With the deadline just days away now, some teams are looking to buy some bullpen arms. Could Arizona be looking into Pittsburgh Pirates closer Keone Kela?
The Pittsburgh Pirates might end up being the only sellers in the National League, and are one of the three true sellers this upcoming deadline. That essentially means that the Pirates have a corner of the market to themselves. If someone wants to bolster and reinforce their line up down the stretch, they’re probably going to have to go to the Pirates. Plus the Pirates have pieces to deal. Aside from Bryan Reynolds, and possibly Kevin Newman, any other non-rookie/prospect should be available in talks.
One of their rental pieces right now, right handed relief pitcher Keone Kela might draw a fair amount of interest in the coming days. We might have just seen our first potential buyer for Kela emerge yesterday, as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager Mike Hazen stated that the bullpen is a current area of focus for the team.
Aside from Stefan Crichton, none of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen arms have an ERA and FIP both below 4. They also placed left-hander Andrew Chafin on the injured list recently, and he was struggling to start the year as well. All told, Diamondbacks relief pitchers own a team 4.62 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 24.5% strikeout rate, a 12.2% walk rate, and 1.57 HR/9. Not that great of numbers, especially for a team that was considered a dark horse contender this year.
The Pirates will probably have the best relief pitcher on the market, that being Keone Kela. Kela was acquired by the Pirates back in the 2018 trade deadline for lefty Taylor Hearn. Though he has been very effective, his health has been inconsistent at best.
Last year, Kela only pitched 29.2 innings, missing pretty much the entire first half aside from April because of injury. However, when Kela returned, he was magnificent. Through 18 innings of work, Kela allowed just one earned run on eight hits, and seven walks. He also didn’t allow a single home run. Out of the 69 batters he faced, he sat down 22 on strike three.
Kela started the year on the COVID-specific injured list, but the long layoff didn’t affect his stuff. He’s still averaging 96.5 MPH on his fastball, which is right in line with his career averages. If Kela can stay healthy for the next week or so, it’s highly possible the Diamondbacks and Pirates workout a trade involving the hard throwing late inning relief pitcher. Though he was pulled with an apparent arm injury in the latest game he was in, it seems like it was more of a precaution, than an actual injury.
I could also see them being interested in Derek Holland. Last week, I mentioned Holland as a potentially really interesting pitcher on the trade market. With so many pitchers getting hurt, getting a guy who’s pretty durable can really be beneficial in a season like this. After all, since 2017, he’s only been on the 10-day IL twice.
So far this year, the numbers aren’t all that pretty for Holland. But a few of the runs he gave up were partly because of a bad read by Cole Tucker who was playing center field at the time, and Miguel Del Pozo’s lack of control, letting a base runner score Holland left on second by walking the bases loaded, and then throwing a wild pitch.
Holland has really only had one bad inning. Granted it was a really bad inning, but still shows he can be quite effective. In that one inning, Holland allowed four home runs. If you take out this one inning, Holland’s 6.61 FIP becomes just 3.62.
The D-Backs are not void of injuries to pitchers, just like no team has been this year. Currently, they have three pitchers on the IL, that being the aforementioned Chafin, Madison Bumgarner and Jeremy Beasley. Chafin and MadBum are both lefties, so this leaves Robbie Ray as the only lefty in the rotation, and Matt Grace and Alex Young as the only southpaws in the bullpen, the ladder having surrendered six home runs in 18 innings, and Ray having given up seven home runs and issued 20 walks in 22 innings.
Right now, FanGraphs places the Diamondbacks’ farm system just below the Pirates’ at 7th. Like the Pittsburgh Pirates, they currently also have a deep farm system with four top 100 prospects, and six top 105 prospects. So even getting back a 40 or 40+ value prospect is going to be good since their system is so deep.
At this point in the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be getting many calls about their trade pieces. Being one of three true sellers, and likely the only true NL seller means that teams don’t have a lot of options if they are buyers. With pretty much Bryan Reynolds and every non-rookie/prospect available in talks, this deadline should be a fun one for Pittsburgh Pirates fans as this could catapult them into talks of being a top three farm system in baseball.