A report surfaced yesterday linking two of the Pirates’ most recognizable players to trade conversations with the New York Yankees as the potential partner. The Yankees and Pirates have discussed a swap that would send Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon to the Bronx, though there’s no indication the two sides are close on a deal.
The Pirates would be selling low on both players, with Taillon on his way back from Tommy John and Bell coming off a rough 2020. Given Pittsburgh’s overall lack of appealing trade assets – and the Pirates’ need to maximize said assets – it would be surprising to see the Pirates part with the pair for anything less than what would seem like an overpay, given the pair’s current circumstances.
There’s another duo of Pirates whose names have been bandied about the trade wire even more often, however. Joe Musgrove and Adam Frazier have been the most frequently mentioned names in trade conversations, according to MLB Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
Musgrove has arguably been the most consistent presence in the Buccos’ rotation since his arrival in the much-ballyhooed Gerrit Cole trade. A former first round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays, the former Astro has put up 3.6 bWAR in three seasons with the Pirates, pitching to a 4.23 ERA/3.69 FIP over 325 1/3 innings spanning 58 starts. Musgrove should make a very palatable salary in the range of $3.8MM his second time through arbitration, plus any acquiring team would get one final season of control beyond 2021.
Musgrove’s strikeout rate jumped to 12.48 K/9 over eight starts in 2020, well above his previous career-high of 8.30 K/9. His walk rate jumped with it, however, to a career-high 3.6 BB/9. His overall K/BB ratio of 3.44 K/BB actually tied with his rookie season for the lowest mark in his career. Still, there are some who see the 28-year-old as a potential breakout candidate, including Tim Williams of Pittsburgh Baseball.
Williams notes that Frazier profiles as a solid utility option for a contender. Frazier’s primary position is second base, but he’s appeared all over the outfield for the Pirates. Earlier in his career, he made fleeting appearances at shortstop and third base as well. Last season, he split his time between the keystone and left field.
Frazier – who turns 29 years old in four days – has never been accused of carrying a thunderous bat, but he’s been a largely-productive regular throughout his career, posting 2.4 bWAR per 650 plate appearances across five seasons. His .230/.297/.364 line was down across the board, though apologists could point to a strikeout rate of 15.2% that still saw him put the ball in play at a well-above-average rate, and a 7.4 BB% was well within his career norms. Looking a little deeper at Statcast measures like exit velocity and hard hit percentage, Frazier’s numbers dipped in 2020, but not so much to assume he couldn’t have rebounded over a full campaign.