The Pittsburgh Pirates have once again taken the title of having the lowest payroll in baseball.
Because of that, they have some money to spend. Ben Cherington claims to now be actively looking to add starting pitching to the major league roster. Although the free-agent market still has a plethora of cheap arms, the Pirates should be looking to add via a certain type of trade.
They should buy prospects.
The concept is simple. Take on an undesirable contract from another team. Because you’re taking on such a contract, the team you’re trading with also has to include prospects to incentivize you to make the deal. An example Pirates fans may remember came in 2017. At the trade deadline that year, the Pirates dealt Francisco Liriano (and his “undesirable” contract) along with prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Drew Hutchison. Twas a straight salary dump. Just last night, the Colorado Rockies dealt star third baseman Nolan Arenado along with $50 million to the St. Louis Cardinals for a package of mediocre prospects. The Cardinals will pay the rest of Arenado’s $149 million though (if he does not opt-out after 2021).
One team that may be looking to shed some money is the Los Angeles Dodgers. As of right now, they are just below the projected luxury tax threshold. If they wanted to add any free agents (Trevor Bauer perhaps), they would surely go over the tax. One contract they wouldn’t mind getting rid of might be that of David Price.
Price has two years remaining on his contract. The Dodgers are responsible for paying $16 million per year during that time (the Red Sox owe the other $16 million per year). If they wanted to get rid of his contract, the Pirates should be willing to take on that salary if it meant adding a few prospects from the Dodgers’ currently deep farm system.
In my mind, this would be a win-win for the Pirates. On one hand, you would be adding more prospects to the system. On the other hand, if Price proves to have any value whatsoever, he could be flipped again for more prospects.
This is just one example. The Pirates should be all about going in this direction. Will they though? Let’s not forget that they have the cheapest owner in all of sports. So probably not. It’s something to think about though.