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Thoughts on the Pirates and the trade deadline

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Scott Iskowitz

A few thoughts on the Pirates' performance at the trade deadline today:

-P- It appears the Red Sox and Rays wanted big-leaguers in return for Jon Lester and David Price, and seen from that perspective, it's clear why the Pirates didn't get either pitcher. The Red Sox were weak in the outfield, but for the Pirates to give up anyone in their starting outfield for two months of Lester would have been a gross overpay. The only big-leaguer of any interest the Pirates probably could have sacrificed would have been Pedro Alvarez, but he surely doesn't have much value right now. The Marlon-Byrd-to-the-Pirates rumors, which previously didn't make much sense, might make sense in this context -- maybe the Pirates wanted to acquire Byrd, then send him to Boston with a prospect for Lester.

-P- I'm surprised that the Pirates didn't at least wind up with a reliever. Relievers shouldn't be difficult to acquire at the trade deadline, and the Pirates could have used help for what's been a shaky bullpen. That was their most obvious miss today.

-P- I said some things on Mark Madden show that made some people happy and some people mad. I'm not sure exactly what words I used, but it was something to the effect of it being unfortunate that the Pirates are never the team landing high-profile talent either at the trade deadline or the offseason -- they're never the team trading for David Price, and they're never the team signing free agents of note. There was the Marlon Byrd trade last August, and the Wandy Rodriguez the year before that, but I'm not sure they qualify. Even small-market teams like the Brewers (C.C. Sabathia, Zack Greinke) and A's (Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija, and, heck, Yoenis Cespedes when they signed him) make these big moves on occasion, ones that require big investments. But the Pirates don't.

We can debate how good or bad this is, and I'd be the first to argue that the Pirates' sense of caution often serves them well. I don't want them trading their two top prospects for two months of one player, and mostly, I think it's okay that they didn't do anything that skirted that line today. What I was trying to suggest, though, is that there is a legitimate problem with them barely participating in the offseason market, and that I'd still like them to make the investment in themselves that ought to come with being a contending team. Last offseason was disappointing; today was disappointing. A lot of the decisions that led the Pirates here are rational, but the end result isn't what we should want. What came out of my mouth in the moment, I fear, was a lot less nuanced than that.