Which Pirates Could be Trade Candidates this Offseason?

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

At the 2017 trade deadline, the Pirates dealt Tony Watson to the Los Angeles Dodgers, which did not come as a surprise. Juan Nicasio was not traded at the deadline, but the feeling was that he still could be, if the Pirates began to fall out of contention. Earlier this week, the Bucs made the very curious decision to place Nicasio on irrevocable waivers, meaning that any team could claim him, in order of win-loss record. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Phillies surprisingly claimed the veteran right-hander. The Pirates received a large amount of backlash from both fans and media alike, and it was certainly warranted, given that they certainly could have gotten something in return for Nicasio, rather than losing him for nothing. So which players could the Pirates look to move this offseason? – Here are the potential candidates.

Andrew McCutchen: After coming extremely close to being traded to the Washington Nationals last offseason, the former NL MVP will no doubt be involved in the rumor mill again this offseason. The Pirates however hold a 2018 club option for McCutchen worth just over $14 million, so there is a possibility of exercising the option, especially since Austin Meadows won’t be on the Opening Day roster, because of Super 2. 

Daniel Hudson: The Pirates inked Daniel Hudson to a two-year deal this past offseason to serve as a late inning arm out of the bullpen. 2017 has been disappointing for the 30-year-old righty. With the upside of younger guys, such as Dovydas Neverauskas and Edgar Santana, as well as having August waiver claim George Kontos under team control beyond this season, the Pirates could make Hudson expendable in the offseason.

David Freese: Last year, David Freese signed with the Pirates twice. The first time came in Spring Training, where he signed a one-year deal, while the second was in August, coming to terms on a two-year extension. With the Jung-Ho Kang saga, Freese has been the regular third baseman this season. Because he will be owed less money in 2018, it’s likely that the Pirates would hang onto him, but there will be interest from other teams, looking to upgrade their bench.

Gerrit Cole: In 2015, Gerrit Cole had one of the better seasons by a Pirates starting pitcher in franchise history. That year, he was named an All-Star for the first time, while finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young voting. Cole dealt with injuries last season, and was looking to get back on track. 2017 however has been an up and down year for him. In a perfect world, the Pirates would obviously like to receive a big return for Cole, but based on the results this season, other teams may not want to, especially if they don’t view him as an ace type starter. Cole will arbitration eligible for a second time this offseason, so there also isn’t a rush to trade him either. 

Ivan Nova: After being acquired from the New York Yankees at last year’s trade deadline, Ivan Nova put up stellar numbers with the Pirates. The 30-year-old right-hander decided to remain in Pittsburgh, by signing a three-year deal worth $26 million. Nova picked up where he left off, as he performed at an All-Star level in the first half. However, the second half has been a real struggle for him. With the Pirates having younger starters, like Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault, they could look to move Nova this offseason. Contending clubs could look at Nova as someone who can provide quality innings at a reasonable cost. 

Jordy Mercer: Jordy Mercer entered 2017 in his fourth season as the Pirates shortstop. The 31-year-old continues to be league average with the bat, while still providing steady defense. Mercer is arbitration eligible for a final time this offseason. He is likely to draw some interest from other teams, who will look to upgrade at shortstop, but the Pirates are likely to keep him, with prospect Kevin Newman expected to join them at some point next season.

Josh Harrison: Last offseason, the Pirates had Josh Harrison on the trade block. The move was going to be a salary dump, but there was virtually no interest, since he was coming off a down year offensively in 2016. Harrison has bounced back nicely this season, being named an All-Star for the second time. He is one of a few players that the Pirates could really sell high on this offseason. A Harrison trade seems realistic for a few reasons. The first obviously being that he would net the Pirates a good return. The second is the emergence of Adam Frazier, who could take over at second base regularly. And lastly, if the Pirates are going to pick up McCutchen’s $14 million dollar club option for next season, they will look to move Harrison (owed just over $10.2 million for 2018), in an effort to allocate that money for McCutchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mason Martin Named GCL MVP

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Tim Williams – Pirates Prospects

On Friday, the Gulf Coast League named Pirates prospect Mason Martin their 2017 Most Valuable Player. 

The Pirates made quite the discovery with Martin, selecting the 18-year-old outfielder as a 17th round pick in this year’s draft out of Southridge High School in Washington. He signed with them for $350,000, over the slot value of $225,000. 

Martin now has the GCL Pirates single season record for most home runs with 11, surpassing Walter Young’s total of 10 set back in 2000. The slugging percentage for Martin is at .632, far and away tops in the GCL this year. In addition to the impressive power, he also has a .450 on base percentage, which is second best in the league.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Pirates Prospects to Take Part in Arizona Fall League

By Jason Shetler

On Tuesday, preliminary rosters were announced for the Arizona Fall League. Seven Pirates prospects were named to play for the Glendale Desert Dogs. Those players include Mitch Keller, Cole Tucker, Kevin Kramer, Taylor Hearn, Brandon Waddell, Logan Hill and J.T. Brubaker. The AFL will begin October 10th. 

Keller is the second best Pirates prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline. He began the season with Bradenton, posting a 3.14 ERA. Keller was promoted to Altoona in August, where he currently has a 3.77 ERA.

Tucker is ranked fifth best among Pirates prospects. The switch-hitting shortstop posted a .790 OPS for Bradenton. Tucker was then promoted to Altoona in July. He has done much with the Curve, putting up just a .662 OPS, but he is playing the AA level at a young age. Tucker has 43 stolen bases this season combined with both affiliates. 

Kramer was on his way to having a breakout season this year, but a fractured right hand in June put a big damper on that. Before the injury, he batted .297 and had an OPS of .880 for Altoona. Kramer is the tenth best Pirates prospect. 

Hearn is the 12th best prospect in the Pirates system. The hard-throwing lefty posted a 4.12 ERA, along with a 3.43 FIP and a 10.9 K/9 with Bradenton. Hearn hasn’t pitched since July, after being placed on the DL with an oblique injury.

Waddell returned to Altoona to begin this season. The Pirates 24th ranked prospect sustained a left forearm strain in April. He then re injured the forearm in June, and was just activated off the DL last week. Waddell has put up an ERA of 3.66 with the Curve. 

Hill has been quite a find for the Pirates, this after being selected in the 25th round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He started off this year with Bradenton, posting an .864 OPS. Hill then received a promotion to Altoona in June, where he has an OPS of .803.

Brubaker was a sixth round selection of the Pirates in 2015. The 23-year-old right-hander has spent all of 2017 pitching for Bradenton, where he has posted a 4.33 ERA and a FIP of 3.72.

 

 

 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Edison Lantigua Named to Appalachian League All-Star Team

By Jason Shetler

p/c: MiLB.com

On Friday, the Appalachian League announced their 2017 All-Star team. Outfielder Edison Lantigua was named the lone representative for the Bristol Pirates.

In 2013, the Pirates signed Lantigua out of the Dominican Republic as a 16-year-old. Lantigua began his pro career the following year in 2014 with the Dominican Summer League Pirates, posting an .823 OPS. 2015 was a real struggle for him, as he had an OPS of .556 for the Gulf Coast League Pirates. 

Last year, Lantigua returned to the GCL club and put up a more respectable .723 OPS. He is playing in the Appalachian League for Bristol this season, which is considered an advanced rookie league. Lantigua currently has an .860 OPS, thanks in large part to an outstanding .399 on base percentage, good for sixth best in the Appy League.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Jung-Ho Kang Reportedly to Play Winter Ball in the Dominican

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Jeff Roberson – AP

According to a report from Grandes en los Deportes, Jung-Ho Kang will be playing Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic. Update: Pirates GM Neal Huntington confirmed the report Thursday afternoon.

Kang joined the Pirates in 2015, and had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, posting an OPS+ of 123 and a 4.0 WAR, while finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. Despite missing the first month of last season recovering from a torn meniscus and fractured tibia, he was productive again, as he posted an .867 OPS, a 129 OPS+ and a WAR of 2.3. 

Back in December, Kang was arrested for drunk driving, marking his third DUI offense. In addition to not receiving a working visa to return to the States, he was also given a suspended jail sentence of eight months. However, the sentence can be dismissed, if he is able to remain crime free for two years. Winter Ball will give Kang the opportunity to face live pitching that he obviously didn’t see at all this year.