The Pittsburgh Pirates have been relatively quiet since the Winter Meetings. However, a new rumor about a potential acquisition has emerged.
What is the biggest need the Pittsburgh Pirates currently have? Shortstop? Absolutely. Starting Pitching? Yes. Relievers? Sure you can never have too much bullpen depth. Outfielders? Well, they signed Lonnie Chisenhall, and when Polanco is healthy the Pittsburgh Pirates project to have one of the best outfields in the National League.
However, the most recent rumor that has surfaced surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates has them connected to a potential outfielder. Keep in mind that this is also one of the few rumors that have surrounded the club this offseason. It is not like the Bucs are the Seattle Mariners or the New York Mets of the offseason, where they have a new rumor out every day. So when something does come out about the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is surprising. However, them being connected to an outfielder is even more surprising.
It is not just an outfielder that the team is being connected to, but one of the top young outfield prospects in all of baseball. NBC Los Angeles writer Michael Duarte, who covers the Dodgers, tweeted the Pittsburgh Pirates as one of the teams that have interest in outfielder Alex Verdugo. He also claims that the Dodgers seem motivated to trade the young outfielder. Here is what Duarte posted on his twitter:
"“If #Dodgers are keen on trading No. 1 prospect Alex Verdugo this winter, they will have multiple interested teams. In addition to #Indians and #Marlins, sources tell me #Pirates, #Tigers, #Cardinals, and #Mets would all be interested in trade packages centered around Verdugo.”"
Verdugo has seemed to be connected mostly to the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins this winter as Duarte tweeted. He has long been considered the primary package that would acquire either Corey Kluber or J.T. Realmuto from their respected teams. The Dodgers obviously view Verdugo as their best bargaining chip on the trade market this year. The Dodgers have outfielders already in Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, and Joc Pederson, so this could be why they are ready to deal Verdugo. Also, Verdugo has spent parts of the last two seasons at Triple-A, so it does not seem likely they would like to continue and have him at Triple-A for a third season.
For the Pittsburgh Pirates, it does not make a ton of sense. While Verdugo has a huge ceiling, he would not exactly fit into the current landscape that is the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield. He is a left-handed hitter as is Lonnie Chisenhall, so it’s not even like they could platoon those two to start the year. One possibility is that he would represent the replacement for Corey Dickerson, who is entering his final year of team control. However, there has not been much speculation about Dickerson not being a part of the 2019 Pirates.
One other point of note is that the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers have been in touch this offseason on numerous occasions about Bucs catcher Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli only has one year left on his contract. Cervelli is estimated to be worth $12.8 million based on his projected 2.7 WAR and one year left on his contract. Verdugo has a projected Future Value of 50 (via Fangraphs) giving him a value of 28 million dollars. So one can see that it would cost much more to acquire Verdugo than just Cervelli.
For all we know, the two might not even be connected. Or they could be part of a bigger package. Regardless, it is interesting to see the Pittsburgh Pirates as a team that supposedly has interest in the top position prospect for the Dodgers, even if it does not make a ton of sense.