After months of speculation, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made a deal to send their star outfielder, Starling Marte, out of Pittsburgh and to Arizona for a couple prospects and some international bonus pool money.
The return for Marte is a pair of 19-year olds, Brennan Malone (RHP) and Liover Peguero (SS). This is not quite the return many had hoped for in that neither player is on the verge of making an impact at the big-league level. However, by choosing younger prospects, the Pirates may have upped the quality down the road.
Brennan Malone has only thrown 8 professional innings. So, we don't have a lot to go off. He is the #9 prospect in the loaded Diamondback's system, and, at 19 years old, you'd figure he'd move up that list as he gets professional experience. Malone will make his money with his plus fastball and slider. As with any young pitcher, he will need to improve on his command, but having two plus pitches in his arsenal this early in his development is a good sign.
Liover Peguero is more of a known commodity. He's still only 19 years old, but has a full year of professional ball under his belt and he performed well. His 2019 slash line of .326/5/28 is exciting for a player of his age. We shouldn't expect a ton of power out Peguero, but he shows potential for plus traits everywhere else.
Why I Don't Like the Trade
The return feels a little soft to me, and is an indication that the market for Marte wasn't as hot as many thought it would be. This feels a little like the Pirates settled after not getting the Mets to budge on a preferred deal.
I do like both players they got in return, I just feel like there could have been more. The Diamondbacks have to feel good about this as they dealt from a loaded farm system to acquire a player of Marte's caliber (who fills a need) and didn't have to give up any of their top-5 prospects.
It is clear that Starling Marte was not in the Pirates' plans for this year and beyond. I had thought that, after the Winter Meetings came and went, this deal would be postponed until July. However, Ben Cherington preferred to advance that plan forward now. It feels a little rushed. A little desperate to me.
Why I like the Trade
Despite not getting the quantity I had hoped for, I do feel like they got some quality with Malone and Peguero. On top of that, their ages make sense for two reasons: 1) Like I said, it allows them to take the high-reward (but high-risk) approach in getting players who have not yet made names for themselves in the minors, but have the potential to still be top prospects. 2) It gives us a glimpse into the window that Ben Cherington is aiming for the Pirates to compete.
That second point is key. We should now know the plan without Cherington expressing it directly. Quinn Priester is, in my opinion, the most promising prospect the Pirates have in their system and he is also 19 years old. The fact that Malone and Peguero were the targets suggests to me that Cherington wanted to enhance the talent at that level so that Priester has support once he is called up. With that said, I would expect the Pirates window to be 2024 - 2027. We should see the Pirates continue to make moves to bolster the team for that window.
It's hard to put a grade on this trade, though many will try, given the ages of Malone and Peguero. Those feeling down about it today, may love it in five years, and vice versa.
We will have more on this trade in the coming days.
Follow Jared on Twitter: @a_piratelife