Well, well, well after all the talk and words written about Matt Moore, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Eovaldi and others, the Pirates made a move for three players that no one was talking about as they pick up Ivan Nova from the Yankees for a PTBNL, traded Jon Niese for Antonio Bastardo and dumped Francisco Liriano along with prospects Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire to Toronto for Drew Hutchison at the deadline today.
Yeah, let that all sink in. The biggest win today was dumping of Liriano and Niese’s contracts which first of all, clears some room in the Pirates rotation for the young pitchers like Glasnow, Taillon, Kuhl and Brault and also saves the Pirates about $20M, the bulk of that being Liriano’s $13+M salary for next season.
Just like last year, the moves came down right after the 4PM deadline and similar to last year as well the Pirates pick up a underachieving pitcher in Nova. Last year, they acquired Happ from Seattle, who had a 4.64 ERA through 21 appearances with 121 hits allowed in 108 innings. This year, Nova comes to the Bucs from the Yankees with a subpar 4.90 ERA and 107 hits in 97 innings with an alarming 19 home runs. We all know how well Happ turned out when his ERA went from 4.64 to a 1.85 with the Bucs, but you can’t compare every trade for a struggling pitcher to the Happ deal because those kinds of turnarounds don’t happen very often especially midseason.
Nova has only pitched seven innings once this season and that should fit right in with the current Pirates rotation, which barely ever seems to go deep into games this season. Nova should improve at least somewhat moving away from Yankee Stadium and the brutal AL East to the National League.
As for the second deal today, Neal Huntington found a way to dump Jon Niese and his $9M salary. This trade was a perfect cherry on top to a wild and stressful deadline day as the Pirates traded Niese BACK to the Mets for southpaw reliever Antonio Bastardo, who enjoyed a solid season with the Bucs in 2015. The Bucs missed this lefty in the pen and despite him owning a 4.74 ERA to date with the Mets, you can almost bet he’ll improve on those numbers with Searage getting a hold of him again. And if not, you still dump Niese which has been a disaster this season for the Pirates.
And lastly, the Pirates dumped Liriano to Toronto for an intriguing arm in Hutchison. Remember, there’s only one “N” in Hutchison and it comes at the end. Hutchison was a former top 10 prospect with the Blue Jays organization, but never put it together with them. He’s controllable, has ML experience in the rotation and is a project for Uncle Ray. The dump came as a cost though as the Bucs dealt OF prospect Harold Ramirez to be able to entice the Blue Jays to take Liriano for the rest of this season and all of 2017. Ramirez was the Bucs No. 6 prospect coming into the season, but was completely blocked by Marte, Polanco, Cutch and Meadows. He wasn’t going to play as an everyday starter in Pittsburgh and was basically always going to be a trade chip. You’d like to see him bring in more, but at this point the Pirates thought he was expendable because of the current outfield and off he went.
I honestly don’t think we’ll miss Ramirez down the road. McGuire was the Pirates No. 5 prospect and too much to add into this deal. Ramirez or McGuire in this deal to dump a salary is one thing, but both of them is too much when there’s a chance Liriano could be effective again which he was the past three seasons. McGuire is another prospect that’s blocked at the catcher position with Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart extended and also Elias Diaz waiting in the wings, but to put both of these young prospects together in a deal to dump salary is a tough pill to swallow. This deal could haunt the Bucs for years.
The key here could be Hutchison, who the Pirates reportedly were very high on and tried to get the past two years. They must really like him, but they have to get him right or this trade will be a potential disaster.
Reports are out there that the Pirates were in on Rays starter Matt Moore, but the Rays were apparently asking for a lot, including Bucs prospect Kevin Newman and Huntington balked on that. I’m in 100 percent agreement in that decision to not deal Newman for Moore or Meadows for Archer. Let the Giants overpay for him, which is exactly what they did.
All in all, I think the Pirates did get better overall even if it’s a slight improvement. They shored up the bullpen with Bastardo and added a starter that can eat some innings and hopefully provide you with better numbers than Jeff Locke or Ryan Vogelsong would and pick up a project in Hutchison. And the best news we received today was dumping Liriano and Niese, clearing spots in the rotation for the young guns. Let us know what you think on these trades in the comments.