By: Noah Wright
Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire
The Pirates are currently 35-36 on the season. They started the season very strong, but have fallen off the last month or so. After this fall-off, some fans have called for a rebuild, while others have called for The Bucs to be buyers at this upcoming deadline. I’m here to discuss why they should rebuild, should not rebuild, and what I think they should do.
First, I want to bring up points on why they should rebuild. The Pirates are currently 7 games out of the division. They still have a shot at the division, but it is a very outside shot, as things stand right now. Plus The Bucs have a handful of controllable players that could bring back some decent young pieces. This includes Francisco Cervelli, and Ivan Nova, both who are controlled for the rest of this season, and next season. Corey Dickerson will also be controllable through 2019 with an arbitration year. Josh Harrison has the most club control, as he has club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Harrison and Dickerson would likely bring back the most in a trade, because of the amount of control they have, and their performance this season. With a rebuild, The Pirates could be competitive again in a year or so.
Next I want to bring up why they shouldn’t rebuild. As I stated before, some of The Pirates biggest names still have a few years of club control left. They’re also just 3 and a half games out of a WC spot. Most of their core is fairly young, and talented as well. Colin Moran has had a decent season so far, and so has young pitchers Nick Kingham, and Joe Musgrove. Chad Kuhl and Jameson Taillon have been somewhat inconsistent, but both have been much better their last 4 games. Though newly extended closer Felipe Vazquez (formerly Felipe Rivero) has been inconsistent this year, but was amazing last year. Though first baseman Josh Bell seems to be suffering a sophomore slump this year, he performed very well last year as a rookie, and even finishing third place in ROY voting, showing he can handle himself at the major league level. While Gregory Polanco has struggled this year, top prospect Austin Meadows has been amazing this year. The team’s offense all together has been very good this year. Right now, they have the 8th most runs scored per game on average in The MLB, and 4th in The NL. Plus The Pirates aren’t in a situation like The Baltimore Orioles, who’s best players (Manny Machado, and Adam Jones) are on the last year of their contracts, so there shouldn’t be a rush to get players out the door yet. To add on, The Pirates still have an ok farm system. Mitch Keller is a season or so away to being major league ready. Kevin Kramer and Kevin Newman will likely receive a major league call-up very soon, as both have done very well in triple-A. With enough control over their best players to be competitive this year, depth in the farm right now, and showing some offensive promise, The Pirates should not be in a hurry to trade players, and completely tear down.
So what do I think? I don’t think The Pirates should go into full rebuild mode yet. At the deadline, I think they should trade from the lower end of their prospects to acquire some cheap relief pitching. At the most, The Pirates should trade off some of their veteran players like Jordy Mercer, who’s on the last year of his contract, and get whatever they can out of David Freese. This could help get some of the younger guys in the minors, Newman, Kramer and Jose Osuna (though Osuna already has some experience) get some/more major league experience this year. If and when they do decide to rebuild, I think it should be either during this off season, or early next season, around the time The Rays’ traded Alex Colome to The Mariners.