The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of short-term veterans, but which ones bring any value to the table?
The Pittsburgh Pirates roster has plenty of short-term veterans. José Quintana and Ben Gamel have the most value, and with the trade deadline coming up, the Pirates should be active in the market. So are there any other veterans on the team besides Quintana and Gamel who the Pirates could net a return on?
If we’re being honest, most of the veterans on the team aren’t going to bring back anything, even salary relief. Nobody is touching Yoshi Tsutsugo’s contract, and Josh VanMeter is worth more being designated for assignment than he is in a trade. But some other guys might get some interest, even if it is very minimal.
Jake Marisnick fits any team with an established outfield looking for a fourth option. Marisnick isn’t going to interest any teams with his bat. He has just a .687 OPS, .294 wOBA, and 88 wRC+. He does have a much better .314 expected wOBA, but nobody is banking on him to reach that. The real attraction is his glove. Despite being injured, Marisnick already has +4 Defensive Runs Saved and +6 Outs Above Average in less than 200 innings.
Nobody should expect anything significant in a Marisnick trade. But he could be a buzzer-beater-type trade candidate that a team acquires at the last minute to bolster their outfield depth. His long-time former team, the Houston Astros, might show interest, given that both Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez are on the 10-day injured list but shouldn’t be out for long.
Chas McCormick has turned things around after a rough start to the year, and Kyle Tucker is having a quality season. Though Jose Siri and Mauricio Dubom have been even worse at the plate than Marisnick. The Toronto Blue Jays may be a potential suitor. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, and Teoscar Hernandez all have an OPS+ above 120, but 4th outfielder Raimel Tapia has been terrible at the plate. He has just a .688 OPS (compared to Marisnick’s .687 mark) while posting -7 DRS and -3 OAA. Bradley Zimmer has a sub-.500 OPS despite being a quality defender, making their two back-up outfield options extremely poor.
Kevin Newman might also attract some attention from teams looking for middle infield depth. Like Marisnick, Newman’s value is all in the glove but has even less value on the offensive side of the ball. Newman has been hurt for most of this year, but last year, he registered +7 DRS and +4 OAA. Newman provides solid defense at short and at the keystone, but his bat makes Marisnick look like a Silver Slugger.
Newman was statistically the worst hitter in baseball between 2020 and 2021, posting a .570 OPS, .250 wOBA, and 57 wRC+. He’s been significantly better in 2022 but still the owner of a below league average .694 OPS, .306 wOBA, and 97 wRC+.
Again, nobody will knock down the Pittsburgh Pirates door to get Newman. If he gets traded, you’re not going to hear much about it until it happens, which probably wouldn’t be until the last minute. The Boston Red Sox could inquire about Newman, given that Trevor Story is now injured. Some surprise buyers like the Baltimore Orioles or Miami Marlins might also find some value in him as a better defender than what they currently have at second base or shortstop.
On the pitching side of things, Chase De Jong could be a veteran who gets some last-minute attention. DeJong has a sparkling 2.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and .198 opponent average. However, he has much worse underlying numbers. That includes a 4.85 FIP, 4.71 xFIP, and 4.26 SIERA and is below the 20th percentile in hard-hit and exit velocity. He has a 1.54 HR/9 rate, which is a direct cause of a fly ball rate above 50% and poor batted ball numbers. He is also now on the injured list due to knee tendinitis.
No team is going to take what De Jong has done for face value. It’s pretty evident that his 2.06 ERA is pretty empty and has no supporting evidence that it is sustainable. But it’s definitely a case of ‘there’s no such thing as too much pitching depth.’ Like Marisnick and Newman, there’s not going to be trade talk surrounding De Jong until it happens. The Pirates might as well capatalize on his trade value while it’s the highest its been since he was a prospect with the LA Dodgers and Seattle Mariners.
There might not be much of a return for any of these guys, but getting a change-of-scenery prospect or low-level lottery ticket would be a good return. Heck, Oneil Cruz was a high-risk lottery ticket when the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him, and so was Fernando Tatis Jr. when the San Diego Padres acquired him for James Shields. Those are select examples, but still. De Jong, Marisnick, and Newman are not (or at least should not be) part of the Pirates’ future plans, and getting someone that could be is an idea that the Bucs should entertain.