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Reacting to the Reactions: The Travis Snider Trade

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Snider will be trying to make these types of catches in Camden Yards in 2015 Photo by William Perlman/US Presswire

Snider will be trying to make these types of catches in Camden Yards in 2015
Photo by William Perlman/US Presswire

I can’t imagine I’m breaking the news to anyone reading that the Pirates traded reserve outfielder Travis Snider to the Baltimore Orioles for left – handed pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley and a yet to be determined mystery player. If this is news to you, its been a pleasure, but you really need to follow better people on Twitter.

As it stands, I have no strong opinion on the deal, up or down, and I won’t until I know who the other player in the deal is. That hasn’t stopped others from sharing their thoughts. However, there are some things worth discussing now including the short term implications the trade will have and the long run speculation of what it means for Snider and the Pirates.

Who Insures the Insurance?

This is probably the most pressing concern I’ve seen out there. Snider was an excellent bat off the bench last season and while Gregory Polanco is the heir apparent in right field on projection and potential, he didn’t light the world on fire his first few months in the league. This is not to say he will fail, but rather to point out that he’s not a sure thing. We may not get the full Polanco experience for another season or two given his age, and Snider’s success down the stretch gave Pirates fans peace of mind in case the young Dominican struggled in his first full year.

The Pirates still have depth in the outfield but not much that pleases their fans’ tastes. Jose Tabata has the best track record and if you believe what he says, he’s still very young. Of course, the Pirates faithful are still out to get him because he didn’t run out a grounder that one time or something. While Snider was the darling of the 2014 Wild Card run, Tabata’s role in the 2013 should not be overlooked nor should their near identical career OPS. Tabata’s right handed bat could also be a better complement to the left handed hitting Polanco.

Aside from Tabata, the Pirates also have Andrew Lambo feeling a little less blocked in the upper minors. Lambo had his chance to lock down first base last year but struggled in Florida. He’ll get a chance to make the team again out of spring training. FA acquisition Corey Hart probably wouldn’t have the knees to play right field in too many places but PNC Park. He could also be an option for Clint Hurdle at home. Neal Huntington also mentioned Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez. There is a dark horse in 2014 break out player Mel Rojas Jr who shockingly no one took in the Rule 5 draft.

Any of these players could provide the insurance for the insurance even if Snider were still around. While we could have kept our fingers crossed, there was no guarantee that Snider would have continued his late season success. He would have been a good back up option, but the only thing he’s won in his MLB career to this point is a “what have you done for me lately” contest against the Pirates other options.

Travis Snider Can’t Be Brandon Moss and He Likely Won’t Be Jose Bautista

There has been a lot of conversation about whether the Pirates sold too soon with Snider. I’ve seen “what if he turns in the next Brandon Moss” in quite a few places. I would respond that this is impossible. The Pirates got nothing for Brandon Moss. They released him, he signed with the Phillies and spent two summers in the Lehigh Valley before he broke out. Travis Snider looks like a lock to start from day one in Baltimore and the Pirates have two minor leaguers coming their way for his services. It’s two completely different situations.

I’ve also seen some folks say he could be the next Jose Bautista and really, he fits the script here a little better. The main difference is that the Pirates gave up on Bautista and dumped him for what amounted to a minimal return. They may have sold high on Snider and gotten what appears to be a bigger haul provided the second prospect is a similar caliber as Tarpley. Still, could Snider somehow turn into a superstar and make the return look meager? He could. Snider has upside and a nice line drive stroke that could sustain a fairly high batting average and lead to extra base hits. He probably doesn’t have home run king potential, but he has a chance to sustain the breakout and become an above average regular.

What this deal does for Snider is give him another chance to reach his potential. He would not have a clear path to playing everyday in Pittsburgh, but he absolutely does with the Orioles. Whether he becomes a Moss or a Bautista that makes the Pirates regret trading him remains to be determined. He will get the chance to.

The Pirates Payroll – Travis Snider = Brandon Beachy

Following the Snider deal, Neal Huntington told Rob Biertemphel “We have depth to sustain the loss. We’ve gained two quality players, created roster flexibility and some payroll flexibility.” Pirates fans zeroed in on that last part about cash. Speculation began almost immediately that the Pirates would use the $2.1 million they saved on Snider to sign reclamation project Brandon Beachy. The former Braves middle of the rotation starting pitcher reportedly narrowed his search for his next team down to one earlier this week according to ESPN’s Darren Wolfsen and the only barrier before his signature hit the paper lay in the details. The timing of the Beachy news and the Snider deal made the connection plausible and it seemed like the Pirates could be freeing up the last bit of cash necessary to close the deal. This of course is just speculation and we probably won’t know if the dots did connect. As it turns out, talks between Beachy and the mystery team appear have broken down, and he evidently will wait until closer to spring training to sign.

Interestingly, I think Beachy would be the pitching equivalent to Travis Snider. While Snider is not coming off a major surgery like Beachy, both would provide another option at a deep position for the Pirates. Both could potentially provide an upgrade especially if one of the regulars falter, but there would be risk in assuming either one could. The main difference is that Snider would need Polanco to fail first. Beachy could find himself in the rotation or the bullpen in the event that all of the six Pirates capable of locking down a rotation spot outperform him.

Selling High Or Selling Low

Whenever you deal a player with unrealized potential like Snider, it’s easy to ask the question whether or not the dealing front office sold high or low. In this case and really in any case, the Pirates got what the market would bear at the time they executed the trade. Both teams exercised some risk. The Pirates offloaded a player who at the very least provides a strong bench option but who could still improve. The Orioles traded at least one strong prospect and likely a second to get player who may not develop into much more than a replacement level regular. That said, both teams could win from this deal.


It’s difficult to make an evaluation of this trade until the player to be named later is announced, but the legacy may not known for years to come as it seems the Pirates will receive two lower level minor leaguers. Snider could blow up, Polanco could flame out and the prospects, as they’re apt to do, could bust completely. Of course, the opposite could happen as well. What I will say now is that the deal makes a lot of sense for Snider and hopefully, the third time is a charm for him in Charm City.




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Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveDiMiceli


Steve is a naturalized yinzer hailing originally from just north of Allentown, PA. He came to Pittsburgh to attend Duquesne University and decided to stick around after graduation. Steve is best known for his contributions to Duquesne hoops community as the owner of the Duquesne Dukes forum on Yuku and as the former editor of We Wear the Ring on the Fansided network. He is an avid Pirates fan, home cook and policy nerd. He is the co-founder of the Point of Pittsburgh. Easily irritated by people who misuse the word regress.

1 Comment on Reacting to the Reactions: The Travis Snider Trade

  1. “Pirates got what the market will bare…”

    Exhibitionist market? So, it’s a free thinker? I’m down with that.

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