On Christmas Eve, we saw face of the franchise Josh Bell dealt to the Washington Nationals. This comes after Trevor Williams was non-tendered, signaling the end of his tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But with Bell’s departure, the exodus from Pittsburgh begins in earnest. We should only expect these types of moves to continue as the organization navigates the off-season and the 2021 campaign.
While Bell was the first major piece to be traded, he won’t be the last. There’s a list of Pirates’ players who are likely expecting a call that they’re on the move. Some of them may come during the off-season, while some may come in-season before the trade deadline.
While I expected Bell to be moved — and, in fact, lobbied for it — his move at this point was a bit of a surprise. The first baseman is coming off his worst season to date and his value plummeted from its highest point coming at the All-Star break of the 2019 season. That would’ve been an ideal time to move him, especially considering the Pirates’ position. Instead, the team balked at the notion and moved him before the ‘21 season.
I expected the Pirates to wait until the season actually kicked off to move Bell in order to try to raise his value and garner more in a trade. That’s not the route the organization went, so perhaps they knew something which suggested he won’t be as competent of a player as they hoped he would be and therefore reasoned that moving him now was their best option.
As we move forward, the list of departures will only grow larger. Adam Frazier is likely the next candidate off the board, and he would’ve been my pick to be moved first. It’s also likely that they field — and ultimately agree to — offers for Joe Musgrove. Other than that, the Pirates don’t have any major trade pieces which we might see on the chopping block. The only other name that comes to mind would be Colin Moran, whose return value would be fairly minimal, despite coming off a solid season which saw him be more aggressive at the plate.
If I had to extend the list to include players who I think it would be challenging to move, I’d throw in pitchers Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl, as well as Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker. The former two are becoming too old to be a part of the Pirates’ contention plans in the future, while the latter two still have question marks to be addressed, particularly in Tucker’s case. I also think the Pirates would be quick to move someone like Gregory Polanco, but it’s virtually impossible to find anyone willing to take on his contract and lack of production.