The Pittsburgh Pirates rumors have floated around their catcher all offseason. Could there still be a trade coming?
One of the long-lasting Pittsburgh Pirates rumors this offseason has been a potential trade of catcher Francisco Cervelli. Around the Winter Meetings, it was reported that the Bucs had received interest from the Houston Astros, New York Mets, and Los Angeles Dodgers. he biggest rumor to come out of the meetings was surrounding the Dodgers.
At the time, it was being speculated that the Bucs and the Dodgers had discussed a deal that included Cervelli and Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling. Although this was floating around, none of the big insiders reported it, so it was hard to say the legitimacy of the report. In fact, that sort of trade really did not make any sense at first either. It was also known at the time that the Dodgers were trying to cut payroll.
So how would trading Ross Stripling, who is on a league minimum contract, for Francisco Cervelli, who is scheduled make $11.5 million next season, helping the Dodgers cut payroll? Here at Rum Bunter, we wrote about how a deal for Alex Wood could make more sense because the of the approximately equal salaries.
Well, as it turns out, it may not have been all that farfetched after all. Rob Biertempfel, a Pittsburgh Pirates insider for The Athletic, reported that there was a deal on the table that consisted of Cervelli and Stripling. Biertempfel tweeted:
"“I heard that #Pirates were indeed very, very close to dealing Cervelli to Dodgers for Stripling at winter meetings, but things fell apart late in the process. Maybe issues at the physical stage? Cervelli has history of concussions.”"
Now Rob Biertempfel does not have the same credibility like Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman, however, he usually has a good bit of inside information about the Pittsburgh Pirates. So what happened to this deal? Well, it appears that it had nothing to do with medicals. General Manager Neal Huntington did something very uncharacteristic and commented on trade rumors. Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted a quote from Huntington in regards to the medicals:
"“Huntington: Pirates generally don’t respond to rumors, but “The implication that a trade was nullified due to a failed medical review is completely wrong.”"
So what really did cause the trade to fall apart? Who knows, maybe it was the fact about finances. The Dodgers likely would have been asking for money back in the trade and the Bucs may not have wanted to include any. However, Huntington went a step further in his interview with Brink and completely denied any discussion of names with the Dodgers:
"Checked on Cervelli/Dodgers. Pirates GM Neal Huntington: “We have not discussed any names with the Dodgers in the context of a trade for Francisco Cervelli.” Thus, medicals couldn’t derail a trade because there was no framework agreed to.”"
Although Huntington made those comments, he still did not completely shut the door. First, he mentions any names, that does not mean that the Dodgers have not shown interest in Cervelli. Meanwhile, on the Pittsburgh Pirates side, they may be thinking of Stripling as a possible target in talks if they get to that point.
Also, could money have been a hold up more than anything? The Dodgers just made that blockbuster trade with the Cincinnati Reds that saw Kemp, Puig, and Wood head to the Queen City among other pieces. All in all, the Dodgers saved $16 million dollars in the deal. Could that cleared money now open up a potential acquisition of Cervelli?
The offseason is still young, as once again things are moving slowly for a second straight offseason. There is plenty of smoke around a potential Francisco Cervelli trade. It will be interesting to see with Dodgers making a big trade if that kickstarts their offseason and leads to an acquisition of Cervelli.