Okay. Everything has changed from my last post. Gerrit Cole’s trade was not bad when the team was still structured with McCutchen. I thought they could still compete with the new third basemen in Moran and some reasonable expectations of improvement, along with the now better pen and the depth at starting pitcher.
But without McCutchen, it looks worse. McCutchen’s return was another pen piece and Bryan Reynolds a decent hitting, no power, outfield prospect. Not exactly world beating, but outfield depth is a bit of an issue for the Pirate farm system. Reynolds was #5 in the Giants system, but won’t be in the Pirates.
Now everything has to break their way for them to make the playoffs including injuries to the other guys’ best players. Marte has to hit well and with power, Bell has to hit more, Polanco has to live up to expectation, rookie pitchers need to win lots of games, and Moran has to be all we want and then some. So, better to dump people now. Harrison is asking to be traded, and if I could get an actual person back for him, I would do it. Judging from the value of the other two guys a warm body would be a nice return for Harrison. He was a nice piece in a lineup where he was not the main hitter. He brought energy, a solid bat, and okay defense at second. But without McCutchen, his value is less to the Pirates. He is now a solid bat in a lineup that lacks a consistent threat and power. The Pirates have a glut in the system of middle infield, so move him now so we can start sorting the Moroff, Newman, Kramer, Tucker situation out and get people at bats.
I would have been okay with trading Cervelli this off season, but not now. Ironically, I think his value to the Pirates increased. With younger arms in the rotation and the pen, an experienced catcher is more valuable. He is not really blocking any break out catching prospects, so keep him and let him work with the young staff plus mentor Elias Diaz as his back up.
I suppose the opening day outfield will now be Marte in center with Polanco and Osuna at the corners with Fraiser doing his thing bouncing around. If all goes well in the minors, we should see Meadows, but with his history he needs to show he belongs now. Reynolds is there in case Meadows does not pan out.
The other part of this trade is the return of international signing money. The Pirates put this in the trade, they had better use it. I heard they were scouting the top catching prospect, with the extra money and what they have not spent, they need to make a bigger signing. That would put that player as sort of a return for McCutchen. But just hoarding signing money is not really of use. They got extra cash, time to use it.
It is possible that some of these bullpen guys from these last two trades get turned around at the trade deadline. Bullpen guys seem to have a bit of increased demand at that time. That might help some of this look better, but I am not sure the Pirates are thinking that way.
I do think the Pirates are still not very far off. This is not a taking it down to the foundations kind of rebuild. The Pirates still have some good prospects and real talent on the roster. But, this year going to be hard to watch.