With the trade deadline looming just two short days away, trade talk surrounding the Pirates and the rest of the league runs rampant. It's clear now that the Phillies and Pirates have concluded talks regarding an AJ Burnett return to the Pirates, reports Phillies beat writers. That leaves us with the rumors of the Pirates linked to multiple back of the bullpen arms and possible rental bats. And one new one, a big one, Jon Lester.
Jon Lester is an ace, the type of pitcher the Pirates could use. The last Pirates ace? Maybe Doug Drabek, maybe. The problem is that the Pirates would have to give a lot, including the kitchen sink to land an arm like Lester. Pirates fans would most likely have to say goodbye to Josh Bell and another prospect within the top 20. Along with some cash. To this point everything the Pirates front office has said would lead you to believe they would never make a deal like this. Contrary to it, ESPN and various sources continue to report the Pirates are the dark horse favorite to land Lester. So think what you want...
I'm almost totally against a deal of this kind. The Pirates would be giving up valuable parts of the farm to get a guy thats gonna make somewhere around 5-7 starts in a Pirates uniform. You get "the ACE" Jon Lester, but you get him for two months. The signability after this year is low and chances are he would be just a rental for the rest of the season. Pirates aren't high on rentals but they've done it before. Recall, Derek Lee, Ludwick, Marlon Byrd, Justin Morneau. Only one of those players remotely worked out, that being Marlon Byrd. Jon Lester would be an obvious "rental" upgrade. Still not worth it.
I understand that you have to use our highly touted farm system to make moves. I understand that a guy like Josh Bell will eventually be traded. But it has to happen in the right context. I have always been a firm believer in using your prospects to make offseason acquisitions. Make a move like the one we swung to get Russell Martin. Those deals pay off, they guarantee more service time. Not just a quick stint at the end of the summer when Pirates fans think a World Series title is coming to Pittsburgh.
Landing Jon Lester does not ensure a World Series title for the Pirates. It hardly even secures the division depending on the moves made by the Brewers and Cardinals. The Pirates need to go out and get a guy to strengthen the bullpen. A guy like Antonio Bastardo from the Phils, or even Miller from the Sox. Maybe all this Pirates-Sox talk has been over him all along and not Lester. The Pirates starting pitching has been better as of late. With Gerrit Cole returning the rotation is going to get crowded and competition breeds results. Starting pitching is not a definite need, theres no "clear hole" as Huntington likes to say. There is a clear hole in the bullpen, there is a clear hole in the starting lineup. Go get a bat, a run of the mill guy that can either put up better numbers than our black hole of a first base platoon or safety for a sometimes open outfield spot. It wouldn't cost the Pirates much, not nearly as much as big name rental guy. They wouldn't have to sacrifice the farm system just yet. And still, it would better their post season chances.
For now, I would just like to leave the rentals to the likes of U-Haul and Rent a Center. The Pirates don't need to sacrifice golden prospects to counter end of the summer excitement in hopes of back to back playoff appearances.