Pittsburgh Pirates: Joe Musgrove’s Arbitration & Trade Value

Aug 26, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove (59) follows through on a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Joe Musgrove (59) follows through on a pitch during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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It has been discussed ad nauseum this offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to trade starting pitcher Joe Musgrove. Musgrove remains under team control through the 2022 season and it is unlikely that the Pirates will truly be contenders again during that window. Due to this, trading Musgrove makes a world of sense for the Bucs.

Entering the offseason Musgrove’s salary for the 2021 season was unknown. This was due to Musgrove being arbitration eligible. On Friday the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to contracts with all nine of their remaining arbitration eligible players, this includes Musgrove.

Musgrove and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a $4.45M contract for the 2021 season. This contract should only continue to add to Musgrove’s trade value because a pitcher of Musgrove’s quality at $4.45M can be a real bargain.

Across his eight starts during the 2020 season Msugrove posted a 1.0 fWAR. This would put him on pace to be a 4+ fWAR pitcher in a normal season. A 4+ fWAR pitcher for just $4.45M is an absolute bargain.

Not only will Musgrove come cheap, this could benefit some teams who have to worry about the luxury tax. Take the New York Yankees for example, who are a team that Musgrove has been connected to this offseason.

Even after signing two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Friday, the Yankees could still use another starting pitcher. Luis Severino will not be ready until at least some time this summer due to Tommy John surgery, Jordan Montgomery struggled to a 5.11 ERA and a 4.48 DRA in 2020 and highly touted prospect Deivi Garcia has just six career MLB starts.

Another team that Musgrove has been linked to is the Toronto Blue Jays, who may be the perfect trade partner with the Pittsburgh Pirates for Musgrove. While the Blue Jay payroll is not nearly as high as a team like the Yankees, they are a team still looking to make a splash in free agency. Adding Musgrove via trade for just $4.45M will leave the Blue Jays with plenty of money to go spend on a hitter or another starting pitcher in free agency.

The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies San Francisco Giants, and Washington Nationals are all teams who are currently slated to have a payroll over $130M in 2021 who are searching for starting pitching help. Musgrove’s arbitration number could make him more intriguing to these teams as well.

Even for teams that are not in a payroll crunch or looking to spend money elsewhere, they now know what Musgrove will cost in 2021. Being able to better budget Musgrove into a payroll will also make it easier for teams to feel comfortable swinging a deal.

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The Pirates trading Musgrove continues to appear to be a question of when, not if. Musgrove and the Pirates agreeing to a $4.45M contract for 2021 only adds to Musgrove’s value and increase the likelihood of a trade happening.

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