SOUTH HILLS – So much for that non-waiver trade deadline being too early, eh? In one of the most eventful and deadline days in recent memory, the Pirates were conspicuously quiet among the contenders.
Neal Huntington spoke with the media at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and said a lot of things you’d expect a GM to say that did not make a trade:
“We were engaged on a ton of fronts… We wanted to add to this club, we like this club…We stretched beyond comfort level… At end of the day we weren’t able to push any across line.” …
“Better question for them (on if Pirates were close on Lester or Price). We felt like we were aggressive.”…
“We like the foundation of our club.” …
“At end of the day felt this was right move” …
You expected to hear all of that.
Here’s what was interesting….
“It was interesting that the majority of impact talent went for younger major league talent … It was kind of an NBA environment.”
While the Pirates were sitting on one of the better surpluses of prospects among contenders, perhaps they were hurt by the fact that the two most impact chips – Jon Lester and David Price – were held by clubs that were looking to contend in 2015.
Boston and Tampa are not in complete rebuilds. Boston and Tampa were perhaps less focused on prospects (unless they were elite) and more interested in 2015 help. Boston netted Yoenis Cespedes for two months of Lester. And the Rays got what felt like a light package of Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin for Price.
The Pirates had prospects but did they really have young major league talent to trade?
They’re not trading Gregory Polanco of Starling Marte for two months of Lester or even for eight months of Price. (I’d love to know if they offered Pedro Alvarez for Lester). The Pirates didn’t have a young starter in the rotation similar to Smyly (Smyly is held in higher regard than Jeff Locke) that would have been attractive to Tampa.
Another example of this phenomena was the Cardinals had to part with two MLB players in Allen Craig and Joe Kelley for John Lackey. I don’t think the Pirate had comparable parts to trade to the Red Sox if they liked Lackey.
UPDATED: I’m told Jameson Taillon or Tyler Glasnow plus Josh Bell was not enough to acquire Price. also don’t know how much of a factor Price’s 2015 salary was for the Pirates, but Tampa doesn’t have money to include in deals, and the last time the Pirates acquired eight-figure pitchers (Wandy Rodriguez and AJ Burnett) a lot of cash came back.
So maybe the Pirates weren’t in an ideal position to land Lester or Price. But the decision to do nothing seems like a missed opportunity when other contenders improved on Thursday.
The Pirates could have upgraded their bullpen or bench for more reasonable prices.
The Orioles landed a significant bullpen upgrade in Andrew Miller for Baltimore LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, which is reasonable. Rodriguez is not an elite prospect. The Pirates also missed out on Emilio Bonfacio as a bench upgrade.
The Pirates were perhaps too price conscious.
The good news for the Pirates is there is still the Aug. 31 deadline when prices typically come down and where the Pirates acquired Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau last year. The bad news is they may be less fortunate there. Similar players of need might not clear waivers this time around.
I’ll never fault the Pirates for not wanting to overpay on a Jeff Samardzija or Lester. I thought Price came at a reasonable price but maybe Tampa didn’t want prospects, at least prospects like Bell and Nick Kingham. Who knows? But I do think there were opportunities for upgrades out there and the Pirates could regret not pushing another chip or two in later this season. While most of the significant upgrades went to AL clubs, the Cardinals did bolster their roster, the Nationals added help as did the Braves. With the NL Central there for the taking, the Pirates stayed quiet … for now.