Well, there it is.
Ben Cherington made his first splash transaction as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has traded Starling Marte, the team’s longest tenured player, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Brennan Malone, infielder Liover Peguero and $250K in international bonus money.
This deal kicks off the official rebuild of the organization.
I am not sure how to feel yet about this move.
Let’s go over what I don’t like first:
(1) When Jon Heyman first released news of the trade, we all awaited for what the return would be. The Dbacks have an absolutely loaded prospect pool with five players in the top 100. A big hope for a returning piece was Daulton Varsho, the ninth-best catcher in all the MLB (According to MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect list.)
But, nope. We got two 19 year-olds who are Arizona’s 7th and 9th ranked prospects. It is frustrating to not address the most glaring team need while trading away your best asset. Even more so when these new assets won’t reach the majors for another three years at least.
(2) Another thing, I don’t like…
Now this is just embarrassing.
They can sign a handful of veterans on short deals with the purpose of making the team somewhat competitive and flipping them at the deadline.
That’s promising, but until I see them make a notable acquisition or two…I don’t have faith in the organization doing anything.
And that just bums me out.
(3) Get ready to embrace the suck. According to Fan Duel Sportsbook, the Pirates over/under for wins this upcoming season was 70.5. And this was before the trade. How much lower could it go?
Now how about what I do like:
(1) This move aligns with what appears to be the plan. At least people can’t say the organization doesn’t have a vision anymore.
They are not looking to compete this year…or the next few. No more bogus statements from the organization about where they see this team.
It’s a rebuild. We can all agree on that.
Now continue the plan. Ship off Frazier now and look for opportunities to flip Kela, Archer, and others at the deadline.
(2) Don’t Sleep on IFA Money
Getting $250K of International Amateur Free Agency money is notable and also aligns with the organization’s plan.
In this era, the Pirates aren’t going to improve by signing high profile free agents. That’s the sad reality. They are emphasizing the draft and international pool.
For signing international amateurs (at least 16 years old and reside outside US, Canada, and Puerto Rico), teams have a spending cap of $4.75M. However, teams can aquire bonus pool money from other clubs via trade. (i.e. the Pirates just got $250K more money from Arizona for these signings.)
Teams that receive a competitive balance pick (like the Pirates always do) are also rewarded more money in this area.
Past players who have come to the majors via the international prospect pool are Ronald Acuna, Vlad Guerrero Jr, Eloy Jimenez, Victor Robles, Fernando Tatis Jr, Gleyber Torres, and Juan Soto.
As you can see, gems and superstars can be found here (ironically this is where they got Marte in the first place) and the Pirates are getting money to capitalize. Let’s hope they do it.
(3) High risk, high reward for the 19 year-old prospects
Obviously, it’s the hope of Cherington and Co. that these guys reach their full potential. Analysis gives both of these prospects high ceilings. RHP Malone was a first round pick last year and has a fastball sitting in the mid 90s. He also has a plus slider alongside an average curveball and changeup which will hopefully only improve.
Peguero just turned 19 and had a nice season last year in rookie league and low-A. He hit .326 with an .866 OPS. He doesn’t have much power, but hopefully that will develop as he matures.
Time will tell how this trade will turn out. What I do know, is that I will miss watching Starling Marte play. For several seasons in Pittsburgh, he was as electric as they come (excluding his PED suspension lolol)
His departure is another somber reminder of the golden opportunity that was the 2013-15 window.
Speaking of that window…here is my favorite Marte memory. Remember when the left field seats were actually full?