The Pittsburgh Pirates need help offensively, especially from their corner outfielders. Their offense is also way too left-handed, and they need more pop from the right side of the plate.
Their lack of action so far this winter – they haven’t even been mentioned in hot stove rumors – should be a pretty good indication that they’re not going to be perusing any big name free agents.
So what are their options?
The Pirates do have an above-average amount of one of baseball’s most sought-after commodities – young, cost-certain talent. It gives them the ability to make trade offers that other teams can’t.
And the player that would best fit the needs described above, and should be available, is Minnesota Twins left-fielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham signed a three-year deal with the Twins before last season, giving him two more seasons of team control, and at a reasonable price of $7 million. It’s exactly the kind of affordable move the Pirates need to make, yet would actually have a significant impact.
The Twins haven’t said that they are looking to trade Willingham. They should be, as his value will only decrease as he gets closer to the end of his contract, but they haven’t said it yet. Despite their persistence, however, there’s no reason to believe that they wouldn’t listen intently to any interest for their slugger.
It would likely take a lot to get Willingham, but if the move is made this winter, at least the Pirates would get two years of production out of the deal. If the Twins demanded a young player like Starling Marte or any of their top young pitching prospects like Jameson Taillon or Gerrit Cole, then no deal. Willingham isn’t that kind of impact player. But the Pirates have plenty of young pitching prospects that are one tier down, talent-wise, like Jeff Locke or Kyle McPherson, that could pique the Twins interest.
There is an opportunity here for a deal to get done. The Twins are looking to rebuild and should be shopping their assets for young talent, while the Pirates have a strong nucleus in need of a few key pieces. The make-ups of the organizations fit for a deal to get done.
They just need to have the guts to make a move.