The Pittsburgh Pirates were rumored to be interested in trading for Jon Lester the past two days, but that is no longer a possibility. Lester was traded to the Oakland Athletics Thursday morning, and if the Pirates were truly as interested as they were reported to be, they now have to scramble and find a backup plan. A possible option could be one of the Houston Astros‘ young pitchers, Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel is no Lester, but he is more of the player the Pirates would target. Keuchel is controllable for three more seasons. He is a left-handed pitcher who gets a lot of ground balls, and he is performing well on a bad Astros team to the tune of a 10-7 record. It seems like a perfect type of target for the Pirates, much like when they traded for Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez was much more of a seasoned pitcher at the time, but the trades are still comparable.
Looking at what Keuchel would cost on this market, I think it would be cheaper than it seems. There have been zero reports about Keuchel other than that the Astros are willing to deal their young pitcher. It seems like there is little interest in Keuchel which could drive his cost down a little bit. I think the comparable price would be similar to the Rodriguez deal.
Rodriguez was only going to the Pirates for two and a half years, but the Astros also paid a significant part of his salary which should make up for the extra half of the year. In the Rodriguez trade, the Pirates gave up Robbie Grossman, Rudy Owens and Colton Cain. Using that as a blueprint it would likely cost the Pirates something like Alen Hanson, Brandon Cumpton and an okay pitching prospect. That trade would give the Pirates an upgrade in the rotation for a few years while they don’t give up any top prospects. It’s a win-win situation.
If the Pirates were to make this surprise trade for Keuchel it would be a good deal. Fans may still be upset about missing out on Lester, but once they see Keuchel pitch, they’ll forget about him quickly. The team could even get the left-handed reliever they are looking for in Tony Sipp. It seems like the perfect match for the Pirates, and it will be interesting to see if they consider a trade like this.