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Cherington’s stockpile

2020 Grape Fruit League Media Availability Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Earlier in the week, the Pirates traded another piece away: This time it was Joe Musgrove to the San Diego Padres. Coming to Pittsburgh is a slew of prospects: OF Hudson Head, P Omar Cruz, P David Bednar, P Drake Fellows, and C Endy Rodriguez (via New York Mets).

While I am admittedly not as versed in other organizations’ farm systems, certain optics of this trade seemed positive. For those aggrieved, what could the expectation have been for Musgrove? He’s a serviceable major league starter, absolutely, but he isn’t a cornerstone piece for a rotation. Further, his services aren’t that useful given the current state of the organization, which is in an undeniable rebuild.

Jake Crouse, who’s set to take over the Pirates’ beat in Adam Berry’s wake, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the Pirates have acquired prospect numbers “6, 8, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, and 30 this offseason alone.” Mix that in with the Starling Marte trade from last season and it appears that general manager Ben Cherington is doing what he’s supposed to do, and playing as well as he can within the owner-imposed restrictions.

The front office is doing its best to stockpile prospects and with the lingering first overall pick in its grasp, perhaps the Pirates are making the necessary moves to be in contention a few years from now. In the Pirates’ market, the organization simply can’t compete year after year — few organizations can. Therefore, the Pirates have to operate in approximately three year rotations: Purge and then build for three years, then compete for three years. Then the cycle repeats.

We could consider this year two before contention, although, under new management, there might need to be a little more leeway before we begin that cycle. Maybe the Pirates will be competitive in 2023, but maybe it’ll be 2024, with these prospects Cherington is gathering now.

One thing is certain: Musgrove won’t be the final player dealt. I would fully expect Adam Frazier to be on the move before the season starts, but certainly by the trade deadline. The roster is getting younger and younger. If fans are interested this year, they largely won’t be interested in winning games — although that would be a nice surprise — they’ll instead be interested in watching young players grow and, hopefully, see a couple turn into budding stars.

I know it’s hard to garner excitement for the Pirates at times, but it may well be different under Cherington. I certainly hope that’s the case.