The report caused an uproar on social media and talk shows – as so many trade rumors do at this time of year.
The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Pirates are willing to listen to offers on closer David Bednar in advance of the Aug. 1 trade deadline in Major League Baseball.
Heyman is a friend and my former colleague at dear departed Fanrag. He is also one of the most well-connected baseball writers in the country.
However, here’s a little secret: Every general manager is willing to listen to offers on every player at this time of the year. Otherwise, they would be negligent in their duties.
Will the Pirates trade Bednar in the next week? Time will tell on that one.
However, the feeling I get in talking to executives and talent evaluators around the game is that the Pirates aren’t exactly trying to unload Bednar.
For one, Bednar is very affordable. He is making $745,000 this year and only becomes eligible for salary arbitration for the first time at the end of this season.
Secondly, Bednar is a very good closer. He has been selected to the All-Star Game each of the last two years and has 41 saves and a 2.56 ERA in 161 games since joining the Pirates prior to the 2021 season.
At 28, Bednar is still very much in his prime and should still be a reliable closer by the time the Pirates are ready to possibly become contenders. And that target date seems more like 2025 now rather than 2024 after the promotion of so many prospects in the last month or so.
Furthermore, from owner Bob Nutting on down, the Pirates have learned a valuable lesson this season about the value of having some fan favorites on the roster.
Andrew McCutchen’s return five years after being traded by the Pirates has been perhaps the overarching storyline of 2023. Though the Pirates have fallen off the cliff since their 20-8 start, they are still generating more interest than warranted for a last-place team and McCutchen is certainly a big part of the reason.
Bednar may not be quite as beloved by the fans as McCutchen. He is a close second, though.
The crowds at PNC Park roar when Bednar jogs in from the bullpen to “Renegade,” the iconic Steelers’ anthem. Not only is Bednar an All-Star caliber pitcher but a Western Pennsylvania kid, which always plays well in a provincial city like Pittsburgh.
However, GM Ben Cherington always owes it to the Pirates to consider trading Bednar if the price is right. That price would almost certainly be a top prospect who is close to being ready for the big leagues along with a second prospect.
The Pirates are still rebuilding – yes, the process seems interminable – and could use even more young talent.
So, it’s a potentially tough call for Cherington in the next week. Does he risk alienating the fans, many of whom have been won back because of McCutchen’s presence, by trading the hometown hero?
It’s a tough, tough call. I’m glad I don’t have to make it.