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Ask BD Answers: Cervelli & WAR

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, Bucs Dugout put out a call for questions from the community. Each of the writers here at BD will take a subset of those questions and provide some thoughts. Here’s mine..

In our latest edition of ASK BD, we put out a call for questions from you guys. And now, answers!

INBucsFan asks: Which non-Taillon player will lead the Pirates in WAR next year?

In a perfect world where Gregory Polanco wasn’t injured he would be an easy choice. As is stands, I’m going to say Corey Dickerson. He’s fresh off of a 3.8 bWAR/2.7 fWAR season and it is reasonable to expect similar production. Really, this answer comes down to Dickerson vs Starling Marte in my eyes. It might be decided by who can better avoid prolonged slumps.

9_1_1971 asks: What would be a good return for Cervelli if trade market is competitive?

The bad news is that the catching free agent market sucks. The good news is that the catching free agent market sucks. This means that if a team wants to improve at the catching position, they might have to do it through trade. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a nice middle-ground catching solution in Francisco Cervelli, as it happens. This could bode well for a potential return....

...then again, Cervelli is aging rapidly and injuries are always a concern. Is it fair to expect a second straight productive season, something he has not done to this point in his career? If you can get him away from behind the plate a bit, the answer might just be a solid maybe.

Anyway, to more directly answer the question, a good return with one full year of control for Cervelli would be a prospect somewhere in a Top 15-20 type-range that fills a need. Take the Red Sox, who dangled LHP prospect Darwinzon Hernandez — their 15th best at the time (seventh best now) — in a potential trade for Cervelli last season. That type of return would be optimal for the Pirates, though the actual return might be less half a season later.

Last night, sources indicated to me that the Pirates might have their eye on a hard-throwing right-hander in Boston’s system as well.

Mike Shawaryn is a 6’2” RHP who reached Triple-A last season. He is the number nine prospect in Boston’s system and carries an interesting profile. His slider rates at 60 right now, with a 55 fastball and a changeup with room to go. His breaking ball has been described as loopy, almost slurve-like. That could be an interesting wrinkle and jives with the shift in thinking Pittsburgh has had recently towards their pitching staff.

Bottom line: if Pittsburgh can fill a glaring need with a warm body AND reallocate his dollars elsewhere, that would constitute a good return.