Pirates Front Office Makes Bold Statement With Quiet Deadline

Photo credit: Christopher Horner/Tribune-Review

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded José Quintana and Chris Stratton to the St. Louis Cardinals.  They received Johan Oviedo and Malcom Nunez in return.

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We waited and waited.  The 6PM MLB trade deadline was approaching and the silence from the Pittsburgh Pirates camp was deafening.  The team had already moved Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton, but that was Monday night.  Surely GM Ben Cherington would make one or two more moves on Tuesday.  

However, nothing came.  Aside from a minor move that added Jeremy Beasley to the Pirates bullpen for cash considerations, no other players were added.  Nor were any of the veterans moved off the roster.  Ben Gamel, Kevin Newman, Jake Marisnick, Josh VanMeter, Yoshi Tsutsugo.  Our biggest fear of the Pirates' below average to downright terrible vets that we've had to watch all season to "increase their trade value" ultimately didn't have any value at all.

But, to me, the Pirates' silence spoke volumes.  The two assets that definitely had value were star center fielder Bryan Reynolds and 2022 All-Star closer, David Bednar.  Had they been moved, the return would have been quite high. I never expected Reynolds to be moved, but I did think there was a chance that Bednar was.  In fact, I even pushed for it.  

Closers do not remain dominant for long.  Since the 2000 season, only 15 closers have finished in the Top 10 in saves three seasons in a row.  15 total.  They simply do not last that long.  It's the nature of the closer position.  

Also, the closer market was hot.  Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers, Taylor Rogers of the San Diego Padres, Jorge Lopez of the Baltimore Orioles, and Lou Trivino of the Oakland Athletics all were moved at this season's deadline.  The return for Lopez was enough that some Pirate fans were licking their chops at what the return could be for Bednar.  If the Pirates believed assets for 2025, 2026, or 2027 were more valuable than a closer that, based on the trends, will burn out by the end of the 2024 season, they would have moved him.

So, to me, the Pirates' front office believes that they will need David Bednar to close out games in 2023 more than they will need potential assets that could help three or four seasons from now.  That is a bold statement and I like it.  

Due to the ongoing struggles of the team, and struggles of the Pirates' top prospects, many have begun to believe the current rebuild is failing.  The major league team is playing very poorly, and prospects like Mason Martin and Nick Gonzales have taken steps back rather than forward.  There are also holes in every aspect of the pitching staff including their battery mates.

So many were feeling pretty down about the current state of the rebuild and wondered when we'd actually see winning baseball again.  The light at the end of the tunnel was fleeting.  However, Reynolds and Bednar not being moved is a giant step in the right direction.  These are talents that can be built around now.  The front office is now proclaiming we will be competitive next season or 2024 at the latest.

Based on this season's output I'm not sure any of us have the sort of confidence that the front office has.  It's hard to imagine this team being successful within the next season or two.  They simply aren't playing major league caliber baseball.  

However, I trust in GMBC and it's nice to at least have his vote of confidence that the team will be competitive within the reasonable expectation of Bednar's success window.  This gives me hope.  And hopefully it's not false hope for both myself and the Pirates' front office.  I'll believe it when I see it.