Ben Cherington has yet to trade his top trade chip this off-season, which could be him not repeating the past mistakes of his predecessor
Entering the off-season there was a lot of speculation that the Pittsburgh Pirates would look to trade star center fielder Starling Marte before Opening Day. When Neal Huntington was relieved of his duties as the team’s general manager and Ben Cherington was hired, this speculation started to turn into an all our belief.
Well, we are now in the middle of January and Marte is still a Pirate. This comes as a surprise to some. However, it could be a sign of Cherington not wanting to repeat a major mistake Huntington made that put the wheels in motion for Huntington to be fired as Pirate GM.
During the 2017-2018 off-season Huntington, like Cherington currently, owned a great trade chip. That trade chip was starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. Huntington spent the off-season fielding calls for the Pirate ace and eventually traded him to the Houston Astros in January of 2018.
In return for Cole, Huntington received four players – third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jason Martin, starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, and reliever Michael Feliz. Two seasons later, this trade has been a complete disaster.
While Musgrove has emerged as a team leader and a strong middle of the rotation starting pitcher, the other three players have been poor. Meanwhile, Cole has blossomed into one of the best starting pitchers in baseball and now the highest paid pitcher in baseball history.
This came across as a trade Huntington seemed to feel he had to make. Cole, like Marte now, had two more years of team control. Huntington seemed overly determined to make a trade and as a result wound up with a lackluster package. Cherington, however, may be doing the opposite with Marte.
Cherington would love to trade Marte now to help kick start a Pirate rebuild. However, due to his contract situation they do not have to trade Marte this off-season. And if Cherington does not get an offer he loves, then he should not trade Marte this off-season.
If Marte is not traded this off-season his trade market is not going to go away. In July, assuming the Pirates are out of contention, teams will be interested in trading for Marte. Also, some times in July teams will get desperate to add a piece they need. This could lead to Cherington getting an offer he views as being worth Marte’s value.
There is no need for Cherington to trade Marte just for the sake of trading him. If the Pirates do not receive an offer then there is no reason to trade Marte. In that case Cherington should hold on to Marte until he receives what he believes to be a worthwhile offer. This is something Huntington did not do with Cole, and that played a role in the death of Huntington’s tenure as Pirate GM.