No one is happy.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have spent the offseason trading away what few recognizable names that they have.
Slugger Josh Bell went to Washington. Staring pitcher Joe Musgrove was sent to San Diego, then Jameson Taillon was traded to the Yankees. And what’s perhaps most alarming is that the team might not be finished yet.
According to the MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, rumors persist that Pittsburgh could still trade Adam Frazier, one of the team’s best hitters, before the season begins.
The site MLB Trade Rumors has bypassed the term rebuilding and instead characterized the team’s offseason as “an aggressive teardown.” A fan base that has been demoralized by years of mediocrity and management’s unwillingness to retain its top players is even more angry.
“Sometimes it seems that the middle-aged men coaching their kids’ T-ball teams in Pittsburgh care more about winning than Pirates owner Bob Nutting does,” lifelong Pirates fan Topher James told PlayPA in a recent interview.
DraftKings has Pirates, Tigers and Royals last in MLB futures
Things are looking pretty bleak for the Pirates. DraftKings Sportsbook has them tied for dead last in World Series futures at +10000 with the similarly-sad Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers.
Pittsburgh’s price in National League futures is the exact same, suggesting the improbable odds the team would have to overcome to contend this season. In fact, the team is 50-1 in NL Central futures, even though the division only has five teams.
If the team were somehow able to contend in any fashion, it would require one of the league’s most inexperienced rosters to vastly outperform expectations.
The more legitimate hope is that some of the assets accumulated in the offseason trades will materialize into an inexpensive core that could help the Pirates contend in the future. Pittsburgh got five prospects back in the Musgrove trade, the biggest prize being outfielder Hudson Head, the Padres’ No. 7 prospect (according to MLB Pipeline).
In the Bell trade, Pittsburgh acquired right-handed pitchers Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe, a consensus top 10 prospect in the Nationals organization. And in the Taillon swap, the Pirates netted four prospects, three of which were ranked among the Yankees’ top 20.
Pirates spring training is only a month away
If everything holds, the Pirates will open their spring training schedule in the Grapefruit League on Feb. 27.
And each spring brings a little hope for baseball fans. Even in Pittsburgh, there is a sliver of it. Anything might be possible. But it’s probably much more likely that the oddsmakers aren’t far off and this Pirates team will face an uphill battle this season.
Their best players are now on other teams. So the prospects they received in return will form the future, hopefully a brighter one for all their fans.
Right now, angst is high and expectations are low for the Buccos.
No one is happy.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic