Ken Rosenthal writes that the Pirates should make what would be a crazy-looking trade for a top starting pitcher, either the Brewers' Zack Greinke or the Phillies' Cole Hamels.
The Pirates are sitting on the 11th-ranked farm system in the majors, according to Baseball America. They have enough young talent to pull off a major trade without including either of their top pitching prospects, Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole. And heaven knows they’ve saved enough money over the years.
Go for it. Go for it already.
It might not cost the Pirates Cole or Taillon to get Greinke or Hamels, but it would take something significant, even though Greinke and Hamels are both free agents at the end of the season. That probably would mean a package centered around someone from the Pirates' next tier of prospects -- pitcher Luis Heredia, infielder Alen Hanson or outfielders Starling Marte or Josh Bell. And the Bucs' lack of prospect depth might make finding complementary pieces a little bit tricky.
On top of that, the Cardinals and Reds are, by most objective measures, more talented than the Pirates. Trading for an elite starting pitcher would certainly help the Pirates close the talent gap with their competitors, but a playoff berth would still be far from guaranteed. The Pirates will probably be looking for upgrades at the trading deadline, and part of me would be thrilled if they were this aggressive (particularly if it meant acquiring a star from the Phillies), but part of me would also worry about the franchise's future. Rosenthal compares the Pirates' situation to that of the Brewers, who made an aggressive and inspired trade for C.C. Sabathia a few years back. But Milwaukee least had an excellent core of young talent. The Pirates aren't quite there yet.
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