SI Maven Mock Trade: Rangers and Pirates Agree to Trade for Starling Marte
As we wait for the trade market to play out, SI's Rangers and Pirates writers decided to play GM and negotiate a mock draft for Starling Marte.
Jared Martin, who covers the Pirates on PirateMaven on Sports Illustrated, kindly agreed to listen to trade offers from me for all star outfielder Starling Marte. Ultimately, after several times back and forth, we were able to come to an agreement on a trade for Marte.
This mock trade helps reveal what both teams are looking for if a possible swap actually happens between the two teams. We'll both provide our reasoning for why the trade makes sense for our franchises.
Here's the trade we agreed to:
Rangers receive: OF Starling Marte
Pirates receive: RHP Cole Winn, OF Bubba Thompson, RHP Kelvin Gonzalez
With the departure of Delino DeShields, the Rangers needed an everyday center fielder for 2020 and possibly further. If the Rangers aren't going to land Nolan Arenado, making this trade makes sense for the Rangers.
Starling Marte is a quality, two-way outfielder who can hit the baseball very well. He profiles better as a corner outfielder, but he's more than capable of manning center field. His defensive numbers aren't nearly as impressive there, but speed and a strong arm are attractive qualities that will help solidify center field for the next two seasons.
First, Jared started off by asking for Sam Huff. Knowing the Rangers will need catching now and in the future, I was unwilling to let go of such a valuable prospect. I had to counter with something enticing in order to land a two-way player of Marte's caliber, who is versatile, cheap, and has remained relatively healthy for the almost all of his Major League career.
I offered to center a package around Cole Winn, which is difficult to do. The Rangers need young pitching, but that good ol' cliche stands true: you have to give something to get something.
The Pirates value young pitching and several pitchers from their farm system have had success in the Major Leagues, whether it be for the Pirates or other teams. Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, and Jameson Taillon are just naming a few.
Including Bubba Thompson wasn't easy either. I wanted to consider the future, especially since there is only two more years of control over Marte. Thompson will likely be ready to compete for a spot in the Major Leagues by the end of Marte's contract, but so will Leody Taveras.
I believe Taveras has a higher ceiling than Thompson. Taveras is a more natural center fielder and hopefully the Rangers have their corner outfielders already in Arlington with Joey Gallo and Willie Calhoun. Taveras is a better fit on the Major League roster and Thompson becomes expendable in order to help the Rangers compete in 2020 and 2021.
The primary target in this deal for the Pirates, Cole Winn, would make or break it for us. His numbers from this season are not very impressive, but him being nearly three years younger than the average single A player puts those into perspective. I like his potential as a guy that will help replenish a severely depleted stable of pitching prospects in the Pirates' organization.
Adding another outfielder to the Pirates' system was a goal I wanted to accomplish in this trade, and acquiring the Rangers #2 outfield prospect in Bubba Thompson accomplishes that goal. The Pirates have some outfielders nearly ready for a spot in Pittsburgh, but none of them profile like Thompson.
I would have liked to come away with a Triple-A pitcher who I can showcase in Pittsburgh from day one so that I can more easily sell the trade of one of our best players, but nothing fit. So, I went with a high potential guy in Kelvin Gonzalez.
I have two regrets coming away from this trade. The first being the obvious, my inability to wrestle away Sam Huff from the Rangers. I am sure the Pirates want Huff in any trade with the Rangers, but the fact that both organizations are in similar situations regarding their catchers may be what is holding up an actual deal.
The other regret is that none of the players acquired in this trade will be ready to play in Pittsburgh in the next couple years. Pirates fans are restless, and, if the fruits of this trade are not realized soon, they will chalk it up to another salary dump by a cheap organization.
What Jared and I both learned from our own negotiations is that Sam Huff may be what actually blocks this trade from actually happening. The Pirates and Rangers both need catching help badly. The Pirates, even while needing catching help, still decided to non-tender Elias Diaz earlier this winter.
The Rangers, as we know, were historically abysmal behind the plate in 2019. They could have a one- or two-year stopgap if they are able to reunite with Robinson Chirinos until Huff is ready for Arlington. If they give up Huff in a trade for only two years of an aging player, the Rangers would be scrambling yet again for a plan at catcher.
While I was able to convince Jared to accept this trade package without Huff, Ben Cherington may not be so easily convinced by Jon Daniels. Cherington is brand new on the job and it's hard for a brand new GM to come in and sell a popular veteran without getting exactly what you want in return.