The Pittsburgh Pirates went into the trade deadline with three particular needs: 1. Top of the rotation starter; 2. Right handed bat; 3. Lefty Reliever.
Of the three, a right handed bench bat and reliever were attainable but the Pirates came up empty.
“At end of the day we felt the right move was no move,” GM Neal Huntington said.
The Pirates feel they never got close on Jon Lester in the past 24 hours, a team official said, as the Red Sox wanted an impact MLB player with control back, but the team dipped their toes into the David Price sweeptakes aggressively in the last 12 hours and were in the mix up until the final couple hours.
“We were engaged on a ton of fronts,” Huntington said. “We were aggressive.”
Huntington claims the Pirates have internal options to bolster the bullpen with Cole coming back and even options in Triple-A, but one trade that stands out which was a miss for Pirates was not acquiring Cubs utility player Emilio Bonifacio (or someone like him) who was dealt to Atlanta along with lefty reliever James Russell for Class-A catcher Victor Caratini. Caratini was the Braves No. 8 rated prospect by Baseball America.
While not a big impact move, that’s a type of trade that would have been a small tweak to address two need areas for Pirates where you don’t move a prospect you’re going to lose sleep over. The Pirates were targeting Bonifacio.
The Pirates last season made their impact trades in August with the waiver deadline, though, even Huntington has cautioned it’s not the norm to be able to significantly upgrade your roster in August like the Pirates did last year with Marlon Byrd. The Pirates are not banking on that type of scenario happening again.
Pittsburgh’s biggest addition in August will hopefully be Gerrit Cole staying healthy and performing at the level he was down the stretch last season and into the playoffs. The Pirates internally are banking on players like Starling Marte starting to find consistency, among others, who have also underperformed. Marte on the DL due to a concussion, will begin a four game rehab stint in Triple-A Indy this week.
The good news for the Pirates is no team in the NL Central truly made a game changing move such as landing a Price or Lester.
The Brewers who are still living off their hot start, didn’t make a trade to alter the race, while it’s up for debate whether the Cardinals significantly improved, though, they at least did marginally which might be enough.
The Cardinals notable move today was acquiring 35 year old starter John Lackey with the Red Sox receiving Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Lackey 11-7 this season with a 3.60 ERA, has a strong post-season track record and a great contract next season if he honors it. Lackey, however, is not the No. 2 type pitcher he was in Anaheim.
St. Louis also added depth to their rotation yesterday with the acquisition of Justin Masterson. However, the way Masterson has pitched this season, it’s debatable whether he is better than what the Cardinals had.
Here was Keith Law’s take on the Masterson acquisition.
“The Cardinals needed another starter with Michael Wacha on the shelf for at least a few more weeks and possibly limited the rest of the way, but in adding Justin Masterson in a trade with the Cleveland Indians today, what they get is a low-end solution that doesn’t figure to replace what they’ve lost.”
The Lackey addition, while not a game changer by any means, there’s no denying it does bolster the Cardinals rotation to some extent and maybe just enough to win the division by a game or two when it’s all said and done.
The Cardinals have some wildcards the rest of the way regarding Michael Wacha’s health and top prospect Oscar Taveras who will now play a more prominent role with the trade of Allen Craig.