By Jason Shetler
During last year’s trade deadline, the Pirates both bought and sold with their moves. Perhaps the most eye opening was with Francisco Liriano, as he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays. What made the trade bewildering was dealing prospects Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire, along with Liriano, to acquire Drew Hutchison. The general consensus was that it was to convince the Blue Jays to take on most of Liriano’s remaining salary. The Pirates indicated however that the money saved was used to extend David Freese, sign Daniel Hudson and bring back Ivan Nova.
In 2015, Drew Hutchison was the perfect example of why you really can’t put stock into win-loss records for a pitcher. He went 13-5, but had an ERA of a 5.57, and received some of the best run support, courtesy of the Jays potent offense. Hutchison did not pitch well with the Pirates in 2016, posting a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 innings.
As expected, the Pirates avoided arbitration with Hutchison this past offseason for $2.3 million. Entering Spring Training, he competed with Tyler Glasnow, Steven Brault and Trevor Williams for the fifth spot in the rotation. Hutchison appeared to have the inside track, based on having the most big league experience. After a good start to the Spring, he really struggled down the stretch and did not make the club, instead being optioned to AAA Indianapolis.
Hutchison got off to a slow start in April with Indianapolis, as he put up a 5.00 ERA. The BB/9 was on the high side at 3.7, but he was holding batters to a .264 average. Hutchison’s numbers have been much better since then, with a combined ERA of 2.56 and a .221 batting average against in May and June. He was chosen to be on the International League All-Star team. Since the Pirates have yet to recall Hutchison at any point this season, is there a chance he could be a trade candidate?
As we approach the July 31st deadline, most expect the Pirates to be mainly sellers. Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson, Juan Nicasio and John Jaso are the names that have a good chance of being dealt. With Hutchison having a good season with Indianapolis for the most part, perhaps he could be used as an added trade chip, alongside one of the other trade candidates, especially if another team is looking for a back end type starting pitcher. Another scenario is a club making a trade just for Hutchison, since his current salary is very reasonable, as well as having team control beyond this year. Obviously the Pirates would not land a big return for him, however, they could try to acquire a prospect in A ball who might be years away, but has a very good ceiling.