Should the Pittsburgh Pirates consider going after Alek Manoah?

Should the Pirates consider purusing a trade for Alek Manoah if the Toronto Blue Jays are willing to sell low on their former Cy Young candidate?
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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Two years ago, one of the best pitchers in baseball was Toronto Blue Jays' right-hander Alek Manoah. Manoah finished third in American League Cy Young voting. This was after an outstanding rookie campaign as well. But fast forward to 2024, and Manoah is struggling for the Blue Jays' A-Ball affiliate. At this point, the Blue Jays might just try and salvage whatever they can get from Manoah, and if they're willing to sell low on the former Cy Young finalist, should the Pittsburgh Pirates consider going after him? What would the pros and cons be, and would it be worth the Pirates' time and resources?

The Jays drafted Manoah in the 2019 draft in the first round and quickly ascended to the Major Leagues. He opened his career off with a 2.60 ERA, 3.51 FIP, and 1.01 WHIP through his first 308.1 innings in the Major Leagues between 2021 and 2022. He had above average, albeit not elite, peripherals, including a 24.7 percent strikeout rate, 7.3 percent walk rate, and 0.82 HR/9. Manoah's strong suit was limiting hard contact with an 87.3 MPH exit velocity and 5.5 percent barrel rate. Between these two seasons, the only other starters with a lower barrel rate were Corbin Burnes and Max Fried. He finished tied with Logan Webb and Luis Castillo, and he also had the eighth-lowest exit velocity and fourth-lowest hard-hit rate (31.4 percent).

However, then came 2023, and Manoah fell off a cliff. He only pitched 87 innings before being demoted to the minor leagues after posting a 5.87 ERA, 6.01 FIP, and 1.74 WHIP. His once solid peripherals also had a dramatic fall, with just a 19 percent strikeout rate, 1.55 HR/9, and a horrid 14.2 percent walk rate. After being one of the best soft-contact pitchers in 2021-2022, Manoah gave up hard contact like it was going out of stock. His exit velocity and hard-hit rate rose dramatically to 89.5 MPH and 44.4 percent, respectively, but more worrying was his 9 percent barrel rate. Manoah also lost a tick off his velocity, dropping from 93.9 MPH in '22 to 92.9 MPH in '23.

Now that we know who Manoah is let's look at reasons why the Pirates should and shouldn't go after Manoah.