The Pittsburgh Pirates had a heavy rumor going on this past offseason about a potential trade. However, the trade that so many thought would, never happened.
When it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, it is usually pretty obvious what players they will look to get rid of during the offseason. The team normally will trade away players who are entering the final year of their team control. They have shown this in years past with the Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker trades.
Even this past offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates had several opportunities to make those types of deals. The team had a club option on former second baseman Josh Harrison and looked to deal him but could not find a willing partner. Then, the team had right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova entering the final year of his contract. The team was able to flip him to the Chicago White Sox for a young pitching prospect.
However, the most talked about trade rumor this offseason may have been about Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. The Bucs catcher was/is in the same situation as Nova and Harrison. Not only is he entering the final year of his contract, but he also is the highest paid player on the team’s roster at $11.5 million.
There were a lot of teams rumored to be interested in the veteran backstop. At the beginning of the offseason, teams such as the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the New York Mets had reported interest. The Mets quickly dropped out of the bidding as they signed Wilson Ramos rather early on in the offseason. This left the Astros and Dodgers as potential destinations. Then, the Dodgers acquired former Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin, seemingly making a deal with Cervelli even less likely.
The Dodgers seemed to be the heavy favorite to land Cervelli. Many reports came out of not only the national baseball media but also from media members in Los Angeles. The Astros signed catcher Robinson Chirinos and in doing so put themselves in a situation to not have to acquire another catcher.
The other issue in the offseason was the market was being held up by star catcher J.T. Realmuto. Most of the teams that had interest in potentially acquiring a catcher were at least somewhat in the market for the former Marlins product. The Realmuto situation carried through most of the offseason before the Phillies acquired him in early February.
The Fransisco Cervelli trade was talked about all offseason long. There looked to be several teams interested, but all acquired other catchers. Now it looks like a good thing that the Pittsburgh Pirates did not trade him. The team had Elias Diaz miss most of spring training due to an obscure illness. While Diaz was doing as much off-field work as possible, he never appeared in an actual game.
With that being said, the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to rely on Cervelli to make most of the starts at the beginning of the season. This also helps Jacob Stallings and the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Stalling is out of minor league options and would have put the team in a tough situation to start the season. Diaz will be able to get some extended spring training practice in and get back to game shape.