Yahoo’s Jeff Passan is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates may be interested in trading Francisco Cervelli.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have made some minor moves thus far during the Hot Stove, but a bigger name has been floated around the industry as being available.
An already-crowded catching market is growing even more saturated, as the Toronto Blue Jays have discussed trading Russell Martin and the Pittsburgh Pirates are open to dealing Francisco Cervelli, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Both are drawing interest from a number of teams.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 29, 2018
The report is surprising on the surface, but should not be upon further inspection. While the Pirates are under no clear impetus to trade Cervelli, or to even aggressively pursue a trade, the arguments to trade Cervelli are surprisingly strong.
Elias Diaz is clearly as ready as he will ever be to take on a full catching workload. Though this confidence may stem from just 277 plate appearances last season, the difference at the plate between the just-completed season and Diaz’s previous cameos in the majors was night and day. It might be time to rip the band aid off completely.
It feels crass, but Cervelli’s health history must be considered. Concussions have always been a problem for him, and he will play in 2019 at 33 years of age. It’s a harsh business, but the Pirates might want to mitigate risk (and the $11.5 million owed) and get what they can while they can before any further injuries derail his value.
And what can they get? Depends on who you ask. At last year’s trade deadline, I had heard that the club was in some level of talks with the Red Sox on a potential deal involving Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect, LHP Darwinzon Hernandez.
Sources say to me that the #Pirates really like Boston’s no.7 prospect - LHP Darwinzon Hernandez. Would be preferred piece coming back in any potential Cervelli trade— Jason Rollison (@jrollisonpgh) July 14, 2018
55 slider pic.twitter.com/J9D6byER36
Talks between the two clubs never really got off the ground. It would stand to reason, though, that American League clubs might be the best fits as they can pull Cervelli out from behind the plate at times via the Designated Hitter. The Houston Astros, in particular, would be a logical fit. Houston has an intriguing catching prospect — their 15th ranked — in Garrett Stubbs. He had a phenomenal year at Triple-A across about 300 plate appearances. Bringing Cervelli in would allow the ‘Stros to break Stubbs in slowly.
Again, there is no real driving force to compel the Pittsburgh Pirates into trading Cervelli, but they should absolutely listen and stay nimble should an opportunity to trade value for a depreciating asset present itself.