This is my 4th year of running this blog. Never have I ever written a post about the Pirates trading for someone to improve their ML team. I’ve never really felt the need to. However, the Pirates are 75 games into this season, are in 3rd place, and just 3 games back of 1st place. It is no longer a foregone conclusion they will be sellers later this summer.
It is time the Pirates start looking into certain upgrades they can make in their club. Before anyone gets a little crazy, first let me say this: In no way, should the Pirates, at this point, do anything that will jeopardize their future by giving up one of their prized prospects. A team like the Pirates needs to continue to produce solid Major League players out of their organization, or these type of discussions never happen (see the last 18 years). However, with that being said, Neal Huntington has done an excellent job since arriving of acquiring depth at the Minor League level, so the Pirates do have some options.
Lyle Overbay is statistically ranked as the worst NL first baseman with a -0.7 WAR. His supposed “strong” defense isn’t showing as his -5.9 UZR ranks 3rd worst in the NL. ZIPS projects Overbay will hit .242/.326/.395 over the rest of this season, which is an improvement over his current .231/.308/.352, but is still pretty awful.
Carlos Pena is nothing special anymore. However, he is a vast improvement over Overbay, and shouldn’t cost too much in terms of a trade. He is hitting .225/.352/.446 with 14 HR and a 1.0 WAR. ZIPS projects Pena will hit .235/.361/.498 with 17 more HR the rest of the season. That is a pretty significant upgrade to what the Pirates currently have.
First, let’s talk about Pena’s contract situation. He is signed to a pretty weird 1-year deal. It is worth $10 million. However, $5 million of that will be paid to him in January of next year. Somehow, if a trade were made, that issue would need to be addressed.
Second, what would it take to get Pena? The Cubs blog Obstructed View has a pretty good breakdown of Pena’s trade value at this point that is worth a look. The Pirates could probable obtain Pena with an offer of 2 “C” prospects. To give you an idea, these would be guys ranked in the 15-30 range in the organization. Most likely, the players given up are capable of being ML players, but the odds of them being noteworthy are slim.
An upgrade at 1B is definitely something Huntington should be looking at right now and if the price is right, they should pull the trigger.