AL executive believes Pirates could make playoff noise if they nail trade deadline

New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels
New York Yankees v Los Angeles Angels / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have not played to their full potential this season, but one American League executive still believes they could be a dangerous postseason team.

According to a recent ESPN story from Buster Olney, optimism about the Pirates is only beginning to increase.

The unknown American League executive has some high praise for a Pirate team that currenlty sits two games below .500. They may be below .500 right now, but their potential as a team is exceptionally high, and now they are beginning to receive that recognition. This executive believes that the Pirates are just missing one upgrade from being a contending team.

That necessary upgrade is on offense. The Pirates offense is not necessarily bad, but guys like Michael A. Taylor, Jack Suwinski, Henry Davis, Yasmani Grandal, and Rowdy Tellez have all been close to unproductive in the Pirates lineup this season. Although that list represents a bad bunch of players, they have had some impressive hitters emerge as well, such as Connor Joe, Nick Gonzales, Oneil Cruz, and Bryan Reynolds.

To become a playoff team, the Pirates need to get another bat to help this offense score more runs. The most important area to improve for the Pirates is in the outfield. Jack Suwinski and Michael A. Taylor have both been very poor at the plate this season, Bryan Reynolds has been solid, and Edward Olivares has been decent, but is not an everyday starter.

If the Pirates want to make a playoff push, they need to acquire a solid bat for the outfield.

The Pirates do not need to go all in with a "Juan Soto"-sized package for Luis Robert, but there is a cheaper option that can add a significant boost to the offense. That player is Taylor Ward, who has played left field for the Angels. This season, Ward has a .253 batting average with 12 home runs and 36 runs batted in. He also has an OPS of .783, which includes an on-base percentage of .331 and a slugging percentage of .452. His wRC+ is solid at 113 and his strikeout percentage is at 22.8%.

Ward is off to a slow start to June, but he has been very good this season. His expected batting average is at .270 and his expected slugging percentage is at .515. He also has a highly rated barrel percentage of 14.4% and he has a great chase rate of just 19.8%. His defense in left field is also solid, with an outs above average mark of one.

The Pirates may need to give up a few prospects to get Ward, but doing so would greatly increase the likelihood of Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

What about the current Pirates roster makes them a "dangerous" playoff team?

The Pirates starting rotaton has been among the best in the MLB this season. If the Pirates were to make it to the playoffs and play in a best-of-three series for the Wild Card, opposing teams would have to face Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, and Mitch Keller. This "big three" is what makes this team a dangerous team for the playoffs, even with their current inconsistent offense.

This Pirates team is dangerous, but it is a big bat away from being considered a contender. If Ben Cherington improves this offense at the MLB Trade Deadline, the Pirates can be a dangerous team for the playoffs, and that fact is starting to get league wide recognition.