The Pirates reportedly didn't do anything at the trade deadline, following what appears to be an industry-wide trend. Bud Norris went to the Astros, Drew Butera went to the Dodgers, Justin Maxwell went to the Royals for some reason, and of course there was the Jake Peavy deal last night and some others over the past couple weeks, including several small ones involving relievers. In general, though, not much happened at all. It appears Alex Rios is still with the White Sox, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus are still with the Cubs, Cliff Lee and Michael Young are still with the Phillies, Marlon Byrd is still with the Mets, and so on.
It seems strange to me that the Pirates had a gaping hole in right field and they did nothing to fill it, and if this lack of activity isn't followed by an Andrew Lambo promotion, I'll find it even stranger. But it's worth pointing out that the Pirates were hardly the only contending team to do nothing, and that there were also lots of sellers who did nothing. That is, there were lots of rental players -- guys like Byrd -- who are still with non-contending teams.
So what's going on here? I think it's possible that buyers increasingly realize that overpaying for rentals is unwise, since you're only getting them for a couple months of the regular season, and of course the playoffs. Most of them don't have a big impact. And "sellers" increasingly realize that it might not be such a great idea to give away popular players just because you're out of a race. From a business perspective, it's wise to stay relevant, or somewhat relevant, if you can, and selling sends the message that you've given up being relevant until next April. So if you're not going to get good stuff in return for a good player, you probably shouldn't sell.
Someone mentioned to me a couple days ago that it's increasingly wrong to look at the market in binary terms -- it's not just "buyers" and "sellers." There's a continuum. The Mariners, for example, are out of it in 2013, but their veterans are arguably more valuable to them than they would be to other teams. The Mets are out of it, but they're going to try to add a lot of payroll this offseason. Those teams would traditionally be sellers, but increasingly, that label doesn't always apply. This year, a lot of the "sellers" just weren't motivated to sell.
A few days ago, I wrote an article for MLB Trade Rumors about the lack of sellers in this market. It seems increasingly relevant now. I did a couple radio interviews last night and this morning on behalf of MLBTR, and I felt bad for constantly shrugging my shoulders at the questions and saying, 'I don't think this team is going to do anything,' or 'I don't think this player is going to be traded.' It's bad for business. But sure enough, there was very little activity.
I'm frustrated the Pirates didn't do anything, and I'll be curious to see what Neal Huntington has to say about it. But this is clearly part of an industry-wide phenomenon, and I think we should see it as such.