Pittsburgh Pirates: Why the Bucs Should Stand Pat at the Trade Deadline
I've been preaching it for the past couple of years when it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Stick to the plan.
That plan has been to rebuild the farm system and eventually reap the benefits of a wealth of young, talented players. These players were acquired either by trade or through the past few productive drafts.
Now with the Pirates ever so close to contending in the National League Central, the sudden mass of new Pirates fans have their collective eyes glued to the July 31 trade deadline expecting a big move to be made by General Manager Neal Huntington.
Here are several reasons why that big move won't, and quite frankly shouldn't happen.
1. The Plan
It's taken this long for the Pirates to assemble a quality rebuilding plan. Why abandon that strategy now?
The Bucs have been forced to call on a wealth of young talent this season and we've seen first hand that these kids can play and win.
This is just the beginning as, if the the Bucs stick to the plan, there is much more talent to follow in the upcoming seasons.
Don't part with players of the future for a quick fix that really isn't available on the market at the moment.
Staying the course and seeing the plan through is the most logical strategy at this point. If the Pirates were to mortgage any part of their future, it would be for only one guy.
2. Hunter Pence
Pence is the only name that has come up that the Bucs would be wise to part with any prospects for.
While not a prototypical home-run hitter, Pence would fit nicely in the middle of the Pirates' lineup. He would be a solid run producer and fit nicely into right field for the next couple of seasons. The Pirates simply can't afford to give Garrett Jones regular at-bats in right field after underachieving the past two seasons. They need regular production out of the position.
While the thought of a Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen and Alex Presley outfield is a nice one, I'd still rather pencil in Pence's name everyday.
The only problem is that Pence won't come cheap. The Pirates have checked and the asking price is ridiculous.
Names like Starling Marte, Jameson Taillon, Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie have been thrown around by the Astros. Parting with one or two (definitely not Taillon) may be worth pursuing, but a package of three key parts of the club's future isn't worth considering.
With the Pirates apparently out of the Pence sweepstakes for the time being, that leads us to look at...
3. A Weak Trade Market
In a year the Pirates are competing, with the resources and the money to go out and make a move, there really isn't anything worth going after.
The Pirates have needs for a run producer at both first base and right field. However, with so many teams in contention as we near the end of July, those types of players aren't really available. The Pirates need more production than they are getting from the likes of Jones and Lyle Overbay, but acquiring that guy is easier said than done.
It's not worth paying the steep price it would take to acquire a guy like Carlos Beltran and not too many other names currently on the block offer up a quick fix. The classic rental guy that can come in and hit 15-20 homers down the stretch just isn't out there this year.
A Josh Willingham for Jones swap is something that has been reported. However, even though Willingham offers up more production than Jones, he isn't the answer.
On the current market it makes much more sense for the Pirates to take a careful approach to this trade deadline than it would be to rush in and trade vital parts of their future.
4. Pedro Alvarez
With the Pirates' lineup struggling to score runs again, the smartest and likely the best option available is sitting within their organization.
Calling Pedro Alvarez up and pencilling him in the middle of the everyday lineup is the move that needs to be made.
Alvarez is currently hitting the cover off the ball at Triple-A Indianapolis and should be called back up very soon. He's starting to get pitched around at the minor league level. There isn't much more for Alvarez to learn down there.
It's almost shocking that Alvarez wasn't promoted for the Cardinals series, perhaps the biggest series in PNC history.
I'd expect Alvarez to join the team in the next few days. If he's not promoted by Wednesday, it will burn his final option year. Not only that, but the Pirates could use his bat.
5. If They Do Make a Move
The Pirates won't be altogether quiet at the deadline. I expect them to add another bullpen arm, possibly an Octavio Dotel or Koji Uehara.
If they do add a bat, I would expect it to be the Cubs Carlos Pena, who they can acquire very cheap.
I'm no fan of Pena's, but acquiring him would come at very little cost. The Cubs want to get his salary off the books and the Pirates could add Pena for simply paying his salary and a low-level prospect or two.
While Pena isn't a huge upgrade over Jones or Overbay, he is a decent run producer that's not having a terrible season. While Pena is pretty much the same .230 hitter as both Jones and Overbay, he offers up more pop.
Perhaps getting out of Chicago would ignite Pena's bat for the final two months. If he could come over and possibly hit 15 more homers on the season than it would make sense if you could get him for next to nothing.
However, if acquiring a bat (not named Hunter Pence) means parting with any major piece of this franchise's future, then the answer should be a quick "no."
This is only just the beginning. This team will have better years in the future.
Stick to the plan.