If the Pirates are Shopping Marte & Bell, Who Has the Goods?

Gary Morgan Jr.

I don't believe the Pittsburgh Pirates can “win” a trade featuring Starling Marte or Josh Bell. Sounds pretty bleak doesn’t it? Well it also happens to be true. The Pirates may get great return and bolster the farm system for the future, but we must temper our expectations a little. As we all know it takes two to tango and the perfect storm the Bucs seek is a combination of: 

  1. A team near competitive, with need at the positions 
  2. A team with top prospects leaning heavily toward pitching 
  3. A team willing to part with said prospects.

We’ve all heard the rumors such as Starling Marte to the Mets, which my colleague Jared Martin spoke to earlier in the week. In this column he depicts exactly why the Mets, while they may want Starling, simply do not have the goods to return to the Pirates. My fear is that not only do many teams not have the glut of prospects the Pirates would want in return, but philosophy in baseball has changed even for the big spending clubs. Nobody wants to be the team constantly trying to win with nothing but free agents as the minor league club is devoid of talent due to big time trades. See the post-World Series Yankees.

I believe the Pirates should be open to moving anyone, but I also think these moves should not be made unless the return is what they are looking to receive.

Again, let’s be reasonable, I’ve had fans telling me Bell should return 3 or 4 of a team’s top 10 prospects and Marte 2 or 3. Wow, no. They are both great players and surely, they will draw interest from around the league but, return like that is not reality. Moves like that would bankrupt a system and set a club back for years. Like, who would trade two top prospects and a young pitcher with potential who is major league ready for one aging star? Oh, wait. Yeah, Neal Huntington did exactly that. So, should we expect another GM to be that, well, dumb?

Today, I’m going to take a look at some teams that fill our criteria and what they have that would make it interesting.

Chicago White Sox
Criteria: 1,2,3

If you told me in August, I’d be writing about the White Sox being a competitor in 2020, there’s a solid chance I would have laughed right in your face. That said their division is up for grabs as the Indians and Twins are trending toward backslide. They’ve already added Yasmani Grandal and want to upgrade so seriously that the Sox DFA’d their gold glove winning second baseman Yolmer Sanchez, because he isn’t the hitter they’re looking for. The Grandal signing opened some options up and signaled the Sox are here to go for it, right now. The top prospect in their system is Luis Robert, an outfielder with power, speed and he’s only 22. He’s also only spent 47 games in AAA so he could use a bit more seasoning. Zack Collins is another interesting piece as my friends at Bucs in the Basement have been hot on for weeks. He is a solid catching prospect who can also play first base and is now blocked by Grandal.

That’s a haul right there if you can get it. Another potential target would be RHP Michael Kopech. Something can get done here if the Sox believe what they’re putting together is enough.

Atlanta Braves
Criteria: 1, 2, 3

The Braves are right there, hungry and active on the free agent market from the opening bell. They could use some help in the outfield, and you can forget this as a destination for Bell as Freddie Freeman has that on lockdown. Marte would make them better right this second and give them another year on top of that. If the Braves are willing to sacrifice a bit of the future, Cristian Pache, might be a chip. He’s an absolute defensive gem in center field and has potential power and just turned 21. He isn’t major league ready but if the Pirates move Marte and Bell, they won’t be either. Another interesting prospect from the pitching side is Kyle Wright, he’s had a couple cups of coffee but not enough to evaluate. Bottom line, there might be a deal to be had here.

Oakland Athletics
Criteria: 1,2

Yeah, I can’t give the A’s number 3 from our list of criteria because it’s just not how they’ve done business over the years, but man they have a glut of pitching at the AAA level and Marte’s price tag would fit into the small market model the A’s run with. They’re in the conversation every season, and even if the Angels sign a Gerrit Cole, they still aren’t a lock to win the West. I could list all the names here but instead I’ll just say, they have three pitchers in the top 20 MLB prospects list. Score a couple of those and call it a day, if you can convince them to make a move. It’s wholly out of character for the club but still too many prospects to dismiss it as plausible.

Philadelphia Phillies
Criteria: 1,2,3 

Here’s the deal with Philly, they have some nice prospects, but the Pirates have no need for the position they play, and none are super exciting. I have to put them here because they do fill the criteria, but I don’t like the mix. Almost nothing interesting in the pitching arena and the top prospect in their system is a 3B, sound familiar? Somebody once told me, if you’re looking to change your situation, don’t actively look to someone with the same issues.

Texas Rangers
Criteria: 1, 3

The Rangers are interested, and this is an active rumor. They want Marte but I don’t think they have the goods. Now, its always possible there are lower level prospects that the scouts are high on. My fear is our scouting department has not been revamped yet and I worry about making moves like that prior to at least a thorough evaluation of the development system the Pirates employ. Our friends at Rangers Maven have written a nice piece on this subject.

What have we learned? For one, I don’t see anyone with the specific needs deep enough for a Bell trade to consummate at this time. Marte is much more likely and I think there are several teams here with some nice pieces to offer. Its important when discussing trades to keep in mind the situation the other team is in as it speaks to the mindset they enter negotiations with. 

Follow Gary on Twitter: @garymo2007

Comments (3)
No. 1-1

I'm antsy when it comes to trading another star. It hasn't worked out well in the past.