EVALUATING THREE PIRATES PITCHING TARGETS
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox – Age 30
10-7, 2.50 ERA
• 4th in AL in IP (137.0)
• 5th in AL in ERA (2.50)
• 6th in AL in SO (142)
• 9th in AL in Wins (10)
• 9th in AL in WHIP (1.12)
If the Pirates go big at the trade deadline, one surfacing that they’ve kicked the tires on is Red Sox lefty Jon Lester but few seem to think it will get past the exploratory stage. The cost to acquire Lester would be significant. The second best (potentially) available starting pitcher on the market, he’s 5th in the AL in ERA, has posted his best strikeout rate since 2010 and the lowest walk rate of his career. Opponents are batting .238 against Lester. He’s a player who the Red Sox are said to be on the fence about moving as they would like to resign him but have been unable to strike a deal after Lester turned down a reported 4 year deal worth more than $70 million. If moved, considered unlikely, Lester likely wouldn’t be traded until the day of the trade deadline. Making $13 million this season, would be a pure rental. Boston has won five straight and are just 7.5 games out of the winnable AL East.
James Shields, Kansas City Royals – Age 33
9-5, 3.70 ERA
• 5th in AL in IP (136.1)
Shields has been a pitcher that Pirates scouts have been tracking for years and the Pirates considered trading for Shields before he was dealt to Kansas City last season. He has the ability to be a top of the rotation arm. Kansas City, though, is just 4.5 games of the wild card and the next six to seven games will play a part in whether Shields is put on the trade block. Because they can qualify Shields and receive compensation, there will be incentive to just keep Shields with the Royals hovering around the playoff race. Shields is making $13.5 million. Like Lester, Shields would be a pure rental and the cost would be a top prospect and more.
Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies – Age 33
10-6, 4.39 ERA
• 9th in NL in Wins (10)
• 9th in NL in BB (46)
When trades and signings are made it’s almost always the case that the team has had interest in the particular player for years. De La Rosa fits the bill for the Pirates. Pittsburgh went aggressively hard after De La Rosa in the winter of 2011 as a free agent and it’s believed they have interest in him once again. The Rockies love De La Rosa because of his ability to pitch at Coors field where he’s 6-2 with a 3.49 ERA and 16-3 the last two seasons.
De La Rosa has struggled on the road going 4-4 with a 5.39 ERA which is concerning. He has been largely inconsistent, having some great months like he did in May and so far in July, and he’s had some bad months. De La Rosa went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 2013 and he’s improved in some areas such as having a 1.30 WHIP this year compared to 1.38 in 2013. Opponents are batting just .239 against De La Rosa and the Rockies lefty ranks 6th in NL in BABIP (.249). Clint Hurdle managed De La Rosa for two seasons. De La Rosa is making $11 million this season and a free agent at seasons end. The asking price is deemed to be too high right now as the Rockies have not committed to moving De La Rosa.