Pittsburgh Pirates: Trade Proposal with the Seattle Mariners
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners could be surpise trade partners and this trade could make some sense for both teams.
The Pittsburgh Pirates should be active sellers at the trade deadline. While Richard Rodriguez and Adam Frazier will get a fair amount of speculation leading up to the deadline as they have a high chance of getting dealt, they’re far from the Pirates’ only trade pieces.
Two more under the radar pitchers will definitely at least get some calls. The Bucs could get a call from the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners are 45-40 as many of their prospects are starting to debut and contribute to the major league club. The M’s are within reach of the American League Wild Card and a hot streak could even put them in striking distance of the division. While they may not be willing to go all in on a high-priced trade target just yet, like a German Marquez, they should at least show some interest in some of the players who fall closer to the second tier of trade targets.
This is where the Pirates could step in. The Pirates have two pitchers I think would work well in a trade with the Mariners. The first is starting pitcher Tyler Anderson. The Pittsburgh Pirates picked up the lefty starter this past off-season and he’s been a pretty solid arm for the team.
Through 92.1 innings, Anderson has a 4.39 ERA/FIP and 1.19 WHIP. Anderson isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, being more of a control arm. He only has a 20.3% strikeout rate, but a strong 6.3% walk rate. Anderson’s home run rate is a bit of an issue with a 1.46 HR/9 rate. ERA estimators pin him right around where his bottom line numbers are with a 4.37 xFIP, 4.39 SIERA, 4.46 xERA, and 4.96 DRA.
Though he still has an above average hard hit and exit velocity. Anderson has an 88.4 MPH exit velo, which is at the top 58th percentile. His 35.9% hard hit rate is also in the top 72nd percentile. Despite his below average strikeout rate, Anderson has a K/BB ratio well above average of 3.25.
Anderson has went at least 5 innings in all of his starts this season. He’s given up 3 more earned runs in just 2 of his 16 starts. Anderson has 2 clunker starts where he gave up 15 earned runs in just 11 innings of work. These 2 starts have severely inflated his stats. Take out these 2 starts and the southpaw has a 3.32 ERA and 3.84 FIP.
The other pitcher is right-handed relief pitcher Chris Stratton. The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Stratton in May 2019 and has been a solid reliever ever since. So far this season, Stratton has a 2.96 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP in 45.2 innings. Stratton only has a 22.3% strikeout rate and 9% walk rate. But he has a strong .79 HR/9 rate and a career best 47.2% ground ball rate. Stratton also is putting up a career low line drive rate at 20.5%.
This pairs well with his above average exit velocity and hard hit rate. Opponents have an 88.7 MPH exit velo vs the right hander (top 53rd percentile) and 37.2% hard hit rate (top 61st percentile). His ERA estimators haven’t been as kind to him with a 4.04 xFIP, 3.99 SIERA, and 4.42 DRA.
However, Stratton is still above average in terms of xERA, xwOBA, xSLG, barrell rate, chase rate, and has control through the 2023 season. Stratton relies on his spin rate to get outs over velocity. His fastball only averages 92.8 MPH, but has 2605 RPM, which is in the top 97th percentile. His curveball spin rate is in the top 98th percentile with over 3000 RPM (3105 to be exact), and his slider has 2895 RPM. Seeing as none of his offerings have lost any spin or hasn’t seen a big blow up in performance since the crackdown on foreign substances began earlier in June, it stands to reason his spin comes from his ability rather than something he’s using.
Though besides his so-so ERA estimators that will bring down Stratton’s value is his lack of experience in high-leverage situations. Teams will pay more for high-leverage relievers than mid/multi-inning arms. Though Stratton has been excellent in these situations this year, he struggled in high leverage situations in 2020 and 2019. But he is starting to see more time late in games this year. Strat has more appearances in the 7th inning or later this year than in years past.
Now the Mariners have a strong and deep farm system. The Pirates won’t be able to pry away a Jarred Kelenic with any of their trade pieces, let alone Anderson and Stratton, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get anything of worth back. Overall, they could get back a 40-40+ FV prospect back in the deal. For reference, that’s around where the likes of Carmen Mlodzinski, Mason Martin, Rodolf Castro, and Santiago Florez currently sit at per FanGraphs’ rankings.
The prospect I’d definitely ask about is Austin Shenton. The Mariners 5th round selection in 2019 has done very well throughout the minor leagues. In 459 total plate appearances, the lefty hitter has a strong .290/.392/.514 line with 14 home runs, 37 doubles, and a .402 wOBA.
Shenton has a .224 isolated slugging percentage. Across a 600 plate appearance season, he would have 18 home runs and just under 50 doubles (48). But he isn’t an all-or-nothing slugger. Shenton only has a career strikeout rate of 20.9%. He also walks a ton, clocking in with a 11.8% BB%.
So far this year, Shenton has a .283/.408/.518 line at the Mariners’ High-A affiliate. Shenton has crushed 7 home runs and already has 20 doubles in just 233 trips to the plate. Plus he has an impressive 15% walk rate while going down on strike three just 22.3% of the time. All told, he has a .420 wOBA and 156 wRC+.
Shenton has a 45-future hit grade on FanGraphs, 50-future game power grade, and 55-future raw power grade. As a fielder, he’s considered below average with an average arm. But what he lacks in overall prowess he makes up for in versatility. Shenton has played mostly third base, but has seen time at second base, first base, and left field. He’s not the fastest, but has room to improve his running game, as per MLB Pipeline.
FanGraphs only lists Shenton as a 35+ FV prospect, however MLB Pipeline sees him as their 17th best prospect. He’s much more advanced than some sources give him credit for. He’s gotten comparisons to Max Muncy given his extremely advanced approach to the plate and versatility. Plus it’s worth mentioning that FanGraphs sees him as a medium-risk prospect rather than a high-risk option.
Shenton is already 23-years-old and given the amount of praise he’s been given for his hitting ability, he should easily be a regular player in the majors in early 2022. The Bucs may also be able to get another player who is pretty much MLB ready.
Anderson and Stratton are not the biggest trade pieces the Pittsburgh Pirates have but they would still land the team a solid return. Shenton’s well developed bat and highly skilled approach at the plate should override the fact he’s not a 40-40+ FV prospect on FanGraphs.