Huntington and the Pirates believe they are still in contention, then they should have done more to help the team. While adding reliever Joaquin Benoit is a slight upgrade over Tony Watson, it is not a huge one. If Huntington is still looking to win a division championship, then he should have added another reliever and a bench bat.
Monday was also an opportunity to improve the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates. This could have been done through buying or selling. However, Neal Huntington failed to do so. Instead of acquiring any players that come with team control past this season, all Huntington added was a 40-year old relief pitcher that is set to hit the free agent market at season’s end.
The Pittsburgh Pirates, on paper, have a pretty easy schedule the next three weeks. If they take care of business during that stretch and get to a game or two behind the Cubs they will regret not doing more. If not and they start to completely fade in the National League Central, then they will regret not selling off more pieces.
Next: Tony Watson Traded to the Dodgers
Prior to Monday’s trade deadline the Pittsburgh Pirates did not sell, they did not buy, and they did not add pieces for 2018. Instead, they did the worst thing they can do, they just stood pat.
Regardless of how the next month or so unfolds, Neal Huntington has set the Pittsburgh Pirates up to be in a regretful situation. They will either regret not adding more, or they will regret not committing more to selling. Neal Huntington functioned like he was in no man’s land prior to Monday’s trade deadline, he did not commit to either buying or selling, and this was the wrong move by Huntington.