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Links: Reactions to the Francisco Cervelli trade

Jim McIsaac

A few links, including a couple takes on the Pirates' acquisition of Francisco Cervelli for Justin Wilson:

-P- Jeff Sullivan likes the Pirates' end of the trade:

Cervelli’s not as good as Russell Martin, but he might now be a better receiver than Russell Martin. ... The Pirates don’t know what kind of workload Cervelli can carry, and that’s another reason why he was cheap to acquire, but his rate numbers are promising, and at about $1.1 million, he’s almost guaranteed to be a value no matter what he does.

There’s a lot we’re not sure we know about Francisco Cervelli. The best-case scenario is that he can stay healthy, and that he’s worth what his framing numbers say. Maybe he’ll have to go on the DL, and maybe he’s worth a fraction of that framing value, but perceived inefficiencies always come with performance risks. That’s because they don’t come with much financial risk. Whatever the chance is that the Pirates just added an actual good catcher, it’s not costing much for the opportunity to find out.

-P- Travis Sawchik, meanwhile, speaks to scouts about Justin Wilson:

"Winning teams in this day and age have to have two (quality) left-handed relievers," said an American League scout who spoke on a condition of anonymity. "I like Wilson a lot. … It's a big blow to their pen."...

Said one National League scout: "There's not many like him."

Scouts' takes on trades are usually interesting to read, but I'm not sure how crucial they are here. Wilson, at 27, is largely a known quantity. His velocity from the left side is rare, but at his age, results matter more, and if Wilson can't convert dominant-looking velocity into dominant results, losing him doesn't hurt much. Velocity is a tantalizing quality in a 21-year-old pitcher because it represents potential. Maybe Wilson still has upside -- there have certainly been 27-year-olds who suddenly improve their control. Maybe Bryan Morris will turn out to be one, for example. But it's more likely that Wilson is what he is: a reliever who strikes out enough batters and gets enough ground balls to be effective, but walks too many to be special.

The first scout Sawchik quotes is right that the Pirates probably need another lefty reliever. And they certainly can use bullpen depth in general. But that should be easier to find this offseason than catching. Just on the free agent market, Andrew Miller (who will be too expensive), Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Neal Cotts, and Phil Coke all project to be similar in value to, or more valuable than, Wilson next year, based on Steamer projections. Some of those guys aren't actually very good, but that's the point. There's also the trade market and the minor league free agent market, where the Pirates have had success finding relief help in the past. There was very little on the catching free agent market other than Russell Martin. In trading Wilson, the Pirates just opened another hole, but I feel good about their ability to fill this one.

-P- The Tigers have re-signed old friend Joel Hanrahan to a minor league deal. He didn't pitch at all in 2014.

-P- MLBTR projects Martin will get a five-year, $72.5 million contract, way up from the three years and $36-39 million we collectively projected back in August.