Pirates Class AA outfield prospect Starling Marte is off to an excellent start with the Altoona Curve this season. Heading into play Saturday night, he was hitting .314 with five home runs, 23 doubles, 28 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and an .806 OPS, certainly playing up to his billing as the Pirates second-best prospect, as rated by Pirates Prospects.com.
For that reason, Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror thinks Marte might be attractive trade bait for the Pirates to dangle in their pursuit of a Major League bat to help them in the National League Central race. After weighing the pros and cons of trading Marte, Giger arrives at this conclusion.
It's a good debate, but don't count on the Pirates trading Marte. They will do everything possible to avoid giving up elite prospects in any deal, and Marte is at the top of the organization's list when it comes to position players.
Whatever they decide about Marte or anyone else in the system, Pirates officials cannot be afraid to pull the trigger on a move that could make this a better team in the second half.
The long-suffering fans deserve at least that much. And if it means giving up a Double-A prospect, even one as good as Marte, then so be it.
As with most trade talks, moving Marte would be all about the return for the Pirates. If dealing him and perhaps a few lesser prospects could net the Bucs a decent bat with a year or two of control beyond 2011, it might be worth considering. If we're talking three-month rentals like the Cubs' Aramis Ramirez, however, it would represent a mortgaging of the future the front office has said repeatedly it will not entertain. If it's something in between, then the Pirates will have a very interesting decision to make.