By Jared Lankes
The Pirates recent surge has propelled them into a state of being buyers at the trade deadline (or at least buyers and sellers) as they try to win the NL Central crown for the first time since moving into the division. Knowing this, the team has definite holes to fill. So throughout the week as we approach the trade deadline, I will look at some options that could fill these holes that the Pirates could, realistically or unrealistically, look to acquire. I will start with infielders.
Pirates have some infielders, but the main area of weakness has been 3rd base. David Freese hasn’t been good in an everyday role and we don’t have any clue if/when Kang will return. So, in short, Pirates could use an upgrade. Pirates can go two ways about this though. One way is to grab a 3rd baseman and keep Harrison at 2nd base. Another is to grab a second baseman and move Harrison to 3rd base. So, I will look at some options at 3rd base and 2nd base.
Joe Panik has had a rough go of it on both sides of the ball this season and over the last calendar year. However, the Giants are in no hurry to just give up on him, especially when they have very little in their pipeline to take over that spot. Panik is not a free agent until after the 2020 season, so the Giants can definitely afford to hold onto him and hope he bounces back. They will not trade him for a small return right now, but if they would, maybe he could fit as a bounce back guy with years of control attached.
Lowrie has enjoyed a renaissance of his career and is having a very productive offensive campaign. Like Nunez, he is flexible in positions, though he cannot play outfield. The kicker is that Lowrie would come with an extra year of team control, which may make him a more attractive trade candidate even though it’d cost more.
Solarte has been an above average offensive player for years and would add instant pop to the Pirates lineup. However, he is on the DL right now and likely won’t return in time for the trade deadline. Padres would be trading a very good player at low value, and I just can’t see that especially given Padres GM AJ Preller’s history of not disclosing medical concerns in trades.
I know, I know. Brandon Phillips is so gross if you are a Pirates fans. All of the years of him just showing up, crushing the Pirates for no reason, and smiling through it all has annoyed us. Right now, the 36-year old of the Atlanta Braves still gets it done enough at the plate and in the field. He’d be a decent upgrade, for what it’s worth. However, like I mentioned before, he’d be a rental, and I cannot see the Pirates springing for something like that. Additionally, the sheer weirdness of Brandon Phillips residing in the Pirates lineup and wearing a Pirates uniform may be too difficult to stomach. But hey, at least he’d see his old buddies with the Reds a lot in the second half of the season.
Asdrubal Cabrera has really not played third base at all in his career and got somewhat mad at the Mets for having him at second base. Those are the two main positions he would play if he went to the Pirates, so I don’t know if it’d work out at all. He does carry an extra year of control after this though, so that’d be a bonus.
Some of these options could push Harrison to 3rd base. Some would keep Harrison at 2B. In any case, the Pirates could definitely use an upgrade from David Freese at 3rd base, as he doesn’t look like a player that should be playing everyday. If the Pirates could grab any of these guys, they’d be upgrading a huge position of need.