Remember a few weeks ago when Starling Marte was the answer for the Pirates? People were calling for him to be promoted to the majors to help the offense for the remainder of the year.
Now after four games there are suggestions that the Pirates should trade their top hitting prospect.
The rumors came out that the Pirates inquired on Shin-Soo Choo, and that Starling Marte would have to be included in a deal. Choo is currently putting up a .295/.382/.489 line in 370 at-bats, which is in line with his career numbers. The 29 year old is under team control through the 2013 season, eligible for arbitration one final time in 2013. From a value standpoint, Choo would definitely require Marte, and maybe even another prospect. But does it make sense for the Pirates to make the move?
There were a few people in the comments of the article above who suggested the Pirates deal Marte for Choo. The main argument was that Choo was better. There were also arguments that Marte isn’t a guarantee. Both arguments are correct, but neither is a good reason to send out Marte and bring back Choo.
First of all, ask yourself if the Pirates NEED to trade for Choo. They are 15 games above .500, and three games back in the NL Central. They’re three games up in the Wild Card race. Only four teams in all of baseball have a better record. Offensively, they rank 20th in OPS on the season. That’s huge considering how horrible the offense was the first two months of the season. The strength of the team has been pitching, and they added to that strength by trading for Wandy Rodriguez.
There’s always the pressure for teams to “make a splash” at the deadline. However, it seems that the water calms very quickly after a splash. The Pirates made a “splash” a few days ago when they traded for Rodriguez. Now we need to see another splash to consider them legit contenders? At what point can they be content?
Even if you think the team needs a bat, Choo isn’t the only option. If the cost was Marte, I’d rather keep Marte and go for someone cheaper like Shane Victorino. The Pirates need to try and build around guys like Marte. They can’t afford to cast him off as a non-guarantee in exchange for a guy with a year of service time. They’d be better off buying low on Victorino, and hoping that PNC Park allows him to rediscover his swing. An outfield with Victorino and Marte would be just as productive as an outfield with Choo and Alex Presley. The difference is that you’d have Marte for six more years, while only having Choo for one year.
It’s important for the Pirates to try and win this year. But it’s also important for them to protect future teams. Dealing away Marte for Choo improves the chances to win this year, but it decreases the chances of winning in future years. That may sound like a good trade off in a vacuum, but not when you consider that Choo isn’t the only option available. And really you have to ask how much is enough? Do the Pirates need to improve that much, enough to deal Marte? Or would it be sufficient to go for someone like Victorino, while protecting the long term interests of the team?
Links and Notes
**The Pirates lost to the Astros 9-5.
**Pirates Notebook: McDonald Continues Second Half Struggles; Correia Requests Trade.
**Prospect Watch: Matt Curry Homers, Justin Wilson Struggles With Control.