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.
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Pirates add JJ Bleday amidst rebound season in Oakland

Pirates acquire

Athletics acquire

JJ Bleday

Thomas Harrington and Lonnie White Jr.

Of all potentially available options, the Pirates would be best suited to go after JJ Bleday of the Oakland Athletics. Bleday is having a nice breakout season and is hitting .239/.319/.433 with a .327 wOBA and 117 wRC+ through 352 plate appearances. Bleday once struggled to keep his strikeouts under control, but now he’s putting up a K% below 20% at 18.8%. He’s still walking at a quality 10.2% rate as well. Bleday’s power has also been on display. He has 22 doubles, 11 homers, and a .192 isolated slugging percentage.

While many projected Bleday as a corner outfielder, he’s been able to hold his own in center this year for Oakland. He only has -2 defensive runs saved and -1 outs above average in 700.2 innings. That’s a massive step up from last year when he had -8 DRS and -2 OAA in less than half of the innings played at the same position (236 frames, to be exact). If he has to move to an outfield corner in the future, he has the arm to do so. He’s in the 80th percentile of throw velocity.

On top of all that, Bleday is young at 26 years old and under control for four more seasons after 2024. His first year of arbitration won’t be until 2026. He has one more whole season of pre-arb left. With his production, age, and control remaining, this would be a prime target for the Pirates to go after.

The headliner of this package is Thomas Harrington, as we attempt to suss out what, exactly, the A's would want in exchange here. While the top prospect missed the first month of the year, he picked up right where he left off and then some. He’s tossed 45.2 innings (mostly at Double-A, plus one rehab stint at Bradenton) and owns a 2.96 ERA, 3.03 FIP, and 1.07 WHIP. Harrington has struck out nearly a quarter of opponents with a 24.7% K% and a respectable 0.79 HR/9, but he has a nanoscopic 2.7% walk rate on the year. He has the lowest walk rate among Double-A pitchers with at least eight outings this year.

Harrington obviously has good command. You don’t post a sub-3% walk rate on the basis of good control alone. He’s not a hard thrower, only sitting 92-94 MPH, but it plays up because of its ability ride through the zone. His sweeping slider has been a major improvement to his arsenal since leaving college. He also has an above-average changeup while mixing in a curveball and cutter.

The position player prospect in this deal is Lonnie White Jr. White Jr. is a pretty high-risk prospect, and that’s been displayed in his game this year. He is only hitting .190/.294/.410 with a .323 wOBA and 97 wRC+ on the year. While he has walked at a 9.1% pace with 11 homers in 231 plate appearances and a .220 isolated slugging percentage, he’s also struck out over 30% of the time (31.6%, to be exact). To White Jr.’s credit, he has been hitting much better as of recently, with a .823 OPS, .372 wOBA, and 127 wRC+ since the start of June. He’s also cut his K% down below 30% at 27.7%.

White has 20/20 potential, with his ceiling being a 30/30 threat. He’s a double-plus runner and uses that speed to track down fly balls deep in the gaps in center field. The former 2021 draft pick is also someone who could compete for the Gold Glove in the future. Even if he has to play some corner outfield, his arm can work in both left and right field. White Jr. is a pretty high-risk but high-reward prospect, and teams will be intrigued by his potential.

The fact that Bleday is still a whole year away from arbitration is valuable. Add on that he can hit and play a solid center field, and it doesn't seem likely a deal will come at a cheap price, even if his price tag is lower than initially expected. Harrington and White Jr. are both very good prospects, the former being a borderline top 100 guy and someone who could break onto most top 100 lists with his current trend line, and the latter maintaining a sky-high ceiling. That's the price to pay, however, for a good center fielder with four more years of control remaining.