As the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the Pittsburgh Pirates are scouring their trade options in hopes of returning to the postseason. However, what if this current Pirates team is strong enough on its own to make the playoffs?
Perhaps it sounds insane: the Pittsburgh Pirates, a below .500 team on July 28, standing pat at the trade deadline.
No selling star players for prospects.
No trading to improve the current roster.
Despite dropping back-to-back road series, the Pirates aren’t acting like a team that’s desperate to make a trade to improve the team. In fact, manager Clint Hurdle seemed optimistic and confident when he spoke to reporters after yesterday’s loss.
“This team’s really in a good place,” Hurdle said. “We fought and battled back to get in the hunt, so I think we just stay focused on getting a little bit better. … This team, mentally, is in a really good place.”
Losers of four of their last five, but Hurdle is confident. The fan base may not like it, but he may have a point. Here’s the two reasons why the Pirates may be best suited to not make any trades at the MLB trade deadline this coming Monday.
Prior to this west coast road trip, the Pittsburgh Pirates were rolling. The back-to-back losses to the Rockies last weekend marked the first time that the Pirates lost consecutive games since dropping four in a row from June 30 – July 3.
Since the Fourth of July, the Pirates are 13-6. Four of those losses have come in the last five days. Furthermore, these back-to-back series losses are the first for the Pirates since dropping two of three to both the New York Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks from May 26-28 and 29-31, respectively.
Since dropping those consecutive series to end May, the Pirates have won or tied 10 of 15 series. The Pirates are 26-22 since the start of June after starting the season 24-30. It’s not a drastic improvement, but it’s significant in a poor National League Central division.
They already have their trade deadline acquisition
The addition of Marte will be better than anything the team could potentially acquire on the trade market, and he also will not cost the team anything. His return will have a ripple effect on the team and make the 25 man roster stronger.
Let’s not forget how important Marte is to this team. Last year, he stole a team-best 47 bases, also a career-high. Marte’s 7.7 SPD 7.0 BsR also led the Pirates. This season, no player on the team with more than 150 plate appearances has more than 5.9 in SPD or 1.5 in BsR.
With the bat, Marte is a career .288/.336/.437 hitter and is a year removed from posting career bests in all three categories (.311/.362/.456). This year, Marte has not impressed, albeit in a small sample size. Marte has 102 at-bats, or the equivalent to a regular player by the end of April.
Marte’s most important attribute is his glove. The two-time Gold Glove winner did lose a fly ball in the sun in Wednesday’s loss, but he’s only had one season (2014) with a UZR below 6.1 in left field. In the three seasons that Marte has made at least 100 plays in left field, he has saved 61 runs defensively.
With Marte, the Pirates have the extra-boost that they need to fill their outfield problems.
To trade or not to trade
The Pittsburgh Pirates do not need to make any drastic changes. The Brewers series proved that the club has the ability to string wins together, and Marte will solidify the top of the batting order and prove stellar defensive play.
Whether either of those players or a similar one would actually improve the Pirates is debatable. Gray hasn’t been an ace since 2015 and Bruce has no spot amongst the crowded Pirates’ outfield.
It’s time to trust the current team. If it fails, it fails. Even if the Pirates acquire someone like Gray or Bruce, they won’t improve by 15 games automatically.
With the Milwaukee Brewers fading and the St. Louis Cardinals inconsistent, the Pirates primary competition is the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates are four games back with 60 games to go, including seven more head-to-head with Chicago.
Who is to say that won’t decrease with a couple months left in the season?