The Pittsburgh Pirates have made several noteworthy moves this offseason, but is Neal Huntington done dealing?
First baseman Garrett Jones, coming off his best full season in the majors, is a common subject of trade talks. Jones was one of the team's most reliable hitters in 2012, but his poor play in the field may have the Bucs worried about the impact of any regression.
At his best, Jones is probably a two-win player or slightly better than that, with his strong power numbers mitigated by poor on-base and defensive statistics. But Jones remains valuable to the Pirate offense, and they certainly do not need to trade him.
That said, a Jones trade seems to be something the Bucs are considering, so it is worth looking into potential matches. Several teams could use Jones' power, and the Pirates may be able to secure more vital assets for his services.
When the Pirates were exploring trading Joel Hanrahan, a trade for Porcello was speculated by ESPN's Buster Olney. It was also separately presumed that Jones had more value than Hanrahan. If they have any chance to acquire Porcello, the Bucs should look into it.
Porcello, a former top prospect who is only 24 years old, has been worth two wins or more in all four of his major league seasons. His ground ball tendencies will make him successful in front of the Pirates' strong infield defense.
Porcello would be a great catch for the Pirates if they could pry him from the Tigers, who are clearly in "win-now" mode. Jones could fill the Tigers' hole at designated hitter (and might actually increase his own value by not playing defense), while the Tigers would not lose to much by elevating Drew Smyly to take Porcello's place.
Nova is another young player who can help shore up the Pirates' rotation, while Jones would help the Yankees achieve their goal of upgrading their offense without spending much money.
Nova does not have the pedigree of a Porcello, but he has been a useful mid-rotation starter over the last two seasons, and the Pirates may be able to get him on the cheap due to some bad luck in 2012. He is also only 25 years old.
Meanwhile, the Yankees have room for another hitter, and the Bucs might also be able to pry Eppley, a young reliever who induces a ton of ground balls.
The Rays are open to any and every trade, and they still have a surplus of pitching and a need for a bit more hitting at the major league level.
Given those elements alone, this swap makes sense. The Rays get a DH with legitimate pop, and the Pirates get a young pitcher in Cobb, who has shown promise and posted solid numbers thus far in his career.
Cobb has more value than Jones even after taking the two teams' respective needs into account, so the Pirates would add a C-level prospect who is not too far from the majors in Curry.
The Mets need outfielders and prospects, and this trade would provide them with both in exchange for a valuable pitcher.
Niese is 26 years old, has solid if unspectacular particulars and induces a fair amount of ground balls. For a left-hander in PNC Park, this is a recipe for success.
The Mets get a power bat they desperately need in Jones, though it is worth questioning why a retooling team would trade up in age. A high-upside prospect like Sampson might help keep the Mets interested, however.
I have repeatedly championed the idea of the Pirates utilizing the prospect depth to make a push for an established young player, and adding Jones to the mix may limit the collective ceiling of the players the Bucs are forced to part with.
Andrus is a very good player, but he is also a very good player who plays the same position as Jurickson Profar. The Rangers haven't yet appeared open to an Andrus trade, but there is clearly a price at which they will listen.
Is this that price? Adding Jones mitigates the 2013 effect, and McPherson will be ready as a back-of-the-rotation starter as well. Heredia remains a prized asset, and he would become a potential No. 1 starter in the Rangers' system, while his loss would be cushioned by the Bucs' knowledge that they still have Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon.
It would be tough for the Pirates to part with Heredia's potential, but a player like Andrus, who can perform at a high level for years to come, is an asset that doesn't come around very often.