With the trade rumors surrounding Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting pitcher Gerrit Cole cooling off for the moment, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is still in a tough predicament on determining what path the franchise should head down.

Huntington has always been one to value his own prospects, maybe a little too much in most people’s eyes.

His reluctance to include prospects such as Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and others in potential trades has likely come back to bite him in the rear.

And while every general manager in sports likes his own guys, Huntington seems to be in a position where he values his own guys too much.

Every GM in sports wants to have his own manager in place and players he drafts or acquires.

But with potential moves to be made this offseason and over the past couple of years, Huntington has shown commitment to his own guys instead of potential upgrades at each position.

Just with the rumored guys in a potential New York Yankees deal for Cole, a lot of the players being mentioned in a potential deal would be potential replacements for guys already in the system. Guys Huntington drafted and may be reluctant to either move or realize that they may not be the answer.

Clint Frazier would likely be a replacement for Meadows or Gregory Polanco. Miguel Andujar would likely mean Ke’Bryan Hayes isn’t the third baseman of the future. Chance Adams likely keeps a Nick Kingham, or plenty of other pitchers from cracking the Pirates’ rotation for a while.

The list goes on, but one thing is clear and that is that Huntington has a preference to his own guys.

That’s not necessarily a knock on Huntington as most general managers do tend to prefer their own guys.

But in this case it could be preventing Huntington from making upgrades around the diamond.

There’s still time before the season starts. Huntington could still get a nice return for Cole if he is dealt.

And who knows? Huntington may be wise for not blocking some of his guys from making their MLB debuts in the next year or two. After not being willing to entertain offers for guys like Glasnow, Meadows and others in the past, Huntington almost has to ride it out with them now and cross his fingers that they are who he thought they were (Dennis Green voice).

But if he’s wrong and some of his guys don’t become impact players at the major league level, it will be a tough pill to swallow knowing that upgrades were there for the taking.

An old GM once told me that you acquire prospects to trade them for necessary upgrades. That obviously hasn’t been the Pirates strategy.

Huntington wants to win. Don’t be foolish to think he doesn’t. But he also wants to do it with the guys he drafted.

I’m not as down on Huntington as most people, but sometimes falling in love with your own players can be a general manager’s worst mistake.

Only time will tell if it is Huntington’s downfall.

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.
  • leadoff

    IMO, Huntington does horde his prospects a little to much.

  • Larry Rybicki

    But why does he favor other team’s dumps over his (supposed) prospects?

  • Lee Foo Young

    You’re assuming that those Yankee players will be any better. Prospects bust all of the time. There is no guarantee that any of those players will be any good. And, if they bust, like the prospects that we got for Bay, then he gets vilified.

    • Nelson Cobb

      There’s risk in everything!! You have to be comfortable with the risk you take. It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever make a deal that doesn’t include risk. It terms of the Cole vs prospects, you’re taking risk either way. Cole is not coming off the greatest season, and that was following an injury shortened year. If you don’t wanna take the risk on the prospects being offered now for him, which are fair value right now, you keep Cole and take the risk he doesn’t improve and then your offers gets worse in 6 months for a pitcher they clearly don’t plan to re-sign to the contract it’s gonna take. You aren’t gonna walk away with sure things, and you aren’t gonna make a deal that doesn’t come with risk. There’s risk on the Yankees side too. What if Cole doesn’t improve, and they give up Adams and Adams becomes better?? That’s a risk the Yankees would have to be comfortable taking. One thing is for certain, Pirates need to trade Cole cause they don’t wanna watch him walk in 2 years for nothing. Pirates need to find the risk they’re most comfortable with taking, and take it.

  • piratemike

    One of my faults as a Pirates fan is believing all the hype about how great all the picks are after a draft. I can’t believe how naïve I continue to be.
    NH has had about 10 drafts, that’s about 400 players and he has yet to find one that can hit a f^^kin’
    baseball hard but yet I think that that they gave away the next Ted Williams every time a prospect is traded.
    Do they have a rehab for people like me?

  • Ron Chess

    After reading this article Huntington actually made sense. The only way Gerrit Cole trade happened if ss Torres was included extrodinary player and we do not have someone like him in our system . Be patient keep Cole ,Harrison ,Mccutchen and lets see how this team does first half of year.