Yesterday, I posted that I had created a spreadsheet that utilized my own projections and an age curve to predict the future value (FV) of the current Pirates roster. I ended up deleting that post b/c it was vague and dumb. Instead, I'm going to discuss potential moves that could still happen this offseason from a FV and a Surplus Value (SV) lens. Any trade ideas will be a max of 2-3 players for 1. I don't like the idea of quantity over quality as I don't think it's that realistic.
At the end of the post, I'm going to recommend what I would consider doing if I were in GMNH's shoes. I would like to be as realistic as possible, so I will constrain myself to a budget of ~$5M for improvements to the team.
Option 1: Trade Cervelli (Surplus Value of $8.91M)
The biggest link to Cervelli so far has been the LAD. The first name that was attached to the rumors was Ross Stripling. Steamers has him regressing significantly to 0.8 WAR next season, that would give him a SV well within range of a swap, but that's only projecting 58 IP. I feel like a dip from 122 to 58 is a bit unrealistic and I put his value closer to 1.2 WAR, this is still a significant regression, but not as drastic. With that projection, his SV is nearly 3x that of Cervelli which would require additional capital to make the trade happen. Other names that have been mentioned when talking of trades to the LAD are Alex Wood and Chris Taylor. Wood has one year remaining on his contract. I doubt the Pirates make a trade like that only to be out both a C and a SP in 2020. Taylor on the other hand has 3 years of TC, but his surplus value is $31M. That's a significant prospect to throw in with Cervelli to make something happen. A more realistic option for the Pirates would be to shed salary while trading for prospects that could impact the 2019 club. With LAD, my trade package would be RHP Mitchell White ($4M FV) and 1B Edwin Rios ($4M FV).
The next team that could enter the Cervelli fray is the LAA. There isn't much of a connection here, the Angels are driven by stars and I don't see very much alignment in needs w/ Pittsburgh. If you disagree, let me know and I'll run the projections for you. As for prospects, the Angels have several prospects many years from the majors that ooze athleticism, but for this exercise, we'll stick w/ guys that could help the 2019 club. So the package from LAA would be something like 2B Luis Rengifo ($6M FV) and C Taylor Ward ($2M FV)
Option 2: Trade for Upgrade
1. Nick Ahmed ($8.35 SV) - Ahmed is the darling of Pirates twitter, and it makes sense. He's a gold glove option for a team w/ horrendous defense. He doesn't excite w/ his bat, but he'd be similar to a Jordy Mercer but that can field. That sounds like an improvement. And at that price, he'd come relatively cheap. I'm concerned that the Pirates feel that the farm has been depleted and they may balk at throwing more prospects into trades.. nonetheless, I think RHP Steven Jennings ($4M) and OF Calvin Mitchell ($4M FV) get it done.
2. Scott Kingery (-$9.96M SV) - Okay, so that looks bad, huh? Kingery signed a long term deal w/ the Phillies before setting foot on a ML field. So he has a hole to dig out of to create a surplus in value. Add to that, he had a slow start last year and the Steamer projections aren't that favorable for next season, only a 0.3 WAR projection. So why trade for him? Well for one, if PHI lands Machado, I'd suspect he could be the odd man out. Also, a team friendly long-term deal has to make the front office salivate. And lastly, if he boosts up to even a 1.0 WAR at some point, he begins to quickly pay for himself. It's hard to project the deal that would get Kingery in black & gold as I doubt PHI sells low on a former top prospect at just 24 years old. So for now, this is just food for thought.
3. Mike Minor ($16.86M SV) - So Minor is that LHP that we're looking for, right? He's extremely valuable as Steamer projects 2.1 WAR this season and he's versatile as he can come out of the 'pen or start, be that fireman or even an opener. He's owed nearly $20M over the next 2 seasons, though.. so despite all those positives, I think his salary precludes him from this exercise. For fun, the trade package would be ~OF Lolo Sanchez ($6M FV) + 2B Kevin Kramer ($6M FV) + RHP Luis Escobar ($4M)
Option 3: FA acquisitions
1. Tulo ($7.55M SV) - Shocker, right? It's so rare to have such a low risk-high reward option fall into the Pirates laps like this. Could he totally be useless? Probably! Could he get injured? Yup. But for league minimum you can take a risk like that. He has the opportunity to play SS on a team that's contending. It's a perfect marriage.
2. Martin Maldonado ($8.77M SV) - This is a bit of a projection on the salary. Spotrac puts his market value at $3.9M, so I'm projecting he signs 2/$8M. His Steamer for 2019 is 1.0 WAR and he's a proven solid defender.
3. Jake Diekman (-$2.10M SV) - I projected Diekman at 1/$3M to get this SV on his 0.1 WAR. Perhaps they would get a better deal than that, but I used his last salary of $2.75M to come to that number. But hey.. he's a lefty out of the bullpen.
If I'm GMNH:
So there are some scenarios for you. And based on that, here's what I would do:
1. Trade Cervelli to LAD for the prospect package and sign Maldonado to backup Diaz. That move provides you with a veteran backstop and hands the everyday role over to a very capable Diaz.
2. Sign Tulo. I understand that this is more of his decision than Pittsburgh's, but this is an exercise. That moves ErGo into the super utility position and Newman can backup Tulo and Frazier.
3. Sign Diekman. He gives you another proven lefty arm out of the pen.
At the end of the day, my budget looks a little something like this:
So with these transactions, we've increased flexibility & low-risk upside to the infield, added a lefty to the bullpen, signed a premier defender to backup Diaz and we're left with some wiggle room to add perhaps another starter. Alright, thanks for reading this far. If you have any other projections you'd like me to run, just let me know! Thanks.
The projections are a combination of Steamer (found via FanGraphs) and my own creation based off the book "Projecting X 2.0" by Mike Podhorzer.
ThePointofPittsburgh's Kevin Creagh is to blame for my obsession w/ Surplus Value
And the work of Craig Edwards, Kiley McDaniel, and Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs allowed me to compile spreadsheets and scouting reports in an easy to read/reference format.