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Ask Bucs Dugout: Polanco, Alvarez, Marte, Amaro, Turner

Justin Edmonds

Here's the first round of answers to your questions from earlier today. Thanks so much for these. I haven't even read all the questions yet, so I'm sure I'll do another post with more answers later this week.

Long4Willie: Will Gregory Polanco be the superstar in the majors that he was in the minors?

Yes. I mean, who knows, but yes. His struggles (and they're not even really struggles -- he's still solidly above replacement level) are perfectly normal for a rookie, and he's still the same plus-everything guy who's capable of hitting for average and power, drawing walks, and contributing good value on the bases and in the field. He's still likely to be excellent.

Grumbly1: Presumably Pedro Alvarez will be put on waivers to at least field some phone calls. What's the minimum kind of return that you would accept in trade before pulling him back?

Alvarez has two years remaining before free agency. He obviously isn't likely to get a huge raise this offseason in arbitration, but he'll still get one -- say, from $4.2 million to $5 million or so. Based on his history and age, he's a good deal at that price, so he isn't a non-tender candidate. He has value.

The question is how much. There's little time for the Pirates to reap the benefits of Alvarez's upside, especially with his salaries continuing to increase. I assume Alvarez would be claimed on waivers, but let's assume he isn't. If the Pirates were to trade him, a good late-inning reliever would be a reasonable return, or maybe an outfielder to help in the short term. Trading him to Texas for Alex Rios (perhaps as part of some kind of 2-for-2 package deal that could also include a reliever like Neal Cotts, although that would have been easier to do before the deadline) might work. The Pirates would get a short-term upgrade in their outfield, and the Rangers could experiment with Alvarez at first base for the rest of the season, then at DH next year when Prince Fielder returns. (Jon Heyman thinks Rios will clear waivers, due to his salary and lack of power this year.) Texas would be a good place for Alvarez to recoup some of his value, given the way his power might play there. If he were to improve, the Rangers could then deal him to another AL team.

Insane_Sanity: Perhaps talk about Ruben Amaro's comments following the trade deadline.

They're ridiculous. Teams like the Red Sox (in the Jake Peavy and Andrew Miller deals) had little trouble getting good prospect value back for their veterans. The Cubs got an interesting prospect for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio. Good prospects were out there for teams who gave up talent. Unfortunately, the Phillies had little to offer, and most of the players they did have had little value thanks to the contracts to which Amaro signed them.

I loved this bit: "In this day and age, the most over-coveted element of baseball are prospects. I don't know how many prospects have been dealt the last several years that come back to bite a team in the (butt)." I guess Amaro isn't feeling any sting after trading Jon Singleton, Domingo Santana and Jarred Cosart for Hunter Pence. But I suspect he will.

Amaro is every bit as bad a GM as Dave Littlefield. The only difference between them is money. It amazes me that someone like him is still allowed to run a a billion-dollar company. He's in no position to lash out at his peers, because literally all of them are doing a better job than he is.

Azibuck: If Starling Marte does well in center field and McCutchen is out a month or more, is the door open to switch Cutch to left next year? Or will that just never happen, because MVP?

I doubt it will happen, but it's worth keeping this question in our minds. McCutchen's arm has been an issue this season, and left field would be a great place to neutralize that weakness while still taking advantage of McCutchen's range.

KentuckyPirate: Jacob Turner has been designated for assignment. Seems like a great pickup for the Bucs, no?

Yes, but he's also a great pickup for any number of teams who have a higher waiver priority than the Pirates do. If I were the Cubs, for example, I'd be all over Turner. He's only 23, and while he's been a frustrating player, I think that might mostly be the Tigers' and Marlins' faults -- they're both incredibly impatient with prospects. Also, Turner has made significant improvements this year despite his ERA. He's throwing a bit harder than he used to, and he's now striking out twice as many batters as he walks. It's rare that a 23-year-old former top prospect with an xFIP of 3.93 gets designated for assignment, particularly when he can start.