By Jared Lankes
The Pirates entered trade deadline day at 51-54, which is good for 5.5 out of the division lead but in 4th place. This means that, while they have a chance at the division, it’s an uphill battle. But, at the same time, it may be a little tough to stomach giving up when the Pirates would have dreamed to be this close to the Cubs in the standings at any point in the next few years. Pirates find themselves in the middle ground, which is never a good place to be. Pirates could easily justify being buyers, sellers, both, or neither. So, what did they do?
Pirates trade LHP Tony Watson to Dodgers for two prospects: IF Oneil Cruz and RHP Angel German
It is hard to see the Tony Watson era in Pittsburgh come to a come to a close, but it was the right move. Tony Watson was going to go as a free agent anyhow. Pirates, on the other hand, acquired two intriguing prospects in this deal, most notably Oneil Cruz. Cruz is a 3B/SS that is far off, but has a lot of room to grow as he can develop into a good hitter. Angel German has an intriguing arm, but has comtrol issues like many at his development level. He will need a lot of polishing, but both these guys will. However, both these guys are intriguing and worth keeping an eye on. This is probably about maximum value Pirates could get for Tony Watson.
Pirates acquire RHP Joaquin Benoit and cash from Phillies for RHP Seth McGarry
Pirates, in a more shocking deal that proceeded Watson deal, acquired a reliever to replace Watson. Benoit, who just turned 40, has been a steady reliever at best. His face value numbers are okay, but some of his other stats paint a better picture. He has a 3.79 FIP, holds opponents to a low batting average, and still strikes out a ton of guys. He is a serviceable reliever that can still be effective. However, it is understandable to think why Pirates should have just let the young relievers like Edgar Santana and Dovydas Neverauskas get a chance instead.
Synopsis: On the surface, these deals seem to not make much sense, and it is easy to see why. They basically just replaced Watson with Benoit, held onto other pending free agents, but didn’t add to the team in an effort to get by the Cubs. It looks as if they just re-arranged the furniture in the room, and I understand why people feel that way. They kind of held, kind of sold, and kind of bought but may not have done enough of either to make a difference. The MLB team is basically not gaining or losing much by replacing Benoit with Watson. However, the Pirates farm system did improve, if nothing else.