I never expected much from the 2020 Pirates.
A combination of past DUDE THEY SUCK, current DUDE THEY SUCK and future and in general DUDE THEY SUCK WHY DON’T YOU JUST WRITE THAT OH WAIT SHE’S NOT A DUDE OKAY WELL THEY STILL SUCK had an influence on me despite myself. When it’s that bound and determined that a team be bad, it’s kind of hard to hurdle (no bad intention to Clint with that last sentence).
Now that what passed for the 2020 Pirates has, well, passed, I can sit back and summon my inner overanalyzer to, in Burgh parlance, decide what needs changed and what doesn’t needs changed.
First and foremost:
THE FRONT OFFICE DOESN’T NEED CHANGED.
I know how hard everyone likes to hate on Bob Nutting, but he’s hired a good team. Travis Williams and Ben Cherington have committed to the Pirates. Williams’s background is in hockey, true, but he got a team (the New York Islanders) who really hated spending money to build a new arena. Cherington made his bones trading superstars to aid the future, with the result that his 2012 trades paved the way for the 2017 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox (and you have no idea how painful it was for me to type that). Nutting’s not going to turn into the Steinbrenners overnight, but I think that the Williams/Cherington tag team will convince him to open his wallet when it needs to be opened.
Trades, though, need to be made, and believe it or not the Pirates do have some trade bait. Here I’ll speculate who needs to go without what can be gotten in exchange.
Oh, I hate typing this, but—
Josh Bell. I’ve said forever that Bell was safe from trades, but now ... if there was ever a guy who would do so much better in the American League, it’s Josh. He’s practically a born DH. It’s long been said that those who can’t play the field play first base, and with rare exceptions that’s all he’s ever played. Colin Moran is a better fielder and with Ke’Bryan Hayes becoming THAT GUY at third, Moran is making sense to be THAT GUY at first. There hasn’t been any word either way that the DH is going to stick around in the NL, so a trade like this stands to reason.
Adam Frazier. If there’s a position that the Pirates really don’t need to worry about, it’s second base. You’ve got Newman, you’ve got Gonzalez, you’ve got Tucker, you’ve got (HATE ME FOR SAYING IT) Riddle. I’ve had Frazier on my trade list all year, and nothing’s really changing my mind despite his decent season-end performance. He’s one that, if traded, could bring something back and plug a hole.
Geoff Hartlieb. I don’t need to be the one to tell you that when the Bucs get rid of pitchers, they get rid of those who are going to command quarter-billion contracts. Geoff won’t get that money, but you better believe that a lot of teams were paying attention to him digging the Bucs out of holes and were like WE CAN USE A GUY LIKE THAT. I’d enjoy seeing what the Pirates could get in exchange for him, because I think the surprise would be quite pleasant.
We’ve got until February. Let’s talk.