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Pirates trade rumors: Bucs shopping Jon Niese

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates, anticipating a crowded rotation in the second half, have made Jon Niese available, Rob Biertempfel reports.

Niese is highly unlikely to bring back anything of interest. That's a shame, given that the Pirates traded a good player to get him, but there's really no other conclusion to reach. Niese has been right around replacement level this season, with mediocre periperhals and an astronomical home run rate (which seems likely to regress somewhat, but still). His propensity to generate ground balls is all he's got going for him at this point. It's very hard to see a contender imagining Niese as the answer to its rotation problem. He also isn't a bargain, at $9 million, and it's looking unlikely his 2017 option will be exercised, so he's really just a rental. The Pirates might be able to get another bad contract in return for him, or perhaps, if they're very lucky, some A-ball non-prospect. But that's probably about it.

You could probably still say this is good news, though, in that it suggests the Pirates are ready to fully transition to a much younger rotation. I wouldn't read this rumor as an indication that the Bucs are giving up on their season, just that they're looking to pivot to younger players who are pretty likely to be better.