With one trade in the books for Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, many believe at least one more big move is coming.
I do believe Huntington will add a bat before Tuesday’s deadline, but how big of a bat he can add is yet to be determined.
Everyone wants the big bat, but the reality of the situation is that those types of hitters aren’t likely to be on the market. Justin Upton is unlikely to be dealt and both Carlos Quentin and Edwin Encarnacion are off the market after signing extensions.
It would be nice to land Philadelphia’s Hunter Pence and the Phillies made it known that they are eager to move to young outfielder, but the Pirates are an unrealistic fit. For one, he could earn between $13-15 million in his final year of arbitration next year.
Pence would cost the Pirates a ton but he would be under their control for next season. After that, it’s doubtful the Pirates could match Pence’s asking price so they would be mortgaging the future for a year and two months of Pence. I wouldn’t expect the Bucs to be much of a bidder for his services at all, but he sure would look good in this Pirates lineup.
There’s also the chance at landing San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley, who will also be quite pricy for the Bucs.
While Headley is primarily a third baseman, he played left field at the beginning of his career. I can’t see the Pirates moving Pedro Alvarez to first base at this point in the season and Casey McGehee has turned into an outstanding defensive first baseman.
While Headley’s numbers suggest he is a .268 hitter with 11 homers and 50 RBI, he also has an OBP of .361 which would help this Pirates offense.
When discussing Headley, also consider the Petco Park factor. Away from Petco, Headley has an .866 OPS, compared to .709 at home. Go back a year to 2011 and the split is even bigger. Headley is a player who will make almost any team in the majors better. But is he a guy that will make the impact necessary to part with top prospects?
The guy I hope Huntington takes a serious run at is Pence’s teammate Shane Victorino, as I wrote yesterday.
What the Bucs need is a leadoff hitter who can get on base. Victorino isn’t having the best year of his career, but he would be a very nice addition at the top of the Pirates lineup.
They need solid OBP guys and Victorino is an upgrade over all of the current Pirates corner outfielders.
Rob Biertempfel reported that the Bucs have inquired about “The Flying’ Hawaiian,” but the Bucs backed off the asking price of Brad Lincoln and I don’t blame them.
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) July 24, 2012
The price on Victorino should go down closer to the deadline, especially if the Phillies are trying to shed salary.
If Victorino becomes too expensive, guys like Josh Willingham, Denard Span, Peter Bourjos and others could draw interest, but Bourjos is likely the only one within the Bucs reach and he’s nothing to get too excited about.
He has great speed but only a .300 career OBP, but he won’t be expensive and still has that coveted “zero-to-three” status, meaning that he’s not yet eligible for arbitration.
However, if it’s not Pence or Victorino, the next logical option is to strengthen the bench with some low cost moves.
If that’s the route they choose to take, expect Starling Marte to be called up sooner, rather than later. If Marte comes up and produces, that’s like making a big trade all by itself.
The market can change during the next six or seven days, meaning there could be some bats made available that aren’t on the market right now.
I fully expect another move or two out of Huntington to strengthen this team. However the big name and big bat might not be a realistic option right now.