By Jared Lankes
There has been a lot of talk about the Pirates and getting Jose Quintana. There has been rampant speculation over the trade and what it might look like. There has also been a lot of talk over what the Pirates should and should not give up. I would personally put any prospect on the table in this trade except two guys, those guys being Austin Meadows and Josh Bell. I will explain why they can ill-afford to trade either of those two guys.
Firstly, Austin Meadows. Everyone knows that he is likely off-limits in nearly any trade given that he isn’t only one of the very best prospects in the entire league, and not only is he so close to the MLB, and not only has he crushed it at every level of the minors and has advanced through pretty swiftly, but he is the eventual replacement to Andrew McCutchen. He might even be patrolling an outfield slot in PNC Park by June of 2017. Because of his importance to the future of the Pirates, the return a team would have to give for the Pirates to even start to consider giving Meadows away in a deal has to be very lofty, I’m sure.
Secondly, on to Josh Bell. Bell is highly regarded as one of, if not the most advanced hitter for his age the Pirates have had since Barry Bonds. There aren’t many better comps to beginning of careers than that. His lengthier stay in minors was solely based on defense alone. He burst onto the scene by hitting a grand slam in his first AB in the majors and was very good when he was up in the MLB, showing a unique combo of plate discipline, control of the bat, and power. This is very rare and giving that up would be a massive mistake. The other thing about Bell is that he is at least capable of playing 1st base. The Pirates haven’t had stability at that position in quite awhile and if Bell even pans out at close to average defensively at 1st base, he will become very serviceable. His defense at 1st base will probably end out as better than Alvarez’s while Bell’s bat also projects overall as better even if his power won’t be as big. Bell is the type of player that can give stability at 1st base, and that is just what the Pirates need right now. Just like Meadows, the need that the Pirates have for a guy like Bell would surely mean a very lofty return would need to be on their way back for Pirates to even consider it.
Jose Quintana is a great pitcher, and I would love to have him. He would make the Pirates a major threat in NL and the entire league. However, the Pirates’ need to keep Bell and Meadows is greater, in my opinion. If the White Sox want one of them in a trade for even a guy like Quintana, I think the Pirates have to walk away and look elsewhere and continue to build great depth.