Right now the Pirates have a trump card that is very tempting to use. While second baseman and corner outfielders are losing value, catchers have not had this much value…. ever. Combine that aspect with the fact that the Pirates effectively have two starters (and/or two backups) at catcher and the thought has be tempting to trade Francisco Cervelli.
Let’s look at the possible outcomes for Cervelli who is in the last year of his contract:
- Traded this offseason
- Traded at trade deadline
- Plays season, offered Qualifying offer and declines, becomes Free Agent and signs elsewhere.
- Plays season, offered Qualifying offer and declines, becomes Free Agent and re-signs.
- Plays season, offered Qualifying offer and accepts
- Plays season, not offered Qualifying offer becomes Free Agent and signs elsewhere.
- Plays season, not offered Qualifying offer becomes Free Agent and re-signs.
- Extended beyond this season this offseason
- Extended beyond this season during season
(I bet you didn’t think there were nine scenarios)
#1 and #9 are all about what the Pirates think of his body of work up to this point, as well as for #1 what prospects are being offered. The rest all have to do with the current body of work and everything after he hits Spring Training. While I could spend many words on discussing #2 thru #9 I just want to speak to whether or not #1 will happen.
Trade winds blowing?
While it’s come out in the media in the last week, due to our friend Jason Rollison, the Pirates are listening to offers on Cervelli, which is very smart on Neal Huntington’s part.
It helps having some big trades in recent memory for us to get a benchmark for what this could garner. It would pain most part fans to realize this but right now Cervelli has much more value than Andrew McCutchen did last off-season. McCutchen brought back a good prospect in Bryan Reynolds and a nice young bullpen piece in Kyle Crick. Would I deal Cervelli for this return ? Never. Would I deal him for another Mitch Keller? That’s where it gets tempting.
There ?s been much talk in the media about the Miami Marlins possibly dealing J.T. Realmuto, their starting catcher. He ?s a plus hitting backstop who plays good defense and is controlled for two more years. There hasn ?t been any official statement on what teams have offered the Marlins but the rumors have been interesting to say the least.
Kiley McDaniel over at Fangraphs penned a great article about how much this catcher would cost and used real prospect names. I will try to come up with a value for Cervelli.
Cervelli graded out as a top five catcher last year and is one of the most recognizable Pirates on a national scale, not just because of his handsome good looks but also his time in the Yankees organization. I don ?t think I need to tell you why the Pirates should do this. Cervelli is only controlled for one more year and then he ?s a free agent. Last year saw him battle concussion issues,which was in addition to all the other injuries that have caused him to miss time over his first seven seasons. The Yankees traded him to us for Justin Wilson due to this fact. Add in the depth with Elias Diaz and Jacob Stallings and you probably get the “Why?” part.
Sabermetrically, Cervelli could be a 3-4 WAR catcher this year assuming he stays healthy. If we call him a 3.5 WAR catcher and use the $9-$10M per WAR that McDaniel uses in the FG article we end up with $33.25M ($9.5M/WAR x 3.5). Subtracting $11.5M of salary gives a surplus value of $21.75. Using my nerd bosses’ calculations of Surplus Prospect Value we could land a nice prospect.
|Tier||Number of Players||Avg. WAR||Surplus Value|
To start getting some names refer back to McDaniel’s article and pick the 2nd or 3rd name on each of his trade proposals to get an idea of the folks we could return.
I spelled out all the good things that could happen if Cervelli is traded, how he’s injury prone and how this might be a real opportunity to sell high on this asset. My last article I laid out some scenarios if they traded Cervelli. The title of this article is insinuating that I don’t believe Huntington will trade Cervelli. I don’t think he will.
The Chris Archer trade made no sense to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it; it was just SO counter to what Huntington has done his whole tenure. Prospects like Glasnow, Meadows, Hearn and Baz were supposed to be brought up at the Super Two deadline, play 4.5 to 5.5 years of their 6.5 years of control pre-free agency and be traded for some young prospects.
With the bullpen and rotation the Pirates have collected and the depth they have on the 40 man I think that this team is primed for a Division or Wild Card run and Huntington knows this. He also knows that having TWO catchers that could be 3-4 WAR players, with decent framing and good defense means you’ll probably be OK at catcher. A trade of Cervelli and an injury or regression of Diaz and our playoff chances become much less.
So when Huntington doesn’t trade Cervelli for another team’s KeBryan Hayes or Mitch Keller give him credit, it will be painful for him.