Last night, the Pirates traded away perennial prospect Brad Lincoln to the Blue Jays for perennial prospect Travis Snider. This trade deals away a position of strength in pitching, specifically relief pitching since that is where Lincoln contributed the most for the Pirates, and brings in left handed power and a corner outfielder in Snider. Initial reaction from the fans is mixed, with many people wanting to hold on to Lincoln but many people excited about the potential of Snider. Snider is young still, and has many years of control still for the Pirates. Lincoln has been projected as a potential future closer, though I’m not sure I buy into that all that much either. I think teams still look at Lincoln as a starting pitcher, though he did not have great success in that role in Pittsburgh. But Neal Huntington has always been able to build a bullpen, so there is no reason to doubt that this can not continue without Lincoln on the roster.
Snider brings a nice potential corner outfield bat to repeatedly bang balls off of and over the Clemente Wall in right field. Whether or not that plays out remains to be seen, but I really like this deal. I like it better in the offseason and not in the midst of a playoff race, but I like it nonetheless.
Because both of these players and young and have not really contributed a lot to the Pirates or Blue Jays yet, it is tough to give an accurate grade initially. This is one that will definitely have an updated grade in another year or two or longer. But initially, I will give this deal a B- as it intends to address the left handed power gap that the team has needed to fill for quite some time.
As part of the 2012 push for the playoffs, the Pirates acquired Wandy Rodriguez in exchange for Rudy Owens, Robbie Grossman and Colton Cain. This trade will take some time to evaluate the winner and loser, likely years before the three guys that the Pirates gave up in the deal become a known commodity enough to determine whether or not this is a win or a loss.
Initially, I personally like this deal as it gives up a position of depth in pitching (Owens and Cain) in exchange for a known commidity with a solid track record and multiple years of control in Rodriguez. Grossman and Owens have combined to be the Pirates minor league players of the year for the past three years, but that is as much an indicator of the system those three years than the players. I do think that Owens could have helped the team this year, considering guys like Bedard are in the rotation despite a major league worst 12 losses at the time of me writing this, and Kevin Correia having spent most of the season in the rotation as well. But in a playoff race, you want the guys who have experience and have been there before, and Wandy qualifies as such.
Initial fan reaction has been mostly positive to this trade, and I personally would grade it as a B+ right now. If Wandy can help this team get to the playoffs and advance, this trade becomes an A. This trade will be revisited in the years to come to determine how well it turned out in hindsight.
On February 19, 2012, the Pirates acquired A.J. Burnett from the New York Yankees in exchange for Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones. The Yankees also agreed to pay all but $5 million of the remaining money on Burnett’s contract this year and all but $8 million in 2013.
Initial Fan Reaction: Largely positive, especially considering the Pirates did not give up much in terms of high level prospects, and with the Yankees agreeing to pay such a large portion of Burnett’s contract, it really didn’t seem like much of a risk to take.
Burnett has so far been an outstanding performer and a strong veteran leader for a Pirates team that is currently in first place in June.
Moreno is injured and rehabbing for the Yankees, while Cayones is at extended spring training, so neither of them have played even a minor league game for the Yankees at this point.
Current Grade: A+
On December 7, 2011, the Pirates acquired Yamaico Navarro from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Brooks Pounders and Diego Goris. Pounders was a 2nd round pick by the Pirates in 2009, so it was a little bit of an interesting trade when it was made. It took place on the eve of the Rule 5 draft, and the Royals were looking to free up a spot on their 40 man roster in order to make a selection. The Pirates were interested in the prospects of Navarro to become an every day player in the majors fairly soon, perhaps as their shortstop of the future.
Fan Reaction: C+ At the time of the trade, fan reaction was mostly of a wait and see approach. Pounders did not really excite the fan base in his time in the minors up until the time he was traded, but he was a high pick, so I think many Pirates fans were afraid this deal would some day come back and haunt them. Then again, Navarro has a chance to become a decent or better major league shortstop, so it was an interesting deal.
Navarro opened the season with the Pirates but hit only .178 with 1 HR and 4 RBI in a mostly bench role for the Buccos. He was sent down to AAA to get more at bats and was hitting .310 in his first 11 games with Indianapolis. It is expected he will be back with the Pirates at some point this season.
Approaching the midway point of the 2012 season, Pounders was promoted from the Royals A affiliate to their high A affiliate after sporting a 3-2 record in 8 starts with 57 K’s in just over 50 innings. However, he also had 19 walks and 52 hits allowed for a WHIP of 1.40 and an ERA of 3.38 at the time of his promotion.
Goris has not made a minor league appearance for Kansas City yet.
Current Grade: B