Pittsburgh Pirates: Proposing a Trade With the New York Yankees

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Luke Voit #59 of the New York Yankees celebrates his walk-off single against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Luke Voit #59 of the New York Yankees celebrates his walk-off single against the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium on June 23, 2021 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates could add another power bat to the roster and the New York Yankees could look to move this power hitter to free up some money. So this trade could favor both teams.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not done a ton this offseason. So far, their moves have consisted of signing José Quintana, Heath Hembree, and Daniel Vogelbach, re-signing Yoshi Tsutsgo, and claiming Aaron Fletcher. While there  massive have been a few acquisitions post-lockout, that could change over the course of the following week. The floodgates are about to open and this is something that even the Pittsburgh Pirates might get into.

On the other hand, the New York Yankees will look to shed some salary over the next few weeks. Just days after acquiring all-star third baseman Josh Donaldson and Gold Glove infielder Isiah Kiner-Falefa, the Yankees resigned first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

The Pittsburgh Pirates could swoop in and snag first baseman Luke Voit, from the Yankees for a relatively low cost. Voit seems to be the odd-man-out now with Rizzo on the roster. The Yankees wouldn’t acquire a first baseman the magnitude Rizzo just to platoon him with Voit, and Giancarlo Stanton currently occupies DH. He might not have a massive contract, but every penny counts, even for a team like the Yankees considering they have two super-sized contracts in Stanton and Gerrit Cole.

The acquisition of Donaldson adds another $21.75 million to the payroll. Resigning Rizzo $16 million more. With superstar Aaron Judge approaching free agency, the Yankees will likely be looking to cut as much payroll as possible to potentially give up yet another monster contract. With all that in mind, it seems quite likely that they’d be willing to salary dump Voit for pennies on the dollar.

When healthy, Voit has been an outstanding hitter. Voit hit for an excellent .268/.366/.512 with a .370 wOBA and 134 wRC+ through 744 plate appearances. Voit is known for his big-time power. He blasted 43 home runs, including a league-leading 22 in 2020, and had a .245 isolated slugging percentage. Although his 26.3% strikeout rate isn’t great, it’s not the worst either. Plus, he offset that with a quality 11.8% walk rate.

Even though Voit played just 68 games and collected 241 plate appearances, he put up above-average numbers. He hit .239/.328/.437 with a .332 wOBA, and 111 wRC+. There’s also a lot to suggest that he got unlucky during his 2021 season. Voit still posted a .360 xwOBA, .500 xSLG, and .487 xWOBACON. All of those fell very much in line with his 2019 expected stats. He also had career bests in exit velo (90.7 MPH) and hard-hit rate (52.2%).

Not only did Voit’s underlying numbers suggest that he got unlucky, but he did turn things around in the second half. His last 147 plate appearances of the season saw him post a .875 OPS, .376 wOBA, and 141 wRC+. There’s a lot to suggest that Voit’s surface numbers were nothing more than a fluke because of some injuries that held him back.

Moving Voit to designated hitter full time would potentially save his body from injuries. Plus, he isn’t necessarily a quality defender at first base either. Dating back to 2019, he has -19 DRS. So not only would moving him to DH save his body from further injury, but it would also save runs in the field.

While the Pirates would be taking on Voit’s contract here, the Yankees probably want a bit more. Voit is only owed $5.25 million this year and has two more years of arbitration after 2022. So if the Pirates had to throw in a prospect, they might be willing to part with Carter Bins. Bins was acquired in the trade that sent Tyler Anderson to the Seattle Mariners. Although Joaquin Tejada was the headliner in the deal, Bins was a nice addition as it gave the Pirates another catcher to the system.

Bins is a solid backstop prospect who brings pop, plate discipline, and a quality glove to the table. He had a crazy 19.1% walk rate between the Pirates’ and Mariners’ affiliates. Although Bins tailed off in the second half once the Pirates acquired him, he did exceptionally well with the Mariners High-A affiliate with a .915 OPS, .410 wOBA, and 147 wRC+. The downside is while Bins walked at an insane rate, he also struck out 29.3% of the time.

Bins’ upside is that he’s a good defensive backstop. Not only can he remain behind the dish long-term, but he has an extremely powerful arm. FanGraphs gave him a 60-grade for his arm. He’s a guy who could provide 20 home runs and a plus glove from behind the dish. One thing that a team will find interesting with Bins is his plus athleticism, and not just for a catcher.

So why Bins? What would be the incentive for the Pittsburgh Pirates to trade Bins for Voit and his contract? Why would the Yankees want Bins? Well, the second question is easy to answer. The Yankees included former incumbent backstop Gary Sanchez in the deal that got them Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Their catching prospect depth also isn’t profound.

Their top catching prospect is Antonio Gomez, who is only 20-years-old. Anthony Seigler hasn’t reached Double-A yet, and while Josh Breaux brings plus offensive potential, he might be moved to first base given his poor defense. 2020 first-rounder Austin Wells might move out from behind the dish. His defense isn’t great to start with, and he started 33 games at DH in 2021. Plus, he spent a lot of time in left field and at first base throughout college.

The first question also has a good answer. The Pirate catching corps is as deep as ever. Over the past year-plus, they’ve turned what was initially a weakness into a strength. They acquired Endy Rodriguez in the Joe Musgrove trade, who now ranks as a borderline top 100 prospect by FanGraphs. Then they drafted Henry Davis first overall, then Wyatt Hendrie in the 7th round. Bins wasn’t the only catching prospect they acquired at the trade deadline. They also swapped Braeden Ogle for Abrahan Gutierrez from the Philadelphia Phillies. Not to mention they have other prospects capable of catching like Blake Sabol and Eli Wilson.

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Given that, I think there’s a good match-up between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Yankees here. The Yankees will likely be willing to deal Voit just to get rid of his salary, and the Pirates could use a power-hitting DH/1B option. Plus, with the Pirates’ surplus of catching talent in the minors, they could afford to part with one of the backstops. It’s also not as if the Pirates are dealing from the cream of the crop here either. Although Carter Bins isn’t bad, he isn’t nearly on the same level as Endy, and especially Davis. Overall, I think that this could work.