Throughout the month of July you heard names such as: Alex Rios, Nate Schierholtz, Hunter Pence, Giancarlo Stanton, David DeJesus, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau, Bud Norris and even Jeff Samardzija linked to the Pittsburgh Pirates as Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went.
Instead of the Bucs making a move for the final two months of the season, Pirates’ general manager Neal Huntington stood pat in what amounted to the quietest trade deadline in recent memory.
And that’s not a bad thing.
Instead of Huntington giving away major parts of the future for players that may have only impacted the team marginally; he decided to stick with what he has. And what he has isn’t bad as the Bucs sit 22 games over .500 and own the best record in baseball at the end of July.
Could the Pirates’ offense have used a boost, particularly in right field?
Of course, but there just wasn’t a player that made sense for them.
Pirates’ fans can’t criticize for not overpaying. The market wasn’t there this season to improve, evident by the lack of trades across the league.
That’s something that just goes to show that teams need to be built in the offseason and not at the trade deadline. You can make the case that Huntington’s two big offseason moves- the signings of Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano- have had more of a positive impact on this team than any other teams two acquisitions have all season.
There is plenty of good news in the fact that the Pirates didn’t have to make a move today and they didn’t have to do anything.
The first is the obvious that they are in a position where they have the best record in baseball with the core they have.
Secondly, no other National League team chasing them were able to make a move either, so Huntington didn’t have to panic on a move he probably didn’t want to make just because the Cardinals or Reds made a move.
Finally, just because they didn’t make a trade today doesn’t mean they can’t make one in August. By having the best record in baseball the chances are very slim that they could sneak someone through waivers, but the opportunity is there if needed.
There are also some options to get better from within.
Pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Jason Grilli are likely to return which should give the team a boost. The backup catcher position just got better with the announcement that Michael McKenry will have surgery on his knee meaning that Tony Sanchez should be on the roster for the rest of the season.
Finally there is the Andrew Lambo factor.
Lambo is raking for Triple-A Indianapolis and could be the answer for the Bucs in right field. I know it’s not necessarily the Pirates style to give a kid like Lambo a look right now in a pennant race, but it is hard to ignore what he has done this season. Lambo, who Huntington acquired with James McDonald for reliever Octavio Dotel, just hit his 28th homer of the season and since his promotion to Triple-A, has hit .282 with 14 homers and 41 RBI.
It may be too hard not to give him a look before long.
Ultimately Pirates’ fans may be upset that the Bucs didn’t make a big trade, but they had to trust that Huntington would do the right thing.
And he did.