Last night the Pirates traded reliever Brad Lincoln
to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Travis Snider
. I have a ton to stay here, so I hope I can keep it all organized.
First of all, I can somewhat understand why a lot of people are upset about the trade, but let me address those people first. If you are one of those people that hates this move by the Pirates, I'm guessing that you wanted the team to trade Lincoln to Philadelphia for a guy like Shane Victorino
, or some other similar move. A move like that would have made the Pirates better in 2012, no doubt, but as soon as next year, this team would be significantly worse because of it. You can say that for many of the other rumored deals, including Shin-Soo Choo
. Personally, I was happy with the Pirates for not going that route.
Now I think the most important thing to understand here is that the Pirates can't forget about the future like a lot of people want them to. This franchise isn't in position to where they can mortgage so much of what they've been working to build up for a two month help. Even if the Pirates would make a push and make the playoffs with Victorino, giving up Lincoln for him wouldn't help past 2012. The risk of missing the playoffs anyway and losing Lincoln for nothing is simply too big to take. You can say the same with Starling Marte
in the Choo deal. You give up a bunch of years in control for a year and two months of Choo, and if you don't make the playoffs with Choo, you've lost a possible future star for nothing. Maybe the Yankees can afford to take these risks, but the Pirates simply can't. Maybe some of you are fooled into thinking that our minor league system is deep enough to handle a big blow like that, but it's not. Outside of Marte, we have very little in terms of hitting prospects.
I'll point to the Tampa Bay Rays again. They have never once in the last five years made a move at the deadline where they give up a serious prospect for major league help. They understand that they need all the prospects they can get so they can afford to let their veterans walk when they are too expensive to justify paying. That's how the Pirates need to approach things; don't sell the farm for short-term major league help, because the future is just as important as the present. The Pirates can't go out and make a big time free agent signing every offseason to fill voids, so they have to keep their minor league players in house.
Now to the actual trade part. Lincoln is a very good reliever that was helping the Pirates win right now. The fact is that bullpen pieces aren't hard to replace. Sure, the late inning relief gets worse with this trade, but they have a guy (unproven as he is) in AAA in Bryan Morris
that is having a great season that could very well come up and be as good as Lincoln right now. Lincoln's presence will be missed, but I'm all about trading him to try to fix a bigger hole.
Now we get to Travis Snider, who I am extremely excited about. He was formerly the number six prospect in all of baseball, but he's had a slow start to his career. He debuted when he was 20 years old, and hit .301/.338/.466 in 24 games at the end of the 2008. In 2009 he started on Opening Day with the club and homered in that game, but had a rough rest of the year hitting .241/.328/.419 before being demoted. In 2010 he tried it again and hit .255/.304/.463 in 82 games. 2011 was the same story, as he hit even worse at .225/.269/.348 in 49 games. That made Blue Jays people very nervous about him and that's no doubt the reason they traded him last night. He added a good amount of value back with his 2012 AAA season in which he hit .335/.423/.598 with 13 home runs in 56 games. He was called up recently and in 10 games is 9/36 (.250) with three home runs. If he hadn't had such a good season to this point, no team would have given the Blue Jays much for him. The Pirates saw a buy low candidate that could turn into a star someday so they didn't hesitate to go get him.
Some scouts have said that Snider looks to have turned a corner in his development this year and should start to become the major leaguer everyone thought he would be someday. He's just 24 years old so that's not past any age where you'd worry about his development. For what you've seen this year from him you should be ecstatic. There's a very good chance that Snider will turn into a legitimate slugger in the near future. It's not out of the question to think he'll help the Pirates significantly on offense this year either.
This move is probably more about the future than anything, and that's what has some people upset. I get that, you want to see the team win right now. You want to see them finally make the playoffs and not just settle for 82 wins. That's fine, but you're letting the past influence your views too much. The Pirates aren't a franchise that can afford to risk the future for the present, they have to set themselves up with a team that can compete for a World Series without having to make a big time addition at the trade deadline and lose prospects. If Snider turns into the player he can be, and the Pirates hold on to him until 2016 (which they will), we'll have exactly that. We won't need to upgrade offensively because we'll have two absolute sluggers in Snider and Pedro Alvarez
to go along with an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen
, a budding star in Marte, and some nice role players in Neil Walker
and possibly Jose Tabata
amongst some other names. Obviously those are all best case scenarios, but that's just how the Pirates have to play it right now.
I won't flip out on you if you're mad about the deal, because there's a good chance that this move will make the Pirates worse right now, but for a long haul minded guy like me, it's a great move for the Bucs.