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Trade the Relievers!

Yeah, I said this before, but in light of what's happened in the past week, it's worth saying again.

Cory has a good post up about this. The Bucs shouldn't view this wild free agent market as an excuse for self-pity. They don't really need what the free agent market has to offer anyway. They should view it as an opportunity.

The Pirates possess a number of players whose value in this market should greatly exceed their actual worth to the Pirates. This includes all their relievers. Jamie freaking Walker got a $12 million contract yesterday.

Last year, I blasted the Bucs for signing Salomon Torres to a two-year extension through 2008. I still contend that extension was not the sort of move a team in the Pirates' situation should have made - why should a team with no immediate hope of contending sign a reliever in his mid-30s to a multimillion-dollar contract that doesn't even begin until a year after it's signed? But the Bucs have lucked out, because with this market and Torres' 2006 performance, that contract looks downright great. They should be able to get something really nice for Torres.

The same is true of a number of younger relievers - Mike Gonzalez would almost certainly command $20 million or more in this market, but he'll be far cheaper for the Bucs the next several years. There's a massive gap between what Gonzalez is worth on the market and what he'll actually be paid, and very little chance that the Pirates can take advantage of that gap. The Pirates should be able to get something for John Grabow too, and if they don't exercise their option on Damaso Marte and look to trade him, too, they're even more foolish than I thought.

I personally would be pretty happy if the Bucs traded all these guys. Who cares if the bullpen is a mess next year? The Pirates have a number of young arms they can look to try out, and if they dealt away the veteran relievers they already had, they could get a couple more, plus some hitters. Some of them will work out, and then they'll have a nucleus with which to build a good 'pen in 2008. In the meantime, they might be able to grab a young hitter or two who might be able to become part of the core of their team.