Envisioning a Theoretical Trade Between the Padres & Pirates

Credit: MLB

Credit: Getty Images

On Monday, it was reported by Ken Rosenthal that the Pirates are interested in trading for some of the Padres’ pitchers:

The most likely candidates to be traded in any potential deal by the Padres are Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates. Other candidates could include Matt Strahm, Robbie Erlin, and Phil Maton — though the last three are much less likely to be dealt. Considering the value the Padres got for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber, we can have a fairly good idea of what they could get in return for Stammen and/or Yates in a potential deal with Pittsburgh.

There is a legitimate argument to be made here that Yates and Stammen have actually been better than Hand and Cimber were — take a look at the statistics of the four relievers courtesy of Fangraphs:

Player FIP K/9 WAR
Brad Hand 3.29 12.85 0.7
Adam Cimber 2.38 9.00 1.2
Kirby Yates 2.02 11.44 1.3
Craig Stammen 1.92 10.17 1.7

The two relievers that have remained with the Padres have been more valuable by WAR than those who were just shipped to Cleveland, and have also recorded lower FIP numbers. Yates has been especially impressive this season, and even better against right-handed hitters, as Dennis Lin pointed out:

Clearly, they are guys who have been just as valuable as the two who fetched Francisco Mejia from the Indians. If both players were dealt together to the Pirates, the Padres would reasonably expect a similarly talented prospect in return once again. It sounds like A.J. Preller and his staff agree, and have asked for a strong prospect return in any potential trade.

With that in mind, let’s imagine some scenarios in which the Padres and Pirates could come to an agreement on a deal involving Yates and Stammen. Let’s begin with a situation in which the team trades just Stammen to the Pirates, because he’s the pitcher the Pirates sound most interested in.

Scenario 1:

Pirates Receive: RHP Craig Stammen

Padres Receive: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, OF Bryan Reynolds

In this scenario, the Pirates would be getting the reliever they covet most from the Padres, and he would solidify the back-end of their bullpen. On the other side, the Padres would get a smooth-fielding third baseman in Hayes, whose bat is starting to come around at Double-A. They’d also be acquiring an interesting outfielder in Bryan Reynolds, who has fringe-average tools across the board and figures to play some kind of major league role relatively soon.

Scenario 2:

Pirates Receive: RHP Kirby Yates, RHP Craig Stammen

Padres Receive: RHP Mitch Keller, LHP Taylor Hearn

In this case, the Pirates would be really beefing up their bullpen with two very useful relievers for the late innings. Joining forces with closer Felipe Vazquez, the two relievers would make for a formidable triumvirate to pitch the final three frames in the steel city. San Diego would be getting one of the best right-handed pitching prospects in the game in Mitch Keller, who ranks as the fourteenth-best prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. Lefty Taylor Hearn is a power arm who is still working on harnessing his stuff, but has the high potential the Padres have been known to covet during A.J. Preller’s tenure as general manager.

This is an interesting situation for the Pirates because they are a smaller-market team that usually does not have a very high payroll. The Pirates need to be more careful as far as giving up prospects is concerned, because a lot of the team’s success relies upon homegrown players who are cheaper and more controllable. Being four games out of the wild card race, though, likely makes the team tempted enough to try to upgrade their bullpen. Getting one or two of the aforementioned pitchers would vastly improve the Pirates’ bullpen, so such a deal would seem to be conceivable.

The Padres have had the luxury of a strong bullpen this season, despite their struggles to win very many games. Bullpens are more easily constructed than any other part of a team, so it makes sense for a losing team like the Padres to get some good prospect value for the relievers contenders are interested in. By getting younger players who will be more valuable down the road, the Padres can pave the way for the next contending team in San Diego. Hopefully, the Pirates are going to be willing to give up the prospects necessary to acquire at least one of the Padres’ valuable bullpen arms.

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Conrad Parrish
A sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon, Conrad is majoring in Spanish but is also a writing center assistant for other students at Willamette. He has been a Padres die-hard his whole life and hopes to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.

6 thoughts on “Envisioning a Theoretical Trade Between the Padres & Pirates

  1. I think we did better by doing nothing than had we acquired Archer. An off season deal for a true 1-2 starter that will still be a top three when the pitching arrives would be great. Better still will be the healthier Kris Bryant clone we draft next June. Trading a couple of our pitching prospects for REAL hitters would be huge. Archer doesn’t fit what we’ll need in two years.

  2. I’m perfectly fine with keeping Ross, Stammen and Yates as Padres and not giving up the two pitchers TB apparently wanted who both could pass Archer’s worth in a couple of years. To dream on, remember that there were 4-5 pitchers ranked ahead of Lucchesi and Lauer before the 2018 season started and most, after overcoming injuries, have looked pretty darn good! Logan Allen, Paddack, Gore, Baez, Morejon, Nix and Patino (and don’t forget rehabbing Espinoza and major leaguer Lamet) all project at least to #3 starter and a couple may even be top of the rotation. Complete, well-rounded hitters are what the system needs and that might take full two years to add through free agency or trade or develop in the minors before we see the team become truly competitive – give me two more above average position players to add to what we have! Also, the shackles come off on international signings next year and if Victor Mesa doesn’t sign before then, he could be one of the missing pieces. Have patience!

    1. I could not agree more. The return for the relievers today were underwhelming and Preller and Co. have played this game before, hang onto (insert reliever) longer than the industry says to and then maximize the return.

      As you say, this team is going to need hitting and on a recent podcast, Patrick suggested the Padres make a play for Machado. He is exactly what this team needs to take the next step with all of the young pitching they have.

  3. As much as I wish it would happen. PIT is not giving anywhere close to a top 100 MLB prospects for relievers. Keller or Hayes are not being flipped for Stammen and Yates.

  4. I appreciate you spinning out some scenarios.
    For #1, the goal at this point has to be on acquiring ML-ready players, not light hitting 3Bmen and fringe prospect OFs in AA ball. Don’t really see the point in this kind of move.
    Scenario #2 leaves me puzzled. What possible sense could there be in trading relievers for relievers? They are the easiest players to develop or salvage, unlike position players or starters. No way.
    The clear weakness on the ML club is the lack of professional hitters. Potential trades for Archer or Syndergaard are fun to kick around, but we need a bunch of new position players.
    Instead of wasting money on meh players like Hosmer and Myers, how about trading them and going after Harper and Arenado? Whether we could land them is another question, but at least let’s go after guys who would make a difference, not throw away our ticket money and TV money on ridiculous contracts.
    If you prefer trading, how about Realmuto?
    Every off season at least one team blows up it’s roster to rebuild. There are bargains to be had when that happens. Where were we when the Marlins broke up their OF? Off smoking a crack pipe and hallucinating on Eric Hosmer apparently, while for $34 mm less the Red Sox got a guy who really can hit. Should have stolen their march, beaten their offer, and hired Keith Hernandez to teach Martinez to play 1B.

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Conrad Parrish
A sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon, Conrad is majoring in Spanish but is also a writing center assistant for other students at Willamette. He has been a Padres die-hard his whole life and hopes to bring comprehensible statistical analysis to the site.