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Francisco Cervelli a trade possibility?

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Pittsburgh Pirates v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

This from the Trib:

I'm hearing lots of rumblings that the Pirates were working hard late last night on a significant move. At one point, general manager Neal Huntington sent some of his lieutenants out of the room to focus the conversation.

Over the past 12-14 hours, Francisco Cervelli's name has come up during my conversations with folks in the industry.

It makes a certain amount of sense that the Pirates would try to dump Cervelli’s contract. If he’s healthy, he’s a good catcher, but he’s seldom been healthy the last two years and can’t be counted on to play more than half a season.

The problem, of course, is that the Pirates would be left with Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings as their only catchers. There’s a real question whether Diaz can be a good backup catcher, much less a starter. (Whether justifiably or not, I have somewhat more faith in Stallings as a backup.) With no other catching prospects of any significance (and not even a Drew Hutchison to show for it), they’d have to acquire another catcher.

It’s also unlikely that they’d get a big return for Cervelli, given his injury history. In fact, it’s unlikely they’d get any return at all, beyond an Exicardo or two, if they didn’t pick up a substantial portion of his salary.

Finally, there’s the question of the team’s overall direction. Combined with trades of Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison, this would make sense as a rebuilding move. If they cling to Cole and McCutchen, though, a trade of Cervelli would make no sense at all. Whatever extremely remote chance the current team has of getting back into contention depends heavily on players like Cervelli, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte staying in the lineup and having good years. Reducing the team’s very poor odds of contending without launching a legitimate rebuild would be a terrible move.