By Jared Lankes
The Pirates are in contention and look to get into the postseason for a 4th straight year, something they’ve never done. They don’t sit too far back of the wildcard and have been among the best teams in baseball over the last month as well. Neal Huntington has also overstated his intent to add at the trade deadline. Despite all this, there is still a notion that they will sell, and I don’t get why.
True that they might get rid of unfavorables such as Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, or Jared Hughes, but that doesn’t make them sellers. That’s just putting the roster in a better position to win more games and have greater success. Instead, it looks like they are going to look to add for the 6th straight year going back to 2011. The idea of selling hasn’t been an idea that has popped in my head. When they were 34-39, yes, but now they are above .500 and in the thick of wildcard race. It makes no sense to do that now.
In my opinion, this roster that Neal Huntington built and what was and is in AAA has been the best the Huntington has built by far. He built an offense amongst the best in the NL, a bullpen that is improving, and a club that looks so much better defensively. That’s 3/4 of the core things a team needs to be successful. They also have some core starting pitchers that are capable of doing the work every 5th day. In my opinion, they are one starting pitcher, one pitcher coming from Indy and being effective enough, to be a serious threat in the NL. Of course, another bullpen arm helps this time of year too. There’s no reason not to think that they can’t make the playoffs.
So, overall, it seems much easier to me to fix the one or two issues at hand then to just blow it up and start over. This team looks closer to a complete team than a complete waste. Whether 2017 will be good or not remains to be seen, but it looks good already. There’s no need to trade assets that can help you right now for assets that’ll help you next season. No players the Pirates would realistically trade now would net them a guy that will make a massive impact anyways (not even in a Mark Melancon trade). Sometimes, teams have to take a gamble on a year like this. I’m not saying mortgage the future for rentals, but it seems more productive to add than to subtract. And if you do subtract, only subtract the guys that aren’t helping.
I know a team like the Pirates has to be weary of the future, but they are already built so well for the future that they can afford to gamble at least a bit with this current team. There’s no need to trade assets that can help this year’s team for fringe players that may never help or will not help immensely later on. The Pirates have it all in front of them right now with a foundation built for later. There’s no need for the Pirates to sell right now and retool. That just seems like a waste of a very talented roster and a team with all the potential you could ask for. Just realize that this roster isn’t having a massive overhaul and the idea of selling shouldn’t come up. This team is a buyer once again, and that is the reality here.