Pittsburgh Pirates’ Top 5 Trade Assets

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Pittsburgh Pirates Top 5 Trade Assets

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

A few seasons ago, if I told you the Pittsburgh Pirates would become annual contenders, you would have called me crazy. Well, it's 2013 and the Pirates are just that.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are proud owners of one of the best records in all of baseball at 53-36, and they have been filled with many surprise performers in 2013. Andrew McCutchen is always their top player and this season is no different as he finds himself as a reserve on the National League roster in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game. In fact, the Pirates are sending a few guys to the big game, and have a couple of other worthy players sitting at home during the All-Star break.

The Pirates are the top pitching team in all of baseball, owning the lowest team ERA at an astounding 3.12 and also leading the league in batting average against with a .226 mark.

Although they are one of the best teams in baseball record-wise, they still don't have the best record in the NL Central.

Trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by just a half game in the division, the Pirates may be looking to add some pieces before the trade deadline to make sure they get ahead of the Cardinals and stay ahead. It's been 21 years since the Pirates won a division title and 34 years since they won a World Series title.

I'm sure the front office wants to change those numbers, and I am positive the fans are sick of watching a team miss the playoffs year after year.

While this team has one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, their offense is mediocre. If they want to make the playoffs in 2013, they will need to add some quality bats. Take a look at their top-five trade assets. Some are untouchable, yet very valuable.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Francisco Liriano, SP

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Teams looking to bolster their rotation should look no further than Francisco Liriano. The 29-year-old starter has seen a bit of a career resurgence in 2013, boasting a 2.20 ERA with an 8-3 record and 74 strikeouts in 11 starts. I doubt the Pirates would give up any of their top players, however.

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4. Jose Tabata, RF

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Jose Tabata is a 24-year-old backup outfielder for the Pirates, and he's a solid one at that. The role player has a .302 average with two homers and nine RBIs, but he has the potential to be an everyday outfielder for a team.

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3. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

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As a backup first baseman, it's hard to earn respect, but I can assure you that teams are taking notice of Gaby Sanchez's offensive potential. The five-year vet is hitting a lowly .233, but his seven homers and 24 RBIs in limited time are quite impressive.

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2. Mark Melancon, RP

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Mark Melancon is the best reliever in the Pirates' bullpen and in my opinion, one of the biggest All-Star snubs out there. The 28-year-old has a 0.85 ERA to go along with 44 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched. He's definitely a top trade target for many teams.

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1. Starling Marte, LF

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Starling Marte is the best young player the Pirates have in their lineup right now. The 24-year-old left fielder has a .288 average to go along with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. He's likely untouchable, though.