The Pittsburgh Pirates already swung one notable trade leading up to Tuesday’s 6 ET trading deadline.
They sent first baseman Carlos Santana to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for 18-year-old shortstop Jhonny Severino, who homered in his Pirates’ organizational debut down in the Florida Complex League on Saturday.
With one deal already in the books, Pirates general manager Ben Cherington looks to see what’s next. They’ll likely make at least another trade or two before the deadline rolls around.
The Pirates occupy an interesting position on the trade market with not only veterans on expiring contracts, but a couple of 2023 All-Stars who are generating trade interest too.
The craziness of the trade deadline always leads to plenty of action on suspected trade targets as well as a few deals that seemingly come out of nowhere.
What will this year’s deadline have in store for the Pirates?
LHP Rich Hill: 7-10, 4.82 ERA/4.41 FIP, 61er/114.0ip, 124 hits, 44 walks, 97 strikeouts, 21 starts
Of all the players on the Pirates roster, Hill is most likely to end up in another uniform next week. The 43-year-old will hit the free agent market again after the season.
Hill’s stats may be unspectacular, but he’s exactly what plenty of teams in contention are looking for this time of year. He’s a relatively reliable innings eater who can fill out the back-end of a rotation every fifth day or can make spot starts when needed while serving as a left-hander out of a bullpen.
The return on two months of Hill won’t be anything spectacular. Cherington could opt for a lottery-ticket type return like he got for Santana, or could opt for a more MLB-ready player who doesn’t have as much upside.
The issue with trading Hill is answering the question of who steps into the rotation in his absence? The Pirates have seen their starting pitching depth take a hit this year, but trading Hill seems like it’s too logical to not happen.
C Austin Hedges: .181/.234/.231, five doubles, one home run, 14 RBIs, one steal, 64 games
Despite the anemic numbers on offense, Hedges has value on the other side of the plate with his defensive capabilities.
Many look at Hedges as the top pitch framer in baseball, and he’s tied for fourth with eight defensive runs saved this season.
No, a team likely won’t pick up Hedges as an everyday player… but a team looking for defensive help behind the plate as a backup catcher/late-inning replacement could certainly kick the tires.
With that role in mind, Hedges wouldn’t pull in a massive return.
RHP Mitch Keller: 9-7, 3.97 ERA, 59er/133.2ip, 122 hits, 40 walks, 145 strikeouts, 22 starts
Unless a team makes an over-the-top offer, Keller won’t go anywhere. Not only have the Pirates discussed an extension with the right-hander, but he’s under club control through the 2025 season.
While teams are surely interested in the 2023 All-Star, a deal seems unlikely. Expect Keller to stay with the Pirates.
RHP David Bednar: 3-1, 1.30 ERA, 6er/41.2ip 31 hits, 12 walks, 52 strikeouts, 21 saves, 40 appearances
Pretty much everything above about Keller also applies to Bednar, though his contract with the Pirates runs through 2026.
Trading Bednar at this current juncture doesn’t make much sense from a baseball standpoint. Shipping away one of Pittsburgh’s own would cause a PR nightmare as well — not that it would factor into this kind of decision much, though.
Again, unless Cherington gets an offer he cannot pass up, expect Bednar to remain in his hometown.
1B/DH Ji-Man Choi: .208/.227/.514, four doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs, 22 games
Choi might make sense on paper as a trade candidate, and it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up in another jersey. My gut tells me he stays, though.
Choi missed much of the season with an Achilles injury. Since returning, he has been on a nice roll at the plate while anchoring the middle of the Pirates’ lineup.
The Pirates would have a void at first base the rest of the season if they traded Choi along with Santana. Because of that, I lean stay.
DH Andrew McCutchen: .259/.379/403, 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 28 RBIs, 10 steals, 84 games
No… just, no.
OF/1B Connor Joe: .239/.330/.417, 19 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 25 RBIs, three steals, 89 games
Joe could make sense as a trade target for a couple of reasons. For starters, he’s amidst a decent season at the plate as an around-league-average producer.
Additionally, Joe comes with four more years of control beyond this season. He also provides some versatility as a corner outfielder/first baseman.
INF Rodolfo Castro: .228/.317/.355, seven doubles, six home runs, 22 RBIs, one steal, 78 games
It’s been a rough year for Castro, who may need of a change of scenery. The Pirates didn’t seem too confident in Castro before they optioned him to Triple-A, using him largely as a platoon player.
With a host of young middle infielders already occupying spots on the big league roster, Castro’s status is murky. He still has upside, and a team could take a flier on him.