With the Pittsburgh Pirates riding an 11-game win streak and just sitting three games out of a playoff spot, all of the talk around Pittsburgh is about buying at the trade deadline.
That brings me to a possible target in Texas Rangers closer Keone Kela, who is the latest possible Pirates trade target I will look at.
Interest in Kela
Evan Grant of the Dallas News was the first to report the interest in Kela from the Pirates.
Ken Rosenthal also chimed in with the news as well.
#Pirates, winners of 11 straight, exploring a variety of upgrades, including bullpen help, sources tell The Athletic. #Rangers’ Kela among possibilities, per @Evan_P_Grant. PIT six games out in NL Central, three back in race for second wild card.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 25, 2018
The fact that the Pirates are targeting a quality reliever isn’t very surprising at all as another legit arm that can pitch in high leverage situations is a need for this team.
The surprise is the interest in Kela, which I will get to in a bit.
The Pirates bullpen has been up and down all season and right now it’s ridding a hot streak, especially in the back end with Felipe Vazquez, Kyle Crick and Edgar Santana.
Another arm couldn’t hurt though.
On the season the Pirates bullpen has a 4.22 ERA, which ranks 19th in the majors. But they have been a bit unlucky as they have a collective 3.59 FIP which ranks seventh.
There’s quite a few reasons why Kela makes sense for the Pirates.
The first is the ability.
He’s only 24 and has converted all 23 save opportunities he’s had on the season.
Kela owns a 3.28 ERA, 2.85 FIP and 1.093 WHIP on the season. Last season he posted a 2.79 ERA and 3.26 FIP.
Kela fits the bill as a guy who can help the Pirates right now and in the future, which is also important.
He’s controllable, which is a bonus.
Kela is arbitration eligible beginning next season and won’t become a free agent until 2022.
Why Not Kela?
There’s not a whole heck of a lot not to like, but one thing that bothers me is the fact that he’s had some elbow and should issues in the past.
He’s not missed any time because of it, but it’s still a red flag for me.
The only other thing is the cost.
It’s going to take a haul to get him and if he keeps pitching the way he has the past couple of years, Kela is going to be due for a nice bump in pay the next couple of years in arbitration.
Of course the Pirates can look to buy those arb years out and sign him long term, like they just did to Vazquez.
What will it take?
Who knows, but I am thinking a lot.
Zach Britton got dealt for three prospects, one of which were in the New York Yankees Top 10.
Britton is a free agent at the end of the season.
Kela is controllable for many more years.
He’s young and talented, which means the price should be high.
Will Neal Huntington be willing to deal a couple of prospects in the Pirates Top 10?
He may, but I don’t know if I would.
While I like Kela a lot, the Pirates are going to have to pay a closers price for him and he’s going to come to Pittsburgh and not be a closer.
He’s the kind of player the Pirates like, I just don’t know if the price is going to be right.
At the end of the day I think Huntington will acquire a reliever or two, it just won’t be Kela.