While Joe Musgrove is garnering trade interest, should the Pittsburgh Pirates look to trade their starting pitcher?
Wednesday is day four of the MLB Winter Meetings. Thus far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have not been very activate. Outside of signing veteran pitcher Hector Noesi to a minor league contract, the team has done anything during the meetings. This, however, will be said with the asterisk that as this article is being typed the trade rumors swirling around Starling Marte are starting to pick up. So, that may soon change.
Speaking of trades, on Tuesday it was reported by Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic that two other Pirate players are garnering trade interest from other teams. These two players are utility man Adam Frazier and starting pitcher Joe Musgrove.
Trading Frazier is a move that makes sense. While he is a fine utility/bench player, that is his ceiling. Last season Kevin Newman grabbed and middle infield spot and put a death grip on it. Highly touted shortstop prospect Cole Tucker also flashed at times in 2019, and the Pirates should give him a long look as the starting shortstop in 2020. So, moving Frazier to make room for Tucker makes sense.
As for Musgrove, it is a different story.
Musgrove was one of the four players the Pirates acquired from the Houston Astros in return for Gerrit Cole in January 2018. Quickly, Musgrove became a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. On top of becoming an active member in the Pittsburgh community, Musgrove is a fiery, passionate player. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is easy to root for.
Musgrove is coming off a season in which he set career highs in appearances (31), starts (30), innings pitched (170.1), and fWAR (3.3). So, it is easy to see why teams would be interested in trying to trade for the 27-year-old righty.
While Musgrove posted a 4.44 ERA in 2019, his 3.82 FIP is more indicative of how well he pitched. As the season progressed he started to develop a plus slider that made a big difference for him, and that pitch should only continue to improve Musgrove’s results in 2020 and beyond.
Right now, Musgrove is under team control through the 2022 season. So, he is not going anywhere, in free agency at least, any time soon. While this is something that would raise his trade value, trading Musgrove is not something the Pirates should look to do. Instead, they should look to extend their righty.
This would be a great time to approach Musgrove about a contract extension. His price would not be overly high yet and all signs are that he loves it in Pittsburgh. The Pirates should approach Musgrove with a contract that would give him a raise for the next three seasons, while also buying out his first two or three seasons of free agency.
By extending Musgrove, he could be anchored down as a member of the Pirates’ new core. Musgrove would join players such as Bryan Reynolds, Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, and Mitch Keller as the new core for the Pirates. In fact, Musgrove would be the grizzled vet of the group. He also would provide great leadership and postseason experience as the owner of a World Series ring.
While Musgrove may be garnering trade interest, the Pirates should not look to trade him. In fact, they should do the exact opposite and work on hammering out a contract extension with Musgrove this offseason.