Snider, 24, hit .250/.300/.556 in 10 games with Toronto this season and .335/.423/.598 in 56 games with Toronto’s AAA affiliate.
Lincoln is 4-2 and has a 2.73 ERA in 28 appearances (23 in relief and 5 as a starter) with the Pirates in 2012.
“This was a classic trade of they had a need for a pitcher and we needed a good bat,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
According to Biertempfel, Snider will join the team ahead of its Tuesday evening game against the Cubs, likely starting in RF and batting second.
So who wins this deal? It’s too early to call, but the Pirates may have addressed both a short- and long-term need in acquiring Snider.
To begin, the Pirates dealt from a position of strength and addressed an area of need. It’s not the blockbuster trade many have talked about since the Pirates established themselves as contenders in the NL Central, but Snider comes to town at the cost of one middle reliever, where popular targets Justin Upton and Shane Victorino would have cost the team a number of its best prospects.
Snider is arbitration-eligible through the 2016 season and is currently making the league minimum salary. For his potential upside on the field, this is a good need-for-need trade that won’t cost the Pirates significant salary in addition to Lincoln.
Huntington has been around long enough to establish a pattern of trade behavior, and this falls in line with his body of work so far.
Snider has five seasons of MLB experience but has never played more than half of an MLB regular season, topping out at 82 games in 2010 and since playing 49 and 10 games with Toronto in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
The drop in appearances may seem concerning, but Snider has dealt with a significantly improved OF depth chart in recent seasons. Toronto’s current outfield includes the likes of Rajai Davis, Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista. That’s a tough depth chart to crack.
Snider has just 36 at-bats at the Major League level in 2012. His numbers suggest classic power hitter—at 6’0″, 220 he has a power frame, and five of his nine hits have gone for extra bases (2 2B, 3 HR).
He also has 14 strikeouts to just three walks.
Lincoln had become an attractive option in the Pirates’ bullpen as a shutdown reliever with the potential to make a spot start. However, relievers can be overvalued.
Huntington moved Lincoln at the height of his value. Had the Pirates hung onto him, there’s a chance he could have developed into Joel Hanrahan‘s successor as a closer. He also could have turned into Evan Meek, a highly-valued middle reliever who, two years after his prime, has fallen apart on the mound and may never get another extended look as an MLB pitcher again.
Trading a player who appears in one or two innings every handful of games for a player who will appear in the lineup each night is often a no-brainer. Huntington has been nothing if not masterful at assembling a strong bullpen out of thin air, and if the trade market and waiver wire can’t suitably cover for Lincoln’s departure, the Pirates have other relief options in Kevin Correia and AAA pitcher Bryan Morris.
While Upton, Victorino and others may have been sexier trade targets, having a record on par with the league’s big spenders doesn’t mean the Pirates suddenly have a bankroll on par with them.
For a small-market team with a small-market payroll, that’s the kind of deadline that improves the team now without mortgaging its future.