It is that time of the week once again here at Rum Bunter – Pittsburgh Pirates mailbag time
Will the Pittsburgh Pirates be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? Who goes when Jung Ho Kang returns?
As always, thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s mailbag by submitted questions. Now let’s dive in.
The team’s record is not what is going to matter when it comes to them being buyers or sellers. Instead, it will hinge on where they are at in the standings.
General manager Neal Huntington debunked a report over the weekend that the team was ready to start making veteran players available. Instead, Huntington said the team intends to add players between now and the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.
So, is he telling the truth?
The Pirates are currently seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central Division, however, they sit just four games in back of the Washington Nationals for the second NL Wild Card spot. After a brutal 6-18 stretch, the team is 4-2 in their last six games. If the Pirates continue to turn their ship around and play better they will remain in the thick of the NL Wild Card race.
Would being in the Wild Card race be enough for the team to be buyers? I am not sure. Being in the hunt for the division absolutely would be, but with the Chicago Cubs starting to heat up and look like the Cubs I am not sure how realistic that will be.
If the team is in the hunt for solely a Wild Card spot my guess is they would look to make a minor move or two to help with bullpen or the bench, if they’re in the divisional hunt a bigger move (ala Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau in 2013 and Aramis Ramirez, Joakim Soria, and J.A. Happ in 2015) could be in order, and if they’re not in contention for either look for veterans such as Corey Dickerson, Francisco Cervelli, Jordy Mercer, and Josh Harrison to be shopped aggressively.
Jung Ho Kang returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates is a question of when not if. After a slow start at Triple-A, Kang is 6-for-11 with two walks and a double in his last three games. He has also struck out just once in his last five games and has been snake bitten owning a .211 BAbip.
When Kang returns, I would like to think Sean Rodriguez would be the odd man out. While he can play anywhere defensively – and minus shortstop he plays most positions well – he has been downright putrid offensively owning a .286 on-base percentage, .299 slugging percentage, .264 wOBA, a wRC+ of 65, and a 31.7% strikeout rate.
That said, Clint Hurdle and the Pirates love what Rodriguez brings both in terms of positional flexibility and in the clubhouse. So, it would not be a stunner if the corresponding move was Jose Osuna being optioned back to Triple-A.
As for David Freese, I do not envision him going anywhere unless the Pirates would become sellers and trade him. On top of having the veteran presence that Hurdle loves, he has also given above league average production offensively this year as he has been used in a bench role instead of in a starting role.
At this point in his career it is safe to say that Adam Frazier is what he is – an average best offensive player and a below average defensive player. That is why he is currently at Triple-A.
While Frazier is better offensive option off the bench than Sean Rodriguez is, Frazier is nowhere near the defender that Rodriguez is. Combine this with the Pirates valuing Rodriguez’s clubhouse presence, and, barring an injury, it’s tough to see Frazier rejoining the Major League team any time soon.
And even if an injury were to happen to an infielder, there is a good chance Jung Ho Kang would get the call. Frazier appears destined for a career of being yo-yo’d between the Major Leagues and Triple-A. There are definitely worse ways to live life.
That will do it for this week. If you ever have a question for the mailbag make sure to be following us on Twitter (@RumBunter) and look for our Tweet each week asking for mailbag questions. Enjoy your week, everyone!