The Sports Daily > WHYGAVS
Akinori Iwamura is coming to the Pirates

Developing. No word on who’s going to Tampa. More later.

UPDATE: The Post-Gazette reports that it’s Jesse Chavez for Iwamura and an unknown player. (Update to the update: no other player)

Analysis Update: I have mixed feelings about this trade. I did mention Iwamura as a player to target this off-season, when I assumed Tampa would decline his option and grant him free agency (the Rays, or now, the Pirates, should hold his rights for two years after this year since it will only be his fourth in the majors, but he’s got an interesting contract clause that requires him to be released if he’s not signed to an extension), but a trade for Chavez makes me a little uneasy.

Assuming the Pirates can’t sign Iwamura to an extension, they’re trading five years of Chavez for one year of Iwamura. I’m not terribly high on Chavez; he found some success with better control in 2009, but his strikeout rate also dropped from 7.9 K/9 in the minors to 6.3 K/9 and he faltered a bit in July and August. He’s a decent reliever, but he’s also one under team control for quite some time.

That said, Iwamura is a nice addition to the team. He can play second or third base and he’s really not that different of a hitter than Freddy Sanchez has been the past two seasons. The main difference is that walks a little more but with a little less power. That means he can man second base until Pedro Alvarez comes to Pittsburgh (which won’t be before June, according to John Perrotto) and then he can either be a utility guy that’s better than Ramon Vazquez, or play second base if Andy LaRoche can’t handle the position or if more trades happen.

And so that’s where I’m conflicted. I’m not sure we gave up a whole lot in Chavez, especially with his home run problems (he gave up 11 in 67 1/3 innings last year), but unless we extend Iwamura beyond 2010, he doesn’t really add much to the team in the long-term. I’m really only concerned with the long-term, even though he’s an underrated player that does fill an immediate need for the Pirates.

That said, I wouldn’t be terribly worried about the bullpen in 2010, even without Chavez. At some point, the Pirates will end the Kevin Hart experiment and his addition to the bullpen will strengthen it. They’ll also probably get to add either Daniel McCutchen or Charlie Morton to the mix, which will also help. They’ve added a lot of pitching depth this year, and so losing Chavez isn’t something that seems like a huge concern to me. With that considered, I’d say that this probably isn’t a bad trade for the Bucs, even if it’s not one that brings in a huge puzzle piece for the future.

Final update: Hey! This seems like a good time to make a new poll! Left sidebar, as always.