Not too long ago, it seemed the Pirates might go into sell mode. However, a strong end to the first half where they won 12 of their last 16 games put them back into contention and within reach of a Wild Card. As of writing this on Sunday evening, the Pirates are three games out of the second Wild Card spot and could certainly use some help in getting there. The two obvious spots where they could stand to upgrade are in the rotation and in the bullpen.
The Yankees’ two biggest trade chips are relief aces Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that the Pirates could be in the market for a rental move to help the bullpen such as Joakim Soria or Joe Blanton. The best rental relief pitcher on the market is Chapman and trading for him could give Pittsburgh their own “two-headed monster” in the bullpen with him and Melancon.
However, the prospects required for Chapman or Miller might put the Pirates out of the running for his services. They do have some terrific arms in Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, not to mention position players Austin Meadows and Josh Bell, but it seems like the stretch for the Pirates to move anyone of them. If they do feel confident in their chances this year though, Chapman would be the best available bullpen arm they could acquire.
Outside of the big bullpen names, the Pirates have recently been linked to Yankees starter/part-time reliever Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has shown flashes of brilliance, but as Jason notes, the team hasn’t been able to fully unlock his potential, at least at a consistent basis. The Pirates would likely have to give up a decent return for Eovaldi, but if they feel they can turn him into their next AJ Burnett, he might just be worth the risk. If not, he can potentially be converted into a reliever, as he most recently showed before the All-Star game, and could find his claim to fame that way.
While they’ve been linked to Eovaldi, the Yankees have another high-potential starter who has failed to show anything consistently in Michael Pineda. So if the team feels Eovaldi’s price is too high, but has faith in their ability to unlock potential, Pineda could be someone who fits the Pirates’ needs. With Gerrit Cole having returned on Saturday, Taillon set to return on Tuesday, and Glasnow an option for the second-half, the Pirates could take the chance on a project in the rotation while they simultaneously contend.
Nesbitt also notes that the Pirates could use some help on the other side of the ball. Former Yankee Francisco Cervelli is likely to return to the lineup on Tuesday and provide some stability to a position where the team was trotting out Erik Kratz and Eric Fryer. If Cervelli suffers a setback or struggles, the Pirates could potentially explore a trade for an Austin Romine-type.
With Cervelli locked up long-term, the Pirates would just, in theory, need someone to help out this year. That would rule out a Gary Sanchez or Brian McCann blockbuster. If the Yankees felt curious enough to give Sanchez a long look at the majors, Romine could be an under-the-radar name that could help the Pirates out without costing too much.
The biggest offensive asset the Yankees have is “outfielder” Carlos Beltran. While I don’t believe NL teams would rule out trading for Beltran, even though he should only be a designated hitter, the Pirates are probably the least likely to trade for Beltran. The Pirates have four average to above-average outfielders, the “worst” of whom might be the uncharacteristically mediocre Andrew McCutchen, which makes trading for an outfield bat pretty much out of the question, barring any significant injury.
With Jung-Ho Kang currently under investigation for sexual assault, the team could be in need for some middle infield help, but the Yankees really do not have much to offer there, as Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro look like they’re here to stay. Rob Refsnyder showing his ability to hit could make him of value, but the Yankees might actually need Refsnyder with Teixeira injured again.
While the Yankees don’t necessarily match up here, Kang’s investigation likely also means even if the Pirates had the prospects for it, a Chapman trade would be questionable given the closer’s domestic violence suspension earlier in the year. While Chapman’s situation has been addressed, it might be considered bad taste for a team to trade for a player with that history and even more so when another is being investigated.
The Yankees bats aren’t necessarily a fit for the Pirates, but some Yankees pitchers could be of service to the Pirates down the stretch. It likely just depends on how big of a splash the Pirates would want to make, or how confident they feel in their own abilities to take on a project pitcher while contending. The two teams have a decent history as trade partners, especially in recent years, between the assets the Yankees have to sell and the needs the Pirates have to fill, it’s hard to envision any major trades happening this deadline. Unless...Ivan Nova for McCutchen, who says no?