I’m intrigued by the fact that the Pirates have been linked to Beltran lately. Part of me thinks it makes no sense, considering the Pirates are a young, rebuilding team and are not, at the moment, serious contenders in the NL Central. However, trading for Beltran does seem to make a little sense. For one it would boost the club financially, drawing in more fans as well as strategically, considering it could keep Pittsburgh in the race.
GM Neal Huntington has indicated a willingness to move one of the team’s prospects for “the right piece”. With that said, the Mets could very well eat Beltran’s contract, but would expect a top prospect in return along the lines of Stetson Allie, a right-handed power pitcher with #2 SP-potential. Despite the fact that Jameson Taillon, Gerrit Cole and possibly even Luis Heredia all rank ahead of him in the Pirates system, Allie probably won’t be shopped for a two-month rental.
Should the Pirates instead choose to take on all or at least some of the $6M, the Mets could land a mid-tier hitter, someone like Andrew Lambo or Starling Marte, the Pirates representative in the XM Futures Game last Sunday, or potentially two lower-tier pitching prospects. Either option is certainly feasible. Up at the big league level, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley seem to have things locked down, allowing for a prospect outfielder to be moved.
However, the Pirates farm system is packed with top pitching prospects (Taillon, Cole, Heredia, Allie), making some of the lesser arms expendable. Behind the big four, there’s a clear second tier of almost big-league ready arms (Rudy Owens, Jeff Locke, Bryan Morris and Justin Wilson) followed by a solid group of 20-year olds (Zach von Rosenberg, Colton Cain and Zack Dodson).
For the sake of creating a deal, the Pirates will most likely move Jeff Locke or Bryan Morris simply to create room on the 40-man roster for Beltran with Zack Dodson, the pitcher with the highest ceiling out of the third tier, rounding out the deal.