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Winter meetings, Day 3: Movement elsewhere, but nothing for Pirates yet

By Bill Brink 5 years ago

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Though the Pirates haven’t completed anything at these winter meetings, a couple moves Tuesday night might lead to more activity.

The Cubs swapped out second basemen, trading Starlin Castro to the Yankees and signing Ben Zobrist. That leaves the Mets without the second baseman they were certain they would sign. The Mets could now turn to Daniel Murphy, who declined their qualifying offer. But according to a source, they are interested in Neil Walker.

Mike DiGiovanna at the Los Angeles Times reported that the Angels could target Walker as they look for an upgrade over Johnny Giavotella. Our Stephen J. Nesbitt heard that the Nationals, who were also interested in Zobrist, are connected to Walker.

Update 1:28 p.m.: The Angels make the most sense on a trade for Walker because of the pitching they have to spare (to the extent that any team has pitching “to spare,” because it is such a rare and valuable commodity). Let’s take a look at the options.

Garrett Richards, RHP: They won’t trade him.

Andrew Heaney, LHP: They won’t trade him. He was the top prospect in the Angels’ system after the 2014 season, according to Baseball America, and had a 3.49 ERA in 18 starts in 2015. The Angels have six more years of control over him.

Hector Santiago, LHP: He makes sense. He has two years remaining before free agency and made $2.29 million in his first year of arbitration last year. He had a 3.59 ERA in 1802/3 innings.

Matt Shoemaker, RHP: Shoemaker is not yet eligible for arbitration, though with one year, 166 days of service time, he might qualify for Super Two after next season. He had a 4.46 ERA in 1351/3 innings, one year after finishing second in AL rookie of the year voting thanks to his 3.04 ERA in 136 innings.

Tyler Skaggs, LHP: Tough call here. Skaggs missed all of 2015 after recovering from Tommy John surgery, but had the surgery midway through 2014, so he has had more recovery time than the standard 12 to 14 months. The Pirates might not want to fire their bullet on a 24-year-old who hasn’t pitched in a year after elbow surgery and bank on him as a member of their rotation, and the Angels might not want to give up four years of control on a promising young pitcher for an expiring contract. Probably not a match here.

Nick Tropeano, RHP: Baseball America’s 2015 AL top 10 prospects aren’t out yet, but Tropeano was No. 9 after last season. Talented 25-year-old righties with six years of control don’t get moved for expiring contracts.

Jered Weaver, RHP: Weaver will make $20 million in the final year of his contract and loves Southern California, making it unlikely he will waive his no-trade clause to come to Pittsburgh.

C.J. Wilson, LHP: Wilson is also making $20 million, or twice what Walker is projected for, and has a limited no-trade clause in the final year of his contract. The Pirates would likely need salary help to offset the difference.

Santiago and Shoemaker appear to be the best matches.

Update 1:46 p.m.: According to a baseball source, the Pirates and Mets have discussed a deal involving Walker and lefty Jon Niese. Niese, 29, had a 4.13 ERA in 1762/3 innings last season, when the Mets shuffled him around as they vacillated between a five- and six-man rotation. Niese had a 3.49 ERA in 521 innings from 2012-14 in 84 starts. 

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Last night showed us how much young, controllable starting pitching costs. The Diamondbacks traded their No. 1 prospect, (and No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft) shortstop Dansby Swanson; No. 2 prospect Aaron Blair; and outfielder Ender Inciarte, a 25-year-old who hit .303, stole 21 bases and had 29 Defensive Runs Saved last season, for Shelby Miller