Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Deadline: Should They Deal for a Better Shortstop?

Tom AuSenior Analyst IIJuly 29, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 25: Kevin Correia #29 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Chicago Cubs on July 25, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Houston Astros got the much better deal late last year, when they traded for shortstop Jed Lowrie and released Clint Barmes, who was signed to a two-year deal by the Pittsburgh Pirates for over $5 million per.

I thought Marco Scutaro would have been a nice addition to the lineup, even for two months. All the Rockies wanted for him was a minor league second baseman. The Pirates had one, Josh Harrison, who joined the team a few years ago in the trade of Tom Gorzelanny (whom we undervalued).

Harrison is now a utility player of the kind the Rockies wanted. They were so eager to get rid of Scutaro (an upgrade over Barmes) that they ate part of his salary. If the Pirates could, instead, have offered Harrison AND Barmes for Scutaro (even eating part of Barmes' salary), such a deal might have made sense.

That's because Clint Barmes, who is the second highest-paid Pirate (after A.J. Burnett), is a replacement-level player, and a very expensive one at that. He is one of the few position players remaining that is batting just north of the Mendoza line, meaning that he is offensively challenged.

Only his superior defense brings him up to replacement level. Things are so bad that it could well be worth it for the Pirates to "eat" his remaining salary (at least for 2013), if a suitable replacement can be found.

The deal I am proposing probably wouldn't fly if the shortstop in question weren't on the disabled list. But he is, meaning that he might not be a factor for the rest of 2012. But I'm thinking about FUTURE years.

My idea is to trade Kevin Correia (who, as a two-month rental, would normally be untradable) and a mid-level prospect to the Houston Astros for Jed Lowrie. This prospect could be Stetson Allie or Nick Kingham. Maybe Bryan Morris or Kyle McPherson at most.

A few years ago, the Pirates were one of the few teams for which Correia would have represented a pitching improvement. Nowadays, it's the Astros that represent one of those teams. He'll probably be looking for a new team after 2012, and "first dibs" on him may be of value to Houston.

Lowrie appears be the (league average) shortstop Barmes was supposed to be. Moreover, Lowrie has three arbitration years to go beginning in 2013, meaning that he would be available at a below-market price during that time.

If the Pirates succeed in trading for him, resulting savings would cover the cost of paying Clint Barmes' salary for 2013. At least the Bucs could send Jordy Mercer back to the minors, if they wanted to use Barmes as a bench player.

I'm assuming that Lowrie will not be available for most, if not all of the rest of 2012. That would put off the question of what to do with Clint Barmes until next year. More to the point, this might give Houston an incentive to trade him and get some immediate compensation for Correia.