Pittsburgh Pirates: An Updated Reflection on the Starling Marte Trade


There may not have been a more polarizing player during the Pittsburgh Pirates playoff years. Now he, like many all-stars before him, is wearing a different uniform.

Before the pandemic hit and everything changed, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of the MLB were carrying out their offseason as usual.  This offseason was also very promising as teams across the league started to spend in free agency a little more aggressively.  This is something that has not been the case over the last few years in general.  The baseball offseason is one of the more entertaining offseasons of the major sports, so to see so much activity really got fans excited for the 2020 season.

While the Bucs did not add any really significant free agents, they did have a quite eventful offseason as well.  The team hired a new General Manager in Ben Cherington, team President in Travis Williams, and manager in Derek Shelton.  With plenty of new faces to be excited about, it was a given that a new regime would likely trade away some talent.

At the end of January Ben Cherington swung his first major trade.  The Pittsburgh Pirates sent All-Star outfielder Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Coming back to the Pittsburgh Pirates were prospects Brennan Malone and Liover Peguero, along with $250,000 in International Bonus money.  Many expected a Marte trade to go down at the Winter Meetings, but Cherington quickly showed that he is willing to hold out for what he wants in return.

This article will not be about what Starling Marte meant to the Pittsburgh Pirates Franchise; that is something an individual will have to decide based on his production levels as a Pirates.  While he had his ups and downs, hot and cold streaks, and mental lapses, Marte was a key part of this team’s lineup for a long time.

However, what really sparked this article was seeing Marte in a scrimmage wearing the Diamondbacks uniform.  It was quite weird to see, but he also looked natural in it.  Still, it was a reminder of what used to be.  Marte and Gregory Polanco are really the last players linked to those playoff years.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had some good players those years but failed to put the proper pieces to make a legitimate World Series push.

However, seeing Starling Marte in a Diamondbacks uniform also made me remember where the Pittsburgh Pirates are as an organization.  The team is in the midst of a mini rebuild.  They have a very young core right now at the Major League level but saw the farm system thin out some.

Cherington’s trade of Marte was something that was going to happen whether it was him or Huntington making the deal.  The difference is that not many fans trusted Huntington to make the correct deal.  Cherington received two top 10 prospects, both who have top 100 upside, with the potential for even more.

What does Starling Marte in an Arizona Diamondback uniform represent to me?  There are two specific things, and quite frankly they are polar opposites.  On one hand, he represents the failures of the past regime.  I called Marte polarizing earlier because people either loved him or were against him for whatever reason.

His critics often said that he never reached his potential.  While this is not necessarily true, they do have a point.  Marte was supposed to be a big part of this team’s winning longevity, when it was time for him to be the face of the Franchise, the Front Office and Coaching staff began to fail. Compile the team losing and Marte receiving a PED suspension and he quickly became the scapegoat for a lot of the Pittsburgh Pirates problems.

Marte flourished here in Pittsburgh, but a lot of his success was covered up by the team’s regression through his last few seasons.  However, he also represents hope for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Ben Cherington was brought in with the reputation that he is a minor league guru of sorts.  The Marte trade took longer to develop than expected, but many fans gave Cherington the benefit of the doubt with the assumption he was holding out for exactly what he wanted.

Next. Upgrading the Defense. dark

It looks like Cherington got what he wanted in return.  He was able to acquire two prospects who are young and have tremendous upside and will be be part of the core group of prospects in the system.  Brennan Malone was a first-round pick last year and Liover Peguero hit .327 in his first professional season.  Both of these prospects now rank inside the Bucs top 10.  If Cherington can identify the talent the way his reputation suggests, then Starling Marte in another uniform will represent the first piece toward a brighter future for the Pittsburgh Pirates.