The Major League Baseball non-waiver trading deadline is coming up on Saturday, and the Pirates are in a different position than they were a year ago. Then, they had a number of veterans they hoped to unload. In 2010, they have very few. The Pirates will listen to offers, of course, and the most likely players to depart include closer Octavio Dotel, reliever D.J. Carrasco, starters Paul Maholm and Zach Duke, and first baseman Garrett Jones. Of those, though, only Dotel has a good chance of being in another uniform come August.
"This year, we've got some guys that we're not real motivated to move," general manager Neal Huntington said. "If we get a good baseball trade, then we'll make it. But we're beyond the prospect-collection mode, and we're trying to move forward with this group"...
If a reliever is dealt, it's likely to be Octavio Dotel. The Pirates have remained mum on whether they plan to exercise Dotel's $4.5 million option for 2011. If that's not in the plans, the club could get some sort of return for him now.
A number of teams have had their eye on the 36-year-old closer, but the fact that left-handed hitters have had decent success against Dotel this season could scare away some suitors. If Dotel is dealt, he'll almost surely be used as a late-inning setup man, not as a closer.
Dejan Kovacevic agrees that Dotel is the most likely to depart:
Really, right now, most of the focus is on Dotel, who I expect will be playing for another team come Sunday. D.J. Carrasco is in this category, too.
Other names are going to come up in the next few days, mostly because of management's policy to at least listen to proposals regarding just about any player. That's how you get the Dodgers asking about Paul Maholm and the Pirates at least listening. But all it takes is a cursory glance at the Pirates' roster to see that most of it is now made up of players they either would not want to move or could not move if they wanted...
I've never once, formally or otherwise, hear the Pirates rule out a trade for prospects. What they've said, and Huntington repeated to me just a couple days ago, is that they're no longer in the prospect-accumulation mode. That's Pirates-speak that means, essentially, they're past the stage of their plan where they feel an urgency to move a veteran for a volume of prospects, as they did with Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth.
Kovacevic is correct that the Pirates don't have a lot of players they would want to trade and that other teams would want. While it would be silly to rule out trading any player if the right offer came along, most of the Bucs' most valuable guys have several years of service time to go before they become free agents, and thus the Pirates won't be motivated to move them. So it would be highly unlikely for the Pirates to trade guys like Pedro Alvarez, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Evan Meek or even Garrett Jones. Meanwhile, any of the Pirates' older players, like Ryan Church, have been disappointing, and so there's no good reason for a contender to trade anything of value for them. As Langosch notes, it's telling that the Pirates recently designated Brendan Donnelly for assignment - if anyone had wanted him, the Pirates would have traded him by now. For these reasons, the class of players who might be dealt before July 31 is rather small.