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Twins Should Plunder the Pirates' Sinking Ship

In case there was any question as to whether the Pittsburgh Pirates would compete in 2020, new General Manager Ben Cherington gave us a definitive answer. Starling Marte was dealt, Derek Shelton’s cupboard is now bare, and the payroll keeps dropping. Minnesota should step in to help the process a bit further.
Image courtesy of © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
When Cherington sent Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a pair of 19-year-olds, any questions regarding Pittsburgh’s intent were clearly answered. This team is bordering on a payroll lower than Mike Trout’s 2020 salary (sitting at roughly $43MM). In grabbing such young prospects in return, there’s a nice ceiling to dream of, but competition won’t be happening anytime soon. Still reeling from the Chris Archer deal with Tampa this is a club that Cherington needs to resurrect.

So, with the major leaguer roster having more holes than a cannonballed Schooner, the former Twins bench coach might as well be given a complete rebuild to orchestrate. If that’s going to happen then names like Josh Bell, Gregory Polanco, Chris Archer, and Joe Musgrove should be on their way to the plank also. The Twins outfield is set, and first base is now covered, but those last two are guys they likely checked in on previously and could now grab as desirable booty.

Chris Archer remains more name than ability at this point in his career. He hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015, and while the FIP (save for 2019) was always strong, the results didn’t follow. Last year the Pirates hurler hopped back into the double-digit K/9 realm but did so while issuing a whopping 4.1 BB/9. It wasn’t there that he got burned however but instead, the longball hurt him to the tune of a 1.9 HR/9.

Still sitting in the mid-90’s with his fastball velocity, Archer can remain a power pitcher at 31-years-old. He’s missing as many bats as he ever has, and his chase rates are on par with career averages. The 40% hard hit rate was a career worst, but it’s in line with an increase he’s survived in each of the previous two seasons. Where the numbers jump off the page is just how many fly balls left the yard. Generating ground balls over 44% of the time during his career, dropping all the way down to 36% last season and seeing the HR/FB rise all the way up to 20% did him in.

Having an $11MM team option for 2021 and a $9MM salary in the year ahead, it’s a very comparable compensation assumption to what Arizona took on in Marte. Minnesota has some 19-year-olds of their own that could be added to the Pirates harbor.

The more enticing option here however is Joe Musgrove. Just 27-years-old and not scheduled to hit free agency until 2023, the price tag will also be heftier. Pittsburgh certainly shouldn’t be overly motivated to move the former Houston Astro, but he doesn’t exactly fit into their window of competitiveness either. Nabbing some high-level prospects to cash in during the future may help make up for the loss of Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, or Shane Baz.

What’s there to like about Musgrove, a guy with a 4.37 career ERA and on his third organization? Well, everything. His FIP has generally outperformed his ERA, and he’s shown a strong ability to both command and control his pitchers. Although not a dominant strikeout guy, he racked up 157 in his first full year starting last season.

Working in the low-to-mid-90’s Musgrove sees success predominantly as a fastball-slider guy. Last season his 12% whiff rat was a new career high, and he’s forced opposing batters to expand the zone over one-third of the time through his big-league career. Even in the juiced ball season that was, he largely avoided home run damage, and there wasn’t much of a spike in hard hit rate.



Allowing yourself to dream on Musgrove is also betting on current infrastructure. You aren’t ponying up the pieces to get what he is today, as much as you are under the belief in what he could become. Twins Daily’s Nash Walker points out some similarities in numbers between Musgrove and Gerrit Cole over their last two seasons with the Pirates. Being of the belief that Minnesota, Wes Johnson, and the Derek Falvey brain trust could work their magic, this is some clay that could be worth molding.

At the end of the day it still seems logical that the Twins make a trade for pitching. They were going to be hard pressed on the free agent market for that position anyway, and they have the assets to acquire almost anyone in the game. If Josh Kalk believes in Archer from his Tampa days, they could go that route. If Musgrove is a piece viewed as being on the cusp, he makes a good deal of sense. Maybe it’s neither and a different organization entirely. All I know is the Pirates have some booty, and you don’t even need to board the ship for them to be willing to pass it out.

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22 Comments

Love the nautical theme. I would take either
    • Sconnie and bighat like this
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ChrisKnutson
Jan 28 2020 10:50 PM
Interested in Musgrove’s potential, although I think that organization is counting on him to lead the team, especially after a very disappointing 2019.

When it comes to Archer, I think he could be had today although I’m guessing the Twins FO is going to wait until the deadline to actually make a move on him.
    • bighat likes this
I don't know that Pittsburgh is the proper port for the Twins to conduct a trade or not. That's up to Captain Falvey and his first mate Levine to decide along with their various officers and crew. But there are intriguing reasons for either of these 2 to be brought on board. No question it's an opportune time to strike and the Twins have a powder keg of ammunition available to make something like this happen.

It's also possible, more so than last with experience in regard to the hard deadline, that the trade winds could blow more favorably in the Twins direction come mid season when more teams hoist the white flag of surrender.

The Twins sit on a treasure chest of opportunity and available talent at the ML and milb level. Is it too early to fire our guns? I don't know. I'd rather be aggressive and make an early move to avoid being broadsided later.

I don't know which coarse they will follow, and I will trust them, but I hope their long view through scope is true and they strike with all hands on deck when the opportunity avails.

This could be the perfect time and target.
    • glunn, ChrisKnutson, tarheeltwinsfan and 6 others like this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 29 2020 06:14 AM

Love your analogy & article! For a long time I`ve seen the Pirates as a trading target & is worth a shot. I agree w/ ChrisKnutson, Archer can be had today & should be. Has his ship sailed off?(pun intended) I don`t think so. I believe he didn`t fit in their pitching philosophy & didn`t pitched to his strength. W/ Wes Johnson guidance he will maximizehis potential very quickly. Chris Stratton, I believe they have given up on. He has the stuff to be become a very good pitcher but he probably will take a little longer. If Wes thinks he can work w/ him, he be a great project. Musgroove will be much harder to plunder, he`s young & have had success there. Their pitching coach will hold on tight on him so they build their core around. If he could be had it won`t be until later. 

    • glunn likes this

The question on Musgrove is this, Would you be willing to part with Kiriloff and a lesser prospect to get him?I'm pretty sure it would take at least that much. Alex could be especially enticing for them with his Steeltown roots.

 

    • glunn likes this
Just going to leave this here...

For Archer AND Musgrove, baseballtradevalues.com says Duran, Larnach, and Rosario is an exactly equal value...

If I’m the Pirates, that’s not enough, and ask for someone like Blankenhorn or Arraez, too.
    • glunn and Sconnie like this

Pirates may have become the number one trade target for pitching at the moment. Colorado doesn't look ready to sell (though they should) and Arizona is going all out to compete. Love Musgrove but Archer shouldn't cost much to acquire at all.

    • Doctor Gast likes this

Pass.

 

Never was a fan of Archer, all flash no substance. Also has one of the oddest/worst mound presences I've ever seen.

 

Musgrove is a Kyle Gibson clone. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • tarheeltwinsfan, bighat and MN_ExPat like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jan 29 2020 08:22 AM

I don't think it's as simple as comparing stats and going... "hey, that guy was very similar to Cole before he left, therefore you're going to get the same results"... there's a lot more to it I think...

 

Should the Twins approach Pittsburg for a trade? Maybe I guess. Musgrave is certianly interesting. I'm not sure I'd touch Archer given that Tampa couldn't get much in terms of results out of him either... But... if they think they can unlock potential, go for it. 

    • DocBauer and Vanimal46 like this

 

Pass.

 

Never was a fan of Archer, all flash no substance. Also has one of the oddest/worst mound presences I've ever seen.

 

Musgrove is a Kyle Gibson clone. Nothing more, nothing less.

I'm with you on this one. 

 

I've just never been enamored with Archer. My son plays with a few kids just like him, great stuff but they just can't figure out how to pitch. Truly believe that he just can't get over the mental hurdle that separates talent from production.

 

Honestly can't say that I'm all that familiar with Musgrove, but his numbers do seem to support the "Gibson" type of pitcher. The talent seems there, but little things keep him from truly succeeding or being more than an average pitcher (not that that is a bad thing, just wouldn't be worth the assumed asking price from Pittsburgh). 

    • Steve Lein and alphanumeric like this

I don't like Archer because that will be 11 more on payroll and that means they won't take on any salary at the deadline. I like Musgrove for that fact that he is locked up and they are short on starting pitchers signed beyond this year.

    • alphanumeric likes this

The question on Musgrove is this, Would you be willing to part with Kiriloff and a lesser prospect to get him? I'm pretty sure it would take at least that much. Alex could be especially enticing for them with his Steeltown roots.

How about Kirilloff for Mitch Keller, from Cedar Rapids? Don’t see prospect for prospect deals much, but I would really rather have the high ceiling of Keller. I don’t think Archer or Musgrove have “ace” ceilings. Of course there’s more risk with Keller perhaps, but he’s already debuted, and to hell with the Yankees.
    • alphanumeric likes this

 

Just going to leave this here...

For Archer AND Musgrove, baseballtradevalues.com says Duran, Larnach, and Rosario is an exactly equal value...

If I’m the Pirates, that’s not enough, and ask for someone like Blankenhorn or Arraez, too.

A few problems with that:

 

1. Rosario has some value in general, but I don't think he has any real value to the Pirates right now, since they are non-contenders and he has only 2 years of control left at non-negligible salary.

 

2. Archer is basically a throw-in for that trade proposal -- doubtful the Pirates would do that, with his value at his lowest. Their payroll is low enough now they can afford to keep his salary and bet on a bounceback instead (in fact, the Pirates might start to get in trouble with the MLBPA for their low payroll).

Pass.

Never was a fan of Archer, all flash no substance. Also has one of the oddest/worst mound presences I've ever seen.

Musgrove is a Kyle Gibson clone. Nothing more, nothing less.

Agreeing with you, for the most part. I never thought Archer was an ACE and deserving of a big trade package. I probably like him better now as a high velocity, 31yo bounceback candidate than a couple years ago when he was a hot comoddity. I think he absolutely maxes out as a #2 with a change of scenery and new coaching, probably no better than a 3. But there could still be real value there if gotten on the cheap side.

I know Musgrove more in passing than anything. I don't know what his ceiling is. But I find comparisons and debates involving him, Alcantara and other various 26-27yo SP options as "Gibson" types and no better. But if you are the Twins, and you don't want to just sit and wait for prospects, you can trade for one of these young "Gibson" types and hope for development, or, you can trade through the nose for a top of the rotation starter, (if one is made available), or you take a flier on an aged and expensive Price type.

It's the job of the FO and the coaching staff to develop what we have and what we have coming. And it's their job to decide which way to go via the trade route. But given the choice, I think I'd rather have the 26-27yo with a live arm and upside.
    • Steve Lein, gagu, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this

I'm not willing to give up high end prospects for Musgrove since I don't believe he has all that much upside. I'd take a flier on Archer if the trade cost was low enough (not giving up any of the Twins top 10 prospects).

Archer NOOOOOOOO!!!! If the price is right, Musgrove on a flyer. No need to overpay. Always deal from a position of strength.
    • alphanumeric likes this
Arrrrrgh, Maitey! Musgrove be me treasure! And ye be willing to trade maybe Wallner plus ? to get him.
    • David HK likes this

I think Archer is an interesting buy low candidate.Yes hes struggled for the last couple years and yes he has always under preformed his peripherals, but he still has decent velocity and a major slider.He seems like the kind of guy that Wes Johnson could really help.He shouldn't demand a big return but that might mean Pit will want to wait till the all star break to hope he ups his value.

 

I don't know Musgrove well but I don't think I would give up Lewis/ Kirilloff for his numbers, maybe Larnach.

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Doctor Gast
Jan 30 2020 03:43 PM

 

Just going to leave this here...

For Archer AND Musgrove, baseballtradevalues.com says Duran, Larnach, and Rosario is an exactly equal value...

If I’m the Pirates, that’s not enough, and ask for someone like Blankenhorn or Arraez, too.

I noticed that Archer`s trading value has 3x since Christmas via baseballtradevalues.com. So looks like many think that Archer will rebound this year w/ different coaching staff. If this keeps up, Archer will no longer be a bargain

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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 30 2020 07:23 PM

Pass. Pass. The Twins don't need any more strong women, good looking men and above average children. They need a warrior . an ace pitcher.

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specialiststeve
Jan 30 2020 10:21 PM

If the price were minor leaguers that we are deep at a position say OF I would be good. Celestino as they are needing a CF.... Catarinofor a quality SP prospect and Gordon who isn't going to stick for us but could be useful to them. Would think that would get Archer.

 

Kind of like that Trade simulator thing... 9.0 for Archer trade value.... the Three together we send at 9.6.... so according to the simulator it would be fair value. Not sure either team would do it but... 

 

Just going to leave this here...

For Archer AND Musgrove, baseballtradevalues.com says Duran, Larnach, and Rosario is an exactly equal value...

If I’m the Pirates, that’s not enough, and ask for someone like Blankenhorn or Arraez, too.

Welcome to TD. Nice first post.


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