I think most of the people in the Pittsburgh sports media don’t really know baseball.
They barely know the Pirates and might not know anything about their farm system. They know nothing about the rest of the league and especially the American League. Ask some of your favorite bloggers or announcers which teams are in the American League Wild Card race and listen for crickets. Ask them how much trade value a prospect has or who Blake Treinen is and they’ll have no clue. They don’t realize the Cubs rotation is bad and Alex Cobb and Logan Morrison are terrible…or that Miguel Sano is in the minors… or how the Dodgers got Max Muncy. Don’t try to talk about contracts or arbitration years…or Rule 5…or July 2…or AFL/DSL. (You get it)
So when I have questions, I turn to a couple trusted sources. One of the best is Brian Cartwright. He has invented some sabermetric statistics. He’s paid by most of the MLB clubs for one or more of his analyses and best yet, he’s actually a Pirate fan, which isn’t the case with many of my sources. He’s also a Twitter hound so I don’t mind dropping his name (@blcartwright).
Today I had the following quick Twitter chat:
@ballandgutters You think we should shop Vazquez? I think EVERY playoff team would be interested and some might back up the truck and dump a ridiculous amount of prospects.
@blcartwright I’d hate to see him go but you are correct
Why this is the absolute worst time to trade Vazquez
I think this is the most obvious paragraph I ever felt the need to write. Let’s just say that the 93.7 Fan radio station would buy another frequency just to take all the calls murdering Huntington and his commitment to winning, Nutting is cheap, etc. It also would look pretty bad to have your lone All Star rep leave and with that the perception that you’re throwing in the season.
From a 2018 Pirates baseball perspective it would be harmful to the Pirates as Vazquez has been the only thing solid in a bullpen that has being as erratic as service at Eat ‘n Park. Vazquez hasn’t had the gaudy numbers he did last year, but he’s been good in a year where everyone knows how to use launch angles and how to beat the shift.
He’s also controlled for SO many years for SO cheap that the Pirates can go through a down year or two and he’d still be around.
Why this is the absolute best time to trade Vazquez
This is the part of the question where you need to turn to a national guy who has perspective on what’s going on in baseball, pennant races, prospects. There is an absolute perfect storm brewing for the Pirates to make a king’s ransom on Vazquez. A list of factors:
- The Astros have a super team, a loaded farm system and are only lacking a closer
- This might be the Indians best chance to win a World Series for the next 20 years (Kluber)
- The might be the Red Sox best chance to win a World Series for the next 20 years (Sale)
- The Yankees have the tremendous farm system to buy Vazquez away from other AL teams
- The Dodgers have a talented team, good farm and haven’t won the World Series since Kirk Gibson
- The Diamondbacks have a very good chance to win the division and one World Series would erase any second guessing from national media
- Nationals are about to lose Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and might need closer to win division/WC
- Braves and Phils have plenty of prospects and might live for today and go for it
Vasquez is currently one of the best 5-10 closers in baseball and being LH means he’s probably closer to 5 than 10. He’s also super cheap and has those years of control. Most importantly though, he’s the ONLY GREAT CLOSER that might be available.
Do you remember the last time there was a great closer available for a really desperate team? The Yankees sure remember as Gleyber Torres is now an All Star rookie for the Yankees and has 21 HRs. He’d be the starting SS for the Cubs right now and would be tormenting the Pirates for the next six years or more.
Would the trade return be more than the Gerrit Cole trade?
Most definitely yes. Gerrit Cole might have rebounded and is pitching like a stud, but there was no guarantee of that when he was traded. Cole only had two years of control remaining and the deal was made in the offseason where there wasn’t the added pressure of a playoff race. Also, there wasn’t known to be a lot of competition, other than possibly the Yankees. Everyone would offer something for Vazquez, as you can always use another top reliever, especially a LH one.
For the prospects nerds, names like Victor Robles, Kyle Tucker, Francisco Meija, Forrest Whitley, Alex Verdugo and Esteban Florial would ALL be on the table for Vasquez. Guys like Clint Frazier who aren’t exactly prospects but are very young, would be in the discussion as well.
A little Burdi told me that closers are fungible
Dump Hanrahan, make Grilli the closer. Dump Grilli, make Melancon the closer. Dump Melancon, use Watson as the closer. Dump Watson, use Felipe. A popular fantasy baseball show calls this “the closer carousel” with an accompanying sound of circus music.
Everyone knows that closers can often times be easily replaced and sometimes with a committee. This year’s Pirates’ team has the type of arms that might be good to harness the hot one and occasionally mix it up. Michael Feliz, Edgar Santana and Kyle Crick all have the makings of some good bullpen arms and would be in that rotation.
Another wildcard that many forget is that the Pirates nabbed former top 100 prospect and first round pick Nick Burdi in this year’s Rule 5 draft. Burdi is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery but should be back in the lineup by September. Before his injury Burdi had an 80 grade fastball and a 65 slider. That would be a fastball as good as Vazquez and a slider as good as Santana’s. He could be our best bullpen arm once he’s healthy again.
If we can trade Vazquez for the next Gleyber Torres and replace him, I think this would be the shot in he arm the franchise needs and could set us up for the next few years.