Neal Huntington was active at the trade deadline, making two key moves to update the Pirates' offense as this team chases its first playoff berth in 20 years. He was able to improve the Bucs both in 2012 and down the road without parting with any key assets (via ESPN).
Many are criticizing Huntington for failing to acquire a big name bat like Hunter Pence or Shin-Soo Choo but, given the high prospect costs associated with those players, the Pirates' decision to pursue younger, cheaper players was the right one.
In acquiring Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez without giving up any major pieces, the Pirates immediately get somewhat better while potentially improving the team substantially in the short-term future.
The Pirates Add Another Young Power Bat
The Pirates' more noteworthy trade saw them acquire outfielder Travis Snider from the Blue Jays in exchange for relief pitcher Brad Lincoln.
Both Snider and Lincoln have substantial pedigree, and neither has yet lived up to his lofty expectations. Yet, Snider is a 24-year-old power hitter, whereas Lincoln is a 27-year-old relief pitcher. Snider's short- and long-term potential far exceeds Lincoln's for that simple reason.
Snider will become an everyday player for the Pirates immediately. He is batting second tonight.
In Snider, Pedro Alvarez, and Garrett Jones, the Bucs suddenly have a substantial stable of left-handed power behind table setters Starling Marte and Neil Walker. Throw in National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, and this can be one of the best offenses in the league.
This offense has the potential to stick together for a long time, too.
Aside from Jones, all of the Pirates' core offensive pieces have several years of team control remaining. Alvarez is starting to show his superstar potential, and Snider and Marte have just as much capability. McCutchen obviously is what he is at this point. Suddenly, the Pirates have the look of a future offensive juggernaut.
Losing Lincoln does sting a bit, as he was an important part of the current bullpen and has done a great job of reinventing himself as a late-inning reliever. But, he is already 27 and the Pirates have shown a knack for developing a good bullpen on the cheap—year after year. Trading Lincoln for a player like Snider is a no-brainer.
The Bucs Increase Their Offensive Depth
Travis Snider was not the only piece the Pirates added to their offense Tuesday. The Bucs also acquired Gaby Sanchez from the Marlins in exchange for Gorkys Hernandez and their competitive balance pick.
No offense to Hernandez, but the competitive balance pick was by far the more valuable piece here. Hernandez is an amazing defensive player, but his bat simply does not play in the outfield.
It is interesting to see the Pirates already utilizing the ability to trade picks and, while the draft pick certainly has some value, a player with recent success like Sanchez is more valuable than a sandwich pick.
While Sanchez will likely begin his Pittsburgh career as the odd man out of the lineup, he provides important insurance if any of Snider, Marte and Jones falters. Sanchez was an above-average hitter in his previous three seasons, so there is reason to believe he can overcome his 2012 struggles and provide the Pirates with no worse than a valuable bat off the bench.
Like Snider, Sanchez' value is not confined to 2012. Though he is already 28, Sanchez can still contribute to this team for two to three incremental years. It seems likely that the Pirates would trade Victor Black or Barrett Barnes for this production, so trading their compensation pick makes perfect sense as well.