By Jason Shetler
It’s not often that trades are made during Spring Training, but there are situations when it seems beneficial. For the Pirates, it’s happened twice within the last five years. In 2013, the Pirates acquired John McDonald from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for cash, in an effort to add depth to their bench. Last year, Cory Luebke had an opt-out clause in his contract, and Eric O’ Flaherty was traded to the Atlanta Braves, so that Luebke would not opt-out. For Spring Training 2017, could a trade be made before the season begins?
During the offseason, the Pirates were involved in multiple trade rumors with some of their players. The most notable being Andrew McCutchen at the Winter Meetings back in December. The Washington Nationals reportedly made a pitch for the former NL MVP. One of the main players who the Nats offered was their top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito. The Pirates however declined the proposal, and McCutchen will be staying put for now.
Shortly after the Winter Meetings, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Pirates were working hard to try and acquire Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox. Despite the interest, nothing really ever materialized in trying to get the deal done. It seems highly unlikely the two sides would reach a deal before Opening Day.
Josh Harrison was on the trade block over the offseason. The plan was to re-sign Sean Rodriguez and move Harrison’s contract so that the Pirates could allocate that money on other players, but that never happened. While it’s not out of the realm of possibility, the Pirates could still trade Harrison before the season and have Frazier at second base. However, with Frazier’s defense being an uncertainty right now, it’s probably best for them to keep Harrison at second and utilize Frazier off the bench.
The Pirates made a unexpected move at the Winter Meetings when they selected Tyler Webb in the Rule 5 Draft from the New York Yankees. Since Webb is a Rule 5 guy, he would have to be placed on the Pirates 25-man roster, or be sent back to the Yankees. The Pirates were reportedly looking to shed some of Antonio Bastardo’s $6.5 million salary that he’ll be owed this season. If Webb can open some eyes this Spring, then there could be a scenario where Bastardo is moved to open up a roster spot for Webb.