The Pittsburgh Pirates had yet another disappointing season in 2022, finishing with a 62-100 record and last place in the NL Central. It was their fourth consecutive losing season. The Pirates have not made the playoffs since 2015, but with some of their young talent developing, they are hoping to contend for a Wild Card spot in 2023. This begs the question - should the Pirates consider trading closer David Bednar this offseason?
Bednar has emerged as one of the top relief pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons. In 2022, he posted a 2.70 ERA with 35 saves and 87 strikeouts over 60.2 innings pitched. The 27-year-old was named to his first All-Star team. In 2023 he was also elected to the all-star game and finished with a 2.00 ERA for the season. and is under team control through 2026. In 2023 On a team with few consistent performers, Bednar was a rare bright spot.
However, if the Pittsburgh Pirates aim to contend for a playoff spot next season, they may be better off keeping Bednar. He provides tremendous value as a shutdown closer that shortens games and stabilizes the bullpen. With the Pirates expected to be in more close, low-scoring games as a fringe contender, having an elite closer could translate into several extra wins.
The counterargument is that the Pittsburgh Pirates could still get a good return for Bednar in a trade this winter. While the farm system has improved, young starting pitching remains an area of need. Moving Bednar could help land a nearly MLB-ready pitching prospect.
Ultimately, the Pirates may be best served keeping Bednar for next season and re-evaluating at the 2023 trade deadline. If they are clearly out of contention, he could still be an attractive trade chip. But if they are in the postseason hunt, he provides more value on the roster.
Pittsburgh needs to maximize its opportunities during what could be a competitive window in 2023. Unless they are blown away by an offer, holding on to Bednar to anchor a push for the playoffs makes the most sense. His presence could be the difference in October baseball returning to the Steel City next fall.