3 bold mock trade proposals that would fix the Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfield

The Pirates need to fix their outfield, and the trade market should have some opportunities for them to do so, so let's look at some bold mock trade proposals.
Milwaukee Brewers v Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers v Houston Astros / Tim Warner/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Pirates need to make a move for some hitters soon. Their pitching has been great, and they have plenty of depth for their rotation. Many of their relievers are even stepping up, including some unlikely names like Kyle Nicolas and Dennis Santana. But while the Pirates’ pitchers have held up their end of the bargain, most of the Pirates’ bats haven’t. This is especially true in the outfield.

The outfield has by far been the roster's biggest disappointment, as well as where most of their struggles have stemmed from. At the time of writing this, Edward Olivares has an OPS below .700, Jack Suwinski has an OPS below .600, and Michael A. Taylor’s OPS is below .500. The Pirates need to shake things up. While there are a few internal options worth believing in, like Ji Hwan Bae and Joshua Palacios, the Pirates should still make a trade.

Luckily for them, the trade market for outfielders has an abundance of options this year. The Pirates could certainly find someone to help solve their outfield woes. These three bold mock trade proposals just might fix the Pirates’ outfield.

3 bold trade proposals that would fix the Pittsburgh Pirates' outfield

Pirates acquire

Astros acquire

Jake Meyers

Braxton Ashcraft and Quinn Priester

The Houston Astros aren’t in the position many expected them to be at the midway point of the 2024 season. Because of that, they might look to move shorter-term players. The Astros aren’t going to completely tear it down, but it’s possible they’ll look to retool while adding depth at positions of need. One player they could move for pitching is outfielder Jake Meyers.

Meyers is in the midst of a breakout year with the bat. He is slashing .251/.317/.423 with a .325 wOBA and 112 wRC+. While his 6.8% walk rate is a career-low, his 24% strikeout rate is a career-best. Last year, he struck out just over a quarter of the time. It’s not as if Meyers is way overplaying his expectations, either. Meyers has a .257 expected batting average, .425 expected slugging percentage, and .327 expected weighted on-base average.

Along with providing good hitting, Meyers has always been a great fielder. This year is no exception, as he has +2 defensive runs saved and +8 outs above average all out of center field. Throughout his career, he has +15 DRS and +29 OAA in 2,071 innings. Almost all of his playing time has been in center field, but he also has some playing time in both left and right field. Another thing that makes Meyers valuable, aside from his Gold Glove caliber defense and well above average hitting, is his contract. Meyers is still controlled for three more seasons via arbitration. 

Pitching is something the Astros have said they’re on the lookout for, and that’s something the Pirates have a lot of. The Pirates have multiple pitching prospects who are at Double-A or higher currently in the farm system. Getting a Gold Glove-caliber CF isn’t going to be cheap, so the headliner of this deal is Braxton Ashcraft.

Ashcraft had a massive breakout 2023 campaign spread across three levels of the minor leagues. He’s only continued to build his workload up while still performing at a high level. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Ashcraft has pitched 69 innings with a 3.00 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 1.07 WHIP. Ashcraft hasn’t been home run prone, with just an 0.78 HR/9. He also carries a solid 25.8% K%, but the most impressive part of his last two seasons is how well he’s been able to locate. His walk rate last year was 5.2%, but he’s trimmed that down even further to just 4.3%. Since the start of May, he has an ERA below 2.00 with a sub-5% BB%, but a K% above 25%.

One thing that has been important for Ashcraft is his increased ability to carry his velocity deeper into games. There were questions about Ashcraft’s long-term role entering the season, given that he barely pitched from 2020-2022, but he’s put most of those questions to rest. Since the start of May, he’s averaged nearly 5.2 innings a start, tossing 6+ frames on five different occasions.

The second part of this deal is Quinn Priester. Priester, a former first-round pick, has looked better in 2024 compared to his poor 2023 debut. His 4.83 ERA, 5.72 FIP, and 1.55 WHIP aren’t good on paper, but he’s cut his walk rate down from 11.5% last year to just 6.9% in 2024. His 1.99 HR/9 rate isn’t sustainable, either. His ground ball rate is 60% and his fly ball rate is well below 30% at 25.1%. Both SIERA (4.29) and xFIP (4.17) paint Priester as more of a middle/back of the rotation-type arm.

Priester has gained either movement or velo on all of his pitches this year. He’s also pitched extremely well in the minor leagues, with a 3.22 ERA, 2.88 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, a 5.2% walk rate, 26.7% K%, and more realistic 0.53 HR/9. That’s pretty good considering the league average ERA, walk rate, and strikeout rate in the International League is 4.93, 11.2%, and 23.3%, respectively. 

The Pirates would be trading away a decent amount of pitching depth. Both Priester and Ashcraft are on their 40-man roster, with the former already having major league experience, but Meyers could be a +3.5 fWAR player with his current pace. Ashcraft has gotten better and better, and will definitely intrigue many teams. He’s arguably the Pirates’ second best pitching prospect behind Bubba Chandler. Priester is an arm that could slot into the back of any rotation right now.