3 trade targets that would put the Pittsburgh Pirates over the top

The Pittsburgh Pirates could put themselves over the top and be true contenders with these three trade targets.
Aug 16, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Gavin Sheets (32) celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 16, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago White Sox right fielder Gavin Sheets (32) celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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Outfield: Taylor Ward

There are many potential outfield trade targets I think the Pirates should consider. But if I had to choose just one somewhat realistic option, it would be Taylor Ward. Ward is a great hitter who has made strides on the offensive side of the ball. While his fielding in left is only average, he could definitely benefit from some more lineup protection, as his underlying numbers are even better than his already impressive surface numbers.

Ward has been excellent this year, batting .271/.335/.476 through 236 plate appearances. He’s walking at a decent 9.3% rate with an above-average 22% strikeout rate, but he’s hitting for a lot of pop. Ward already has 11 home runs and a .205 isolated slugging percentage. Last year, he had 14 homers in 409 trips to the plate. Ward owns a .352 wOBA and 127 wRC+.

These are obviously really good numbers, but they could be even better. Ward is in the 88th percentile or higher in expected batting average, slugging percentage, and weighted on-base average. He’s seeing the ball really well. Ward’s 19.8% chase rate is the lowest of his career, while his 14.8% barrel rate is a career-best.

Ward is a solid but unspectacular defender. He’s only played left field this year, where he has -1 defensive run saved, but +1 out above average. Ward also has played center field and right field. Ward also has some experience at the infield corners, though he hasn’t played more than 25 innings in a season at third or first base since 2019.

Ward has more years left on his contract than Harvey, as he doesn’t become a free agent until after 2026. But Ward is now on pace for four straight quality seasons, at least with the bat. He hits for power, draws walks at a respectable rate, and will hit .270-.280. Ward would be my go-to option on the trade market right now.