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Perrotto: Will Pirates Really Be Trade Deadline Buyers?



Ben Cherington, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates have taken one consistent tack with trades over the last five years.

They almost always deal major-league players for minor-league players. The acquisition of prospects has been the biggest point of emphasis for general manager Ben Cherington since he was hired after the 2019 season.

However, could things be different in the next seven weeks?

Though the Pirates are in last place in the National League Central with a 31-34 record, they have a legitimate shot to reach the postseason for the first time in 2015.

It’s not that the Pirates are good. It’s that most of the league is mediocre.

The Pirates are seven games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers with 97 games to go. More importantly, the Pirates are just a half of a game out of the third and final NL wild card.

Cherington believes the Pirates can be a playoff team.

“That’s certainly the outcome we want for sure,” Cherington said. “We’ve got to keep working hard towards that. I think that there are a bunch of teams packed together. Kind of how we thought the league might play out, and even in our division thought it might play out. Most of the teams have the same mindset. Every team is going to try to (make the postseason). We’ll be up for the challenge and we’re going to keep trying to do what we need to do to see if we can make that happen. Just keep getting better.”

There is no question that the Pirates need more than just some of their young players to continue to improve if they are going to reach the playoffs.

The Pirates are on pace to finish with a 77-85 record. Even in a league marked by mediocrity, eight games under .500 isn’t getting anyone to the postseason.

The Pirates need to make deals at or around the July 30 trade deadline to strengthen their roster for a playoff push. They could use another starting pitcher, help for the bullpen and a big bat.

It will be most interesting to see how Cherington navigates the deadline if the Pirates are still in contention by mid-July. He has been a seller in each of his four previous seasons as the GM, so there is no track record to go on of Cherington as a buyer.

Cherington was asked about being a buyer when he met last weekend with media members who regularly cover the Pirates. He gave an ambiguous answer.

“I think we always have to be doing both,” Cherington said, referring to buying and selling. “They’re not mutually exclusive and that’s where we should be. We should be willing, prepared, ready to give up a minor-league player for a major-league player if it helps our team and we think it makes sense. At the same time, we’ve got to be just as dogged about continuing to build up our young talent base, whether that’s through the draft or how we’re doing player development.”

Here’s my translation – and I’m not going to steal $17 million from your bank account – the Pirates might make some small moves at the deadline but not the kind of trade necessary to land a big-name player.

In other words, Pete Alonso isn’t coming to town. The Pirates won’t give up the type of prospects necessary to make a deal for someone like the New York Mets’ slugging first baseman.

The Pirates took the same approach from 2013-15. And while they made it to the NL Wild Card Game each season, they didn’t win a division title or even advance to the NL Championship Series.

To win a championship, an organization needs to think big. It feels like the Pirates aren’t thinking big enough.

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Prospects cost less….That is all one needs to know.

Piratesfan4 life

Ould see adding Blackburn of the A’s as SP better results on better team? Also Gavin Sheets as 1B and releasing Tellez? Those are the type I see happening & I’m ok with the upgrades to #5 SP or 1B

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