With the Pirates coming off a disappointing season and new general manager Ben Cherington now in charge of the organization, there has been wide speculation that a rebuild could be coming in Pittsburgh. This would naturally make Starling Marte into a trade candidate, and the center fielder indicated in a conversation with Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 (Twitter links) that he wants to be play for a winning team in 2020, in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
The Pirates “have the power to decide about my future,” Marte said. “If it was for me I will leave for a team that is ready to compete right now on a World Series and that’s not our case.” When asked specifically about the Mets, who have a need in center field and have already reportedly shown interest in Marte’s services, Marte said that “it will be an honor to play with them,” since New York is more poised to contend next season.
It should be noted that these comments fall short of any actual trade request; needless to say, virtually every player would prefer to player for a contender, all things considered. Marte doesn’t appear to have any hard feelings about the Pirates or his situation, noting that “if it [a trade] doesn’t happen, I will keep working hard and giving my team all I have.”
Marte is under team control for the next two seasons, earning $11.5MM in 2020 and possibly $12.5MM via a club option for 2021 (with a $1MM buyout). This counts as pricey by the Pirates’ standards, especially for a team that may be retooling. The newly-hired Cherington has yet to give any firm indication about the Bucs’ next direction, and given how it often takes a new GM some weeks or months to fully adjust to a new position (meeting with internal personnel, making new hires, etc.), decisions about Marte, Josh Bell, Gregory Polanco, or other potential trade chips might not be made until later in the offseason.
If the Mets are set on Marte, they have some room to be patient, as the club does have Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo available as center field options if a proper full-time center fielder can’t be found. Beyond just New York, other teams could be content to play the waiting game if the Pirates need time to decide on Marte, given the lack of clear-cut options in the center field free agent market.