Since the rumor mills started churning a couple weeks ago, there have been many big names rumored to be switching teams. Those names would include Ryan Dempster, Justin Upton, Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza. So far, there have been three major trades and none of them have included any of those names.
With veteran starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez being traded to the Pirates Tuesday night, it shows that the bigger names are most likely to be moved right before the deadline or not at all. Over the past two days, the Yankees traded for Ichiro, the Tigers traded for Infante and Sanchez and now the Pirates have traded for Rodriguez.
This particular move is one that GM Neal Huntington must have been dreaming about since taking the position in 2007. Huntington has built the Pirates farm system up to the point that he could sacrifice prospects in return for legitimate major league talent.
What The Pirates Gave Up
Rudy Owens, LHP-AAA- Owens, 24 and left handed, was drafted in 2006 by former GM Dave Littlefield in the 28th round. Owens has never been predicted to be a top of the rotation starter in the majors, but has projected to be a reliable back of the rotation pitcher or relief pitcher. His finesse pitching style and low strikeout numbers have raised worries, but still has impressed enough to warrant a legitimate shot in the bigs.
After having several great seasons as he progressed through the Pirates farm system, Owens struggled mightily when he arrived in AAA Indianapolis in 2011. Owens posted a 5.05 ERA and a career low 5.6 k/9 ratio along with allowing a career high 32 walks through 21 starts.
2012 was a different story, as Owens returned to form posting a 3.14 ERA and raising his k/9 ratio to 6.5. Owens anchored a staff which featured three other MLB pitching prospects in Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Rick VandenHurk.
Owens will join the Astros 40 man roster, but will be assigned to AAA Oklahoma City.
Robbie Grossman, CF-AA- Grossman was the sixth round pick in Huntington’s first draft with the Pirates. There have been conflicting reports on what Grossman’s ceiling could be in the majors. Last season was a big step in the right direction for Grossman, as he batted .294 with 13 home runs, 56 rbi and 24 stolen bases with class A+ Bradenton. This season, Grossman was moved up to AA Altoona and was enjoying a good season, batting .262 with seven home runs, 35 rbi and nine stolen bases.
Colton Cain, LHP-A+- Cain, 21, was the eighth round pick in 2009 and signed to a $1.125 million as the Pirates shelled out the money to several high school pitchers in this draft. Cain has made his way up to A+ Bradenton this season and has a 4.20 ERA and a 6.1 k/9 rate through 16 starts.
What The Pirates Received
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP- Rodriguez has quietly been one of the most dependable starters in the National League over the last four seasons. Rodriguez, 33, had two shaky seasons to start his career from 2005-2007, but since then has not finished a season with an ERA above 3.60.
“We like the innings, we like the strikeouts, we like the ERA, we like the competitor. He has very quietly been one of the better pitchers in major league baseball over the last three-four years.” –GM Neal Huntington, courtesy of the Pirates website
Rodriguez has been Houston’s ace the past couple seasons and has not received much help, as the Astros have been stripped down and rebuilt. Rodriguez is durable, pitching 190+ innings over the past three seasons. His k/9 inning rate dropped this season from 7.8 to 6.1, which is cause for concern, but his hr/9 rate has dropped and his bb/9 has dropped as well.
It was the proper time for a move like this and Huntington did exactly what was needed. No top prospects were touched in this trade and under-contract, reliable major league talent was acquired in return without paying too much.
Rodriguez is under contract through 2013, with a player option for 2014. The contract he signed with the Astros makes him due to make $10 million this season, $13 million next season and the option is for $13 million in 2014.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Pirates are responsible for picking up $1.7 this season, $8.5 in 2013 and if Rodriguez decides to stay in Pittsburgh, the Pirates will owe Rodriguez $7.5 million.
The Pirates are not interested in trading top prospects for rental players this season, as they have made it known this trade is to help this 2012 team compete, as well as the 2013 and 2014 teams.
Rodriguez is not the superstar player that puts the Pirates as overwhelming favorites this season, but he helps solidify a starting rotation that could very easily take steps back from what we saw the first half.
The Pirates have not made it known where Rodriguez fits into the starting rotation. It seems possible but unlikely they would go to a six man rotation and if they were to cut someone from the current rotation, it would likely be Kevin Correia. There have been rumors about Correia being traded this season, but nothing has come to the forefront yet.
Now that the Pirates have addressed their pitching need, they have turned their focus towards acquiring a hitter. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review, the Pirates offered Jared Hughes and a minor league player for Shane Victorino, but balked when the Phillies asked for pitcher Brad Lincoln.
More to come in the next few days from the Pirates it sounds like.