Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 7/25/12
Houston-astros-chicago

For much of the summer, almost all the talk surrounding hypothetical Pirates trades has centered around a bat. The Pirates managed to stick around  for two months despite a historically terrible offense because their pitching staff did a wonderful job. In the summer months, the offense has picked up the slack and the Bucs caught fire. As that’s happened, the rotation took a step back. 

The rotation needed a boost coming down the stretch this year, and with Kevin Correia and Erik Bedard set to be free agents after the season, it makes all the sense in the world for the Bucs to acquire an arm that isn’t just a rental. Wandy Rodriguez will help the team now and in the next couple years, which is why I think last night’s trade (details here) is a solid move by the Pirates.

Rodriguez is a dependable veteran lefty. Those aren’t easy to find anywhere, especially this season in a pretty iffy trade market. Wandy provides a significant upgrade over Correia in essentially every area, he’s a durable guy that the Bucs will be able to count on down the stretch in a pennant race, he has some experience in the postseason, and he’s much better suited for PNC Park than Minute Maid Park.  That’s all great for this year, but then throw in the fact that he fills a spot for next season (and likely 2014 as well) at a pretty moderate price and it’s very hard not to like this deal. The Pirates are on the hook for a good bit of Rodriguez’s salary, but Houston is picking up enough to make it reasonable.

I’m not too concerned about what the Pirates gave up. Many of us have been hoping to get a look at Rudy Owens in Pittsburgh for a while now, but his upside is pretty limited. He can be a decent big league starter, but that’s no guarantee and the ceiling isn’t all that high. Rodriguez is a proven talent and should more than negate the loss of Owens. 

Grossman is probably the key to the deal for the Astros. His stock has come down a decent amount this season (after battling through an injury and moving up to AA), but he’s been better lately and still has plenty of time to develop (22 years old). It’s a bummer to lose an on-base machine (a rarity in the Bucs’ system) but he’s only the 9th ranked prospect in the system and you have to give something to get something. Like Owens, Grossman’s “upside” seems to be somewhat limited to a solid MLB regular, not a star type player, which makes giving him up a lot easier to swallow.

Cain is young and has been solid but unspectacular in the low minors. It’s far too early to be definitive about whether or not he’ll amount to anything, but he wasn’t ranked all that high and you can’t really let a guy like that make or break a deal.

Both teams got good value here, in my opinion. I like the deal from the Pirates’ end because they improve their rotation down the stretch and fill an upcoming hole for the next two seasons. The Astros get to dump a contract and get some solid prospects, but probably nothing earthshattering that the Pirates will regret dearly.  Neal Huntington and Bob Nutting went out and added more salary to improve the club, and I have a feeling they aren’t done yet. I’d be shocked if they don’t address the lineup somehow in the next week, and I would look for a similar move where they add salary, move some good-but-not-great prospects, and get a player with an extra year of control or two.

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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