With this year’s trade deadline approaching, the Pittsburgh Pirates have found themselves right in the thick of the playoff race. What was once an unheard of concept, the Pirates have now been buyers at the trade deadline for the fourth year running.
Names such as Ryan Ludwick, Wandy Rodriguez, and Marlon Byrd have all been added to the roster by GM Neal Huntington in the previous seasons, making varying degrees of impact for the club. Something Huntington has failed to add the past three years is a superstar player, one that will completely put the Pirates over the top. Is this the year that Huntington finally makes a splash and goes for it all?
Huntington has been accused of being “married” to his prospects in the past. He has been reluctant to the pull the trigger, and has often spoken out about the need to focus not only the present, but the future as well. When speaking to reporters Huntington said, “It’s a balance of what you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins,” as reported by Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Huntington will really only make a move if he feels a significant upgrade is needed. He doesn’t want to be the reason the Pirates have another string of 20 consecutive losing seasons by trading the farm, and can you blame him?
When looking at this Pittsburgh ballclub, only a few areas stick out as in need of an upgrade. First base has been a disappointment, with only a combined 10 home runs and an OPS of .708 from the Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis platoon. A promising note on this, however, is that Ike Davis is notable for getting hot in the second half of the season. With a barren first baseman market, the Pirates will most likely have to hope for these two to pick up their production.
Another potential area of upgrade is the bullpen. The “sharks” from last year have not been nearly as deadly. Many clamored for the Pirates to acquire Huston Street before the Angels completed a trade for him. But with the Angels giving up their number one overall prospect and others for him, can you really blame Huntington for not pulling the trigger? There are still other arms out there, although less heralded than Street, which could make an impact for the Pirates.
A final area that many have seen as a need for the Pirates is a top of the rotation pitcher. With Gerrit Cole finding himself on the DL for the second time this season and Francisco Liriano having a very down year as compared to last, the Pirates are in need of a starting pitcher they can trust to go out and win any given game. Who would Clint Hurdle give the ball to should the Pirates play in another wild-card play-in this October? The Pirates are lacking a true ace right now. One hopes that Cole and Liriano turn it on, but at their current rate nothing is certain.
This is the area where Neal Huntington needs to make “the big move.” With David Price, Jon Lester, and Ian Kennedy as trade options, Huntington could add an impact arm to the rotation, stabilizing an area that has been lacking. Although Price would require a substantial financial commitment as well as a large prospect package, a playoff berth would easily justify the cost of acquiring him, or any other star pitcher.
With the trade deadline fast approaching we will soon see what Neal Huntington has in store for this Pirates team. Is this the year he finally surprises us all with a big move? The deadline in nearly upon us, and with a flurry of trades about to happen, the Pirates might just find themselves in the thick of it.