While Joe Musgrove would pair well with many teams in a trade, these two would be the best in terms of what they can offer in return to the Pittsburgh Pirates
The starting pitching market is still heavily in a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates favor. With the Pirates shopping starting pitcher Joe Musgrove and him receiving some of the most trade inquiries during the winter meetings, the Bucs are looking to get a good return for Musgrove.
The right-handed starter shouldn’t come cheap. After seeing what the Texas Rangers were able to get back for one year of Lance Lynn from the Chicago White Sox, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be able to net at least one pretty notable prospect as a headliner.
Plus, Musgrove has averaged about 3.0 fWAR per 150 innings since arriving in Pittsburgh and has two years of control left. Given their current situation and farm system, I think these two teams give the Pittsburgh Pirates the best opportunity to capitalize on getting Musgrove’s full value.
The first is one of Ben Cherington’s former teams, the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays have a strong, young and talented hitting core. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Rowdy Tellez are all 25-years-old or younger and had a wRC+ of at least 115. They’re also joined by outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk.
However, there are plenty of questions surrounding their rotation. Veteran Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu has been outstanding since his arrival in Toronto, but he’s their only reliable arm currently. While he did struggle in his brief appearances in the Majors last season, Pearson could be a second very good arm as the hard throwing right-hander is considered one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball.
Even if Pearson’s talent is on full display in 2021, that stil is a very shallow rotation. Tanner Roark posted an ERA and FIP approaching 7. Robbie Ray also had an ERA and FIP approaching 7 while walking 45 batters in 51.2 innings. 50.2% of all batters Ray faced either walked, struck out or hit a home run. Although they do have a few notable pitching prospects like Simeon-Woods Richardson and Alek Manoah, they’re still another year or two away from reaching the Majors.
Currently, Roark and Ray are Toronto’s number three and four starters with Trent Thorton, Anthony Kay, Tom Hatch, Shun Yamaguchi, Ross Stripling, Julian Merryweather and T.J. Zeuch as potential 5th starters. This definitely isn’t the rotation a team with such a talented line up wants to have heading into next season.
Not only doesMusgrove fit their team currently, but the Jays have multiple top 100 prospects. FanGraphs gives them six in their top 100 and ranks their farm system 12th best in baseball. Cherington would know best of what the Blue Jays have, which is another reason that would make them good trade partners for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Musgrove.
The other team is the Minnesota Twins. Their rotation situation isn’t as dire as the Jays, but it’s not the best. Kenta Maeda spent the entire season in their starting rotation and became a Cy Young finalist. Former top prospect Jose Berrios has had a handful of solid seasons, but has yet to be consistent enough to have a great season. Michael Pineda had a solid season in 2019 and followed that up with a strong 2020, albeit in only 26 innings. South Park, Pennsylvania, native Randy Dobnak looked outstanding to start the season, but fell off a cliff in his last few starts, so much so that he was even optioned at one point. However, he seems to have the inside track for one of the last rotation spots.
The Twins will be potentially losing a handful of their rotation options from 2020 in free agency this offseason. Rich Hill and Homer Bailey are still free agents and Matt Wisler was recently picked up by the San Francisco Giants. 2019 all-star Jake Odorizzzi is also a free agent. Like the Blue Jays, they do have a few top pitching prospects like Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, but they are also a few years away from being MLB ready.
The Twins have a handful of good veteran position players on the roster with prospects coming up through the system. They, like the Jays, have six prospects that rank in FanGraphs’ top 100 list. They are also ranked just ahead of Toronto on their farm system rankings. The Twins should make a move for starting pitching now. Many of their division rivals have made improvements to their team. The Sox traded for Lance Lynn while the Kansas City Royals have signed Mike Minor and Carlos Santana. The Clevaland Indians may have lost Brad Hand and Santana, but their ability to continue to develop ace-level pitching always makes them a threat.
Both the Twins and Jays would make the best targets not only because they need another rotation arm, but have a handful of pieces that would intice the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade. Musgrove should command a good return. The pitching market is favoring sellers which could end with the Bucs highly strengthening their farm system.