Monday Updates: Pirates, Indians, Rockies

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The Pirates’ Hot Streak

After going on something of a little win-streak, the Pirates find themselves within striking distance of the second National League Wild Card spot, and have been considering buying this week. If the Pirates decide not to sell, they will allow Francisco Cervelli and Jordy Mercer to depart in free agency and will take a hit on return potential for Corey Dickerson and Ivan Novaas the pair will be rentals at that point. Furthermore, Dickerson, who has been hot, has struggled in the second half before, and could see his value take a hit.

The Pirates looked poised for a full-fledged rebuild this offseason, but strong performances have surprised the league, and make it seem as though they can get away with a painless two to three-year retool, thus opening the window again, while young studs like Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon are still under their rookie contracts. With the high likelihood that Dickerson could soon see his value plummet before even taking into account the fact that he will be nothing but a rental next season, Nova falling into the same category and Cervelli and Mercer leaving for nothing, the quality of prospects received in return would drop drastically just by waiting a mere three months to sell.

Selling those pieces off now allows the Pirates to focus on dealing the bigger ticket items such as Starling Marte, Josh Harrison and maybe Felipe Vasquez if they get a good enough offer. If the Pirates’ front office follows the same philosophy that they followed with the Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen deals, players closer to major league ready despite lower ceilings or quantities, they could return to relevance in a big way by 2020, considering the fact that they already have a promising young core existing.

Looking at the landscape of the National League, the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and Los Angeles Dodgers are all set up to be competitive over a long period of time, with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals both potentially in the mix as well. Throw in the fact that the Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, and San Diego Padres have very strong farm systems and you have ten teams in a better position than the Pirates as they currently stand.

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Right now, think of the Pirates as gardeners. They already dug up a good portion of the yard, and planted a few nice flowers, but if they stop, they will just wind up with an unfinished and mediocre looking garden with a few very nice flowers, but not enough to win any competitions. Further supplementing the organization with the next wave of Pirates will push them up into legitimate competition with the aforementioned clubs.

The Indians Look Great

In acquiring Brad Hand and Adam Cimberthe Indians didn’t just bring in a great pair of relievers, they brought in a great pair of relievers that will remain under team control for the foreseeable future, which allows them to let Cody Allen and Andrew Miller walk without much issue. This is actually the best thing that the Tribes’ brass could have done. When you’ve seen your window open for about three to five years, you need to be prepared for it to slam shut at any moment to avoid being forced into a full fledged rebuild. When a team is thrown into that position, having immovable relief contracts may be the worst thing for you, especially when the club is in a small market like Cleveland.

Taking this money off of the books will also allow them to focus on bringing in some help in the outfield, as Rajai Davis, Michael Brantleyand Lonnie Chisenhall will all be departing in free agency, and Bradley Zimmer will be out to begin the season. While I would not consider a pursuit of Bryce Harper to be surprising, if the Indians decide to go that route, I would love to see them sign Andrew McCutchen and then bring in some likely non-tenders with high upside like Domingo Santana to compliment him on the cheap.

As I expressed in the second installment of my trade beneficiary piece, it should be no surprise that Santana has struggled this season, seeing as how he was displaced despite an All-Star Caliber season. His motivation probably went right out the window, as it became rather obvious that he wasn’t part of the plan for the Brewers. I would argue that the same could be said for Aaron Altherr of the Phillies, who has not been good this season, although he had a better shot to earn his spot over Nick Williams. Both guys make sense for the Indians as buy low options.

The Rockies Need Rotation Help

There has been some talk linking the Rockies to Dylan Bundy and Kevin GausmanWhile Gausman makes some sense, Bundy is a flyball pitcher. The Rockies will never be a relevant team if they continue to go for flyball pitchers. The best thing that the Rockies can do right now is to trade for Clayton Richard of the Padres. While his bottom line numbers haven’t been very inspiring (4.82 ERA), his peripheral statistics, namely a 4.31 FIP, suggest improvement. The key number with Richard is a 57.7% GB rate, which would certainly help stabilize the Rockies troublesome rotation for a low-cost.

If Bridich and co really want something long-term, however, then Jose Urena is your guy. He has checked in at 53.1% in the groundball department for the Marlins and has shown strong control and the ability to be a legitimate middle of the rotation starter for a few more years.

I didn’t mention him first, as it seems as though the Marlins have been putting insanely exorbitant asking prices on their players, and further depleting a top-heavy system may not be the best move for an organization like the Rockies who are in something of a baseball purgatory at this point. Nevertheless, the Rockies need to make improvements if they want any chance to make the playoffs this season, as they are currently on the outside looking in, and do not have a low enough place in the standings to secure a solid draft pick for next year’s amateur draft.

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