But I’ll reiterate that Lincoln needs to step up for the Pirates to have full faith in their pitching depth to make a trade. If he looks like a legit — even if unspectacular — starter, you add Rudy Owens into the chart, and there’s plenty to give.
I'm skeptical of this for a couple reasons -- I don't think the Pirates are a legitimate contender (although I hope to be proven wrong about that in the near future), and I'm not sure how much value someone like Lincoln or Owens will have on the trade market. But I think this is basically right. The Pirates' greatest asset as a trading partner, or at least their greatest asset that's anywhere near the majors, is their depth in starting pitching. If Lincoln can show he can be a legitimate mid-rotation starter, that would give the Pirates a lot of flexibility.
Other than James McDonald and Jason Grilli, no one on the Pirates has improved his stock this year as much as Brad Lincoln has. He's gone from a Class AAA afterthought to, at the very least, someone who ought to be able to help in the bullpen, perhaps in a high-leverage role. If he can also show that his changeup is a solid major-league pitch, he might be able to make it as a starter as well.
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