MLB insider connects Pirates to blockbuster trade target Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Pirates' offense still ranks near the bottom of baseball, poorly complementing the team's ascending rotation. Despite not scoring a lot of runs, they continue to hover around .500. It is clear that they are a bat or two away from being contenders, but the trade deadline is still a month away.

General manager Ben Cherington and owner Bob Nutting have both recently addressed the high likelihood of attempting to make the team better at this deadline, which is promising, and MLB insider Jon Heyman confirmed that the Pirates are indeed working towards exactly that in a recent column.

Heyman confirmed this week that the Pirates were looking to add major league bats with their deep pitching prospect group. Not only did he talk about the Pirates being buyers, but he went as far as to link the Pirates with star slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Could Vladimir Guerrero Jr. be a legitimate target for the Pirates?

Although the Pirates do not have a great history of buying big-named players at trade deadlines, there is a minor possibility that this specific deal happens. The Pirates have a surplus of pitching prospects that the Blue Jays would indeed be interested in. Guerrero Jr. is a big money commitment, as his arbitration contract for this season is $19 million. If the Pirates were in any way working on a deal with him, then Toronto would have to send money along with Guerrero.

Guerrero will also be under control for another year after the 2024 season, so any team that trades for him will receive more than just a rental. In a deal that would net Pittsburgh the star first baseman, the Pirates would likely need to give up multiple top ten prospects in their organization, as well as cash. A package of Braxton Ashcraft (Pirates fifth-ranked prospect), Hunter Barco (Pirates 12th-ranked prospect), and a guy like Ji Hwan Bae or Jack Suwinski could work, plus a potential lottery ticket/ascendant FCL star. It's possible the centerpiece will even have to be a bit more of a "sure thing"; Termarr Johnson and Bubba Chandler will undoubtedly be discussed.

Is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. a player the Pirates should be targeting?

This season, Guerrero has a batting average of .291 with 12 home runs and 44 runs batted in. He also has an OPS of .826, which includes an on-base percentage of .371 and a slugging percentage of .456. His wRC+ is great at 138 and his strikeout percentage is low at 16.3%. At first base, he has saved one defensive run.

The Pirates group at first base this season has not been great, but Rowdy Tellez has picked it up and Connor Joe looks like he has broken out of his slump. The first base platoon is doing better, but while it is not the main position the Pirates need to go after at the trade deadline, Guerrero Jr. represents an obvious upgrade, if the opportunity presents itself.

Overall, acquiring Guerrero Jr. would be a significant boost to the offense, but the cost may be the factor driving the Pirates away from him. If the Blue Jays include cash to cover his expensive contract, then the Pirates should definitely target him.