July is here and that means one thing. Trade season is here, the most wonderful time of the year. For the third consecutive season, the Pittsburgh Pirates will look to improve their team at the trade deadline rather than sell off pieces for prospects. One thing the Pirates will look to avoid for a third consecutive season is a collapse of epic proportion.
There hasn’t been a ton a speculation and rumors as of yet, but there is still 17 days until the MLB trade deadline. One name that has been brought up on more than a few occasions regarding the Pirates has been Chicago White Sox outfielder Alex Rios.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden recently wrote a piece with five trades he hoped would happen before the July 31 trade deadline, and in that piece he included a potential White Sox-Pirates exchange. In the hypothetical trade, Bowden suggested that the White Sox would deal Rios and shortstop Alexei Ramirez to the Pirates for outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, right-handed pitching prospect Nick Kingham and middle-infielder Jordy Mercer.
Personally, I think this would be a huge overpay from the Pirates’ perspective. Polanco is the Pirates’ second best prospect, projecting to be even better than Pirates left fielder Starling Marte. Kingham projects to be at least a middle of the rotation starter, with a possibility of being an ace. Mercer is a solid middle-infielder for the Pirates that has hit at every level of the minor leagues, he has finally earned a starting job with the Pirates’ big league club this season.
For the Pirates to even consider making a deal for Rios, they would surely need the White Sox to continue paying at least half of Rios’s remaining contract. Rios is making $12.5 million in 2013, as well as $12.5 million in 2014, with a $13.5 million team option for 2015.
While this would be a very good move that solves two short term problems for the Pirates, shortstop and right field, it is simply too much for a small market team that relies on the farm system to part with. If the Pirates were to acquire a young player with a lot of team control like Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, then sure, trade a few top prospects.