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Ask Bucs Dugout: Russell Martin, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley, bench, trades

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks for your questions! I previously answered some of them here. Here's another round of answers.

Gorillagogo: Trade deadline sellers valued major league ready players far higher than prospects this year. Do you think this is an anomaly or a trend? Part of me thinks it’s just a coincidence that the two biggest names — Lester and Price — happened to be traded by teams that intend to be competitive now or as soon as next year, but I can also see how prospects have become so valuable that a bit of a market correction could be occurring.

I think it's mostly an anomaly, but an interesting one. Most teams that sell simply aren't that good, but the Rays and Red Sox both have talent. The Rays actually lead the AL East in third-order win percentage. Both teams have a reasonable expectation of competing fairly soon, but they likely realized that their poor starts doomed them for this season. So they punted, but both punts were the kind where you're at your opponent's 38-yard line and you're not trying to kick it very far.

WTM: What explains the front office obsession with veteran bench players who hit like pitchers?

I don't know, and I find it frustrating sometimes too. But the Bucs may think that with bench players, you're going to get more value out of versatility and fielding ability than out of offense. In this offense-challenged era, getting bench players who can hit is pretty difficult. Your Dave Magadan types are really rare, and if your team has injuries, you wander into Brent Morel territory fairly quickly. I'm not sure the Pirates have made the best decisions with their bench, and I'd much rather have an Andrew Lambo type than an extra spare infielder, but once a few players get hurt, anyone's bench will start to look pretty ragged, especially if you're looking at offensive numbers. Look at other teams' benches -- they aren't hitting much either.

Grumbly1: Decision time: If Andrew McCutchen is out the rest of the season and you're the GM. Are the Pirates buyers, sellers, or neither?

Buyers. What the Bucs need most is relievers, and they shouldn't have to blow up their future to get one. McCutchen missing the rest of the season would be unfortunate, obviously, but the Pirates would still only need a bit of luck to wind up ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals, or at least sneak into a Wild Card spot. There isn't much season left, and the Pirates are in a position where, even with their best player out, anything can happen. Maybe shipping off a top prospect for a good player wouldn't make sense in that scenario (if that were even possible right now, given the difficulty of getting a good player through waivers), but fortifying their bullpen or possibly their outfield certainly would.

Cheap Beer: The Pirates, Reds, and Cardinals have all lost their top players. Is it the Brewers' division to lose?

No, for the same reasons. We're in a position right now where, for example, if the Pirates sweep the Brewers when they play them next week, the complexion of the playoff race completely changes.

BattlingBucs: Are the Cubs going to be a team to contend with next year or is their rise still a year or two away?

They're still a year or two away. Even if they add a high-profile starter this offseason, they're not going to have enough pitching. Their offensive core is already pretty good and is only going to get better, but I'm not sure how reasonable it is to expect guys like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant to hit the ground running next season. Their offense looks like it will be ridiculous in a couple years, though.

Tooele Dave: Is Vance Worley in the rotation in 2015?

I don't see why not. He's been terrific this year, he'll be cheap again next year, and with Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez leaving and Jameson Taillon probably not being completely ready at the start of the season, it isn't as if there won't be rotation spots available.

Marco Rincones: What MLB teams will be making serious offers to Russell Martin this winter? Do you see any chance of Bucs getting him back in the fold for 3 more years or is that not advisable given his age and position and/or economically ridiculous for the Bucs budget?

I wrote a long article about this for MLBTR that hasn't yet been published, so look out for that, but short answer: The Dodgers, Rockies, White Sox and Blue Jays might all make sense as potential destinations for Martin. I'd obviously love for him to come back to the Bucs, but I doubt he will. The Pirates passed on an opportunity to extend A.J. Burnett a qualifying offer because of the havoc that would wreak on their budget. Would they really commit a similar annual amount for three years, or four, to a catcher in his thirties?

2010 will be the year: Multi-year contract for Volquez? I feel he could really be a bargain for a two- or three-year deal worth about $8 million annually, is that realistic?

I know smart people like David Todd are for it, but I'm not sure I understand the push to sign Volquez long term. The Bucs' rotation currently looks a bit short-handed next year, but Volquez isn't a quality pitcher -- he has a 4.31 xFIP this season and has been 0.1 wins better than replacement. He has good stuff and gets ground balls, and his signing hasn't been a disaster, but I don't know if I want the Pirates committing to him for two or three more years.