By Jason Shetler
After dealing Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals on Saturday, the Pirates made three trades on deadline day. Ivan Nova was acquired from the New York Yankees for two players to be named later, Jon Niese was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for Antonio Bastardo and cash, and the Toronto Blue Jays obtained Francisco Liriano, Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire for Drew Hutchison. Here now is my assessment of each deal.
Ivan Nova had spent his first seven big league seasons with the Yankees. The 29-year-old right-hander had worked 97.1 innings this season pitching between the Yankees rotation and bullpen, posting an ERA of 4.90. Nova put up a 54% groundball rate, which is certainly a Neal Huntington preference. Last year, the Pirates acquired J.A. Happ from the Seattle Mariners and he turned his season around, so perhaps the same could happen for Nova. Because of the low trade value and being a rental, the return for Nova shouldn’t be significant.
Jon Niese was acquired from the Mets last offseason in exchange for Neil Walker. The Pirates were hoping that Niese would be able to solidify the rotation as a #3 starter, but it just didn’t happen, as he posted a 4.91 ERA in 23 games, 18 of which were starts. Antonio Bastardo came over to the Bucs in a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the 2015 season. He pitched well with a 2.98 ERA and a 131 ERA+ in 66 appearances. Although Bastardo isn’t pitching as effective this year with the Mets, it becomes a decent trade when you consider that Niese was going to be DFA’d and probably released at some point. In addition, the Pirates will have Bastardo under contract next season for $6.625 million.
Francisco Liriano had been one of the better starting pitchers in the National League from 2013 to 2015. However, this season was a struggle for the veteran lefty, as he put up a 5.46 ERA, while allowing an NL most 69 walks in 21 starts. Harold Ramirez had posted a .755 OPS this season with the Altoona Curve. He was the ninth ranked prospect in the Pirates system by MLB Pipeline. Reese McGuire put up a .337 on base percentage and threw out 39% of baserunners this season for Altoona. MLB Pipeline ranked McGuire as the Bucs eighth best prospect. Drew Hutchison at one time was one of the better pitching prospects in the Blue Jays system. The 25-year-old righty has had subpar numbers at the big league level with the Jays, posting a 4.92 ERA. Most of Hutchison’s 2016 season has been spent at AAA Buffalo where he’s posted an ERA of 3.26 along with a 1.11 WHIP and a 9.7 K/9 in 18 starts. While dumping the remainder of Liriano’s salary is a good move, trading away a pair of Top 10 prospects for a mid-rotation type starter is a real head scratcher. I understand that Ramirez and McGuire were going to be blocked in the Pirates system, but you ideally want to move them for something better.