Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/19/14
Picimg_mlb_mar_18_9499

The Pittsburgh Pirates have built up a pretty good farm system under Neal Huntington’s watch. Our own Marc Hulet ranked them ninth before the season, and over at ESPN, Keith Law ranked them eighth. They have also simulteanously been upgrading their Major League core, and have morphed into a contender this season. To do this at the same time, you have to get a little bit lucky, and you have to be a little bit creative and you can’t be squeamish about taking risks. They showed the latter two elements in trades both yesterday — when they acquired Travis Snider — and today by making two deals that essentially swap out Casey McGehee for Gaby Sanchez.

The first, and more important deal, sends outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and a 2013 competitive balance draft picks to the Marlins for Gaby Sanchez and minor league reliever Kyle Kaminska. According to Jim Callis from Baseball America, that pick is currently slated to be the 33rd selection in next year’s draft, and will carry a $1.525 million price tag, which is none too shabby, especially for a player that wasn’t even on the active roster. It would be very easy to declare this a huge win for the Marlins, especially if they no longer considered the 28-year old Sanchez to be part of the future in Miami (small caveat — here’s the list of players picked at #33 — not a lot of All-Stars in that group. Though obviously that doesn’t mean Miami won’t get someone good). That they also get a wild card in Hernandez, who once upon a time (2009, to be exact) was a top-100 prospect, and is still just 24 years old, is a nice get.

At the same time, this deal is no skin off of the Pirates’ collective backs. For one, Hernandez likely never had a place in Pittsburgh even before the team acquired Snider. And second, while the draft pick would be nice, it means nothing to the Pirates at this point. They didn’t do anything to earn it, and they have two first-round picks next season anyway. Even better, they may have acquired the perfect platoon-mate for Garrett Jones. McGehee had been filling that role, but Sanchez could prove an upgrade for two reasons.

For starters, Sanchez won’t cost as much going forward. McGehee is making $2.5375 million this season, and just by being in the majors and playing in 90 percent of his team’s games this season, his salary was likely to go by at least $500,000, but probably closer to $1 million. Sanchez, on the other hand, hasn’t yet reached arbitration, and any first-year bump he will get is going to be dampened by his being optioned to Triple-A earlier this season.

The second reason is that Sanchez is probably just plain better than McGehee. Since the start of 2011, success has been fleeting for McGehee. He hit .291/.360/.532 across 89 plate appearances this June, but remove that month and he has hit .219/.277/.337 across 804 PA since the start of ’11. There’s also the question of which McGehee is the real McGehee — is it the guy who posted a 6 wRC+ against lefties last season, or the one who has posted a 119 wRC+ against them this season?

There are, to be certain, questions surrounding Sanchez’s play. In the season’s first two months, his plate discipline eroded, while his strikeout percentage ticked further north. For a guy who was such a disciplined hitter coming into the season, it was a troubling development, as was his newfound inability to hit a fastball. Then again, both may have been flukes. Back in Triple-A, Sanchez’s walk-rate re-inflated, as did his ISO and SLG. Now, granted, he’s facing inferior competition there, but Sanchez wouldn’t exactly be the first Marlins player to suffer a demotion, be traded, and then find success elsewhere.

When the Bucs parted with Brad Lincoln, Huntington said he would find a reliever in short order, and he actually found two in Kaminski and Chad Qualls, who was acquired from the Yankees for McGehee. Qualls has been much maligned this year, but if you look at his splits the last three seasons, you find that he while lefties are firebombing him, he is doing just fine against right-handed hitters. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle probably would have preferred someone who could fill Lincoln’s exact role, as Hurdle frequently pushed Lincoln past the three-out barrier. Then again, few managers like to burn through their bullpen playing matchups like Hurdle does, so Qualls may work out just fine as a ROOGY.

Last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates were fluke contenders, and they faded as the summer progressed. This summer, they are legitimate contenders, and Neal Huntington and Co. have done their best to augment their core while not robbing their future at the same time. In netting Gaby Sanchez for a draft pick, and then turning the dead wood that was Casey McGehee into a reliever who may replace some of what they lost in Brad Lincoln, the Pirates made some calculated gambles. But the payoff is a balanced roster with upside. Sanchez isn’t going to carry Pittsburgh to October, but if he hits the way he did last season, and this season in Triple-A, he and Garrett Jones will form a very effective first-base tandem.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jon Jones thinks he can beat Cain Velasquez

Larry Bird jokes about pose of Dominique Wilkins’ statue

Barry Switzer urged Cowboys to draft Murray with great quote

SF Giants file brief in support of gay marriage to Supreme Court

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brian Hoyer praises Johnny Manziel for checking into rehab

Dockett: I would have signed with Cardinals for less money

Report: Darrelle Revis' decision to come down to Patriots, Jets

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

Associated Press will have 'robots' writing game stories

Analyzing the top-five free agent quarterbacks

Five NBA players set to make biggest impact down the stretch

Five areas the Eagles must address this offseason

WATCH: Craig Sager emotional in warm welcome back to TNT

Likeliest landing spots for Ndamukong Suh

Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon drives a chrome Mercedes

WATCH: Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs who doubts her ability

Michelle Beadle’s campaign to be cast in ‘Sharknado 3′ pays off

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Dodgers will have a tough time dumping Andre Ethier

Brian Cashman: Derek Jeter should be final Yankees captain

Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy to play round at Augusta National

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Analyzing the top-five free agent QBs

NBA players set to make biggest impact

Larry Bird trash talks Dominique Wilkins’ statue

Likeliest landing spots for Suh

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to get old, right?

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

AP will have 'robots' writing game stories

Manning officially returning to Broncos

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.