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Source: Aroldis Chapman Available; Could Pirates Trade Ke’Bryan Hayes?

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Aroldis Chapman, Pittsburgh Pirates

As you may have seen in what our John Perrotto wrote on Tuesday, multiple sources told Pittsburgh Baseball Now that Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Aroldis Chapman is available in trade talks.

Chapman, 36, signed a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Pirates in the offseason. 

The veteran left-hander has had an up and down season with Pittsburgh and is 1-4 with a 4.13 ERA and three saves through 38 relief appearances. 

What has made Chapman great throughout his career has been on full display. ‘The Cuban Missile’ can still routinely hit triple digits and has topped out at 104 mph. He’s also struck out 54 batters in 32.2 innings pitched. 

Chapman made headlines recently by passing Billy Wagner for the most strikeouts in MLB history by a left-handed relief pitcher.

However, Chapman has been plagued by extreme wildness at times. Through 32.2 innings, he has walked 32 batters – an average of 8.82 walks per nine innings. Among pitchers to throw at least 30 innings, that’s the highest rate in baseball by a wide margin. 

Though the Pirates aren’t out of the postseason race by any means, unloading as much of his remaining salary as they can could prove to be more valuable than keeping him around.

For starters, the Pirates have a potential left-handed replacement getting closer to returning to action. Ryan Borucki has missed most of the season but has been rehabbing in the minor leagues in recent weeks. Last season, Borucki was one of the Pirates’ most effective relief pitchers and went 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA across 38 appearances after joining the club in June. 

Bourcki’s impending return would make it easier for the Pirates to deal Chapman. Additionally, closer David Bednar should be back in relatively short order assuming all goes well on his rehab assignment.

Last season, the Kansas City Royals traded Chapman to the Texas Rangers and the deal worked out well for both teams. One of the players the Royals acquired for Chapman was left-handed starter Cole Ragans, who was just named an All-Star and has a 3.28 ERA through 19 starts. Texas, meanwhile, went on to win its first World Series in franchise history.

Given Chapman’s performance this season and his contract, the Pirates shouldn’t be expecting to land a player of Ragans’ caliber. However, unloading his salary and using their limited resources to improve a largely dormant offense could be more beneficial. 

Every contender is looking for relief pitching this time of year, but some of the teams that could be even more active include the Royals, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and others. 

Could Pirates Trade Ke’Bryan Hayes?

Also noted from yesterday, some people around the game have speculated that the Pirates could be willing to offload the remaining portion of Hayes’ eight-year, $70 million contract signed in 2022. 

Given Hayes’ offensive production and seemingly lingering back issues, that might be easier said than done. Through 66 games in 2024, Hayes is slashing .232/.290/.300 with only 11 extra-base hits including three home runs. 

Though Hayes has struggled for much of this season, he proved last year that he can be a capable performer at the plate. In 124 games a year ago, Hayes hit .271 with a .762 OPS (101 wRC+) and set career-highs with 31 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs and 61 RBIs.

However Hayes performs at the plate, there’s no denying his best attribute. The 27-year-old is a world-class defender. He won his first-career Gold Glove last season after leading all third baseman with 21 defensive runs saved.

Though not up to the level he’s shown in the first few years of his career, Hayes has been responsible for four defensive runs saved this year and has a .978 fielding percentage. 

Hayes’ bat hasn’t been to the level the Pirates would have hoped for from his days as a prospect, but other organizations might view him as “fixable” and look to pair the already-stellar glove with improved offense.

Two of the most notable contenders have both a need and the funds to acquire Hayes if they decide to pursue – the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

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chris ferrara

I could see the Yankees definitely being interested in Hayes

NewMexicoLobo

Hayes was pretty mediocre as a hitter in the minors.. I don’t understand the narrative that he was a good hitter as a prospect.

Ron Cokain

Agreed.

Joe t

Trade that stiff now he sucks Chapman has to go he is a joke

SoloLobo

Time to move on on several fronts. Hayes, Chapman, And all our center fielders may go. Our first-round (1:1) catcher should be dangled in trade talks as well. I’d even trade tellez. His stock will
Never be higher than now and he’s a perfect rental for someone.

William R. Maloni

Trade them both, package or separately; Pirates have plenty of infielders for 3B, plus I believe Triolo would hit better if he played more.

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