There haven’t been too many consistent elite players the Pittsburgh Pirates have been able to trot out onto the field since 2000.
Brian Giles, Jason Bay, Andrew McCutchen….Felipe Vazquez?
Apologies to the Freddy Sanchez’s and Jason Kendall’s of the world, who were maybe a tad below elite, or just not consistently elite.
But since Felipe has gotten to the Pirates, his ERA has been 2.25 and his K/9 is 11.8. Uh yeah, that certainly qualifies as elite, and since it’s been that way for almost three seasons now, I believe you can call that consistent.
So we have quickly established that Felipe is a top of the line pitcher.
But he also brings an added flare factor that has seemingly always been absent from the Pirates.
500-foot home runs and 100 MPH fastballs; nothing envigorates a crowd quite like those two. Felipe adds excitement to a typically dreary environment, and while that is not a huge added bonus in terms of trade value, it does need to be noted.
Considering lefty flame-throwers don’t get traded too often, any potential added value needs to be noted.
Now let’s briefly look at past trades for dominant lefty closers around the league in recent years.
Aroldis Chapman was traded for Gleybor Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford. The first two were top 40 prospects and the Cubs top two prospects in the system, Adam Warren was a solid bullpen piece, while Crawford was a throw-in.
Chapman was under contract for the Cubs for another three months.
Looking at the Andrew Miller trade, they acquired a package headlined by top 40 prospect Clint Frazier and first-round pick Justus Sheffield. Miller was under contract through 2018.
Felipe Vazquez is under contract through 2023. That is two years of more control than the Indians had with Miller.
With recent reports that the Pirates and Dodgers have discussed Felipe, Neal cannot fold and sell Felipe for less than what he is worth. We don’t need to delve into the Archer trade. Everybody and their grandmother know how bad that has been.
But Neal cannot double down on that decision and trade Vazquez for anything other than a combination of top prospects. Not one top prospect, and a few other middling ones. Not guys who are major league ready, but don’t have much potential.
Multiple top prospects is the only option.
Since the Dodgers have been linked to them we can use them as an example.
An acceptable trade would be:
Two from the following group: Alex Verdugo, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, and Keibert Ruiz.
One from the following group: Josiah Gray, Tony Gonsolin, and Jeter Downs.
One from the following group: DJ Peters, Michael Busch, and Diego Cartaya.
No less than this combination would be acceptable. Regardless of how others may spin it, this should be the unmoving asking price for Vazquez.
You’ll hear Dodgers fans saying that Vazquez is not worth it, and they would never give up multiple of their top prospects.
And that’s fine, that is their prerogative. If they do not want to move prospects, do not do it.
Trading Felipe does not have to happen. Although, having the best closer in the game is pointless on a last-place team.
Nevertheless, we do not have to trade him. Holding onto him is a fine option as well. As I said, he is under contract for many more years.
But if we do, anything less than a very strong combination should spell the end of Neal’s time in Pittsburgh, because flopping on this trade would be strike three in recent bad deals.
And you know how the old saying goes.
What do you think the Pirates could get for Felipe? Leave your comments below!