First Pitch: Headley Seems Like the Perfect Fit

On Monday, Kevin Creagh released the updated trade values for prospects. That was followed by the return of one of the most popular features on the site: the trade values series. Today Kevin looked at Chase Headley, who the Pirates have been linked to in rumors this season. After reading the following recap of Headley, I’d say he seems like the perfect fit for the Pirates:

On the surface, Headley may not seem like much of an improvement for the Pirates, as his triple slash line is .261/.372/.416 (788 OPS) with only 7 home runs this season.  However, Headley’s numbers have been suppressed by the cavernous Petco Park for the Padres.  His home splits for 2012 (.250/.363/.363, 726 OPS) versus his road splits for 2012 (.272/.382/.474, 856 OPS) are in line with his divergent career home/road splits (664 OPS at home, 810 OPS on road).  Headley seems like a player ready to explode if he gets into a hitting environment even relatively close to neutral.

The switch-hitting Headley has hit 2/3 of his career home runs as a left-handed batter, so the shorter porch at PNC Park would cater well to that trend.  Headley also brings something that is sorely lacking among Pirate hitters: plate patience.  Headley’s 2012 on-base percentage of .372 would be 2nd on the Pirates behind Andrew McCutchen’s .382 mark.  Even using Headley’s career OBP rate of .346 would still place him 2nd ahead of Casey McGehee’s .333 OBP in 2012.  In fact, I would advocate that if Headley were to be obtained he should be installed as the leadoff hitter, but that idea may be a little too unorthodox right out of the gate.

Just to check off items from the list:

**The Pirates need offense, and Headley puts up good offensive numbers outside of Petco Park.

**The Pirates could definitely use another option at third base in the event that the recent hot streak from Pedro Alvarez doesn’t last.

**Headley is better as a left-handed hitter, which fits well with PNC Park.

**He gets on base at a great rate, which is an area where the Pirates are weak.

**He’s under control for multiple years, so giving up prospects wouldn’t just be for a rental.

I don’t think the Padres would have any interest in some of the top trade chips the Pirates have, which would be their major league bullpen arms. I’m not sure if I’d deal one of the top pitching prospects for a guy like Headley. I don’t even know if I’d deal Starling Marte. That seems counter productive, since the Pirates not only have short-term offensive needs, but also long-term needs. Marte is close to helping them with those long-term needs.

Headley has some potential to be a good addition. But because he’s not a guarantee, and most of his potential value comes from his home/road splits, I’m not sure I’d give up any of the top seven prospects in the system for him (the top 20 list can be seen here). Outside of that, I’d give any three prospects to land Headley.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates beat the Twins 7-2. Kristy Robinson’s notebook looks at how the offense has remained hot.

**Prospect Watch: Jameson Taillon finally has a dominant start, breaking his string of six straight poor outings.

**My player notes from the State College home opener, with a focus on Joely Rodriguez and the first impressions of the new draft picks.

**The Pirates officially announced three draft signings, and created more flexibility with the bonus pool.

**Speaking of trades, the Pirates are engaging clubs in trade talks, but the market is slow right now.

**Trade Values – Chase Headley.

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About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • Greatone1210

    the obvious question is what do we do with Headley if Pedro stays hot at 3B? Can Headley play 1B, OF, etc? Do we really trade some top 20 prospects just to gain an insurance guy?

    • john.alcorn

      He has about 200 games in LF, but I think he would move Pedro to 1B. Headley is a very good defensive 3B and Pedro is not despite his arm strength.

      • Greatone1210

        I’d rather have Headley in LF. The only good OF we have is Cutch. Might be time to consider moving Marte up just because Tabata is so bad this year. I don’t want to rush him but what can you do.

  • Lee Young

    ‘Perfect fit’ means it’ll never happen….lol

  • salempirate

    Three prospects seems like a lot. The Pirates are somewhat able to toss in cash on deals, would/could this apply to Headley and if so, what amount? Headley would be a nice pickup. He brings good judgment of the strike zone, a highly missing trait for this offensively challenged team.
    I don’t think the Pirates can offer enough, within reason, to get Headley.
    Another guy who is being mentioned as tradeable is Denard Span, who has not been linked to Pittsburgh. Combined with Headley, the offense would be immediately upgraded.

  • john.alcorn

    I don’t get the Span interest. Sure he’s basically the guy we want Tabata or Presley or Marte to be, but why would we give up something of value rather than stick with the 3 options we have? We need a power hitter who gets on base, not another speedy CF.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=72405411 Ian Rothermund

    I’d just be interested to listen to what they’d want. I like the idea of picking up some of the money. However, given the Padre’s situation, and Headley’s relatively low salary, they aren’t looking for cash relief, they’re looking for prospects. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • VtTom

    I’d certainly give up three prospects after the top seven for a proven hitter like Headley who may be ready to be a breakout hitter. I remember when he came up he was considered a top prospect. Considering the lack of offense in the minors, why not make the move. Nobody out of the top seven is being labeled a can’t miss prospect or future star so take the chance if the Padres are willing.