Since the Pirates plan to contend in 2018, they could pursue a “soft sell” at the deadline rather than unload major pieces, Fangraphs’ Travis Sawchik writes. This would mean keeping big names like Andrew McCutchen or Gerrit Cole unless they receive offers too good to ignore, while perhaps being open to moving the likes of Josh Harrison, David Freese, Juan Nicasio or other bullpen arms. As Sawchik points out, the Bucs already used this kind of “soft sell” to great effect last summer, when they dealt Mark Melancon to the Nationals and unloaded Francisco Liriano’s contract on the Blue Jays. Pittsburgh received a good young relief arm in Felipe Rivero for Melancon, and the money saved by moving Liriano allowed the Pirates to re-sign Freese and Ivan Nova, who has become a rotation staple. (Nova himself was a deadline pickup last year, a sign that the Pirates weren’t merely focused on selling.)
Here’s some more player movement buzz from around the majors…
- The Orioles are reportedly out of the running for Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, and ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required) writes that a lack of payroll flexibility may have scuttled Baltimore’s chances. From the Marlins’ standpoint, the O’s wanted to move a comparably salary in a trade to fit Hechavarria’s remaining salary (around $2.17MM for the year) into the budget. It isn’t clear whether the O’s are lacking in flexibility altogether, or simply weren’t willing to stretch payroll for Hechavarria, who is a quality defender but has delivered virtual replacement-level value in three of the last four seasons.
- Also from Olney’s column, he opines that Jedd Gyorko could be a big trade chip for the Cardinals if St. Louis decides to sell at the deadline. Gyorko could be of particular interest to prospect-laden contenders like the Red Sox or Yankees, who are both in the market for third base help. Gyorko is hitting .291/.350/.500 in 254 PA and is locked up on a very affordable contract through 2019, though as Olney notes, these could also be reasons for the Cards to want to keep Gyorko in the fold. In my opinion, I would guess that St. Louis would explore moving several other players before considering a Gyorko trade, and even then wouldn’t move him for anything less than a massive return.
- Olney looks at the Mets’ situation heading into the deadline, as the team is open to moving veterans with an eye to creating payroll and roster space to reload for another run at contention next year. Another big-picture question is what the Mets will do with Matt Harvey, as the former ace has continued to struggle with injuries, performance, and off-the-field controversy. It seems like Harvey won’t be in a Mets uniform once his contract is up after the 2018 season, so Olney feels New York could try to move him in a trade or perhaps even non-tender Harvey after the year.