Wednesday afternoon the Pirates traded second baseman Neil Walker to the New York Mets for LHP Jon Niese.
Around 4 o'clock today Neil Walker became a New York Met. The Pirates finalized a trade to send Neil Walker to New York in return for left handed pitcher Jon Niese. We all new the exit of the Pittsburgh Kid, some people's "Hometown Hero" was eminent, although it didn't seem like it would come at the Winter Meetings. There had been grumblings since the start of the week that teams were interested in Walker, although it seemed the Pirates asking price was too high for most. Today, the bidding was narrowed to the Angels and the Mets. The Angels were looking to land Walker in a deal that reporters said would have included LHP Hector Santiago, or even CJ Wilson. CJ Wilson was unlikely as he was set to make around $20 million and the Angels would have had to eat some of that contract in order for it to work for the Pirates. Ultimately, no agreement was reached between the Angels and the Bucs so the Mets swooped in.
Niese will make $9 million this upcoming season, all of which the Pirates will be on the hook for. Last season Niese went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA. He ate up a significant amount of innings at 176.2, mostly pitching out of the 5th spot in the Mets rotation. Career, Niese has a 3.91 ERA with 61 wins to his credit in eight years of MLB service.
With the Bucs, the jury is still out as far as where Niese will end up in the rotation. The work of Ray Searage can be magical and who knows what he will be able to do with an average left hander in Niese. From the outset, Niese will battle Morton and Locke for positioning in the rotation. To this point, he doesn't have an edge on either of those guys.
In the end, the Pirates lost a little here on this trade. Harrison will be able to jump to second base, when Kang returns he will be at third. Until then, not too sure who will be at third base, you'll likely see Alen Hanson over there. The bright side is that Ray Searage could potentially turn this guy into what the Pirates need. They got a 5th starter out of this trade, they don't need a 5th starter. Niese is fine in that role for 2017 but for this upcoming season they need more of a #3 guy. Goodluck Ray!
What I would like to call into question here is gonna bring back the move to let Pedro Alvarez go. It was said by the Pirates front office and a lot of fans that Pedro didn't deserve the $8 million he was set to make. That he wasn't worth $8 million. That's fine if you thought or still think that. But I would like to hear someone tell me that Jon Neise is worth the $9 million the Bucs are going to pay him. You can't spend $8 million on your team leader in HR and a staunch 70 RBI guy, but you're willing to pay $1 million more on a 5th starter, an average left handed pitcher. I know we're dealing with an insanely inflated pitching market in MLB right now. $9 million is the price you pay for an "average lefty". But if you thought $8 million was too high to pay one of your best hitters on a 98 win team, I can't seem to justify paying Jon Niese a million more.