Ideal Pittsburgh Pirates’ Roster: Contending vs. Selling

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 13: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates for his solo home run in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 13: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates for his solo home run in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 13, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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pittsburgh pirates roster
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 05: Felipe Vazquez #73 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after allowing an RBI single to Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers in the tenth inning during the game at PNC Park on July 5, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Below, we examine what an ideal roster would look like if the Pittsburgh Pirates plan on selling for the future.

As we did in the previous slide, we will go over an ideal roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates — this time dependent on the team deciding to trade away valuable players for younger talent.

This may not put the team in contention this season, but could set themselves up for a brighter tomorrow.

Let’s get started with the roster!

Position Players: 

1B Josh Bell — Still, obviously.

2B Kevin Newman — Will still be a part of the future for years to come. Starts his cemented gig at second base.

SS Cole Tucker — Let the kids play! Our future shortstop should continue his growth in the bigs. He looked overmatched at first, but after some fine-tuning in the minors he should be good to go.

3B Colin Moran — Solid consistent bat.

C Elias Diaz — Still the best catcher the Pirates have.

CF Bryan Reynolds — Will be interesting to see how he takes over center field.

RF Clint Frazier [TRADE] — Not Adam Frazier, but Clint Frazier. While people are skeptical of his fielding ability, and rightfully so, his bat is too intriguing to pass up. Plugging him in the relatively small right field at PNC Park could hide his issues.

LF Alex Kirilloff [TRADE] — Now for the first time in this article, I feel a tad unrealistic, yet, still hopeful. Acquiring the Plum native would give the Pirates the best young outfield in the bigs.

Bench Players:

IF Jose Osuna — Status doesn’t change.

IF Kevin Kramer — Made some hard contact last year when he was up, but had too much swing and miss. That hasn’t changed too much, but can play some infield positions and get some more exposure.

C Jacob Stallings — Same as Osuna.

OF Gregory Polanco — Still working his way back, and with the Pirates not contending, he’d probably eventually get shut down for the year, but for now is on the bench.

U Pablo Reyes — Solid utility player who has shown a good power stroke recently in the minors.

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SP Jameson Taillon — Will probably be shut down, but if not still the ace for the foreseeable future.

SP Chris Archer — Still here, hopefully doing a little better.

SP Trevor Williams — Still a viable option for the rotation.

SP Mitch Keller — Has not had that much success at the big league level, but make no mistake, he is still a frontline starter of the future, and should continue to grow at the big league level.

SP Dario Agrazal — Continues to grow in the big leagues.

RP Steven Brault — May get a spot start or two, but is still chugging along in this version.

RP Chris Stratton — Could also get a spot start, but also provides middle relief.

RP Luis Escobar — The most intriguing prospect we may see this year for the Pirates. Will be a reliever, but has good life on the fastball and two good off-speed pitches. Could be a future closer.

RP Geoff Hartlieb — Wildly good movement on his pitches, needs to work on control. If he gets that under control really could be a bullpen piece for the future.

RP Michael Feliz — Has come on strong as the season has come along, could evolve into a backend piece.

RP Richard Rodriguez — Would definitely intrigue some teams, but the return would not be good enough to justify moving him.

RP Keone Kela — Could be shut down, but if not it still a good high leverage reliever.

Players Not Listed/Traded:

This is a trade that gets rid of the longest-tenured Pittsburgh Pirates’ player and one of the best 5-tool players in the bigs. But trading Marte is the only way to get Kirilloff as a return, and including Crick and Lyles sheds some money, and includes a valuable reliever, to propel the Twins in their title chase. Lewis Thorpe is a lefty reliever who would be ready for next year and has a similar comp to Justin Wilson.

The Yankees have been looking for starting pitcher, and they get a big controllable one in Musgrove. Adam Frazier and Melky Cabrera would be used as versatile bench pieces for the Yankees, while they get rid of a talented player who has not gelled well with the Yankees, in Clint Frazier. Adding Anthony Siegler may be a stretch, as the switch-hitting, defensive-minded catcher was a first-rounder only last year. He’s yet to blossom, however, and a change of scenery may be best.

The A’s are in need of a starting outfielder, and Corey Dickerson provides just that. Liriano is an extra reliever that can’t hurt when going for a playoff berth, which Oakland is. Kaprielian would effectively replace Shane Baz in our system, with a little more concern over injuries. Barrera projects as a depth outfielder but is hitting well this year at Double-A.

This is a trade I was iffy about. The Pirates do not NEED to trade Vazquez. Adding Felipe to the backend of this bullpen for next year only makes the Pirates that much more palpable.

But we also do not NEED a closer that is as prolific as Felipe. It’s just three outs, and the Pirates have a history of molding average relievers into elite closers. It will happen again. Acquiring this package bolsters our farm system to an elite level.

This assortment of deals may put the Pittsburgh Pirates into a similar situation going into next year as was the case going into this year — the difference would be there is a clear direction.

If the Pirates were to execute these trades, they would be World Series contenders by 2021. That’s the ultimate goal, right?

A youth movement would take over the ballclub and city. Now all that’s left is to get the right coaching staff for this young squad…

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Which roster do you like more, the one where the Pittsburgh Pirates are contending or selling? What would you do differently? Feel free to leave your comments below!