Since it’s the All Star break I figured it would be fun to look at some of Neal Huntington’s moves and break down the five that I think were the best.
This one doesn’t look quite as good as it did in the middle of last season but it can’t be understated how good of a move this was. Not only did the Pirates get four guys that made it to the big leagues, two of them have potential to be very special players. Even more special then those they replaced.
You would assume Ross Ohlendorf was the weakest part of this trade, but that may not be totally accurate. Ross is gone now, but he gave the Pirates a 2.0 WAR in his time with the Bucs. Xavier Nady gave the Yankees a 0.8 WAR and Damaso Marte gave them a -0.6 WAR in the time left on the contract the Pirates sent him on. Ross Ohlendorf alone gave the Bucs more value than they sent.
So we know that Ross Ohlendorf was already more valuable than those two combined.
Daniel McCutchen really hasn’t been anything special, bouncing back and forth between the minors as a reliever and a starter. His highest WAR year was 2011 where he posted a 0.4 WAR. Despite that he has just a 0.2 for his Bucco career thus far.
Jose Tabata is a real wildcard, having recently been demoted. He arguably has the highest upside of any player involved in this trade but he has yet to fully harness his potential. Still he had a 0.7 WAR in 2010 as a 21 year old rookie so he has plenty of value. At the same time it has also declined every year since then for a cumulative total of 0.6.
When I said Tabata had arguably the highest upside it is because Jeff Karstens is the argument. His 2011 season was magical and if he can come close to it he will have a nice career in a big league rotation. In fact he has given the Pirates the best WAR of the trade, sitting currently at 2.4.
Ross Ohlendorf – 2.0 WAR
Daniel McCutchen – 0.2 WAR
Jose Tabata – 0.6 WAR
Jeff Karstens – 2.4 WAR
Xavier Nady – 0.8 WAR
Damaso Marte – - 0.6 WAR
Overall WAR differential – 5.0
4. Signing Garrett Jones
We kill Garrett Jones from time to time. Lots of Pirates fans do. Fact of the matter is that he has been a very solid contributor over the course of his tenure in the Burgh. He has given the Pirates a 2.8 WAR for nothing. Not even a Major League deal when the Pirates signed him. This year he is making just $2.25 million yet is OPSing .822.
Even his OPS+ tells us that he is an above average bat. He may not have a real position, but the Pirates would be extremely hard pressed to get Jones value out of any trade acquisition or free agent signing.
3. Andrew McCutchen Extension
It was welcomed, it was blasted and now it’s universally loved. The Pirates opened up their pocket books and signed their star. Andrew McCutchen has responded thus far by having an MVP caliber season. I talked about value in regards to Jones, Andrew McCutchen is making $500,000 this year. The real kicker? He has an option for $14.75 million in 2018. If his play keeps up at this level or , god forbid, improves that will be the friendliest number in the league for someone of his caliber.
The Pirates locked up their key player, a true, authentic superstar for the foreseeable future.
2. Trading For James McDonald
The Pirates literally gave up nothing for James McDonald who is rapidly turning into an ace for this ballclub. Flipping a pretty marginal reliever at the deadline and coming up with not only a potential starting pitcher, but a position prospect seemed like robbery then, it’s even more than that now.
James McDonald is part of the core of this group. Part of the lifeblood of the rotation. A should be All Star with ALL the numbers to justify it.
1. Trading for A.J. Burnett
It was tough trying to figure out if I was going to put A.J. here or McDonald. Cutch was deserving too. The reason for A.J. being in this spot is simple. It proved something. It proved that the Pirates are trying to win now. It proved that they are willing to take on some salary, and maybe more importantly take a risk on someone. It proved they understand the value of a pitcher who has reasonable stuff, not someone who gets by just on keeping his defense busy.
A.J. has brought these guys together in my opinion. He is someone that has done it. He is a guy that can give advice and someone who really feels honored by being that mentor type.
Next time Root shows a view of the dugout notice who everyone seems to be around. It’s A.J.. There is a reason for that. I know people don’t like the whole veteranosity argument, but I think in this case it has a lot of merit.
I also think the emergence of James McDonald is partially because of having an A.J. Burnett in the dugout. Giving advice, competing. There really wasn’t anyone for Jmac to relate to from a style standpoint last season. A.J. is that guy, and I think we will feel his presence long after he is gone.