By Jason Shetler
Upgrades needed to be made at the trade deadline for the Pirates. Those needs consisted of a starting pitcher to fill in for the injured A.J. Burnett, the bullpen and the bench. General Manager Neal Huntington made four trades around or at the trade deadline, and here is how each deal has looked so far.
J.A. Happ was acquired from the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Adrian Sampson. After a shaky Pirates debut, Happ has pitched really well, allowing just one run in his last three starts, and has given the rotation a much needed shot in the arm during Burnett’s absence.
Joakim Soria began the season with the Detroit Tigers as their closer. Perhaps the most unlikely team to sell this year was the Tigers, and one of their moves was trading Soria to the Pirates in exchange for shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones. Soria has done well for the Pirates in the seventh inning role, as he’s posted a 2.38 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP in 13 appearances.
Joe Blanton had called it a career last season, but decided to make a comeback, and signed on with the Kansas City Royals. When the Royals obtained Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds, Blanton was designated for assignment. The Pirates acquired Blanton from the Royals for cash considerations. Since joining the Bucs bullpen, Blanton has been outstanding, posting an ERA of 0.52 along with a 0.92 WHIP and a K/9 of 11.9 in 17.1 innings of work.
Michael Morse started off this season as the Miami Marlins regular first baseman. He was then dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a three team trade that was headlined by Mat Latos. In an effort to improve the bench and find an upgrade over Corey Hart, the Pirates acquired Morse from the Dodgers while trading away Jose Tabata in the process. Morse has been decent off the bench, as he’s put up a .773 OPS and a 115 OPS+ in 17 games since the trade.
The Pirates just needed to upgrade certain areas of the team without giving up too much in return, and so far the trades have made them an even better club.