Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Potential Inter-Division Trade Targets

These division rival players may end up on the trade block, and be potential targets for the Pittsburgh Pirates to pursue.
Sep 22, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes (39) delivers a
Sep 22, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes (39) delivers a / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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RHP Corbin Burnes

Let’s get another bold player in the mix. With the Brewers listening on any and all veterans, ace starter Corbin Burnes will all but certainly be one player who gets attention from across the league. But with the Pirates in need of at least two starting pitchers, Burnes would be a massive boost to their starting rotation.

Burnes is coming off a season that looks poor compared to the other years on his resume. In 193 innings, the right-hander worked to a 3.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP, and 1.07 WHIP. Burnes had a 25.5% strikeout rate and an 8.4% walk rate. Both aren’t bad rates, but considering he had a 32.8%/5.9% strikeout rate and walk rate in 2021-2022, respectively, only striking out about a quarter of opponents with a walk rate over 8% doesn’t look great in hindsight.

Burnes is still great at limiting hard contact. His 86.4 MPH exit velocity was among the top 92nd percentile, while his 5.3% barrel rate was in the top 86th percentile, and his 32.4% hard-hit rate was in the top 89th percentile. Burnes was also better in the second half of the season at inducing strikeouts with a 28.3% strikeout rate after the all-star break. He also had an improved 2.71 ERA and 3.27 FIP through his final 86.1 innings.

The four previous players we talked about have at least three years of control remaining, but Burnes is on the last season of his contract. If the Brewers go into full rebuild mode, Burnes will certainly have a high price tag. He could really jumpstart their rebuild if they play their cards right. While paying a high price for an inter-division rival wouldn’t be the most ideal scenario, Burnes would be the best starting pitcher on the trade market if they are committed to tearing it down. Because of that, I don’t think you can leave him off a list of players who should be on the Pirate radar when Burnes would solve one of their biggest needs.

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