2 bold mock trade proposals that would fix most of the issues with the Pittsburgh Pirates' roster

The Pirates should make some noise in the trade market this summer, and these two bold mock trade proposals would fix many of the issues plaguing the current roster.
May 18, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA;  Miami Marlins first baseman Josh Bell (9) celebrates after he hit a three-run home run against the New York Mets in the ninth inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins first baseman Josh Bell (9) celebrates after he hit a three-run home run against the New York Mets in the ninth inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s time for the Pittsburgh Pirates to start thinking about making moves to improve the big league roster. While the market is just now starting to heat up, they need to start putting feelers out there, at the very least, to see who is available and for what price. The team has a solid base but needs more reinforcements.

There are clear weaknesses on this team. They need at least one bat and another reliever. With a tight Wild Card and National League Central race, a notable addition could put the Pirates in a very good spot. Plus, the Pirates have the farm system to make some notable moves. With that, I want to look at two mock trades that would improve some of the biggest holes on the Bucs’ roster.

Angels mock trade

If there is anyone on the trade market I would like the Pirates to get, it would be Taylor Ward from the LA Angels. He’s a very solid hitter with decent fielding in the outfield corners. With the LA Angels likely looking to move any and all short-term pieces, the Pirates could also capitalize by getting relief pitcher Carlos Estevez in a package deal alongside Ward.

Taylor Ward has hit well this year, batting .253/.331/.452 with a .341 wOBA and 121 wRC+. But there’s a lot to suggest there’s a lot more in the tank. Ward is above the 90th percentile in xwOBA (.382) and xSLG% (.533). He is posting a career-best exit velocity (91 MPH) and barrel rate (15.3%). There are currently only 14 other qualified batters with a higher barrel percentage. On top of that, he’s drawing walks at a career-high 10.9% rate with a respectable 22.5% K rate. Ward has graded out as slightly above average with +1 defensive run saved and +1 out above average. That’s par for the course for him, as he typically grades out as average to slightly above average. Ward also has some years of control left and doesn’t become a free agent until after 2026.

Estevez’s ERA of 4.05 might not be great on paper, but there are a lot more positives to his 2024 season. He has walked a minuscule 3.8% of opponents with a 24.4% K rate. His underlying numbers are also more promising, with a 3.65 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, and 3.36 SIERA on the season. Estevez also rebounded from a rough month of April. Over his last 11.1 innings, he’s only allowed three earned runs, a trio of free passes, just one homer, and struck out nine. Estevez becomes a free agent after the end of this season, though. 

Ward isn’t going to be a cheap grab, let alone adding in Estevez (even if he is a rental reliever), so the headliner of this deal is a pretty notable pitching prospect in Thomas Harrington. Harrington came off an extremely promising 2023 campaign between Bradenton and Altoona. Although he missed the first month of 2024, he’s more or less picked up right where he left last season off with a 3.39 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 25.6% K%, and 3.9% walk rate in 29.2 innings. Most of his playing time has been at Altoona, minus one rehab outing at A-ball to start the year. Harrington has an above-average fastball, a sweeping slider, and a solid change-up and curveball with above-average control.

The second piece in this deal would be Mike Burrows. Burrows potentially could have found himself with a starting pitching role in the majors last year had it not been for Tommy John surgery. The last time Burrows pitched was in 2022 when he owned a 4.01 ERA but 3.29 FIP and 1.21 WHIP in 94.1 IP. The right-hander struck out 28.2% of batters faced with a 7.9% walk rate and 0.76 HR/9. Burrows also had an ERA under 3.50 until the last game of the year when he allowed six ER in just 0.2 IP. Burrows has a great fastball and curveball, both of which have elite spin. His change-up has also come a long way from a fringy third offering to an above-average pitch. He’s also displayed control over everything throughout his minor league career.

The third and final part of this package is Omar Alfonzo. The backstop prospect is having a solid season at A-Ball, where he is hitting .247/.373/.373 with a .361 wOBA and 119 wRC+ in 201 plate appearances. Alfonzo hasn’t hit for much power with a .127 isolated slugging percentage, but he does have a 15.9% walk rate. Alfonzo is also considered a solid defender behind the plate and has experience at first base.