Sitting on a surplus


DENVER – The trade deadline is just five days away and at this point, hearing about the degree to which this is a seller’s market, the Pirates seem to be far from getting anything done.  And I can’t blame them, as the cost of acquiring pitching appears to be incredibly high given the trades of Jeff Samardzija and Houston Street that have set the market.

Ken Rosenthal reports the Pirates had “two high-level scouts” watching David Price and Jon Lester pitch Friday. Price could be a second-half difference maker — for the cost of your entire farm system,

Jon Heyman reports the Pirates have “mild” interest in our old friend A.J. Burnett but Burnett’s 2015 player option of $12.8 million is likely a deal-breaker. The Pirates have been connected to Ian Kennedy and a bunch of bullpen arms. (Brandon McCarthy is starting to look like a bargain in this market, eh?) We’ll see what transpires over the next 12 hours or so. What we do know is the Pirates are in an interesting position of power.

Even with Gregory Polanco graduating to the majors, even with Jameson Taillon out with TJ, the Pirates still have one of the best farm systems in the major. It holds depth and impact talent. And what’s interesting is much of that talent – Josh Bell, Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez – is blocked by a young, cheap outfielder at the major league level. The Pirates also have impact  pitching depth with arms like Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham that any organization would ask for as part of a deal.

While I’m not a proponent of giving up too much of the farm for a player with 1.5 years of control the Pirates are eventually going to have to move a blocked prospect for a prospect elsewhere (just about anywhere on the field) or for major league help now.

The Pirates are sitting on a surplus of outfield and pitching prospects — eventually you have to trade from that surplus. That’s the point of having surpluses. believes that among contenders the Pirates have the most chips to trade. Write Jim Callis:

“Even after promoting überprospect Gregory Polanco to the Majors and having right-hander Jameson Taillon sidelined by Tommy John elbow surgery, Pittsburgh still has one of the top farm systems in baseball. The Pirates’ big league outfield is stacked, and even if Polanco were untouchable, they have several quality outfield prospects to deal in Josh Bell, Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez.

Teams don’t like to deal potential front-line starting pitchers, but Pittsburgh could part with Taillon (who would be an interesting buy-low investment) or right-hander Tyler Glasnow and hold on to the other. Righty Nick Kingham is another possibility, while shortstop Alen Hanson and catcher Reese McGuire are valuable up-the-middle commodities. No contender can match the Bucs’ combination of prospect quality and quantity.”

The Pirates have the chips to trade, so this is all going to be about cost. But at some point the Pirates have a decision to make:

*They either trade some of their blocked prospect talents for prospects at positions of need.

*Or they trade their blocked prospects for help now.

The Pirates are sitting on a surplus. It’s an enviable position. And at some point in the not too distant future it’s going to require a trade.

– TS