Russ Canzler has been the only Pirates trade prior to the deadline. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
The biggest move the Pirates made this year on the trade market? Acquiring Russ Canzler for Tim Alderson. If you look around the league, you won’t find much different from other teams. Most teams were quiet on deadline day, whether that was buyers who didn’t upgrade, or sellers who didn’t sell for some reason. The prices throughout the last week have been reported to be high, and those same reports existed on deadline day.
In the end, there weren’t a lot of big names moved this year. Bud Norris was the biggest name that was traded on deadline day, which is telling since Norris is an average starting pitcher. There were only four trades that were made in total today, with Ian Kennedy and Justin Maxwell also on the move.
One of the bigger deals came last night when Jake Peavy was dealt in a three team deal. But Peavy isn’t exactly the Jake Peavy of old, and once again it is telling that he is one of the biggest names on the market.
The Pirates came into deadline day with three bits of information.
1. They had a hole in right field.
2. Despite that hole existing all season, they have the best record in baseball.
3. The Cardinals had an injured Yadier Molina who went on the disabled list.
As I wrote last night, there wasn’t a big need for a trade. The kneejerk reaction is that you NEED to make a trade before the deadline, as if you can’t compete if you don’t add another player — even if you were competing for four months without that player.
As it stands right now, nothing has changed. The NL Central of yesterday will be the same NL Central tomorrow. The Reds and Cardinals didn’t add anyone at the deadline, and the Cardinals actually lost Molina. The Pirates had the best record in baseball coming in to the deadline. They were 6-2 against the Cardinals prior to this, and 7-6 against the Reds. So the fact that nothing changed works for them. Even with their hole in right field, they’ve put up the best record in baseball so far.
One other thing that remains the same: the players on the market. Alex Rios, Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd…none of these guys were traded. All of them can be traded in August, as long as they clear waivers. That probably won’t happen for guys like Byrd or Schierholtz, but it could be a possibility for the others. If that happens, then the deadline would become meaningless.
But the Pirates don’t necessarily need one of those guys. I pointed out last night that they’ve been upgrading the team all year with their depth. Jordy Mercer upgraded the shortstop position. Injuries to Travis Snider and Michael McKenry led to upgrades on the bench with Alex Presley and Tony Sanchez. Releasing Brandon Inge and replacing him with Josh Harrison has also been an upgrade. And there’s one other upgrade they could make from within.
Andrew Lambo hit his 28th home run of the season today. In 174 at-bats in Triple-A he has a .282/.349/.598 line and 14 homers. He does have strikeout issues, with a 29.3% strikeout rate. But the power this year has been impressive. He’s also hitting for average and getting on base. There’s a chance that he might not carry this over to the majors, but the Pirates don’t have much to lose. They weren’t getting anything from Snider or Tabata this year. Plus, it’s not like playing with a struggling right fielder has been holding them back. So if Lambo comes up and plays as poorly as Snider or Tabata, there’s nothing lost.
In the end the Pirates only added Russ Canzler this year, who might be able to help hitting left-handers off the bench in September. And that’s it. They were one of the best teams in baseball before the deadline passed, with some impressive depth all over the team. They had one glaring hole, and a 24-year-old with 28 homers as an option to fill that hole. The trade market was weak, with no impact names, high asking prices, and very few trades that actually were made in the end. After the deadline they remain one of the best teams, and the two teams that are chasing them did nothing to get better. In the process they kept their top farm system together, which will allow them to continue to be competitive in future years in the exact same way they’ve been competitive this year: by building from within.