The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to the worst start in Major League Baseball and likely will be sellers this year.
No one expected the Pittsburgh Pirates to be in true National League contention. However, many thought with a young core and new coaching staff, the team could have a positive year. When the league expanded the playoffs, the hope was that maybe if the Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a hot start they could sneak their way into the Wild Card round.
Well, that was wishful thinking. The team’s lack of talent has been evident from Opening Day and now the team is dealing with most of their starting rotation on the Injured List. Now that the Pittsburgh Pirates have officially shown what to expect from them in 2020, one can see this team needs help.
Things will have to get shaken up before things can get better. The Major League Baseball Trade Deadline will be on August 31st, meaning it is officially three weeks away. With the Pittsburgh Pirates having their series against the St. Louis Cardinals postponed, now could be a good time for Ben Cherington and staff to really set up a Trade Deadline plan.
This year’s deadline will be different compared to previous years. Teams do not have access to acquiring minor league players who are not on the team’s 60 man roster poll, so a lot of trades will likely have the famous “Player to be Named Later” line. This is mainly because the minor leagues are not playing right now, but also because of limited data (aka no scouting).
Teams can request data from the team they are trying to deal with, but those teams do not have to release their data (they can make a trade, sending trackman data to a club and receive data back. A wink wink handshake of sorts). With limited data available, it will be hard for sellers to really identify which prospects they want in return. With that being said, it seems very unlikely for any blockbuster like deals to go down; any significant trades the Pittsburgh Pirates would look to make will likely be done in the offseason.
This puts the Pittsburgh Pirates in a decent position. The team has several rental candidates that they should make available over the next three weeks. Last week, I wrote about Derek Holland as a logical trade chip and the most likely one to go. He is a lefty starter who can also throw out of the bullpen. Despite his rough start this other day, Holland has shown he can get strikeouts and eat innings. Playoff teams always need pitching depth.
The next most likely player to be dealt is outfielder Jarrod Dyson. Dyson was brought in on a one year contract and is 35 years old; the Bucs will trade him if they can find a taker. His bat is still not performing, but an acquiring team knows that about Dyson by now. For a contending team, Dyson would be seen as a fourth outfielder or as a defensive replacement and late-game pinch-runner.
The last player that should most definitely be traded is Keone Kela. Kela has yet to throw an inning for the Pittsburgh Pirates this year but looks to be rejoining the team for their upcoming series against the Reds. Kela is in the last year of his contract, so entering the 2020 season he was being viewed as a potential deadline trade chip.
His value has greatly declined due to the time has missed and the limited season that an acquiring team would be getting him for. Still, if you are a baseball fan, then you know that teams need good bullpen depth, especially late-inning relievers. Kela has proven he has the potential to be a high leverage reliever and has the power stuff to do so. If he can come out and throw about 8-10 innings over the next few weeks, he could at least build up some interest.
At the end of the day, there will always be teams like the Dodgers who will look to add the extra piece or two to put them over the top. They are one team that has been haunted by their bullpen problems for the past few seasons, playoff teams can never have too much bullpen depth.
One other name to watch will be Adam Frazier. The team has a ton of middle infield depth and would most likely like to get Cole Tucker and Erik Gonzalez more reps at shortstop. Frazier was an often talked about name this past offseason with the Oakland Athletics being one of a number of teams to show interest in him. He is controlled through 2022, so the team can wait to discuss him in the offseason.
While the Trade Deadline may be quieter and slower than usual, the Pittsburgh Pirates have an opportunity to make some moves. With an expanded playoff bracket this year, there are going to be fewer sellers, which means a team like the Bucs might be one of the only teams that really look to sell off pieces. Hopefully, with the next few days off, Ben Cherington has all hands on deck putting together a Trade Deadline plan.