Neal Huntington won't come right out and use the word ‘seller’ when discussing the Pirates’ approach to the upcoming trading deadline, but that appears to be just a matter of semantics.
Speaking Sunday afternoon on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan, Huntington acknowledged for the first time that the team would be better served to look to the future following a second-half collapse -- a seven-game losing streak and a 2-13 record since the All-Star break -- that has knocked them out of contention.
“Unfortunately, with the way the club has played, the club I have put together has played coming out of the All-Star break, we’ve been challenged,” Huntington said. “Is there an opportunity to add to future clubs? Do we look to talk about players on expiring contracts? We like this club. We like the core of the club. We like the playing coming up behind them. It’s our job to listen to put this team in position to contend, and eventually a World Series. We’re in the process in looking at future clubs.”
Huntington did not travel with the team to New York and, thus, was unavailable to reporters there.
The Pirates have seven players who are eligible for free agency at the end of the season: Francisco Cervelli, Jung Ho Kang, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jordan Lyles, Francisco Liriano, Melky Cabrera and Corey Dickerson.
According to various industry sources, Liriano and Cabrera are generating the most interest among that group.
Liriano is attractive because many contenders are looking to upgrade their bullpens, including the Braves, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Nationals, Phillies, Rays, Red Sox and Twins. The Cubs, Indians and Phillies are all said to be eyeing Cabrera.
Dickerson has also piqued the interest of some outfield-needy teams. However, red flags have been raised after he has left games with left groin discomfort twice in the last three weeks.
“A lot of it will depend upon the market,” Huntington said of the possibility of making trades. “Just because a player is on an expiring contract doesn’t mean he would not be able to be signed beyond this season. There is still a value you want to get in a return. If the value is not there, you might hold onto the player. We have players who are of interest in the industry. We don’t have a Mark Melancon or Tony Watson as in previous years, but we do have players who can make an impact. Now, it’s a matter of if there are appropriate matches out there.”
Felipe Vazquez’s name continues to surface in trade rumors, especially in conjunction with the Dodgers. However, Huntington reiterated what he has been saying, which is he would only trade his closer if he could “significantly improve the team.”
It seems likely that it will be a quiet deadline for the Pirates, though they might make a minor trade or two. All bets are off, though, if a contender blows Huntington away with an offer for Vazquez.
To continue reading, log into your account: