As the trade deadline approaches and the Pittsburgh Pirates remain far away from any serious playoff contention the question has now become not if the Bucs will be sellers at the deadline but who will be the first person they deal to another team.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates might have a roster that mostly consists of young players with team friendly contracts, there are still a few veterans on the Pirates who can expect to be playing for a new team after July 31.
Though many believe the first player to leave town will be the clubs best hitter, Corey Dickerson
or an expirenced middle infielder like Josh Harrison
or Jordy Mercer
, due to a recent injury in the American League East, it is very possible that the first Pirate traded will be catcher, Francisco Cervelli
After breaking his right pinky finger on a slide to second base in their game on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, it was announced yesterday that Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez
will require surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Vazquez has started 54 games behind the plate this season for Boston and is expected to be replaced in the lineup by a platoon combination of Sandy Leon
and Blake Swihart
Both Leon and Swihart have had less than 150 at bats this season. When given the chance to play neither have been incredibly productive. Leon, who is a veteran backup catcher is capable of being just that. While his four homeruns and 18 runs batted in might not look too bad for someone who has limited playing time, his .682 OPS will certainly not help Boston hold their 2.5 game lead over the New York Yankees. Swihart, who is listed on the Red Sox 40 man roster as an outfielder, is not any better with a .185 batting average and an OPS of .460.
Sox are Eager
Like any other season, Boston is clearly a team that is in “win now mode”. They enter Tuesday with the most wins in baseball (63) and are determined to bring yet another world series title back to New England. It does not take a baseball expert to know that the Red Sox have always been very active players during the trade deadline, especially when their team has a need as obvious as they do now at catcher.
Though some believe they are interested in going after Rays backstop and American League All star Wilson Ramos
any trade within the same division is always hard to pull of. After looking past Ramos, the next best catcher on a team that will be sellers at the trade deadline is Cervelli with Pittsburgh.
Despite recently coming off of the disabled list due to a concussion and having a career filled with injury troubles, Cervelli should be a very attractive trade target for the Red Sox because of the year that he is having both at the plate and behind it. In only 57 games this season, Cervelli has already hit a career high nine home runs and .870 OPS trails only Marlins rookie J.T Realmuto for the best amongst any catcher with 200 or more plate appearances. Cervelli has also been an asset to the Pirates defensively, throwing out 11 of the 30 (37%) runners that have attempted to steal a base against him this season.
The trade would benefit both teams. The Red Sox would get a player who brings even more production to their already explosive lineup. Though he is a risk to also become injured, in all reality they will only need him until Vazquez returns. However, even after Vazquez is able to play again, the numbers indicate that Cervelli would still be the better option as an everyday starter.
While Pittsburgh Pirates fans will certainly be sad to see Cervelli go, dealing the veteran catcher will allow the club to give more playing time to young and talented backup, Elias Diaz
while also adding more prospects to a rather thin farm system. Even if the return for Cervelli does not lead to the Pirates receiving any major tallent in return, a team like Boston who has never been afraid to spend money will likely be willing to take on the majority, if not all of his contract, which will be more than enough incentive to allow the Bucs front office to make the deal happen.