It’s All About Control for the Pirates at the Trade Deadline

Jared Lankes

It’s no shocker that the Pirates are looking for pitching, particularly starting pitching. Everyone knows it. Even Pirates general manager Neal Huntington has acknowledged this very candidly this past week. The Pirates have reportedly been connected to multiple pitchers, namely Chris Archer, Matt Moore, Nathan Eovaldi, and Ervin Santana. There is no doubt that there are certainly more as well. You can sort out and compare these players until your brain hurts. Trust me, I’ve done just that. Through everything, all these players have one thing in common and that thing being years of control.

Years of control for pitching has become all the rage amongst teams this summer when it comes to trades. Teams are trying to capitalize on the trade market now before the terrible stock of free agent pitching dawns this offseason. Teams selling are trying to get good returns for their guys under control while buyers are loading up now to help them contend the rest of this year and for years to come. It seems the Pirates are looking to acquire pitcher(s) with control attached to them as well. This is a great move for the Pirates for a few reasons.

Firstly, when you look at the rotation currently, there are question marks all across the board. Gerrit Cole has questions about whether he will find his groove this year, Francisco Liriano is struggling with similar (just without the injuries), Jon Niese was bumped from the rotation, and the rest of the options are rookies, Ryan Vogelsong, or Justin Masterson. Not exactly eye-opening if you ask me. In fact, the only guy without question marks is Jeff Locke, not because he’s been good but because he’s been what you expect from him. In all senses, the rotation could obviously be upgraded. Not just for now, but for years to come, even with the pipeline of prospects coming.

Secondly, the wildcard situation in the National League is a crapshoot and the division race might be out of reach (notice the word “might”). It could stand to reason that the Pirates don’t want to put all their chips into 2016 alone, and they aren’t wrong for that strategy given their circumstances. To take that kind of gamble on the 2016 Pirates would take a lot of guts and not one that they need to be taking right now with 2017 and beyond looking really good. I don’t see any way they would give up anything of substantial value for a rental piece that’ll maybe get them to another wildcard game, which is a game where you might as well just flip a coin to decide a winner.

Thirdly, the Pirates are big fans of years of control. Every time they grab a starting pitcher, it’s one that they want to have for at least a year. Take Wandy Rodriguez and Jon Niese as examples. Pirates like to stabilize a rotation of young guys with veterans that they can control. This is no secret, so it should be of no surprise to anybody that they are looking in that direction once again.

They can certainly help this team without putting all their eggs in one basket this year. They can acquire guys that can help them this year and for at least next year too. This trade market is the proper market for that, as many sellers are seeing their opportunities to deal guys that they may not have when they project to contend again. The buyers could really use these guys to help them contend for a couple years, especially in a weaker pitchers’ market this upcoming winter, as I mentioned before. Undoubtedly, we will see many trades like this within the next couple of weeks. The Pirates will seemingly be wrapped up in it somewhere.

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