Pittsburgh Pirates: Grading the Joe Musgrove Trade

On Monday evening Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates made their second big trade of the offseason. After trading Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals on Christmas Eve, Monday evening the Bucs sent starter Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres as part of a three team trade.

In return for Musgrove the Pittsburgh Pirates received five players. Four from the Padres, and one from the third team in the trade the New York Mets. With the trade now official, it is time to grade it out.

The one MLB ready piece the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired in the trade is reliever David Bednar. The past two seasons Bednar posted a 6.75 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 8.8% walk rate, and a 23.8% strikeout rate in 17.1 innings out of the Padre bullpen.

However, the results do not paint the full picture on Bednar. FanGraphs rates his fastball and curveball as 60-grade pitches, with his splitter being a 50-grade. As a result, FanGraphs gives him a future value of 40. Bednar will have a great chance to start the 2021 season in the Pirate bullpen and he has all of the tools needed and then some to be a reliable high leverage reliever for a MLB club.

As for the four prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired, this group was led by the headliner of the trade – center field prospect Hudson Head. The Padres selected Head with the 84th overall pick in the 2019 draft. Head hit for a strong .283/.383/.417 slash line to go with a 119 wRC+ in 141 plate appearances with the Padres’ Arizona League club in 2019. This led to him climbing to number seven on FanGraphs’ list of top Padre prospects.

Two other noteworthy prospects acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates were left-handed pitcher Omar Cruz and catcher Endy Rodriguez, both of whom were identified as breakout prospects for 2021 by Baseball America. The 21-year-old Cruz spent the 2019 season with San Diego’s Low-A and High-A affiliates. At these two levels Cruz pitched to the tune of a 2.73 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 8.2% walk rate, and a 32.8% strikeout rate in 56 innings pitched across 12 starts.

Rodriguez is the player the Pirates acquired from the Mets in the trade. In his minor league career the switch hitting catcher has done nothing but hit. In 266 minor league plate appearances Rodriguez has hit for a .276/.389/.452 slash line to go with a 13.2% walk rate, 16.5% strikeout rate, .175 isolate power, and a wRC+ of 140. Rodriguez now becomes the catcher of the future for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The final piece of the trade was right-handed pitching prospect Drake Fellows. Fellows was selected in the 6th round of the 2019 MLB Draft by the Padres. This came after a successful college career at Vanderbilt. This came after posting a 3.85 ERA while striking out 308 batters in 275.2 innings pitched with the Commodores.

Due to the lack of a 2020 minor league season, Fellows does not have any professional innings under his belt. He has an easily repeated delivery and throws a fastball that sits in the mid-to-low 90s. He also throws a good slider and a fringe change up. To avoid a future as a reliever, Fellows will need to develop a reliable third pitch.

In the coming days we will have more on the site about each player the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired for Musgrove and where they could fit in the Pirate future and farm system. Make sure to continue to check back on Rum Bunter throughout the coming days for these breakdowns.

As for grading the trade, well, no matter how you slice this one up it was a successful one for Cherington and the Pirates. Grade: A